Monday, October 20, 2014

How to Clean Up Your Facebook News Feed

Unless you've been living in the Amazon and away from the reaches of wi-fi, you've noticed the many changes on your Facebook news feed lately.  Mine is cramped with advertisements, links that friends have shared and posts from all those pages I have LIKED.  Today, I'm going to share some simple tips for how I have cleaned and decluttered my news feed.

Exactly one month ago, I started in this "re-organizing" process and it has been quite a chore.  Don't let that scare you, though.  I've done it in little bits every day.  Today, I can get on Facebook and actually see the posts I want to see, not a bunch of advertisements or viral videos that always seemed to make it into my feed.

The first thing you're going to want to do is put a lasso on the LIKE button.  In other words, STOP LIKING EVERYTHING!  It's difficult - trust me.  It's almost an automatic response for me.  It seems like every social media platform has a shortcut button to show your approval of something and it's really just a tool for these websites to promote things to you.  Did you know that?  I'll give you an example:  a friend of mine recently posted about having luck with a specific type of diaper for her daughter's allergies.  I LIKED her post.  Almost immediately afterwards, I had diaper ads popping up on my sidebar and in my news feed!

Just by clicking the like button on a friend's comment, you are opening yourself up to more clutter. It works like this - Facebook (and many other social sites) has little bots that pull keywords from everything you "touch" on the site.  This could be a good thing, if you are actually in the market for a new diaper brand. The downfall is that these bots can't differentiate between you liking the fact that your friend's daughter isn't allergic to her new diapers and you liking baby supplies.

How do you like something without LIKING it?  Use your words and leave a comment!  Rather than LIKING my friend's post about her kid's diapers, I should have just left a quick comment instead.  Not only is it more personal, but you are saving yourself a heap of work later.  (Do I, LIKE, sound like a valley girl with all these LIKES??)

Another issue with that darn LIKE button is Page Likes.  If you are liking your sister's photography page, then by all means click the button.  The issue is when we are liking every company or product page because we have used or enjoyed their product in the past.  I would strongly encourage you to think twice before hitting that LIKE button.  Here's what happens if you choose to click: when you click LIKE on, say, your favorite coffee shop's Facebook page, not only are you adding all their content to your news feed, but you are also going to start getting recommendations for similar products.  It takes a LOOOONG time to clean up all of this clutter.  After all, did you join Facebook to stay connected with friends and family or to see lots of ads from brand name companies?  Wouldn't it just be easier to put up a quick status - "I <3 Starbucks!" instead?

I realize that sometimes it is necessary to LIKE a product page. For instance, if you are entering in a promotional giveaway, you have to click the button before they will let you enter.  This is where things get a little tricky.  Unless you remember to go back and un-LIKE that page after the promotional event has ended, those ads are lurking around the corner waiting to pop into your reading content.  In a circumstance like this, when you click the dreaded button, you should also un-click the follow button.  That way, you won't see any content from this particular page in your own news feed.

Now, as far as getting what you want to see on your news feed...  I know many people (myself included) who go through "unfriending binges" on Facebook.  This is where you scan through your friend list and un-friend those people you don't talk to anymore or don't necessarily care to get updates from or maybe they are just plain old annoying.  This is actually a good thing!  My rule of thumb for friends on Facebook is if you don't have some sort of contact with them at least once every two months, maybe they don't need to be on your friend list.  This, of course, doesn't apply to your 80 year old grandma who gets on Facebook once in a blue moon to say hello or check out new photos of your kids. :)

You can go one step further when dealing with your friend list!  You can put your very best friends in the "Close Friends" category to ensure you will always get their info in your news feed.  You can also put those friends you don't contact very often and don't care to see their updates as much in the "Acquaintances" category.  These people will drop further down on your feed, allowing what you really want to see the room at the top.  You also have the option to set up new categories, like "Friends from Band" or "Work Friends".  This will help you prioritize what you see when you first sign on to Facebook.

Now lets look at the actual content that's on your feed.  We've all seen the tons of videos from Vine, Vimeo and YouTube.  Whether it's a super cute puppy chasing a toy or a group of guys jumping their bikes off their roof - you've seen 'em!  I have found that when I scroll past these types of posts (particularly on my phone), everything seems to freeze while the video starts to play.  It's quite annoying if you don't want to see the video.  There is, however, a fix for it.

In your main Facebook settings, a new feature has been added called Video Settings.  Simply change the Auto-Play setting to OFF.  Now you will have to manually start a video before it will play on your news feed.

The last major point I want to share is to make sure you are seeing the most recent content on your feed.  You can do this with one click.  In the drop-down box next to the words News Feed, simply check Most Recent.  In mobile applications, this usually falls under the "More" button or sometimes wherever you access your settings.  Genius, right!

A Couple More Points About Your News Feed:

  • If you are receiving tons of notifications about people commenting on a post you have also commented on, you can stop them by clicking the "x" in the top corner of the post and choose "stop notifications" to end the constant dinging on your phone.
  • To deal with advertisements in your feed (not on the sidebar) I simply click the "x" in top corner of the post then click "I don't want to see this" or "Hide all ads from (Advertiser)".
  • To get rid of a particularly annoying sidebar ad, I click the "x" in the top corner of the ad box and tell Facebook the ad has no relevancy to me.
  • If I have a friend that does nothing but post annoying game statuses (and literally nothing else) but I don't want to unfriend them, I will, instead, un-follow them.  You can find this option the same place you find the un-friend button. :)
  • Another note on friends - Bullying is very prevalent on social media.  I see it even at my age. If you witness or are victim of bullying of any kind, you need to report it (and probably unfriend the perpetrator).  They aren't going to stop unless you stand up for yourself and NO ONE deserves to be bullied. *To report a post you consider bullying, simply click the little "x" button in the top corner of the post and click "Report this post", follow the steps to alert Facebook and tell an adult about the incident if you are a minor!
  • I keep my personal Facebook page private.  I think it's very important to keep creepers and nosey people out of my personal business.  This is also very important when employers are now searching for you before they hire you.
  • One final note:  Be careful about what you share on Facebook.  Avoid getting too personal and think twice before sharing all those pictures from the great party you got drunk at last weekend. Since prospective employers are checking out your social presence before they hire you, you have to think - do you really want them seeing that pic of you with the lampshade on your head?

I am purposely writing this post a month after I started my decluttering process.  I wanted to make sure these recommendations worked before I shared them with you.  I am happy to say that now, when I log on, I see everything I want to see right away.  Also, if something I don't want to see creeps in, I now know how to quickly get rid of it and keep it from coming back.

I would love to hear how you keep your Facebook news feed under control.  Have any tips on other social media platforms?  Please feel free to share them in the comments section below!

The post How to Clean Up Your Facebook News Feed first appeared on A Simpler Grace. *This was not a sponsored post - just some tips that have worked for me and that I wanted to share with you!  All of my friend's names shown in the screenshots above have been blurred out to protect their privacy.*  If you found this article helpful, don't forget to share it with your friends!

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