A New Approach To Facebook

I tweeted about all this yesterday so some of you probably know this already but I figured I should blog about it as well.

For years, I've had a Facebook account but I've never really used it. I've just pumped information (blog + twitter) into Facebook and that's about it. I've never had a particularly scientific approach to who I friend and who I don't and over the years I built up about 360 "friends" and another 1000 people who I never confirmed but also did not deny.

In that past couple months, a few things have changed about my use of Facebook:

1) My brothers and some high school friends started using Facebook pretty actively. All of a sudden, there were things on Facebook that I cared about that were not happening on Twitter or in the blogs.

2) Facebook redesigned the home page to an interface I understand and like and I started to get real value from it.

3) My two daughters decided they would "friend" me on Facebook, something they've refused to do for over four years. The main reason is that they use Facebook as their default photo sharing service and they are posting photos of me and our family and tagging me in them. And they wanted me to see those photos.

So I started visiting Facebook every day and I found it way too busy. I was having a hard time finding the information I cared about inside all the other information there, most of which I was already seeing on Twitter.

So I decided to do something pretty radical. I deleted about 300 "friends" on Facebook yesterday and took my total friend count down to 56. I've limited my Facebook friends to family and close friends. My methodology is something akin to who I'd invite to a family wedding or bar/bat mitzvah. I realize that a lot of the 300 people I nuked were using Facebook to follow me and they can no longer do that.

My reasoning was as follows: I feel that between Twitter, this blog, and my tumblog at fredwilson.vc, there are plenty of public places on the web that you can follow me and all of them have RSS feeds for those who want the content pushed to them. I feel that Facebook is by default private and it's become a good place for me to network with my close friends and family privately.

But there was a good discussion on twitter yesterday led by Brandon Wirtz and Adrian Bye who pointed out that I could get the best of both worlds by creating a "fan page" on Facebook and let anyone who wants to follow me there. As much as I dislike the sound of the word "fan", I like the idea and I've done just that.

If you are among the 300 people who I nuked from my friend list on Facebook or the ~1000 people who I never agreed to friend on Facebook, or just someone who wants to follow me on Facebook, you can now do that at this page. I am already publishing all the posts from this blog to my Facebook fan page and I'd like to also publish all my twitter and tumblr posts but I don't know how to do that. The Notes app only allows me to publish one RSS feed to my fan page. If you know how to do this, please leave me a comment and I'll do that immediately.

I hope this works out for everyone who was following me on Facebook. I realize it's a bit insulting that I don't want to follow everyone back, but I honestly don't know how to follow 365 people on two different services. It's all I can do and then some to stay up to date with that many people on Twitter. I am curious to hear what people think of this new approach.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Leonid S. Knyshov

    And so it begins. :)I love Twitter’s one-way relationships. Until someone writes a client to monitor the wall of a Facebook page without using Facebook site, as @replies are basically wall posts, Twitter will continue to decimate Facebook for that feature.

  2. T Meyer

    I 100% agree with the approach Fred. I did something similar about 3 months ago. I realized there were things on FaceBook that were personal vs. business/networking related. I love the wedding-invite analogy. I will use that to explain myself in the future.

    1. fredwilson

      But my friend Charlie O’Donnell told me yesterday he wants over 500 ppl athis wedding!

      1. Stefan

        Hence my acid test is somehwat narrower and goes like: “Would I mind if that person seeing were to see me drunk?” If yes then I don’t connect with him/her on FB. Working fine for me thus far. I also struggle with how much of personal touch to put into my twitter feeds. There’s a trade-off between introducing a personal note into your tweet personality and boring your followers with stuff that’s perceived to be irrelevant to them.

        1. fredwilson

          That’s a good filter!

  3. Dave Jones

    I would argue this is more of a lack of skills problem while still having a desire to look like you are in touch with the latest technology. You make time to learn what’s important to you.

    1. fredwilson

      What particular skill should I develop?

  4. MRK

    Totally agree with your use of Facebook – I think it works much better for connecting with people you actually know and care about, and think things like blogging, Twitter, etc are better for general conversation. I’ve never really understood why anyone would want to have thousands of friends on Facebook, as it’s near impossible to engage with them. Being a walled garden is what makes Facebook so good.Maybe to get all your different content in, you could use an RSS aggregator, and publish all of your different content streams into that and then import that into Facebook? Don’t know of anything like this off-hand, though I’m sure it exists.

    1. fredwilson

      Yahoo Pipes sounds like the thing for this

  5. needcaffeine

    wholly understand, nearly everyday I consider wiping out FB account all together. Originally it was college other friends, then came HS friends, now it’s a mix of social network friends….& yet I fear, what might be said/posted for biz sake; especially since I go on FB at most 1x a week. (unless something pops on my blackberry)

  6. Hank Heyming

    I agree with your new approach 100%. I had the same problem and dealt with it similarly. Twitter is for business. FB is for personal. Strong Chinese wall between the two. Let the blog and friendfeed populate twitter and vise versa. Keep FB in a silo.As our lives become ever more public within the social web, we need to draw distinctions between who has access to what. Twitter is particularly ill suited for this. On the other hand, FB is great for this — if you can have the self control to limit the scope of your friends and stop the cross pollinating/posting to/from FB.

  7. simondodson

    i logged into facebook for the first time in 18months last week , it was as i left it, ultimately boring, full of information about things I cared little about, I also find it hard to accept that I truly know anymore then 100ppl well ? so I am always culling that list , but I like your idea of just close friends and family, and I think I may do this an start using facebook again

  8. Guest

    I ran into this piece recently, “25 worst things about FB”. One of them was “older relatives”… Makes me a bit surprised that your daughters “friended” you:)My kids are too young for FB, however, my daughter “caught” me dancing a few days ago and told me to stop immediately, because “I looked like a “jerk” and grown-ups were not supposed to dance like that, anyway”… It’s as if kids want their parents to be boring, so that they can complain how boring their parents are. You are lucky that your kids let you in their world so much…

    1. fredwilson

      My kids hate it when I danceI think they just grew up and became comfortable with me being allowed inMy oldest has a blog where she publishes pretty much anything she’d publishto FB (it’s linked to on the top right of this blog)So it’s an evolution I think

      1. Guest

        Wow, really impressive camera-work by Jessica! Most our pictures from the college years are of the “say cheese” variety. We maybe forget how much photography/videography is part of their world now…

        1. fredwilson

          She’s a senior in high school actuallyBut I appreciate your comment and I know she will toothanks

  9. Chris Albinson

    Fred – funny Battelle and I were talking about this over dinner tonight. He didn’t feel comforatable “ignoring” people so accepted all his invites. As a result, FB is not really useful to him as intended. I “ingnored” invites from people I didn’t know and felt bad about it, but FB has great utility to me as a result. It would be great if FB would allow you to point people to your RSS or twitter feed instead of “ignoring” them!

