I created a Facebook account for myself a few months ago and found out that once I did, I had absolutely no idea what to do with it.
Unlike MySpace.com you can not "find" other people with similar interests to communicate with. You are unable to view anyone's profile unless you have a personal invitation and you cannot use HTML or templates in any way, shape or form.
So you may ask, then what is the point? How on Earth can a site that doesn't let you "do anything" be so incredibly popular?
At first I thought the same thing, but fast forward a few months later and I find that I am absolutely addicted to it! I check it no less than 6 times a day and it is the first site I check in the morning when I wake up; even before checking my emails.
Basically, Facebook is an interactive way to keep in touch with people you know. Current friends and even people you knew as far back as 20 or 30 years ago.
Before I explain how this is going to happen, we will start with first things first.
The first thing you need to do when signing up for an account is to put your full name in your profile. If you are a married female, be sure to put your first name, followed by your maiden name, followed by your new last name. This way older friends as well as newer friends can find you.
Then put up a recent picture of yourself (or the picture from your high school yearbook if you are not thrilled with any of your more recent photos). This way when people search for you they will know they have reached the correct person because they recognize your picture.
The next thing to do is fill out your profile information. It is up to you how much personal information you want to include. But be warned, this will be on the internet so be careful of how much you indulge.
Now that your profile is completed, it is time to look for people you know.
Obviously the first place to start is with any family or friends that you already know has an account. Seeing as one the most common questions people ask each other nowadays is "Are you on Facebook?" you are probably already aware of at least one or two people who are registered.
So how do you find out easily who is on Facebook?
Import Your Email Address List
The quickest way to find out which of your current family or friends are on Facebook is to import your email list. On your profile page there is a "Friends" option on the top line. When you click on that it will have an option on the left side of the page to "invite friends." After you click on that you will see an option to Import Email Addresses. Follow the steps needed to import your email addresses and Facebook will find who on your email list currently has a Facebook account.
Find Old Friends From High School
Facebook also has the ability to search for people you used to know in high school. Find the Search For Friends button (I found it is sometimes in different places on different computer screens) and you will be brought to a place where you can type in the high school you attended and the year you graduated. Or you can type in a specific person you are looking for. You will then have the ability to go down the list and add those people as friends.
Search Your Friends Friends
I realize that might sound redundant but having the ability to do this is one of Facebooks greatest features. Once you have hooked up with even one or two contacts you will then have the ability to see who they are friends with. More often than not, the two of you will have friends in common and Facebook gives you the option to invite those common friends to be friends with you with just a click of a button (though the other person will have to accept the invitation first). One of the most exciting (and addicting) things about Facebook is its snowball effect. You will be amazed at how one friend will lead you to three others that you haven't talked to in years; and how those three new people have another 10 people that you haven't talked to, etc.
Discover Who Else You Might Know
Facebook is ahead of its time in its technology of searching through common denominators of members. As you start to accumulate more friends in your account you will start to see that Facebook will also start trying to do the "finding" for you.
When you go into the "Friends" option from your profile, Facebook will give you an automatic list of "other friends" you might have in common with other people - which will lead you to even more people you "forgot" about, which then makes your friends list grow even bigger.
How and Why It Gets So Addicting
I had heard that using the program is addicting. At first I had a hard time believing it, but I have found, as many of my friends have also commented, that it truly is.
Most of us are too busy to keep up with friends as often as we would like to. Who really has the time to make a bunch of phone calls every day to catch up? And reunions with old friends are even tougher. By the time you get a weekend where everyone can make it - you will be lucky if you see them once every few years.
With Facebook you can find out quickly what is happening right now! There is a box on the main page that says "Jane is _________" where you can fill in what you are doing right at this moment. It is such a kick to find out what old and new friends are involved in on a daily basis.
Who is watching what show, going to what concert, going to work, heading on vacation, is tired of trying to figure out new math while helping their kids with their homework, etc....
Facebook also gives you the chance to respond with a funny comment of your own or to send a quick note of sympathy.
I truly didn't appreciate this feature until one day when I "reported" that I was going back to bed because I was sick with a bad cold. Suddenly I received a flood of support that was unbelievably heart warming. A friend who lives close by offered to bring me soup, a neighbor offered to pick up my son from school for me if I wasn't up to it, and friends I haven't seen in almost 20 years offered sympathy and cold remedy advice to help make me feel better. All from a single innocent comment! It's just one of those things that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling.
The photo option is another great feature! You have the ability to create "albums" of your own and the ability to view your friends' albums as well. My current friends list pictures of places we just came back from which are easy for me to copy and save on my computer and my older friends upload pictures from 20 years ago of places and people I have totally forgotten about! Each picture gives you the option to place a comment beneath it - so the memories start flying again as different people comment on each photo.
Another fun thing is seeing what your current friends looked like when they were younger because friends of theirs have posted old photos.
If you even let as little as two days go by without logging in, you can find yourself sitting in front of your computer for over an hour just catching up on new comments and photos that have been posted.
There are other fun options as well. You can upload funny videos you have found and other interesting items. You can send virtual drinks, wishes and gifts to one another, join mutual virtual "fan" clubs and so much more.
So if you haven't tried Facebook yet, give it a try today. It might seem a little strange and intimidating at first, but once you get rolling you will find you can't stop. Just don't say you haven't been warned.