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How to improve Facebook’s News Feed

How to improve Facebook's News FeedIn a recent blog post I asked the question “Should You Quit Facebook” and looked at options to help you improve the signal-to-noise ratio of Facebook overall.

With more and more content being thrown at you by Facebook, you need to ensure you filter the updates Facebook serves you so that it’s more relevant and less annoying.

My own Facebook news feed is 50% comic book and Sci-Fi geek updates, and 50% updates from friends and family who are important to me, with very few annoying memes, chain letters or updates that are irrelevant – and I’m OK with that!

But how did I get there? Here’s five steps on how to improve Facebook’s News Feed.

Hide Unwanted News Feed Items

Facebook I don't want to see thisThe first step to improving your Facebook news feed is to start telling Facebook about things you don’t want to see.

Trust me when I say this is super easy and super gratifying! Those “hilarious” memes that your friends keep posting? You can nuke them all so they never come back. Baby photos from over-doting parents? Hide them away forever!

Visit your Facebook news feed (from your Desktop PC or laptop is best) and scroll through until you find something you don’t like. It probably won’t take very long! Then click on the arrow in the top right hand corner of this update and from the resulting drop-down menu select “I don’t want to see this”. Facebook will hide the update and you’ll see less of the same type of updates in the future.

If the update is a meme then you can block the source of the meme altogether by selecting “Hide all from…” so further witty updates of that nature won’t sully your news feed.

Unfriending people

IFacebook Unfriendf you’re like me, then there are a whole lot of people you barely know who send you Facebook friend requests. These might be people you meet online, meet at work, old school acquaintances or friends of friends.

Some of these folks are good value and you’ll become friends with, others… not so much.

If you’ve ever added someone as a Facebook friend who has then gone on to fill up your News Feed with negative status updates, political or religious lobbying or perhaps those folks who you’ve added by don’t actually really know at all – do yourself a favour and unfriend them.

You can do this by visiting somebody’s Facebook profile, and then clicking on the arrow to the right of the Friends tab. Then click “Unfriend”. The person won’t be notified, although if they do try and directly visit your profile then they’ll see you aren’t friends.

I’ve unfriended people in this way, and the vast, vast majority of people don’t ever notice. Those that do? Well, it’s a good chance for you to re-connect and remind yourselves of why you wanted to be connected on Facebook in the first place!

Unfollow Friends

If you’re too cowardly to unfriend people – or you can’t unfriend them for any reason (your boss, for instance) – then you can unfollow people.

Unfollowing somebody means they continue to show up as your Facebook friend from their perspective, but from your perspective you never see any of their Facebook status updates on your newsfeed.

Facebook Unfollow FriendTo unfollow somebody, visit their Facebook profile and click the “Following” button. This persons updates will no longer show up in your News Feed, although you can visit their profile at any time to see their updates.

Move friends to acquaintances

In addition to unfriending and unfollowing people, did you know that you can also lower the number of updates you see from certain people by adding them to your “Acquaintances” list?

If you visit https://www.facebook.com/friends/organize then Facebook will take a good guess at the folks who are acquaintances who you’re less interested in hearing about, and allow you to automatically move them to an “acquaintances” list. Member of the acquaintances list don’t appear in your news feed so often.

Take the Facebook News Feed Survey

Facebook News Feed SurveyFinally, Facebook offers the option to take a personalised survey that helps it to determine the things you want to see in your news feed and those that you’d prefer to avoid.

To take the Facebook news feed survey, click the arrow in the top right of any news feed story and click the “Take a survey to make News Feed better” option.

Facebook will ask you a series of questions to help determine what you like and what you don’t like. You can answer as many questions as you like, and you can take the survey as often as you like.

Taking this survey every few months has had a noticeable effect on my own news feed, helping bring good, relevant content to the top, and hide content I don’t like away from my news feed.

Conclusion

Facebook does its best to fill your news feed with updates you want to see – but to be honest, it doesn’t seem to do a very good job of this.

By telling Facebook what you like and what you don’t like, and by filtering your Facebook friends once in a while, you’ll find that Facebook does a much better job of serving up content that you’d like to see.

If all of the above fails, then it may be time to ask “Should You Quit Facebook” – but I’d definitely try the above steps before you considered pulling the plug on the world’s biggest Social network altogether.

Photo by mkhmarketing

Should You Quit Facebook?

Should you quit Facebook?I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook – and I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

On one hand I think Facebook is a powerful way of staying in touch with friends, family and acquaintances – enabling you to stay current with what folks are up to and helping you to build stronger relationships with those who you consider important to you.