    1. fredwilson

      That’s the point of the fan pageI bet more and more people will have both, one for close friends and family,and one for everyone else

      1. Shripriya

        They should rename the fan page to the public page. It makes it a lower bar for “normal” people to get one.And it raises the bar for someone to friend your “private” profile – they will ask themselves how well they really know you and a good number will automatically pick your public page.

        1. fredwilson

          No wonder you are an awesome product manager. That’s exactly what they should do shriAnd when someone requests you, you should be able to accept them to either the public or private page

      2. pauljacobson

        I understood your reluctance to create a page on Facebook and, at the same time, I am glad you did. As a “fan” (well, I am really), I like having the opportunity to follow and interact with you on Facebook when I am there. Nice having the option.

        1. fredwilson

          Thanks paul

  10. William Peng

    Interesting approach to using Facebook. Facebook seems to have moved from a contest to amass the most “friends” to a more personalized way to connect with and share with people you interact with frequently.With regards to integrating your blog, Twitter feed, and Tumblr to your Facebook page, this is the best I can come up with: You could use the Twitter application to sync with your Facebook Page status, since it is the most natural extension of Twitter to Facebook’s functionalities. For Tumblr, you could use an RSS aggregator as MRK suggests, or using Yahoo Pipes. I’m sure a quick Google search can help you with this. Another option would be to set up a FriendFeed account to set up a consolidated RSS feed. It isn’t ideal to introduce a third party, but it seems to be the only way I can think of…

    1. fredwilson

      I already am using the twitter appI guess I need to figure out how to hook it up to my fan page as well as myregular page

      1. sarahintampa

        You can’t. Which is why FB fan pages are broken. I discovered this too when researching the post for RWW.

  11. CaseyWhitehead

    I find that I have tended to use Twitter and Facebook in exactly the opposite way.Having a large collection of friends on Facebook was easy to follow, as you could log in once, twice a day and passively find out about what your extended group of friends have been up to, without worrying if you miss something or if Facebook doesn’t display certain items in the feed. In short, the noise was tolerable, because I wasn’t monitoring in real time.For Twitter, where real time results are what you’re looking for (I use Twitter primarily to gain info/share knowledge and would like to use it to co-ordinate with friends once they begin to adopt the service more), the tolerance for noise is much lower. Therefore, I have a strong preference for following a smaller, more manicured list of people.Cheers,Casey(Long time reader, first time commenting)

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for leaving a commentI hope it’s not the last timeI think that people will use different services in different waysThere certainly is no right and no wrong wayBut I do think using them differently makes sense

    2. mejon

      +1 with Casey’s thoughts here. I use Facebook for friends and acquaintances and really enjoy the relaxed nature of of the site and posts. Filtering the news feed is great, but I wish there were a ‘reverse’ feature where you could occasionally find out more about about the people that are lower on your priority list.Twitter is intriguing to me, especially reading the tweets from people that I don’t know in person. It’s an interesting way to discover ideas, people, and get links that you may not find otherwise.LInked In is only for business..Jon

  12. julie_poplawski

    The fan page is awesome and it keeps your “work stuff” from your kids spring break photos! I need to learn how to push the comments from the FAN page to my email or twitter. It is like having 3 voice mails to check every 2 hours, remember that?

    1. fredwilson

      Yes, but now I use phonetag (fka simulscribe) for voice mailIt’s awesome

      1. markslater

        yup – one of several cool tools i found out about on here.

  13. Facebook User

    A good strategy. I did the same thing myself not long ago. I’m actually grateful for twitted because it seems like the more natural place for professional networking.

  14. JayGidwitz

    To publish all twitter, blog posts and tumblr posts one option is to merge the RSS feeds with yahoo pipes and then import that feed into the notes application:http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/If you did it with friendfeed it would provide links to the longer posts but not publish the entire thing.Tutorial on how to do that:http://labnol.blogspot.com/…The comments in the post provide alternative (probably simpler) methods as well.

    1. fredwilson

      Ah, thanksThis is great

  15. jdrive

    I always think of this problem in a metaphor I call the ‘three spheres’. It is essentially like a bulls-eye target. The center sphere – the core – is the smallest circle, and includes immediate family, relatives I feel close to, best friends and the like. The second sphere (a concentric circle around the first) includes people I work with, people I have known a long time and/or interact with frequently, etc., i.e. those I would describe as ‘pretty close to’. The third concentric circle – and the largest – is for casual acquaintances, business contacts, folks I may have known during life’s travels but were never really close with, etc. (I suppose for those with a ‘following’, perhaps a fourth, perimeter circle might be appropriate to house people one has never (or barely) met but whom nonetheless fall at the edge of one’s world.)To me, online social networks – and norms – need to evolve to permit easy management and transference of people into one of the the spheres (and indeed across sphere’s as relationships change). Facebook has rudimentary ‘group’ capability, but it is clunky and ‘permissioning’ is essentially non-existent today. Just the fact that you have to set up a ‘fan’ page says a lot about the current state.There are in my view a number of social norms unnatural today but in need of becoming common, accepted practice as we forge ahead into our electronic lives, including the loss of the guilt or stigma associated with ‘ignoring’, ‘deleting’ or otherwise classifying individuals (including into the spheres I refer to above). In a world where people you meet are – quite literally – with you until death does them (or you) part, at least in an digital sense, requires a shift in mindset. I certainly want my children to be able to ‘keep what (who) they like, leave what (who) they don’t’ as they live their lives, without such limitations. I also want them to be able to easily decide who can see, hear or connect within those spheres.

