1: Getting Started

(EN: Repeating this notice at the head of each chapter: the specific details of this book are likely outdated, but the core concepts of social networking are likely timeless.)

Question: Why get started in social media at all? The answer is, quite simply, because it is a widely-used method of connecting with other people. Balk if you must at the notion of doing something simply because other people are doing it, but that's the way it is, and if you wish to be connected to other people in the present day - to contact them and enable them to contact you - then getting on Facebook is the way to do so.

(EN: A parallel to draw would be "why have a telephone?" There was likely a time when few people had phones, it was a gimmick, and it offered little value unless people you knew had them - but as more and more people got telephone service, it reached a point where it's expected, even "normal," for any person to have a number at which they could be reached. While Facebook may once have been seen as a fad for college kids, its user base is such that not being connected is unusual.)

Why Is Facebook the Best Option?

Primarily, because it's the largest option. Joining other social networks gives you a smaller reach and it's less likely that the people you know and wish to network with are on Facebook rather than the various other communities.

The author mentions two other large communities: MySpace is used by a much smaller audience, tends to be focused on leisure interests (it was built for music fans), and is regarded with some derision as a has-been. LinkedIn is also a smaller site, and while it is widely used, it caters to career networking, with individuals posting resumes, making professional contacts, and looking for jobs, and as such it is not a casual social network - in fact, carousing is considered bad form.

Facebook is not built to any specific purpose, other than connecting and communicating, for any purpose. The site is used to network with families, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances in a casual way.

(EN: The author does not mention the scores of "virtual communities" that are also purpose-built. There are a multitude of such sites, for everything from video game fans to organic chemists. While Facebook has attempted to create "groups" to enable people to network with specific subsets on topics of narrow interest, it still has not succeeded in doing so, and likely VC will remain for quite some time and will be the proper venue for discussion and interaction on specific topics of interest to small groups of people.)

What Does it Cost?

The short answer is "nothing." To create a profile and interact with others is done at no charge (Facebook derives its revenue from selling advertising).

But there are some features that charge: you can purchase virtual "credits" that are used in games and applications on Facebook, or you can purchase advertising to promote your business to the community.

Signing Up and Settling In

Creating an account is very simple: you provide a name, e-mail address, and set a password. That done, you have an account and can log in o begin networking.

The author notes that Facebook does not permit people to create multiple accounts. (EN: But it's sketchy. It's commonly known that you can use a different e-mail address to create a different account, and suggestions that Facebook polices profiles to enforce a one-profile-per-person rule have not been backed by sufficient evidence or incidence to have much credibility.)

Once you create an account, you will be required to provide gender (as FB uses pronouns and needs to know if you are a "him" or a "her") and birth date (FB requires users to be at least 13 to participate).

(EN: The age of 13 is in reaction to federal law - the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1999 - but more to the point ,I don't think this is true. Relatives of mine below that age are on Facebook, as are their friends and classmates. It's unlikely so many have lied about their age, so I expect either birth date is optional or Facebook no longer requires an age limit.)

However, setting up a login won't get you very far: to be recognized and found by others, you will need to provide additional information, such as location, schools, employment details, a picture, and other things by which people will find or recognize you. The amount you provide is at your own discretion, and there are settings that determine what other users are permitted to see the information at a fairly granular level (to show some things and hide others from specific groups of people).

(EN: FB has a history of failure when it comes to this: information that was once private gets leaked when they add a feature or change their policies, and the impact is often buried in a lot of legal information, such that people are unpleasantly surprised to find themselves exposed. Eventually they will either get it right, or it will be their fatal flaw.)

Then you go about the business of finding "friends." FB will help by finding people who match your profile (attended the same school or worked for the same firms during the time you were there). You can also upload your address book to automatically find contacts. Alternately, you can search for people by various parameters.

Another feature that you might want to attend to right away is associating FB with a mobile phone. This is covered in more detail later in this book (chapter nine is all about mobile options).