Just before the F8 Conference on 9/22/11, Facebook rolled out some great new features on defining your relationship with your friends. Previously, the relationship you had with your Facebook friends were flat. Your boss, colleagues, buddies, hangout pals, industry acquaintances, and often fans were all your friends, even though there were some privacy definitions. However, with a recent Facebook update, you can now have different types of friend lists that you can interact with accordingly.
New Facebook Friends List
The Custom Friends List Feature was already available. I am sure that many of you have custom listed many friends in categories like: Schoolmates/Classmates, Colleagues, Best Friends, Just Friends, Extended Friends, Family/Parents, Relatives/Extended Relatives, “Not so Close Friends”, “Have to Keep them as Friends”, etc. Facebook rolled out a new set of friends list standardizing and defining them into specific categories:
- Close Friends
- Smart Lists (Work, School, Family, City)
- Subscription (Following/People You Follow) and Subscribers (Followers or Fans)
- Restricted Friends
Close Friends or Featured Friends
Close Friends are those, whose updates come to you as notification when you add them. However, you can turn off the notification from the Close Friends List Page. The updates from the people tagged as Close Friends, will also have higher priority in your homepage news feed, than others.
Who are the best candidates for Close Friends?
- Buddies that you want more updates from
- Updates from family members you don’t want to miss
- Someone you have crush on
- Who’s updates are more important than normal friends
- Friends you share common interests with, etc.
Updates from your Acquaintances will be rarely shown in Facebook homepage news feed. But, you will not miss their most important updates, like: Relationship status changes or migration to a new city. Rather than un-friending, this list can be a good choice to keep your friends with the mute button pressed.
People with probable candidacy for Acquaintances:
- Your close friend who updates noting but Gaming Resource sharing (assuming, you don’t like them)
- Link spammers or self promoting friends that you have to keep
- Your high school bullies,
- Annoying family members or relatives,
- Someone you don’t want to interact with much, but want them to get your updates to them, etc.
Facebook introduced many smart lists (friend lists with a lightning icon) in the friend list feature. e.g. colleagues, family members, classmates, and local friends within same city. When you mention your work place (company), education institution, and cities; you will find them as separate friend list in smart lists, like:
- Family members and relatives
- Colleagues, boss, and friends within same company you mention on your profile
- Classmates from school, college, university or other institutions
- Friends and buddies in the same locality/city that you currently live in.
When you mention multiple companies and education institution, you also get smart lists for each company and institution. Family members are filled by the various relationships defined on your profile. But, you also have the freedom to go to the Family Smart List Page and add new family members without defining any relationship. In Facebook, you can not mention more than one city. So, the list for local friends can have just one listing.
Optimizing Custom Friend List
Custom Friend Lists is an old feature. But, since you now have smart lists, it is better to merge some lists and remove the unnecessary custom friend list from Facebook. However, for getting better updates, you can still have some custom friend list to serve your purposes. With the new changes, you can optimize them to serve your needs. Some Custom Friend List optimization techniques are:
Merge Friend List
If you have already defined a list before, you can go to the close friend, acquaintances, smart list pages and merge the existing list to make a separate channel for various types of Facebook friends you have. This will help you to utilize the predefined friend list by Facebook better.
Delete Some Custom Friend List
Since you already have some predefined friend list, it is wise to delete some of the custom friend list. This will help you to avoid duplication. But, make sure you merge the lists before you delete them.
Create Some New Custom List
For various purposes, you have the freedom to create more custom friend lists. One of the problems with the new friend list feature is that, you cannot see all colleagues and classmates together. But, you always have the freedom to create new custom friend list for them and merge them together from the previous lists.
The friends that you keep in Restricted Friend list will not see all your updates on their homepage, but they will get to see all your public contents that you tag them in. Otherwise, you are mostly mute to them. Unless, they define you as restricted friends, they are not mute to you. Facebook friends that you can put in this list are:
- Your boss
- Your competitors
- Friends from other companies, always trying to spy on you
- Your opponent or political contender
- Someone you don’t want to get any idea about what you are doing, etc.
Subscribers and Subscriptions
Facebook also rolled out the Subscribers and Subscription feature in the new update. This makes Facebook more like Twitter and Google Plus, where you can have followers and follow people without adding them as friends. Subscribers and Subscriptions are not actually friend lists as they are not ‘friends’. In another word, you can define them as your personal celebrity and followers.
Subscribers: When someone subscribes on your profile, s/he becomes your fans and follower of you public posts only. In analogy with Twitter, this is the list of “Followers” you have.
Subscription: When you subscribe someone on their profile, the Subscription tab in your Timeline shows the people you are subscribed to. In analogy with Twitter, this is the list of “Following”. You will get updates on only their public feeds on your homepage.
You can activate subscription from the Subscribe Button Page. Celebrities who have large fan-base, they can use this feature to make their Facebook profile as the major media of communication or public updates. The public updates, however remains within the walled garden of Facebook. And to see them, you need to be logged into your Facebook Account. So, this is a bit different than Facebook Fan Pages for celebrities.
There can be 4 types of Subscribers:
These are the people that hit only the “Subscribe” button on your profile. They are your followers that have interest in your public feeds. I am quite optimistic that, many marketers will come up with tips and tricks to increase your subscribers in near future.
When you add a friend now, through friend request, you automatically subscribe to his/her public updates. But, when they add you as friend, they also subscribes to your feeds. This type of mutual subscription is called Friend Subscribers.
Your friend is also subscribing to your updates. When you remove or unfriend a friend, you automatically unsubscribe from his/her updates. But, the subscription to your public feed is not changed at your unfriended friend’s end. So, s/he still remains subscribed to your feeds. So, these types of subscribers are called Unfriended Subscribers. When you plan to remove unwanted friends, you will eventually increase the number of Subscribers.
Pending Friend Subscribers
When you hit the “Add as friend” button on your new friend’s profile or somewhere else, you automatically get subscribed to his/her public updates, even if s/he does not add you back as friend. However, you will not see his/her updates, unless you add him/her or subscribe to his/her feeds. And once s/he adds you, you don’t remain a “Pending Friend Subscriber”, you become a “Friend Subscriber” or just friends.
Other Types of Friends You Can Have on Facebook
What happens when you hit the unsubscribe button on a friend’s profile? The result is a mute friend. This is will turn off all the updates from a friend. This is why it is a bit different than Acquaintances. Acquaintances are semi-mute friends whose important updates are shown to you. But, without un-friending a friend, you have the freedom to mute a friend by unsubscribing from their friend as well as public updates. However, as a friend you will have the freedom to visit their profile or timeline to see their updates.
This is the just the opposite affected party who mutes friends. These types of friends totally unsubscribe from your updates and do not respond to any. But, just like mute friends, your updates can be seen by your unsubscribed friend on your profile.
Subscription in Friend List
In case of pending friend subscribers, you have public updates of a person that is not yet your friend in Facebook. But, Can you add a subscription in Friend List so that the updates come to a specific friend list? The answer is no. I guess Facebook needs to open up this feature.