    1. fredwilson

      You can do this with facebook’s privacy settings or groups in tweetdeck, butI think its more natural to use different web services to manage differentrelationshipsAnd that’s what I’ve chosen to doWhat do you Jim?

      1. jdrive

        I have done some permissioning using FB’s privacy settings, though they do not extend to user-determined groups – I think they should. Tweetdeck is also pretty rudimentary and has even fewer options.In five years I hope I am not managing a half-dozen distinct social networks (or however many) – at least not at each site. I sort of think of it like Contacts – permissions should be importable universally along with people – new entries get defined & categorized and the meta-data around them includes the permissioning. But that’s tomorrow…..Today, I try the various offerings each site has, and probably get a C+ :)Your approach is novel, and perhaps the best way given the current state of tools to address the issues. Frankly, the ‘gutsy’ part of what you did was violate offline-world social norms by (rudely!?) deleting people. Perhaps efforts such as yours will help bring about new norms. May try it soon myself!

        1. fredwilson

          I got some tweets from some annoyed followers

          1. jdrive

            Well, you know what they say about pioneers and arrows.

          2. fredwilson

            I’ve got some scars to prove I do

          3. sarahintampa

            Just to jump in here – I have been struggling with the same problem as Fred & I don’t think Personal fan pages are the answer (here’s why, if interested: http://www.readwriteweb.com…I was really hopeful that the New Facebook would provide a solution but it did not. It basically boils down to this: Facebook does not mirror the relationships and connections we have in real life. There are things I tell some people and there are things I tell everyone, for example. But on Facebook, when I post to my wall, everyone can see it. If I don’t want some people to see those things, I can turn off “wall viewing” privileges for those folks via the settings, ***but then how do I communicate with them***? FB has no good answer for that outside of using public profiles (aka fan pages…which are broken and useless.A simple solution to this problem would be to let us customize which things are public status updates vs private ones. For example, I could mark my imported activity from Google Reader and Flickr as public. Some status updates, though, I may want to be private. A simple checkbox on the status update box would solve this problem.As for deleting people, it’s interesting that we (us grown-ups, that is) struggle with this. The Gen Y’ers on FB delete people all the time as they grow apart. Why is it so hard for us to do the same?

          4. fredwilson

            SarahI read your post when you wrote it but I went back and re-read it just nowIt’s a great piece of reporting and analysisThanks for doing itDo you know if the twitter facebook app will publish my tweets to my “publicpage”?

          5. sarahintampa

            If you mean this one (http://www.facebook.com/app…, the most popular of the Twitter apps, it will.However, it will update your personal profile with your tweets as well!That’s the problem with these “public profiles” – no separation between the public fan page and the personal profile.Only 2 workarounds: 1) Create a separate acct for managing your public profile (fan page). Note: violates TOS, as I understand it.or2) Create a business account.

          6. fredwilson

            Thanks. Fortunately updating both works well for me since I want all my tweets (other than replies) to go to bothI totally agree that this is clunky right now.I’m trying to get a vanity url for my FB public page too and apparently you have to ask FB for it right now

    2. kidmercury

      i think you nailed it. this is why i think we’ll see more and more niche social networks, where each person can fully customize their own usergroup system, and choose which members of their network can see what and how they can interact with each person. of the current players, i think facebook is closest to getting it right. though i think email systems, particularly gmail, could be the foundation for a robust social network with permissioning systems as well.

  16. Scott

    The “groups” work really well too. Being a young professional, you often are friend requested by people you meet at networking events, etc. on facebook BEFORE linkedin. Sure, I want to keep in touch with these folks and no, i’m not celebrity enough to create a brand page for myself. Somehow I’ve ended up with 800+ friends while i only had ~120 guests at my bar mitzvah (but that was 1995 and I’m much more social now).As a result, it’s easier to keep non-close friends in the “professional group”. I set it up to have less access to photos, personal info, etc. If we become friends then they can always join my mainstream group which is fully baked.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a great approach ScottThanks for sharing it with me

      1. Scott

        No problem. I bet you’ll see you traffic to this blog increase through facebook pages.I’m officially a fan of Fred Wilson on Facebook though I bet that experience will overlap heavily with twitter/avc.com.Hope you had a good time in our windy LA yesterday!

        1. fredwilson

          I love LA. Couldn’t live here I don’t think but I love to visit it. LA is the only place in the US that has the edge that NYC has. Its different, but its there (or here as it were)

    2. Dan Reich

      Scott, Love this approach.I’ve always wanted facebook to implement a “groups” feature like the AIM service. This way, I could have the following facebook groups: family, professional, work, close friends/tier 1 friends, tier 2 friends, etc. I would choose to have my “family” and “close friends” group streaming their updates on my homepage by default. When i want to look at other feeds, i can just open the other groups.I’f I’m at work, I could reset my default to stream feeds/updates from the “work” group.Anyway, there needs to be filters. I think AIM is a good model.

      1. Scott

        For sure.Technically (as others have pointed out), this feature is actually called “friend lists”. It’s not perfect but it helps a lot for privacy settings and general segmentation of your social graph.

  17. Scott Fullman

    Instead of “nuking” friends did you consider using the Friend List feature? This allows you to group your friends into categories (e.g. Work, Family, College Friends) and easily set permissions for these groups. In addition you can now filter the home page feed by groups, which helps you segment the barrage of updates into something useful.

    1. fredwilson

      No, I was not aware of that featureBut I am nowthanks

    2. kenberger

      This is a very good point, and something I wish someone would build a Twitter client around– I do want to follow many people but wish I could turn up and down the volume on some, ‘snooze’ a few now and then, etc. FB has been decent at tweeking such functionality– it is a clear issue to be resolved.

