Thursday October 6th 2022

SOCIAL MEDIA : Facebook Faux Pas (how do I avoid them?)

Whenever you start something new there’s a “settling in” period. Your first time watching rugby you can’t understand why they keep stopping and hugging each other, for example. Or your first pregnancy, and suddenly all those words like “trimester” and “Braxton-Hicks” start to have meaning. Likewise when you join a new community – moving to a new neighbourhood or joining a new club or your kids starting at a new school – it takes a little while to figure out the local customs. From the practical things like which day the binmen come to the more tricky social niceties like “is this the kind of neighbourhood where it’s okay to pop out to get the post in my pjs”, you need to acclimatise.

So when you join Facebook, which is at once a new technology and a new community, you’re bound to make a few mistakes. Here are a few of the more common ones, and how to avoid them in future.

1.    Facebook is not a truly private space

Yes, you choose and “approve” your friends, so there’s a level of privacy. But don’t ever say anything on Facebook you wouldn’t say in a crowded room. And if you’ve made friends with your boss/stepmother/high school sweetheart/priest, don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to their face. Also, and this is important, once you’ve said something on Facebook, don’t be surprised that people know about it. If you’re bitching about your divorce every day, and then you bump into your second cousin’s boyfriend at the Pick n Pay and he says “Shame, how’s everything with Neil?”, don’t frown and say “none of your business”. Once you’ve put it out there, it’s out there.

2.    Facebook is not a marketing platform

Okay, bear with me, because I know what you’re thinking. Facebook is, truly, one of the most effective, efficient, powerful ways to market yourself, your business, your cause. But only if you don’t treat as a marketing platform. If you’re out to market on Facebook, you need to pretend it’s like a giant cocktail party. People will ask what you do, you might meet your next potential funder (or your next one night stand. Or both.)and you might hand over a few business cards. But if you stand in the corner with a giant sandwich board saying “I SELL STUFF. BUY IT. BUY IT NOW”, everyone will avoid you. The good salesman spends an hour chatting to someone, learning about them, and then says “I’m sure this is silly, but since you’re an avid scuba diver and I happen to own shares in the Great Barrier Reef’s largest resort, if you ever wanted to pop over I could give you a 20% discount.” That’s Facebook, right there.

3.    Facebook is instant, and forever

Once it’s said, it’s said. Sure, you can go back and delete it, but someone will have seen it. Someone will remember it. Don’t do it if you don’t mean it: post that unflattering pic of your ex, call out your friend on betraying you, bitch about your work.

4.    Don’t be a stalker

Liking every single thing your BFF or Man of the Moment posts is almost as bad as liking the stuff you post yourself. And what’s worse is liking or commenting on every status, photo or move of someone you kinda knew in high school. Be reasonable. If people start to feel like you’re obsessing about their every move, you may just get hidden. Or worse yet, unfriended.

5.    Facebook is not real life

Every now and then, turn off the computer, go play a real game of scrabble, attend an actual political debate, actually really and truly laugh out loud, hug a real friend. Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, poke them.

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5 Comments for “SOCIAL MEDIA : Facebook Faux Pas (how do I avoid them?)”

  • Esti Stewart says:

    Would have liked to “like” this article!! And add: 6. Keep in mind that a potential future employer/the committee deciding on the dux award at school might peep at your wall to see who you really are when the guard is down. Great magazine!

    • Beth says:

      Yes, me too :). When the web server crashed last week, we had to place our back-up online…and lost all our social media bits and pieces. The trials and tribulations of online magazines :). But…onwards and upwards!

  • Everson Luhanga says:

    That a wonderful article Berth. I been trying to submit my comments, unsucessul.

    However, I keep on trying until one day I will break through. Everson.

    • Beth says:

      Hi Everson
      Thanks so much! I think that you will now be able to do so – we didn’t realise that you were having trouble submitting comments. Please let me know if all is resolved now. Please look out for a new opinion piece from a former fellow student, Erica Southey – about our planet.

      • Denis says:

        Becky Rardin – I am so glad Michelle and Nathan chose you to photograph their egangement and wedding! You did an outstanding job! You don’t just take a picture, you capture emotion, individual personalities, and so much more with your unique God given talent! Can’t wait to see rest of Michelle’s wedding pictures!!

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