Lists. In real life, they keep me organized, help me get everything I need from the grocery store in one trip, and provide a sense of accomplishment as I check things off. Facebook Friend Lists have some amazing applications when it comes to being thoughtful, organized and strategic about the relationships in your social media network.
Let’s get on the same page.
If you are using Facebook for your business already I’m going to make some assumptions before diving into why I love lists. First, I assume you have both a personal profile and a business page, and know the difference. Secondly, I’m going to assume that you likely have a mix of friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, clients, and many other subsets of people who are your “friends” on Facebook. Thirdly, I’m going to assume that if you’ve used Facebook for any length of time, you’ve probably got your own list of Facebook pet peeves.
Using LISTS can help you be strategic about the mix of personal and business posts you share, “speak” differently to the different audiences that make up your friends, and keep you from ending up on someone else’s unofficial dislike list.
Step 1 — Define your different audiences.
How could you categorize your Facebook friends? Facebook automatically sets up some lists for you for criteria like “Family” or geography according to the city in which you live. Another useful category is “Acquaintances.” What other categories might help you classify your Facebook friends?
For example, I have a list called “Business Contacts,” which I tend to use for local networking groups, Chamber of Commerce mixers, or “friends of friends” who also own/operate businesses in my area. I network with a lot of other people who are speakers so I have two other lists for those people: “Professional Speakers” and “Toastmasters.” I also own an entertainment company and speak at a lot of conferences for mobile disc jockeys so I have another list for “DJs.”
What different audiences do you see among your friends? Contacts from school, church, neighborhood? Clubs or civic groups? Ministries you are involved in?
Step 2 — Create and Curate your LISTS.
Set up one list at a time and begin adding friends to the appropriate list(s). You can have the same person on multiple lists. Under the “Explore” section on the left side of the home screen, below “Shortcuts” (not on mobile) click the option that says “Friend Lists.” From there you can navigate to “create” or “manage” your lists.
If you are just starting to use lists, this can take some time to set up. Try breaking it down going through your friends alphabetically, adding those from one letter at a time to the right lists. Moving forward, you can add people to lists as soon as you connect with them.
Step 3 — Post for the Right Audience.
The cold, hard truth about Facebook is that not everyone cares about every post you share. Before you publish a post, ask yourself, “Who is this post for?” Most people have a default of either “friends” or “public” and both of those have advantages and disadvantages.
I encourage you to decide for EACH post who you think would want to see it. Your mom may want to read everything you post, but not everyone will. This is also where you get to decide how much you want to mix business and personal. Some people like to keep those parts of their life very separate. I am not one of those people.
I like to occasionally remind my friends and family about what I do in my business…where I’m speaking, what I’ve written, or when I’m performing. I also like my clients and business colleagues to occasionally get a glimpse into Vickie the Mom. I love speaking at a conference and having someone come up to me afterward and tell me how awesome or how funny my kids are because they’ve read something I’ve posted. It is a way I like to connect. The key word here, in my opinion, is occasionally.
I don’t want to bombard my friends with an overload of posts that aren’t relevant to them. Using lists to assign an audience for each post helps you connect intentionally, without annoying people, which could lead to unfollowing, unfriending, or even blocking.
Step 4 — Use LISTS when you read posts from others.
There is no way any of us can read every post from every person and page we follow. Facebook has some great algorithms to try to predict what we care most about, but they can’t always be right. Use lists to check in and see what certain groups of people are posting about.
Are you heading to an association networking meeting soon? Are you attending a professional conference soon for your industry? View recent posts from people on that list before you go so you will be current with what has been happening in their lives.
To view posts by Friend Lists, simply return to the “Friend Lists” tab under the “Explore” menu and click on the list you want to see. This will allow you to see recent posts by that list of friends before you see them. Use lists to stay in the know about their personal and business happenings. This is a great way to help you stay connected and plan your networking time more effectively.
Just like in other forms of communication, true communicating involves both “speaking” and listening. Facebook’s Friends Lists is a great tool to help you serve your audience more effectively by posting for a specific group of people. AND Lists can also help you “listen” better by allowing you to view posts from a more targeted audience.
Vickie Musni is a wife and mother of four who happens to also be a speaker, writer and local business owner. Juggling many roles has helped her learn some secrets to being more efficient and productive, especially when it comes to time spent online. She is passionate about personality types and sharing what she has learned in her 20+ years as a business owner with others. Connect with her at vickiemusni.com.