Thursday, February 16, 2012

Do You Facebook?

 Sharing my February article from my monthly column at the Denver News

"In December, The Denver News set up a Facebook Page and Twitter account to interact more readily with Denver area readers who are already active in Social Media. I thought it would be fun and interesting to write about some Social Media Etiquette. It doesn’t really matter who you are, what kind of job you have or how old you are, you’ve probably heard of Facebook and Twitter.

 Now my daughter, who is a 5th grader, tells me that most of her girlfriends are on Facebook which, on some level I find appalling. On the other hand, I also know that there are millions of people that will have nothing to do with the social media site because ‘it’s a waste of time’, which I disagree. For a number of years I’ve used social media for both business and personal reasons and I can’t imagine not having these very powerful and useful social-media tools available to me every day.

According to Mashable, an independent news outlet dedicated to covering digital culture, a full 42.3 percent of the entire American population uses Facebook at least once a month. That’s a heck of a lot of people and it’s going to grow bigger according to Ken Burbary another professional web marketer and technologist. And just in case you were wondering, it’s certainly not just for twenty something hipsters. Burbary writes that about 27.5 percent of Facebook users are between 35 to 64 years old. That is roughly 50-million users. That means average people; grandmothers, farmers, sales clerks, painters and paramedics, janitors, teachers, librarians and all the people in between.


I use Facebook to keep in contact with friends in the Denver area and family and acquaintances from around the globe. I also manage several fan pages for others. I realize though, that a lot of people still don’t know why they should dedicate any time either professionally or personally to this kind of thing.

When I was invited to participate with an entrepreneurial group of writers, producers and journalists last year, one of the things I took away from that connection was that each entity intertwines social media into their daily business dealings. It brings them a chance to open dialogue with their customers on a more personal basis and eventually, done with the right intent, it will make them more successful and better paid.

And of course, let’s get real, spending time on Facebook looking at pictures, making comments and watching the latest cute kitty video gone viral is totally a fun factor that adds allure to unaccounted for time.

Since Facebook recently changed their format, you can choose who will see what you post which means that you have control over what information you give whom. If you want to show off pictures of your new born or your most recent girlfriend, you can post it to your “close friends” list but leave that info off your “acquaintances” list. You no longer have to worry about mixing personal and professional boundaries unless that is your strategic intent. The most important thing as my father says is: when all else fails, read directions.
Twitter is also a tremendously useful and fun tool but does not have such a huge following lagging behind with only 400K new accounts opened daily as compared to Facebook’s skyrocketing numbers.

According to @TweetSmarter, 20 percent of the Twitter elite attract about 85 percent of the attention and it’s interesting to note that Media Outlets are really the most active users on Twitter. If you are like me and want to know what is going on around town at any given moment most restaurants, stores, events and sports teams have their own twitter handle. All you have to do is start following them and they are happy to let you know about specials, openings and menus.

A little bit about Facebook etiquette: Common sense dictates that you should remember that you are on a public site. It is called social media because the point is to be social, but not stupid. Engaging in conversation is the whole point but it isn’t necessarily where you should spill your guts, talk about you next door neighbor in a disparaging way or let on that your wife is having an affair with your boss.

There are scores of Facebook and Twitter etiquette sites with the 10 most important Do’s and Don’ts. Follow those and get into it. In moderation it can bring you a whole lot of fun and open up rewarding conversation and dialogue with people you would normally not have a chance to know otherwise."

Silvana Vukadin-Hoitt, is a creative entrepreneur and advocate for sustainable living. She currently lives and works in Denver and is also a contributing writer for The Denver News

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