Google Productivity Pad: How to Make Facebook Better

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Make Facebook Better

Note: This post is longer than normal, but I think you will find it very useful.

Because I am a social media professional, I hear most peoples' complaints about social media. For some reason they love to tell me, like they think I can do something. It's like talking to the gas station attendant about high gas prices, like there is something he can do.

What people fail to realize is that social media is a reflection of real life and what you value (for more an this see Elder Ridd's talk from last General Conference). The sad truth is that if your social media is not what you want it to be it is a good sign that something is off in your life.

That being said, I believe in helping people to live better both physically and digitally so I am here to teach you the secret to making Facebook better because probably 90% of the complaints I get are about Facebook.

The Newsfeed
People get upset a lot because their newsfeed does not go in reverse chronological order any more on Facebook. This is like people complaining about bug-spray or the national defense budget, you complain because you have no idea what is actually being prevented. Negative effects are hard to measure.

What you don't realize is that at any given moment you and every other Facebook user have an average of 1500 messages that could be appearing in the newsfeed that much information in chronological order would be impossible to deal with. So Facebook uses its fancy algorithm to show you what it thinks is most important to you. It reduces that to about 1/3 (300 messages) and shows you those in the order it thinks is most important.

Now, here is the solution, on the left menu bar if you click on the drop down (gear on mobile) next to News Feed you can switch to "most recent" instead of "top stories". Then it will show you them in reverse chronological order, but still only the 300 or so that it has decided have value.

The Problem is You

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Before I teach you the secrets to making Facebook better let's just face up to the fact that you cannot change other people. That is why it is so fun to blame them, because it makes you feel like you can remove responsibility from yourself for the situation. If you can say that someone else did it, than you can't change it, you can just go along your merry little way wallowing in you misery.

What a stupid idea.

Why don't you just put yourself in the driver's seat and make it better? Well maybe you don't know how. That is why this post will empower you. I have come up with three problems, framed in terms of your choices, that make Facebook seem like an annoying place.

Problem #1: You have too many friends

The first issue that most people run into is that THEY have friended more people than they can reasonably care about. Remember that digital life is an extension of real life, you can only manage so much.

If you look through your Facebook news feed and see lots of info from people you don't care about, that is you problem, not theirs. You have to learn to be selective. The more friends you have the more their stories will have to compete with each other for the top places in your news feed. So you get annoyed because you see stuff from people who you really don't even want to know anything about. But that is your fault because you made the choice to allow them into your feed.

Problem #2: You have stupid friends

Many people complain that their newsfeed is full of stupid or worthless content. They got on Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends, but all they see are dumb memes that have nothing to do with their friends actual lives, or on the flip side they get way too much information (TMI) about the personal lives of their friends.

My response to this is: I am sorry that you have stupid friends. In Facebook just like life you get to choose who your friends are. The lower quality of people you accept, the lower quality experience you will have. It is your choice. So, don't friend stupid people.

A word ought to be said here about family members. These are the people we do not pick, they are part of the life package we got when we signed on for this little journey on spaceship planet earth. Sometimes we have family members who are just annoying, every family has them. In digital life, just like in real life we have to treat these family members cordially for the sake of avoiding drama. Just like you might smile and nod at a family get-together, you may just scroll past the things they post online.

Problem #3: You check Facebook too often
Are you seeing the same stories over and over again? Or do you just keep seeing things from the same people? Chances are you check Facebook more often than you should. Here is a good rule of thumb, if Facebook is annoying and not interesting and you have taken care of Problems 1 & 2 then there is a good chance you are checking it more often than you should.

So cut back on checking Facebook until you find that things are interesting again. Maybe try just once a day. You'll probably find it is a big help and you get more things done as an added bonus :)

3 Ways to make Facebook better

#1 Express yourself
If you are a lurker on Facebook, meaning you just go there to see what others are doing but never do anything yourself, then Facebook doesn't know enough about you to make a good experience for you. Stop being a lurker and start contributing. If you like something you see then "like" it on Facebook. If you have something to say about a topic someone has shared than comment. If you want others to know something than share. The more Facebook knows the better it will do.

#2 Create custom lists
Many people I teach and talk to ask me if there is a way for them to see only what certain groups of people are saying on Facebook, like just their family, or just their high school friends. The answer is yes, but it takes some work.
You will need to go to the right sidebar menu, where it says friends and click more:

Next you will see this menu.

You can see that Facebook has made some out lists for me based on things like who has worked at the same place as me or who lives close to me, and that I have made a few of my own lists as well. Click the + Create List button and you will be able to make a list of whatever friends you want.

Then when you want to see updates only from those people just go back to that friends > more button and then click on the list you want to see.

#3 That little drop down menu
I have saved the best for last, so congrats to you for sticking around to the end. The biggest way to make Facebook better is hidden in the drop down menu that appears as a little down arrow in the top right of every post. Can you see it?

This is where you teach Facebook explicitly what you do and do not like to see. You can click "I don't want to see this" and that post will disappear and Facebook will remember that you said that, it will try to stop showing you content like that. It will also ask if you want to block all posts from that person or company.

If you really want to make things better you can click the "Make Newsfeed Better" option. Facebook will then give you a survey that takes a couple minutes to determine what you think of different types of posts. This can be a very useful exercise to go through.

There you have it, that is how you make Facebook a better experience. Do you have any tips that you have found helpful? Please share them in the comments below. I hope this post will help you to live better, online.

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