On the other hand, I’d suggest that Facebook can expose you to very negative influences, from snarky comments, to others inflicting their political and religious beliefs upon us. Also consider that most of us typically use Facebook status update to display the best parts of our life – our highlight reel. This “highlight reel” approach can lead us to compare what we consider to be our own dull and boring lives to the perceived brilliant lives others tell us about through their Facebook feed. Feelings of jealousy and inadequacy rear their ugly heads.

And let’s be honest – at a more basic level, Facebook can also be a complete and utter waste of time. Consider for a moment if you spent just half of the time you currently spend mindless “liking” posts on Facebook to instead learning a foreign language – besser, ja?

Should You Quit Facebook?

All of which leads to the question, “Should You Quit Facebook?”

More than once I’ve considered quitting Facebook altogether, and I know lots of people who have.

“It’s all depressing/irritating/annoying”, “It’s a waste of time!” and “It’s full of rubbish anyway” are just three justifications that you can offer for quitting Facebook.

Except those above statements can equally apply to any modern source of media. TV can be “full of rubbish”. Listening to the Radio can be “Depressing/Irritating/Annoying”. Social Media as a whole can be a complete and utter waste of time – if you don’t use it properly.

Any medium that becomes popular and widely adopted will suffer from problems of trying to please the masses while simultaneously annoying the masses too.

Quitting Facebook is one solution, although I do think that is rather like chucking out your TV because you don’t like watching those awful reality shows. If most TV annoys you, try buying yourself a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) and record only the shows you like to watch when you’d like to watch them. By filtering the content and only choosing the bits that are relevant to you, you’ll find the medium of TV much more valuable and fun. Mindlessly watch what is served up to you, and you’ll inevitably become irritated/annoyed/depressed with what you see.

Instead, consider ways you can filter and customise Facebook to deliver to you the bits you like (important friends updates, news from groups you are passionate about, genuinely funny videos of Cats playing pianos) and never expose you to the bits you don’t like (thinly vieled racism or ignorance disguised as religious or political rallying, negative “friends”, annoying videos of Cats playing pianos).

How can you do this?

Improve the Facebook News Feed

The first step is to improve the Facebook news feed you receive. Facebook tries its best to show you updates from people, groups and companies that it thinks is important to you, yet what you often see is the stuff you don’t want to see.

You can change this so you see things you actually want to see, rather than the dross. It’s a simple process of accentuating the things you want to see more of, and de-emphasising the things you’d prefer not to see.

Click “Like” on status updates from friends and groups that you genuinely like. Not like a bit, but like a lot. There’s too much brilliant stuff out there for you to like the mediocre as well. Don’t rely on the news feed alone – directly visit pages from friends and groups and scroll through their recent updates “liking” the things you genuinely like. Pretty quickly you’ll see more of this stuff and less of the dross you don’t like on your main news feed.

Dislike Facebook ItemsIf you see something your news feed that you don’t like, then click on the little arrow in the right hand corner of the item and click on “I don’t want to see this”. You’ll see less of that stuff going forward.

If you consistently see stuff from a person or group that you don’t want to see, then click “Unfollow” and you’ll never see their stuff again – and they’ll never be notified of this.

This also works for those annoying memes, “hilarious” images and chain letters you see shared by friends. Click on the “Hide All from” button and it doesn’t matter which of your friends wants to share them in the future, you won’t see them on your News feed.

Don’t visit Facebook any more

It’s possible to keep up to date with your friends via Facebook without visiting the Facebook web site or using the Facebook app. You can like their pictures, see important status updates and send them birthday wishes – all from a 3rd party app called EasilyDo.

EasilyDo Facebook Important UpdateEasilyDo is a free app available for Android and iOS and is one of a new category of personal Digital Assistants that is around to make your life easier by organising your electronic data. For instance, Easilydo can automatically add your hotel and flight email reservations to your calendar, notify you of any new bills you receive via email and much more besides. I personally use Easily.do and it’s a great timer saver.

One of the other features EasilyDo offers is to alert you to any important updates shared by friends on Facebook, as well as highlight any photographs you’ve been tagged in and display a daily summary of the Facebook pictures it thinks you’d like to see. This means you can see (and comment and like) on a load of Facebook activity all from within the EasilyDo app and all without ever having to visit Facebook directly. EasilyDo even suggests update text you should use!

