On the world’s largest social network, as in any social environment on or offline, manners matter – and certain norms have developed that when kept to, make life run more smoothly and pleasantly for all concerned. On Facebook most interactions take place amongst friends and acquaintances on your mutual contact lists; in groups however you can communicate directly with perfect strangers, those with whom you have no prior connection – and as such the potential to misunderstand or cause offence is naturally greater.
I am going to assume you are not a spammer and your intention is to not be rude or offensive – that you are the kind of person who would be dismayed to do so unwittingly. These guidelines are to help you to get your “group netiquette” right on Facebook and enjoy fully everything that busy and lively groups have to offer.
Remember where you are…
Don’t post a status update or private message in a Facebook group. If your message is for an individual then their timeline or mailbox is where it belongs, not a group you happen to both be in. If you do so mistakenly post in the wrong place simply delete it – rather than trigger a shedload of comments about what you mistakenly did. Remember some people’s settings are to receive alerts about any group activity so don’t add to the noise levels.
Group ‘Rules’ and ‘About’
Read and respect these – you will find them clearly indicated on the group page feed in the right menu, on the ‘About’ tab, and many group admins will also pin a post detailing what’s expected. Their gaff, their rules – so what kind of posts are acceptable or not will doubtless be clearly indicated. Remember every group in every society has its behavioural standards, and if you want to fit in – whether you just joined a social club, a private party or a new workplace – it’s never a bad idea to watch and learn for a bit before crashing in with your own stuff.
CAPITALS and language
Use of capitals on Facebook or anywhere online is equivalent to SHOUTING which is RUDE, ATTENTION-SEEKING and also difficult to read. If you accidentally caps-locked your comment, delete and do it over! Similarly also respect the language(s) in use within the group, if you are not certain everyone else in the group shares a different tongue don’t introduce it.
Also – tough one for me as a writer – do try not to be a Grammar Nazi. It’s Facebook not a broadsheet editorial, and a lot of people will be typing on smartphone keyboards too so perhaps deserve a bit of slack to be cut? I try to bite back on correcting annoying typos or making judgements about someone’s intellect from the standards of writing used in a Facebook comment.
But even if you are on a smartphone, you are surely not on a Nokia in 1997. How about making the effort to type proper words like a grown-up, instead of hoping pl get u in txtspk – seriously. The internet is different now.
Don’t Crash in and Hijack
You can think of a thread within a group as a specific conversation, it’s not private as its within the group but it is focused and created by the opener to address a specific question or thing they want to share. Rather than taking the comments off in a completely unhelpful or irrelevant direction, why not start your own thread?
And if you were in a face-to-face situation and somebody had just concluded a transaction for example, would you butt in and try to undercut them? Comment on where you could get one cheaper? Offer unsolicited remarks about the character and conduct of those involved? Surely not. So the staggeringly rude behaviour of some group participants you may observe is unfathomable – don’t be that person!
Group to Group Sharing
Sometimes you see something on one group and think, hey, that’d really interest my buddies over on another group or others on my timeline, I want to share the love and pass it on.
If it’s a link or external thing you want to share, there may well be a ‘share’ button on the content itself – this is very easy then to share with the group you want. If it’s a written comment you want to share, do first ask yourself whether it’s appropriate to share it further? If it is then fine but please DON’T copy and paste the wording, LINK to it, so that people can click through and comment and respond on the original content. You find the ‘permalink’ to this piece of content, somewhat unintuitively, in the grey time-stamp info connected with the post – it’s this link you want to be sharing.
Need some privacy?
Inevitably some threads spin off into an intense dialogue or small group chat which can quickly get off topic. If the group isn’t too busy that may be fine but be aware when it might be more appropriate to ‘get a room’ – or perhaps a private message thread, rather than annoy, distract, entertain or embarrass yourself in front of the whole group. If you are negotiating a price for something or a face-to face-meeting, exchanging contact details or having a vehement disagreement, then take it somewhere more private.
Remember though that if you and the other parties have no mutual friends your messages will get dumped to the icy wastes of the “other” box, so why not tie up the thread – and let the audience know what’s occurring – by commenting something like “PM sent”
I hope these tips help you get more out of Facebook groups. Remember we have our own group for Costa Connected – why don’t you join us there if you have any more questions.
Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, January 24th 2013 ©Maya Middlemiss, Casslar Consulting SL