      1. fredwilson

        Its such an obvious oppty for a third party client. I’m not sure why it hasn’t been done yet

  18. Rob Long

    What’s amazing is that we all have so many choices — Twitter vs Facebook vs LinkedIn vs Plaxo vs… There are so many ways to work out this stuff — the difference between public and private, or, really, between sorta-public and sorta-private. And since we’ve all got different definitions of “sorta,” I think no matter what, we’re all going to enter an era of hurt feelings, at least until it’s worked out. The wedding invitation analogy is really apt; people often go through sheer hell trying to arrive at a workable number of wedding guests, balancing what’s feasible with everyone’s expectations. And there are always some miffed folks — miffed because they were excluded, and miffed because they were included!Personally, I’m a mess. I can’t bring myself to ignore or refuse a friend request on Facebook. There’s something deeply Episcopalian about that, I think, but also deeply unsure of what service is for which group. And also: some of the people I know mostly — or even entirely — from my online life I like a lot more than some of the people I see all the time. (Maybe there’s a reason for that….)So my plan is to muddle along, with an unworkable and jerry-rigged system until I have a moment of clarity and courage and do something about it, like you did, Fred.

    1. fredwilson

      My friend Brad Feld refuses to go to weddingsTalk about pissing people off!But he’s consistent about it so he just pisses everyone off

      1. kenberger

        I agree w/ Brad. Maybe it’s because I write this from Calif where the divorce rate is so high. But it seems sensible in some cultures where they celebrate someone’s *death* rather than *birth* since you have much more knowledge about how things went.

      2. bfeld

        Amy keeps trying and I keep refusing. We try to remember to always send decent gifts however…

        1. fredwilson

          I am envious of your approach brad and salute you for it

        2. leigh

          wow if i ever was to bother getting married you would definitely get an invite 🙂

  19. Josh Fraser

    Facebook came out my sophomore year of college and since I took relationships a lot more seriously than my grades, I quickly racked up about 1,200 friends on FB. The vast majority of them are people I know or have spent time with at some point. Even with this many people, I’ve found that Facebook’s automatic filtering does a really nice job of keeping my newsfeed relevant. Facebook ranks newsfeed stories by how many times I’ve viewed their profile, clicked on their pictures or sent them a message. Over time Facebook has gotten a pretty good sense of who matters to me and prioritizes those stories in my newsfeed. I’m sure the new ability to remove stories from certain people will help keep things relevant as well.The main indicator of how you use Facebook is simply your age. High school students use it very differently than I do because they met Facebook before they met email. On the other hand, if I were even just a few years older my Facebook usage would look a lot more like yours. I think it’s cool that one service can be used in so many different ways.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah, I guess I never saw the power of the filters because I never used theservice

    2. kidmercury

      yeah i agree that facebook’s filtering system is pretty good. it actually works.

      1. jpayne8

        I took the filtering approach on FB to address this problem (on a smaller scale). My quibble with the filters is that my filtered feed does not yet default to my main view when I log in. I always have an extra click to get there . . .I think FB is thinking along these lines to solve this problem for more typical users than fred — the filtering functionality was buried deeply before the redesign and has a lot more prominence now on the left hand side. worth playing with, though I can’t quibble with your approach — its your digital life, you can enforce the privacy you want on the tools you want.

      2. fredwilson

        I just need to figure out how to find it and use it

  20. kenberger

    Fred, you are talking to an audience of tech startup people– BM is surely going to be expanded to BURNING MAN, you didn’t realize that?!. We all thought we’d see you on the playa next year, after your tweet about inviting people to it.btw, I’m reluctant to ever drop FB ‘friends’: too much social backlash, worst part is when you *don’t* hear about it but you run into the person and they are obviously steaming. Publicly blogging your decision, like this, helps I’m sure. (as a nukee, I’m elated to see that at least you’re still following me on Twitter, so it’s all good 🙂

    1. fredwilson


  21. iPosit

    34 years old. I accept most Friend requests (all of the people that I know). I use Facebook very sparingly. Also didn’t know about the friend filters. I don’t join nor accept those group invitations from Facebook. So, I’m not an avid Facebook user. Even with Friend filters, I’m not sure that I ever will be an avid Facebook user.However, I am an avid Twitter user.I have a mini un-developed, non-scientific & quite unsophisticated theory that we have to choose one or the other between Twitter & Facebook. I think one of the two services is going to grab the lion’s share of one’s attention and time.Between email, work, family, news, hobbies, reading, blogging, activities, sports, etc, etc, I think there’s only so much limited time and attention left. So, I go with Twitter. There is enough news and information within Twitter to consume my (free, spare) time.I’d be curious to know who can toggle both Facebook and Twitter successfully amongst everything else in their lives. I’d venture to say that something else would have to give (maybe it’s email or their work productivity).It’s very challenging to keep up on Twitter as it is, especially during the work week for me. 9 months ago, I’d get 50 tweets in my stream per day. Now, I get 50 tweets in my stream every hour. A year from now, it may be 50 tweets every 5 minutes. Definitely looking forward to some tools to help me filt3r the noise.By the way, I do have my Twitter feed linked up with my Facebook account. My Facebook friends think I’m the most active status update person they know. Here’s an interesting cycle that happens: – I post a tweet on Twitter via my iPhone. – Someone on Facebook reads my new “status update” and comments on it. – Their comment then hits my inbox. – I then will forward that email from Facebook with their comment to them (if I know their email address) with my reply. Or, I may text them with a response if I know their cell phone number and they’re asking me a question.It’s a weird social media communications cycle: iPhone –> Twitter –> Facebook –> Email –> SMSAlso, I don’t think Facebook currently allows you to hook your Twitter stream to your Fan page, do they?By the way, I guess I should introduce myself to you, Fred. I’ve been a lurker and a pretty consistent reader of your blogs and tweets for several years (when did you start avc.blogs.com?). I think this may be my first post. I have no idea how you keep up with everything (including reading your 6 books on your Kindle 2 and all of your blog comments in addition to everything else).Thank you for putting forth all of the ideas over the years.Best, Charlie

    1. fredwilson

      Charlie – thanks for leaving a comment. And a good one to boot!