If you’re somebody who is easily distracted by the things Facebook serves up for you and find a “quick visit” to Facebook can often result in you losing track of time, then using an app like EasilyDo could enable you to stay up to date on what is happening with your Facebook friends but without the temptation to fall down the digital rabbit hole…

Conclusion

Should you quit Facebook? That’s for you to decide, but you might find that by filtering how Facebook shares information with you – through customising the Facebook news feed to reduce the things you don’t like and accentuate the things you do – you eliminate that which annoys or upsets you altogether.

Using a 3rd party App like EasilyDo also allows you to reduce the time you spend on Facebook while not feeling as disconnected as you might if you quit Facebook altogether.

As Clay Shirky said, it’s not Information Overload, it’s filter failure. Just like Television, Smartphones and every other modern communication medium, if you put the right filters in place then your Facebook experience can be a positive one.

Left unfiltered, Facebook will probably annoy you to the point of distraction.

Slingr – Buy someone a drink from anywhere in the world!

Slingr - Location-based Social GiftingEvery Friday I try to share one of my favourite finds of the week – a web-site, tool or app that has impressed me.

My Friday Favourite this week is Slingr – a location-based social gifting app that allows you to remotely buy a beer (or indeed, any food or drink on offer at a location) for somebody, wherever you are in the world!

Location-based Social Gifting

Available as an App for iOS and Android, Slingr works by allowing registered users to check-in to a location such as a bar or restaurant – in the same way you might check-in on Facebook, Foursquare or Yelp!

Once checked in, Slingr updates your Social Media status (at the moment, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all supported) to let your network know which location you are visiting, along with a link.

Any of your network who follows the link can see a choice of food and drinks the venue has on offer, and can choose to buy you something from wherever they are, that order then being delivered to your table along with a printed note featuring a message from the buyer.

Which Locations support Slingr?

Slingr LogoAt the moment, Slingr only covers some locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles – and it has plenty of competition from Gift Card apps, Coupon Apps and the big location based players such as Facebook and Foursquare. With that said, I can see huge potential for Slingr being used at Conferences, Parties and all manner of locations and events and I hope their business takes off.

Who will be the first in your area to start accepting Slingr orders? Well, if you’re a business owner you can apply to set Slingr up at your venue now.

Registering for Slingr

If you’d like to register for Slingr as a user, then you can get Slingr on the App Store or Slingr on Google Play for free now.

 

photo credit: StickDigital / Christopher Allen Fox via photopin cc

Persona – Online Reputation Management

Persona - Online Reputation ManagementEvery Friday I try to share one of my favourite finds of the week – a web-site, tool or app that has impressed me.

My Friday Favourite this week is Persona.

Persona is an online reputation management tool. It actively scans your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ profiles and lets you identify and manage content that could compromise your personal brand – whether it be an inappropriate status update, a dodgy photo you may have been tagged in, or even a low-brow comment that a friend may have left.

Employers check Social Media

With employers now actively checking job applicants Social Media I can see tools like Persona being of huge benefit to job seekers who don’t realise the negative impact a dodgy photo or an inappropriate comment can have on their reputation.

Persona offers a historical clean up (scanning your entire profile) and then offers real-time monitoring of your profile – alerting you to issues so you can deal with them.

Conclusion

Sign-up for Persona is free and monitors Facebook, Twitter & Google+ for text posts, comments, links and hash-tags, while there is a Persona Pro plan at $19.99 per year which also monitors images.

If you’re a job seeker, self-employed or care about your online reputation at all – then Persona looks like it will be a useful tool to help you avoid sharing anything that could damage your reputation online.

Friday Favourites – 29th November, 2013 – File Tools Special!

USB Memory DriveEvery Friday I try to post my favourites from the week – links to cool content and tools that I’ve’ve found or had recommended to me.

This week is a Friday Favourite Special focusing on File Tools!

  • PipeApp – Send and receive files via Facebook. Free to sign-up and use. The interface is simplicity itself so suitable for all level of user.
  • Bulk Rename Utility – Free Windows file tool allows you to easily rename files and entire folders based upon extremely flexible criteria. Thanks to Garrett Murphy for the link!
  • Recuva – Undelete, Unerase, File and Disk Recovery utility for Windows. Free download with more fully featured Professional version available. An essential tool for anyone who’s ever lost an important file.

Do you have any cool content or tools to share with me? Why not e-mail me, Tweet me, or share with me on Google+ and I if I feature them in my blog you can be sure to give you credit!

Have a great weekend! Smile

 

photo credit: Enokson via photopin cc

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