Author: Dave Awl
Publisher: Peachpit Press, 2nd Edition 2010
Aimed at: Newbies to Facebook
Pros: Clear, detailed and readable explanations
Cons: Tendency to provide an overwhelming amount of info
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
This is the second edition of a beginner's guide to Facebook. Has it improved with time?
As author Dave Awl points out in his Preface to the Second Edition, Facebook has changed a great deal over the past couple of years. This sometimes leads to sub-standard books with new material simply patched in. This is certainly not the case here. While following the same clear and logical structure the book has been completely revised and updated. and is still an ideal introduction to newcomers to Facebook. It is also a useful volume to have to hand if you created a Facebook account but have never really got going with it.
At the outset Dave Awl states that
"You can think of Facebook as the online dashboard for your social life: a centralized display that gives you up-to-the-minute data on what your friends are up to, what's on their minds, and what they are planning for the weekend."
After a brief summary of what you can do on Facebook the first chapter is devoted to an informative guided tour of Facebook interface which is ideal for anyone who has been mystified by it.
Chapter Two walks you through the process of signing up and setting up a profile at level not for expert users but for novices and the next chapter takes a similarly patient approach to establishing connections with friends - both individuals and networks, the Facebook term for communities such as school, workplace or alumni organisations and local or regional groups. People who haven't already jumped on the Facebook bandwagon are perhaps deterred by issues of privacy and security so this is the topic of the next chapter and the advice seems balanced and reasonable.
The remainder of the book is for those who have been convinced to sign up and are ready to take advantage of Facebook's features. Chapter 5 covers Wall, Status updates, importing stories from other sites using news feeds and commenting on Facebook stories. Chapter 6 is on using facilities for sending private messages starting with its Inbox and Chat window. It also covers why and how to send a Poke which according to Dave Awl is "a way of saying hello without really having anything else in particular to say" - and concludes with a section on Facebook etiquette entitled "The Fine Art of Not Being Obnoxious".
Chapter 7 is on Facebook's optional applications and add-ons and then we return to something that most users would consider is at the heart of the Facebook phenomenon - sharing and tagging photos. The next chapter covers interaction with people you don't already know and is on groups and is followed up by one Facebook's role in organizing events.
Arriving at Chapter 11 Pages we get to the part of the book that has been expanded, as opposed to just revised as we move into the territory of "Promoting on Facebook". For the uninitiated a Facebook Page (with a capital P) is:
"a special kind of profile that allows public figures, organisations and businesses to communicate easily with throngs of fans, supporters and customers.
Dave Awl shows how to create and manage Pages and new in this version is a section on default landing tabs for a page.
The topic of advertising which used to be combined with Pages now has its own chapter - Chapter 12 Advertising and Promoting on Facebook. Before considering paid advertising options it delivers an rather different message: "Don't Sell It - Share It" which suggests:
"The most effective way to advertise on Facebook is not to advertise"
and goes on to suggest that you use Facebook to show off your talent, your craftsmanship, your innovation, your sense of style. It then presents a series of steps for promoting on Facebook, follows up with a hypothetical example, five "Key Principles of Social Media marketing" plus other key points distilled from earlier chapters. It returns to the topic of landing tabs to show how they can be used for promotional purposes.
Chapter 13: Facebook at Work, which covers issues of mixing your social life with the world of work and job hunting has been expanded with advice on creating a profile in line with your professional identity and a section aimed at managers and hirers.
The final chapter, Chapter 14: Going Mobile is a very brief overview on using Facebook via text messaging and mobile web browsers and uploading content from mobile phones. This all part of the process of becoming completely addicted to Facebook - which is perhaps the overall aim of this book.