Wraith (wraithtdk) wrote,
Wraith
wraithtdk

Facebook: make the world's biggest social network feel SOCIAL again with two easy tweaks

Let's do an easy math experiment. Take a look at your Facebook feed. Look at the first 25 posts. Count how many of those posts are written by companies, celebrities, or other entities that you don't truly interact with on a 1-to-1 basis. Multiply that number by 4. That's the average percentage of your "social network" feed that isn't really social. What you're looking at is basically micro-sized newsletters. It's the social network equivalent of what we call "grey mail" - you know, those emails from Amazon.com about new DVD releases, sales fliers from that website you bought a gift from 3 years ago, etc.? - None of it's really SPAM, because you did "like" or follow wherever those posts are coming from, but it does clog up your feed and gets you away from the reason you probably signed up for Facebook: to socialize.

"But Wraith," you say; "a lot of times interesting stuff appears in those posts. I like having interesting news, comics etc. on my feed." I get that. And I'm not going to ask you to "miss out" on anything. lose them. I 'm just going to show you how to get the most from your feed, and make social again. So, on to the two tweaks that I think every Facebook user should try:

Tweak #1: Keep your primary feed social, create secondary feeds for entertainment/news/commercial posts.

Your primary feed is the stream of posts you see when you first open up Facebook. Once upon a time, this would be filled with stuff from your friends. We're going to make it that way again. So how do you do this without losing posts from the brands, celebrities, and sites you're interested in? Simple: interest lists.

Step 1: Decide how much you want to divide your feeds. The simplest way is have your primary feed be posts from your friends, and then have 1 secondary feed with posts from everyone else. You could, however, take this a step further and have a secondary feed with entertainment posts (comic strips, cat pictures from icanhas.cheezburger.com etc.), a third with news posts (stuff from magazines, industry groups, etc.), a fourth from celebrities you follow - you can make as many feeds as you want.

Step 2: Create an interest list for each feed (you don't have to create one for your primary; that's automatic). On the left side of your Facebook feed, click "interests"

fb_interests_1

You should now be in the "interests" screen. Now, click "add interest" followed by "create list." You could choose things to put on this list here, but for now, let's skip that. Just click the "next" button in the lower-right corner. Type the name of the list (IE "non-social" for an all-in-one list, or "celebrities" for a list of celebrity posts), select "only me" in the privacy settings (suggested, not mandatory) and then click "done" in the lower-right.

Repeat this process for every other feed you want to create.

Step 3: Move the newly created lists you intend to look at regularly to your Facebook favorites to make them easy to access. Just click on "interests" again, like you did in step 2. Notice that to the right of each interest you've created is a little gear icon. Click this gear, and then select "add to favorites."

Your lists should now show in top-left of your feed. If you'd like to re-arrange them, just point your mouse to the left of any item, click the gear, and select "rearrange:"

fb_faves_1

From there you can remove items or rearrange them.

Step 4: Move stuff from your primary feed to your newly created lists.

Now comes the big step. Start going through your feed. You don't have to do it all at once. Just visit Facebook as you normally would, and when you come across something on your primary feed that isn't from a real person you interact with, move that content source. How do you do that?

Hover your mouse over the name of the content source:

fb_ign_1

Hover over "liked" and select "add to interest lists..."

fb_ign_2

And then chose the interest you want to add it to. Finally, now that it's on your interest list, let's get it off your primary feed. Again, over over the name of the content source, but this time, click the "following" button.

fb_ign_3

Viola! Now just refresh your browser. You'll find that all posts from that content source are gone from your primary feed, but remain on whatever interest lists you added it to. Repeat step 4 every time you come across a post like this in your primary feed, and in no time you'll find yourself with an old-school Facebook, where upon opening it, all you see are posts about what your actual friends are up to.

And for those of you who snorted or choked when I said "actual friends" because your feed is full of people you work with or know casually that kind of annoy the crap out of you, here's a bonus step that allows you to mimic this tweak with real people:

Step 5: The drill here is almost the same. Follow the above instructions with the following tweaks:

Instead of creating interest lists, create friends lists by click "friends" and creating a list, just like you did with interests

fb_friends_1

Hover over your friend's name just like you did the source's name above, followed by "friend" (instead of "like") and instead of "add to interests lists" just click "add to list." This then un-follow them just like you did in step 4. Now those people will appear in your chose friend lists (which can also be used for privacy settings, FYI), but NOT in your primary feed.

fb_friends_2
fb_friends_3

End result: ultimately, the ONLY thing in your primary feed should posts from people you like.

Tweak #2. Restore the "chronological" view.

Alright, so you've now got a clean primary feed. Wouldn't it be nice to actually be able to read posts in chronological order, instead of letting Facebook's algorithm chose what you should see first? Here's how to easily undo one of Facebook's most-loathed features, by reverting to "most recent stories" instead of "top stories." Extremely simple, really. You just have to know where to look:

fb_most_recent

That's it!

Give these tweaks a try. The way I have my Facebook page set up now, the first thing I see is the reasons I'm there: my friends. Once I've gone through all the posts I've missed (which tend to not be as much as you'd think, since most of my posts were "grey-mail" posts), which is easy enough to do by simply scrolling until I come to a post I've already seen (which, thanks the chronological order now means you've seen everything SINCE that post), I know I'm "caught up." After that, if I'm in the mood, I can click on my interest lists to see what new in the video game world via FB posts from IGN, Gamespot, PC Gamer, etc.; lulz from Cyanide & Happiness, Chezburger etc., and tech news from PCMag and others. But the ultimate result is that Facebook once again feel SOCIAL.

Tags: facebook, social, social network, turtorials
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