What You Can Do on Facebook - dummies

By Carolyn Abram

Facebook is a means by which you can connect with people who matter to you. Your next question may be, “How?” Here’s an overview of what you can do on Facebook.

Establish a Timeline

When you sign up for Facebook, one of the first things you do is establish your Timeline, originally referred to as Profile. The reason Facebook calls this a Timeline and not a profile is because Timelines are much more than just an at-a-glance bio. Timelines become an ongoing history of your life on Facebook.

The Timeline is set up with all kinds of privacy controls to specify who you want to see which information. Many people find great value in adding to their Timeline just about every piece of information and then unveiling each particular piece cautiously. The safest rule here is to share on your Timeline any piece of information you’d share with someone in real life.


Connect with friends

You should also know about ways to connect your Timeline to the Timelines of your acquaintances. These connections are called friendships. Friending people enables you to communicate and share with them more easily. Friends are basically the reason Facebook can be so powerful and useful to people. Facebook offers the following tools to help you find your friends:

  • Facebook Friend Finder: Enables you to scan the e-mail addresses in your e-mail address book to find whether those people are already on Facebook.

  • People You May Know: Shows you the names and pictures of people you likely know. These people are selected for you based on commonalities like where you live or work or how many friends you have in common.

  • Search: Helps you find the people who are most likely already using Facebook.

After you establish a few connections, use those connections to find other people you know by searching through their connections for familiar names.

Communicate with Facebook friends

As Facebook grows, it becomes more likely that anyone with whom you’re trying to communicate can be reached. These days it’s a fairly safe assumption that you’ll be able to find that person you just met at a dinner party, an old professor from college, or the childhood friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

And Facebook’s messaging system is designed to make it easy to dash a quick note off to friends and get their reply just as fast. The comments people leave on each other’s photos, status updates, and posts are real conversations that you will find yourself taking part in.

Share your thoughts

Maybe you’re proud of the home team, maybe you’re excited for Friday, or maybe you can’t believe what you saw on the way to work this morning. All day long, things are happening to all of you that make you just want to turn to our friends and say, “You know what? Facebook gives you the stage and an eager audience.

Share your pictures

Many memories fade away when the smiling faces are stuffed into an old shoe box, remain on undeveloped rolls of film, or are forgotten in some folder on a hard drive.

Facebook offers three great incentives for uploading, organizing, and editing your photos:

  • Facebook provides one easy-to-access location for all your photos. Directing any interested person to your Facebook Timeline is a very easy method of sharing

  • Every photo you upload can be linked to the Timelines of the people in the photo. For example, you upload pictures of you and your sister and link them to her Timeline.

  • Facebook gives you the power to control exactly who has access to your photos. This enables you to tailor your audience to those friends who might be most interested.

Plan Events, join Groups

Facebook is meant to facilitate interactions when face time isn’t possible or to facilitate the planning of face time. Two of the greatest tools for this are Events and Groups.

Events are just what they sound like: a system for creating events, inviting people to them, sending out messages about them, and so on. Your friends and other guests RSVP to events, which allows the event organizers to plan accordingly and allows attendees to receive event reminders. Facebook Events can be used for something as small as a lunch date or something as big as a march on Washington, D.C.

Groups are also what they sound like: groups of people organized around a common topic or real-world organization. One group may be intimate, and another practical. Within a group, all members can share relevant information, photos, or discussions.

Facebook and the Web

Facebook Photos, Groups, and Events are only a small sampling of how you can use Facebook to connect with the people you know. You might see articles recommended by friends when you go to The New York Times website, or information about what music your friends like when you use Spotify, an Internet radio website.

Many of these websites and applications have been built by outside developers who don’t work for Facebook. They include tools to help you edit your photos; create slideshows; play games with friends across the globe; divvy up bills among people who live or hang out together; and exchange information about good movies, music, books, and restaurants.

Promote a cause or business

Pages look almost exactly like Timelines, just for the not-quite-people among us. Instead of becoming friends with Pages, you can like them. So when you like a television show, you’ll start to see updates from that Page on your Home page. Liking Pages for businesses or causes helps you stay up-to-date with news from them.

If you’re the one managing something like a small business, a cause, or a newsletter, you can also create a page. After you’ve created that page, your users/customers/fans can like it, and then you can update them with news about whatever’s going on in the world of your store/cause/thing.