  22. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    I agree with your approach. I think Facebook mostly works with friends (even though I was one of the people who friended you and whom you probably nuked). Because of my various activities I get plenty of friend requests from people I barely know and oftentimes I turn them down. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it hasn’t gotten to the point that I’ve had to create a fan page.Between following you on Twitter and on Tumblr and reading your blog on RSS I feel I have all the info I need and Facebook is a bit superfluous.Anyway, I think this is the right move for you.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m gald you see it that way. I saw your tweet on the subject and thought you were annoyed

  23. rachel

    confused…just looked you up on facebook and both profiles are public (i can access both). did you mean to turn the privacy settings up higher on the regular page?

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t know. I’m lost in facebook features. I have no idea how to use this service correctly

      1. rachel

        ask your kids…i’m sure they are experts on the privacy feature.

        1. fredwilson

          I did. They were not interested in clueing me in. I wonder why 🙂

  24. alexkrupp

    The way I think of Facebook is as a phonebook. That is, friend anyone you would want to have access to your phone number or email address. Then you can use lists to make sure that you only see the people you want to follow in your news feed. That said, if you already have your phone number and email address set up so that it shows up in a Google search for your name then friending semi-random people becomes less important.

  25. Hockeydino

    It’s a good approach that you are using when starting off or fresh.I do the same for the most part…although I’m in a bit of quandry. I have a Facebook Goup, Profile, and Fanpage. I don’t run the group, but people like to use that one the most. The Page works great with feeds and with Twitter; ultimately that’s what I want…it’s just harder to gain traction; where Groups are easy to add people.Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pag…(feel free to reciprocate by joining)Group:http://www.facebook.com/gro…I love Facebook and think ultimately PAGES is the way to go. But how do you port over your existing FRIENDS? Do you just ask them? Do you cut off ties?

  26. bfeld

    I’ve struggled with this also. I’m selective on Twitter, promiscuous on Facebook, and moderately selective on LinkedIn.I don’t like the FAN approach – it feels really arrogant. Maybe it’s the “FAN” word – I don’t know.I’ve tried a different approach with FB that seems to work pretty well. I have third categories for friends – (1) Family, (2) Friends, (3) Random. 1 + 2 are what you have in FB. 3 is everyone else.I’ve found a bunch of interesting connections in FB, including regular ones that pop up with IM (I use Digsby which integrates with FB Chat) through this approach, while cutting down the noise significantly.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s an interesting approach brad but how can be selective on twitter? I’ve got 15k followers and whomever wants to follow me can do that

      1. bfeld

        I’m selective on who I follow (to keep the noise level down) but let anyone follow me. Amy – on the other hand – is much more selective about her followers (she regularly blocks people she doesn’t know.)

        1. fredwilson

          I got it, selective on the followsMe too

  27. Mark Zohar

    Left this comment on your Fan page this morning.Fred, I think the Fan page is a great solution. It offers your “fans” a simple interface to engage with you and one another. It’s also a much more powerful way for you to extend your personal brand to a significantly larger and more diverse audience, especially by leveraging the Facebook viral notification system. It would be interesting to track the viral growth of your Fan base and compare it to Twitter follower growth.I hope you’ll use this page to aggregate more of your feeds (Twitter, Tumblr, Last.fm, Flickr, etc.) so that the Fan page provides a real-time view into all of your content streams (blogs, photos, music) and encourages a range of conversations and comments. Finally, I have a feeling that this Fan page will emerge as the central meeting place for the disparate conversations we’ve been having on Twitter, AVC, Tumblr and across the Web. And that’s a good thing.

    1. fredwilson

      I just have to figure out how to get tumblr and twitter into it

        1. Mark Zohar

          I should also have mentioned that if you go into the Settings tab on your Profile page you can set permissions to automatically import stories/posts from Flickr, Last.fm, YouTube, Delicious and other third party social media sites.

        2. fredwilson

          ThanksI’ve got the twitter FB app runningI just need to figure out how to connect it to my public page (note that Iam not going to call it a fan page anymore)

  28. Steven Kane

    deleting and ignoring people in facebook is easy.any tips on how i can delete people in real life?

    1. fredwilson

      Breaking up is hard to do steve

  29. (notnixon)

    I did the same thing a few weeks back. Facebook is no use for an extended network, but is brilliant for keeping in touch with real life friends and family. People that complain about the 5000 follower on Facebook, are missing the real benefits of the service.

    1. fredwilson

      That makes me feel good about my decision chris

  30. jkopelman

    I had a similar problem – and solved it by using the Facebook Filter option. I created groups/filters for:FriendsFamilyVCsPortfolio CompaniesEntrepreneursHigh SchoolCollegeWhen I go to the Facebook homepage, I can simply select the group(s) I care about, and can “keep up” with the folks I care about….

    1. fredwilson

      That makes you a power user josh. I’m envious because I could not figure that out myself

  31. Kevin Cimring

    Hi FredI think the approach you have taken is a reasonable one. Like you say elsewhere in the comments – there is no right or wrong approach – as long as it works.Someone else in the comments mentioned that the fan page would be fantastic if you could aggregate all your content there – incl your blog and tweets. I agree with that, and it would make the fan page so much more convenient and valuable.What all of this has illustrated to me, however, is that many people are not aware of all the filtering and other control mechanisms that are available on Facebook. I have long maintained and still feel that Facebook has done a poor job of educating users about the features on the site. Had you known of all these features you may have taken a different approach – many people are in the same boat and don’t use Facebook to its full potential because of this.Last point – they should really change the name of “Fan Page” to something else like “Public Page” or something along those lines.Kind regardsKevin

    1. fredwilson

      This is exactly my takeaway from this entire post and discussion. These two points are spot on

    2. sarahintampa

      They changed it to “public profile” in the latest update (instead of fan page). You would be surprised how difficult it is to make it useful. Good luck finding apps that work on it or adding any sort of automation to it without completely screwing up your own *personal* profile in the process.For ex, make an adjustment to the “notes” app and it affects both your personal profile & fan page at the same time. None of the page-aware apps (of which there are few) can associate themselves with just a fan page or just a personal profile. If you add them, they tie into both.Public profiles outside of those purchased under business accounts are the most useless thing on FB.

