Last week we started looking at ‘smart lists’ that Facebook creates for you. Today we are going to look in a bit more detail about adding and removing people from lists that Facebook creates, and that you create yourself.
As well as populating via their shared ‘About’ info, you can simply add or remove your friends to and from your smart lists, if it makes sense to you to do so. When you add someone to a smart list, they will get an alert and they can choose to add that information to their timeline. For example, if you add one of your friends to your work list, they’ll have the option to add that company to the Education and Work section of their timeline – if they choose not to it doesn’t affect your use of your smart list at all, if your friend decides they don’t want this information on their timeline, they’ll still be added to your list.
This is important, because it illustrates the point that lists are for YOU – apart from indicating that a post has restricted circulation if you share it with Close Friends only, Facebook will never give off any clue to your friends that you have put them into one or more lists for your own convenience. You are in complete control, as ever, but also typically for Facebook that control is not necessarily obvious or clear and easy to use. In fact, a lot of people go through their Facebook life quite happily oblivious to the very existence of lists.
How do you add someone to a list? The simplest way is via their own timeline. When you hover over the ‘Friends’ button which is now at the bottom right of their cover picture, you will see a series of options pop up below that including your default lists of Close Friends and Acquaintances. To see all your smart lists click ‘add to another list’, and note at the end of that you also have the option to ‘create a new list’
This is where you can get really smart with it. For example, you might be planning a surprise event for someone, and want to create a list of potential guests, to start discreetly discussing ideas with (you could use a Facebook group instead or later on of course). You might have a bit of a business moonlighting idea going on, that you want to keep from posting about to certain categories of people from your regular working life. Or you might simply have a need to keep different areas of your life from blurring into each other, so that you are sharing with people most likely to find your content of interest.
For example, I run a UK business managing research events, and we often use Facebook to shout out about calls for participants for our focus groups and so on. I like to share these personally when I think they will be of interest – but they would not be of interest to most of my friends in Spain, in fact if I shared about research events in the UK too often my buddies in Spain might start to get a bit fed up with it (they could end up dumping me in their acquaintances list just to tone down the volume of my posts – shock horror!). So, I have created a list simply called ‘UK’ into which I put everyone on my friends list who lives there, and also a few people who live elsewhere but have lots of UK connections or travel a lot or who I know are likely to be interested in sharing my stuff with people they know. Then when I have yet another research call to get out there this week, I can simply choose to send it to my UK list only.
Remember, you choose where every single bit of content you post ultimately gets circulated. We have looked before at the default options in the Audience Selector – as well as the usual Friends, Public, Friends of Friends options you will also see Friends except Acquaintances and Close Friends in there, once you have people in these lists – this enables you to share more personal stuff in a more restricted way. But you also have the option to share to any of your lists that you choose from this menu too.
Finally you have the little cog icon which opens up an even more granular level of control. Share with everyone except specific lists, even exclude specific people… Some of these options are difficult to access in mobile apps but in the full browser, you can control every single aspect of every item you post, if you want to. Without wanting to get too Machiavellian, you really can say things behind specific individual’s backs, keep secrets, plan surprises, or have a damn good whinge.
Lists simply make it easier to group your friends together and communicate with them in the way you choose, rather than having to select and deselect individuals from your entire friend list each time you want to share a status or plan an event. Have some fun experimenting and see if organising your friends helps your social networking life run more smoothly.
Published in Costa Blanca News, May 24th 2013