This installment of Dear Rookie Moms is a cheat sheet of Facebook etiquette for the grandparent set. Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the innocent.
Dear Rookie Moms,
I’m a grandma and I’m on Facebook. But I just don’t get it. Every day, I see more and more of my friends as little pictures on the side. Sometimes, I see my kids and other times I can’t find them. It looks like fun, but I’m overwhelmed. How should I get started?
I understand you’re just getting into Facebook so here are some some tips and etiquette to get you on your way. You can use Facebook for a lot of cool things and I think you’ll really enjoy it once you get the hang of it.
I’m going to talk about the way your share your personal information (Profile, Status, Photos), the way you communicate with other people (Wall, Messages), and how you find people in the first place.
Your “Profile” is a place to post public information about yourself
- Never post your phone number or full address.
- Birthdate is pretty standard to share, but its ok to leave the year off.
- Post a nice picture of your face as a profile picture as soon as you can figure out how to upload it. That will let your old pals know they’ve found the right Grammy ToMyGrandkids.
Your “Status” is a public forum to share your thoughts
- Post short thoughts and updates like “really enjoyed Julie & Julia”
- You can also share links to interesting articles that you find.
- Be cautious about sharing too much personal information here. Do not put “my husband is traveling for 3 weeks and I’m alone in the house”
- Keep it clean. Think about the kinds of things that are ok to share with former colleagues, bosses, ex-boyfriends, old friends, and your kids.
Photos give your friends a flavor for your life today
- A few good pictures will go a long way. Choose some of your favorites. Rotate them so nobody has to tilt their head to view properly.
- Take the lead from your kids as to whether they feel comfortable sharing pictures of your grandkids online. If so, upload one or two pictures of your grandkids so all your old friends can see how beautiful your family is. Update the pictures periodically.
- Share a few pictures of your fun hobbies and/or jobs. Grammy on waterskis? Awesome! Grammy on a sea kayak or wrestling alligators? Sweet! Grammy meeting Bono or touring in Namibia. Most excellent.
The “Wall” is a message board that all your friends can read
- Don’t post anything that is too private. Saying “congrats on your new baby Fred and Wilma” is good but “how was your rectal exam?” is crossing the line.
- Avoid sharing specifics about plans or details that exclude some of your friends. If you invite Tina to lunch, save that for a message (see below).
- Don’t write “you’re my favorite son” unless you only have one. Any message that is likely to hurt feelings should not go on the wall.
“Messages” are private like email
- Emails are about as private as a postcard. And Facebook messages are much like email.
- You can send a message to one or more people using your “Inbox” or “send Heather a message” link; it can be handier than digging up folks’ email addresses in your regular email application if everyone is on Facebook. If not, stick to email.
- Like email, it is just fine to send specific dates, details, exclusive party plans here. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings by mentioning the Christmas party that not everyone’s invited to.
- Never send your SS# or credit card # over email or Facebook message.
Finding friends on Facebook is fun once you get going
- You can be Facebook friends with anyone you know, people you know really well or only a little.
- Facebook will make suggestions to you based on the friends of your friends, accept whomever you want. You can also ignore these requests. It might feel a little strange to receive these.
- One easy method to find friends is to search for people in the little search box up above. Thinking of your high school boyfriend? Type his name in and see if he’s online!
- You can also be proactive to find friends by importing your email address book — I suggest you do this with a helper because I’ve seen it go awry.
- Once you are “friends” with someone on Facebook, you can continue to use the search box to find them. Your friends should be in the top of the results list with other folks with the same name following.
Ok Grammy, that’s about all I have right now. I hope my little “grandma’s guide to Facebook etiquette” is enough to get you started. Let me know if you have more questions!
Good luck and have fun,
This Dear Rookie Moms edition is a hybrid of a few emails I’ve received to help grandmas get up to speed on Facebook. My mom and some friends joined Facebook a few months ago but haven’t done much with it. Until Now.
Please share your tips in the comments.