  32. Brian Posnanski

    A great post, as it helps to clarify some of the conversations we’ve been having about Facebook. It definitely does trend to a private platform. The more I talk with people, the more I’m convinced it’s a glorified email platform with more bells and whistles. I let my Twitter feed update my Facebook status and leave it at that. FB still can’t compete with Twitter or LinkedIn for simplicity.

    1. fredwilson

      it has all these powerful features I can’t find and don’t know aboutTwitter has pretty much no featuresThere’s an insight in these two statements

  33. Facebook User

    I think this is part of a trend that you’re going to see pick up steam during the rest of 2009. In the past few years, we’ve gone from private lives to almost completely public lives (via FB, Twitter etc). Although there are lots of benefits to this level of information sharing, at the end of the day, we only have enough room in our lives to keep track of a certain number of friends and family.We (MyPunchbowl) have built a number of services with this in mind: if you are planning a private birthday party for your child, you want a lot of control over who is invited and who can forward the invite. If you want to send a card for an anniversary, you want to make sure that it is very personalized — and something you did special for that person.With this in mind, we rolled out a birthday reminder service today (http://www.mypunchbowl.com/…. Yes, we’re aware of the birthday apps on Facebook — but as we see it, we’re solving a different problem. I don’t know about you, but I have 250+ “friends” on Facebook. And frankly, I don’t care about most of their birthdays. MyPunchbowl Birthday Reminders are for the 30-40 people you actually care about, and want a reminder. We see it as a much more personal service for keeping track of those birthdays that matter (and for birthdays of people who are *not* on FB, such as parents and grandparents).So far, it’s been very well received — for precisely the point that your blog post makes.

    1. fredwilson

      Kid Mercury thinks niche social nets are the next big thing. I’m not as sure of that. But its worth watching to see

  34. Tom Royce

    I have been doing the same for a year now, it is a nice combination and works well. Congrats on taking the leap. It will really let you open up on Facebook and enjoy the experience more.

    1. fredwilson

      It already has

  35. Paolo

    I was thinking about it yesterday. Maybe for most of us it’s time to unclutter our “virtual” life, figuring out that there’s a real one too… We’re always blown away by the newest technologies, but we almost never stop to think: “is this really worth it?”. Well, I say we, but I actually mean “I”…Almost every day I check 200 feeds + FB + FF + Twitter (hey, that’s almost a full-time job!), and I normally come out with just a couple of really interesting things… I often dream about a unique application which really knows me, checks everything for me every day and delivers a single page of great stuff (news, ideas, music, videos…), just in time for a good cup of tea at 5 pm…

    1. fredwilson

      That will happen. It has to

  36. markslater

    i think this may be a trend that will continue to occur – when you begin to want to really share geolocation based information – this will likely be with a closer or more tightly defined social set.Geolocation will become increasingly more important because there is a huge amount of value at the cross section of time, location, and action.the problem is that GPS wont ever get us there. Neither will WIFI.There is also the privacy paradigm that this subject touches upon. Kurzwiel said that there is no such thing as privacy – we all are increasingly living a life of publicness – but we must always be able to control WHAT we want to share, and the next huge hairy business idea is the one that combines all these, and brings the contributors of the data bits in to the ecosystem as benefactors of the platform.

    1. fredwilson

      Great points as always mark

  37. samfjacobs

    The problem I have with Fan Pages is that it creates a separation (intentionally of course) and is less intimate. Part of what I like about the social web is that you can feel a more authentic connection to someone than being held at a distance as a ‘fan’. There’s no real way to interact with a fan page in the same way that there is for the regular page and I then have trouble seeing the point. I suppose the point is that fan = one-way communication.

    1. fredwilson

      I love your new record sam

      1. samfjacobs

        Thank you, Fred. And thanks for the support on the Tumblog. Greatlyappreciated. Hope to see you at the show on 4/17. Love the blog so thanksfor your posts and curating this community.

  38. Dan Frommer

    I agree with this approach. Happy to allow people to follow me in public on Twitter or my various sites. But as a first-gen Facebook user (undergrad onward), it’s always been a place for me to interact with my “real” friends online — not my online “friends” from work etc. (I recently purged most of those, even from the limited profile list.) That’s how it’s been most useful for me, at least.

  39. Jeff Judge

    I think this plan will work out well for you. I use Twitter for a lot of the stuff that I’m interested in (ruby, mobile, apple, craft beer, etc) and Facebook for keeping up/sharing with close friends and family. A friend recently referred to Facebook as the Sunday night conversation (eg – calling your parents to give them the update every Sunday). I thought that made a lot of sense as the differences in the two are very clear to me. When I want to post a photo of my son, I do it via Flickr/Facebook, when I want to post commentary about something I’m interested in I do it via Twitter.It seems like Facebook is thinking about the problem you’re writing about by introducing groups last week. I’m really excited about the direction in which they’re heading. Twitter too.

  40. SophiaAa

    Loved your post!My sister was well on her way to 1000 friends on FB, but like you changed her mind last month. She’s down to around 200 friends.One friend commented:Hey Cat, Is there a T-shirt I can buy that says:”I survived the Cathy Arvan Facebook Layoffs 2009″@SophiaAa

    1. fredwilson

      Ahh. That gave me a good laugh. Thanks

  41. Joe Lazarus

    Interesting. I was about to trim my friend list on Facebook, but the new UI fixed most of the issues for me. The friend lists seemed like a lot of work to maintain. What I ended up doing is hiding certain individuals from my news feed (by clicking the little X next to the person’s update). It’s nice in that I’m still friends with everyone, but I never see posts from people who I’ve lost touch with, who post mostly duplicate content on other services like Twitter, or friends who post a lot of nonsense. It’s like inviting them to your wedding, but sticking them at a table in the back and not talking to them much.I wish Twitter had a similar option. There are a lot of people I’m willing to receive direct messages from for example, but I don’t want to see all their posts.

    1. fredwilson

      I bet you’ll see that feature first in a third party twitter client (like facebook!)

