How do you Facebook?

A recent article in Fast Company discussed what they have termed “social browsing”—what the rest of us might call noodling around on Facebook. They cited a study of women in their 20s, for whom Facebook has become the time-killer, with the rest of the web relegated to goal-driven tasks such as checking the weather report or shopping. The article goes on to discuss the importance of building a strong brand in Facebook.

I have a Facebook page for Red Beret Design, but I must admit it is the red-headed (red-hatted?) stepchild of my social media strategy. While I struggle to commit time to blogging, and seem to be amassing Twitter followers despite my uneven Tweet schedule, my Facebook page has pretty much been relegated to auto-feed of this blog and my Twitter account.

The reason for that is not due to skepticism of Facebook as a marketing platform, but due to the way that I personally use Facebook. I share a gender, though not an age group, with the women in the study. Some of the women studied spent as much as much as five hours a day on Facebook, and although I can’t imagine doing that unless I was bedridden, I do admit that I’ve had to consciously limit the time I spend poking around on Facebook. But I deliberately limit my exposure to almost anything other than status updates, with occasional linked videos and photo albums.

People who don’t use Facebook often cite their reason as “I really don’t care what my friends had for breakfast this morning.” But if a friend posts a photo of his son eating coffee cake at Hobee’s, or another talks about how she made an omelet with the fresh tomatoes from their garden, I feel connected to people I care about but rarely see. A once-a-year Hallmark card with a glittering fir tree and a scrawled signature just doesn’t give me the glimpse into friends’ lives that the most banal of status updates can offer.

When I was new to Facebook, I freely “liked” things I would stumble across, or that others would suggest, from museums to bands to good causes. I no longer do so. My business and personal email addresses have become overflowing buckets of newsletters and spam and donor requests and sales pitches. I like to know that when I see that there’s an email in my Facebook inbox, it is the online equivalent of getting an envelope in the mail with a familiar return address scribbled in an old friend’s handwriting.

As a result, I have quietly delisted myself from any cause or brand or band that sends me a missive via my Facebook inbox. I have hidden the updates of friends who use Facebook primarily for promoting their causes or their politics or their brands. If a post appears saying that some friend has taken a quiz or is playing a game, I hide the application immediately. I have never done a search on Facebook for anything other than the name of a friend. I block the ads.

I am curious to hear from others about how they use Facebook. Unless, of course, you’ve blocked my updates and haven’t even seen this link. In which case: no problem. I understand.

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