How Can I Use Facebook? - dummies

By Carolyn Abram, Amy Karasavas

Now that you know what you can do, generally, on Facebook, it’s time to consider some of the specific ways you may find yourself using Facebook in the future. The following list is by no means comprehensive. These are more specific-use cases than an advertisement for Facebook’s features.

Two billion people use Facebook, but not all of them can see your whole Timeline. You can share as much or as little with as many or as few people as you so desire. Put under lock and key the posts or parts of your Timeline you don’t want to share with everyone.

Getting information

At any age, you may need to find someone’s phone number or connect with a friend of a friend to organize something. Facebook can make these very practical tasks a little bit easier. If you can search for someone’s name, you should be able to find her on Facebook and find the information you’re looking for.

Keeping up with long-distance friends

These days, families and friends are often spread far and wide across state or country lines. Children go to college; grandparents move to Florida; people move for their job or because they want a change of scenery. These distances make it hard for people to interact in any more significant way than gathering together once per year to share some turkey and pie (pecan, preferably).

Facebook offers a place where you can virtually meet and interact. Upload photos of the kids for everyone to see; write posts about what everyone is up to. Even the more mundane information about your life (“I’m at jury duty”) can make someone across the world feel like, just for a second, she’s sitting next to you and commiserating with you about your jury summons.

Moving to a new city

Landing in a new city with all your worldly belongings and an upside-down map can be hugely intimidating. Having some open arms or at least numbers to call when you arrive can greatly ease the transition. Although you may already know some people who live in your new city, Facebook can help connect with all the old friends and acquaintances you either forgot live there or have moved there since you last heard from them. These people can help you find doctors, apartments, hair stylists, Frisbee leagues, and restaurants.

As you meet more and more new friends, you can connect with them on Facebook. Sooner than you thought possible, when someone posts about construction slowing down his commute, you know exactly the street he means, and you may realize, I’m home.

Getting a job

Plenty of people use Facebook as a tool for managing their careers as well as their social lives. If you’re looking at a company, find people who already work there to get the inside scoop or to land an interview. If you’re thinking about moving into a particular industry, browse your friends by past jobs and interests to find someone to connect with. If you go to a conference for professional development, you can keep track of the other people you meet there as your Facebook friends.


Thanks to life’s curveballs, your friends at any given time may not be the people in your life at another. The memories of people you consider to be most important in your life fade over the years so that even trying to recall a last name may give you pause. The primary reason for this lapse is a legitimate one: There are only so many hours in a day.

While you’re always making new, close friends, others drift away because it’s impossible to maintain many intense relationships. Facebook is an extremely powerful tool; however, it hasn’t yet found a way to extend the number of hours in a day, so it can’t exactly fix the problem of growing apart. Facebook can, however, lessen the finality and inevitability of the distance.

Because Facebook is only about thirteen years old (and because you’re reading this book), you probably don’t have your entire social history mapped out. Some may find it a daunting task to create connections with everyone they’ve ever known. Instead, build your graph as you need to or as opportunity presents.

Perhaps you want to upload a photo taken from your high school graduation. Search for the people in the photo on Facebook; form the friend connection; and then tag, or mark, them as being in the photo. Maybe you’re thinking about opening a restaurant, and you’d like to contact a friend from college who was headed into the restaurant business after graduation. Perhaps you never told your true feelings to the one who got away. For all these reasons, you may find yourself using the Facebook Search box.

Organizing movements

In the summer of 2014, you couldn’t look at a News Feed without encountering a video of someone dumping a bucket of ice water over their head. It wasn’t some sort of bizarre hazing ritual; it was the ALS ice bucket challenge, designed to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). This awareness campaign hinged entirely on social sites like Facebook to spread.

People would “challenge” their friends to either donate to an ALS-related charity or dump ice water over their heads and post the video of it to Facebook (or, ideally, do both). One person would post her ice-bucket video, challenge five friends, and then those five friends would post their ice-bucket videos, and so on and so on. The campaign spread through Facebook and the ALS association reported that it had more than doubled the amount of money raised over the previous summer.

The term movement, here, can apply to anything. People have used Facebook to agitate against terrorist groups, to raise money for victims of natural disasters, to spark conversation about suicide clusters at elite schools. Whatever the cause or movement may be, Facebook can be used to bring support and spread the word.

Communicating in times of trouble

It is a sad fact of life that sometimes events happen beyond our control. Disasters great and small befall everyone at one time or another. While Facebook tends to be a place for sharing the good stuff, its tools also work very well to help with some of the logistics of recovering from certain types of disasters. Safety Check is a feature that gets turned on in certain geographic regions after natural disasters or security attacks.

This feature allows people to easily notify their wider Facebook community that they are okay and can even help them coordinate with the services they might need. Facebook’s Groups feature was used to help coordinate civilian boat evacuations after a hurricane flooded Houston, TX, in 2017. Because people live so much of their lives on Facebook, Facebook winds up being there for both the good and the bad.