  42. daryn

    My facebook is in a similar situation. I first started using the site with industry folks, and it was purely from a curiosity standpoint. Then, as my high school friends started migrating from myspace, I began using it to keep in touch with them. Most recently, a lot of my family members have joined. For the most part, I don’t keep up with consuming my activity feed, and I don’t mind too much (I check individual profiles if I’m curious). However, I often struggle with what/when to update my profile, and what content I want to push to all of these different groups of people, which makes me update a lot less often that I otherwise would.It doesn’t warrant a Daryn fan page quite yet, but I do wish there was a better way to manage these different personas. For me, it’s not about privacy, it’s more about keeping signal-to-noise high for all these people with different interests in me. Yes, they can filter me, but I’d rather they didn’t have to.

    1. fredwilson

      Same thing happened to me daryn

    1. fredwilson


  43. Maura Rodgers

    It is so refreshing to read this. I think you have articulated what many people feel or are starting to feel as more of these social services and apps hit the mainstream. My original Facebook Friending philosophy was I would only friend people I had actually met in person. That worked for a while but like you, FB has become much more of a personal space since all of my old classmates have signed up and started sharing family photos and pictures of me with BIG 80’s hair. :)Twitter (&LinkedIn) fills the space between my personal (FB) and professional life. I am less selective about who I follow-back on Twitter than who I friend on FB b/c I still want to keep the door open for connections and conversations with new people.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah those photos from the 70s are a big part of why I nuked 300 ppl 🙂

  44. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    I’m not on facebook that much. I have tons of friends requests waiting from people I don’t really know. I’d say 90% of the friends I have on facebook are family and friends I’ve known for quite some time. If I do end up spending more time on there I will most likely cull the list down a bit.As you said, people can follow me via my blog or twitter if they want to know what I’m up to. There’s something about how we communicate with our really close friends and family that’s different than we do with the public…even for the most social people (e.g., Scoble). There will always be things appropriate for some spheres of relationships in your life and not in others.

  45. Armineh Baghoomian

    Some boundaries are good.

  46. Anon

    Be careful with the wedding analogy; your Facebook purge hurt some feelings much like the wedding invite process invariably does. The difference, of course, for Facebook is there is no seating capacity and nobody is paying per plate. Filtering and grouping seem like a better way to go. There needs to be an app that makes these groups easy to form and portable to a variety of different platforms, then you can set your permissions once and manage them in one place. I also think of the target concept, although I would start with the very center being just myself for notes and other non-public thoughts and working out to “anyone” in the outer-ring.

    1. fredwilson

      I’d rather be honest and hurt some feelings than pretend I am following 300+people that I am not

  47. Crystal

    You can import your lifestream on Profilactic.com as an RSS feed onto Facebook. This way it updates everything: FlickR, Twitter, Tumblr, etcetera 🙂

    1. Crystal

      Oh – PS: I also created a separate FaceBook account, since Crystal Kelly is my pen – name — lol I was slow to create a Facebook fan page and reading this just motivated me to make one 🙂

    2. fredwilson


  48. VlogHog

    How much should you spend on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace etc. versus time you should spend on improving your blog?

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t know the answer to that

  49. rdeichert

    Jim -Really like your metaphor, this challenge brings me back to the presence management buzz of 99-00. If I recall correctly it was about instant messaging and who could see who when. It would be great if there could be some standard taxonomy and way of transferring your contacts with the “tags” across services and map them in. Almost a Yahoo Pipes for personal relationship transfers between different services.

  50. Noah David Simon

    the real interaction is not on twitter. it is on your blog… and the one on one is all on facebook. you know that… that is why you are filtering out the junk. I follow everyone on twitter through friendfeed and when I want to talk to them it is on facebook. I don’t need to be your friend to do that. but I know you pay attention to your blog.can we still send you facebook emails if we are not a friend? lol. you can customize that as well.

  51. bussgang

    Thanks for doing this, Fred – among other great things your blog post did, it enabled me to discover the “Friends List” feature, which I had never used.As the father of three who are on the verge of fbook age (my daughter insists she should get an account for her bat mitzvah next year), I’m curious about learning more about why your daughters didn’t want to friend you and how to navigate that very sensitive issue of your public personna melded with your kids’ private/public lives.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t have much to offer when it comes to kids and Facebook other than1. let them have a Facebook account. My son Josh has had one for at least ayear and his bar mitzvah is coming up next month2. don’t feel like you have to watch what they are doing there3. make sure they understand the risks they are undertaking with socialnetworking (and sex, and drinking, and drugs, and driving, and …..)4. trust them to do the right thing until they prove they can’t be trusted

  52. Amnon Levav

    This is amazing – just the right approach. I think it will work – especially if others adopt it.

  53. Colin Devroe

    Again, just catching up here. (no, I’m not reading through 151 comments before I post this) This very same thing is/has been happening to me lately. On Facebook for sure. On Twitter about a year ago. I used to follow everyone back on Twitter until I reached about 300 followers. Then it was just noise. Twitter had absolutely no value (for me). So, I unfollowed everyone. Then built up my list to what it is now (about 60 people that I actually know, interact with on a daily basis, work with, etc.). If I were to follow back the nearly 1,800 people that follow me, Twitter would no longer be valueable to me.The same thing was true on Facebook until I was able to classify people on Facebook as Friends, Family, Oldschoolers (people I went to High School with), Viddlers (people that are Viddler members), etc. This allows me to sort through and find the stuff I’m looking for much more quickly.Brightkite, which I love, does this same thing for me in a way. I can choose, on a person-by-person basis, what shows up on my ‘stream’ from them. I can choose to see their check-ins, their posts, their photos, or nothing at all. I can also choose if I’m notified of any of those things via SMS or email. Extremely granular options which makes Brightkite much more valuable to me than Twitter. The popularity of Twitter is what keeps me there. I call this community pressure. Even though I’d rather use Brightkite than Twitter (based on features alone (and geo-tagging)) I use Twitter because that is where everyone is.(Sorry this is so long, but it is a topic I’ve thought A LOT about.)If Twitter were to add either Facebook’s “friend categories (or lists)” or Brightkite’s granular (is this the right word?) options to allow me to still be a friend with someone but not see their updates when I choose not to – – I think that’d be very, very huge for most people. Including me.At Viddler we’ve chosen to add Facebook’s approach which we call “buddy lists”. Currently I have one for Friends, Family, Co-workers, and Viddler members. This allows me to share videos with an entire group of people very quickly.

    1. fredwilson

      Twitter is well aware that they need to offer similar functionlityIn the meantime, you can get it in tweetdeck

  54. ShopWurld Nbg

    A company called ShopWurld” has combined the best of both worlds by integrating the social networking aspects of FaceBook and MySpace with the networking aspects of network marketing to create a new and exciting home based business / fundraising machine that is already changing the landscape of how charity and non profit organizations raise money. As you mentioned, you have approximately 1,300 friends / pending friends with FaceBook. If those same 1,300 friends were in your ShopWurld Network, you would be receiving a monthly residual check of between $800 – $1,000. The really kool thing about ShopWurld is that it requires NO investment, NO selling, NO inventory, and NO risk!

  55. Chris Baskind

    I’ve let the air out of the tires everywhere but Twitter. We’re overloaded (I am, at least). Closer, better relationships, please — even if it means fewer of them. Your approach seems entirely reasonable.

  56. Claire

    I also treat Facebook as more personal than twitter or other netorking sites I am on. However, I do have enough friends from different parts of my life that I watch what I say. Yet I have the same interest that many do to restrict privacy settings by category of connection. I think that if Facebook could get the privacy settings right, so you truly could limit certain photo sharing (with labeled kids) to your family, allow your neighbor to see your status updates, and maybe have the near and far work connections have some otehr set of rights, that would be a huge differentiator for Facebook. I appreciate the “reconnection” side of Facebook. Someone invited my entire high school class on, and I would miss the adult humor of some of those folks I knew “back when” were it not for the connectivity of FB. A large number of the folks I am connected to on FB will never (at least not in the next few years) be on Twitter or FriendFeed or sites that to them are “avant garde.” FB is a “place,” unlike Twitter. Those who have a blog of their own can get that connectivity in that place; for many who don’t Facebook is a place of community. I play Wordtwist w/the same 4-some (VA, DC, PA) and Lexulous (CA) pal. If I didn’t have this place, these casual interactions would fall away. I also know that dropping “real world folks” that I interact with has its repercussions – those with a bigger public persona may almost have it easier than “average” folks.

  57. Alan Warms

    This is where I think the new FB design has failed. It used to be for me that i used twitter to follow tons (not tons, less than 300) of people i knew and didn’t knew, and I understood what i was getting and what it meant. FB was great in that you could follow wall to wall interactions with friends and really see what was happening.With the new interface, all the status updates are coming so fast and furious from everyone and dominating the experience that the other stuff is lost. Why every one I know hates the new interface. In doing the redesign they’ve lost a lot of that differentiation w twitter. Good for twitter, bad for fb. If it was old design my guess is you would feel less need to make that happen.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a very interesting point al. I had too many “friends” in FB so I ignored the service entirelyNow that I’ve narrowed it to 50 something I love it

  58. Mark Schmulen

    Hi Fred,You may want to check out http://nutshellmail.com to help you manage Facebook. Instead of receiving a bunch of one-off email notifications that simply distract you and clutter your inbox, NutshellMail sends you consolidated digest on a schedule that you can define. I receive three NutshellMail digests a day that efficiently alert me of new activity from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and even my junk email accounts. Each notification provides a direct link back into Facebook, but i can also update my status through email and add events to my Outlook calendar. The Twitter feature tracks all my activity and enables me to follow or unfollow users, retweet messages, send dm’s and @ replies.If you find that your social media activity is hard to manage, NutshellMail may be a good option for you. For full disclosure, i am one of the co-founders and would love to get your feedback.If NutshellMail is not for you, I recommend Digsby or Seesmic desktop, but they can be overwhelming for casual social networkers.Cheers,Mark

  59. prefabrike

    I hate Facebook. I have an account, but I seldom log in. When I do I find myself going through my messages and deleting most of them and hand-picking, very selectively, which ones I read. Then I leave and don’t return for a few more months.Twitter is much better for the type of information I provide. Facebook is cumbersome and stupidly juvenile. Vampire bites, hugs and kisses, and crazy crap that wastes my time.For business, I’m convinced Facebook is a lousy way to spend your resources. But if you truly want to make friends, or keep tab of your existing friends while playing virtual tennis and such, then Facebook is probably worth it. I don’t have that kind of time.

  60. fredwilson

    Nope, and its taking just as long to “ignore” the ~1000 that I’ve leftdangling for four yearsI feel like I am cleaning up my desk finally

  61. fredwilson

    Let me know how it goes. I am curious. And I will do the same.My brother in law started with facebook and now also uses twitter and hetold me yesterday that FB is for friends and twitter is for businessInteresting way to think about it

  62. fredwilson

    Or just making it easy to clean houseIt took me about an hour to nuke 300 friends yesterday and a similar amountof time to “ignore” ~1000 pending invites

  63. fredwilson

    I’ve never been keen to abandon accounts and user names I prefer (and emailaddresses)

  64. Cam MacRae

    Explains the glut of spammy business accounts following me on twitter these days! I’ve always thought of FB for personal, twitter for conversation and live events (amazing to what the flow within seconds of a minor earthquake here last week) and linkedin for business.

  65. pauljacobson

    I used Facebook for some personal stuff until recently. I have been keeping some of my content separate for fear of having all my eggs in one basket so I upload personal videos to Vimeo, photos to Flickr and blog on my personal WordPress blog.The recent controversy over Facebook’s terms of use incentivised me to put even more distance between me and Facebook although a more recent review its terms and the direction it seems to be going in got me back into Facebook.The more I use it the more I see it as a generic platform (albeit feature incomplete) which I can use for personal and business activities alike. This is made quite a bit easier by the fact that I don’t draw very clear distinctions between work and life and I am not as bothered by people seeing the parts of my personal profile the privacy settings let through. Between privacy settings and filters it is pretty easy to focus on specific groups of people but that is how I like to use Facebook.

  66. fredwilson

    That’s pretty much where I ended up in terms of who I am connected to on my private page.

  67. fredwilson

    Ha ha