About every four to five months I notice that my personal Facebook news feed is rather noisy. There are posts from people I don’t really know, few from those I really do and a handful of posts that are connected to my friends, but aren’t really posts they wrote or have anything to do with other than liking them. When that more-noise-than-signal problem arises, I typically cull my friend list.
Now, this is quite hypocritical of me in many ways. I’ve always been rather open with my social connections, even on Facebook. I mean, I have more than one friend on Facebook named after a weather condition, which is technically against my religion. Heh. I reserve Path for close friends and private conversations — we all need a place to bitch about family and co-workers — so I’m far more liberal with connections on the largest social network than others.
But there is great wisdom to be gleaned from weeding the friend garden, too. You can infer how Facebook decides what appears in your stream. You can check with connections you haven’t heard from before to see if they’re now seeing you more or less — I suspect my friend count affects how they might see my content — and more.
As I sifted through Facebook friends this morning, I decided I would share my approach to culling your friends list. My hope is that you can use it to make your Facebook news feed more relevant and that you’ll spot the fakes in the list:
Here’s my thought process reviewing my friends:
- If I cannot immediately remember who they are, where we met or how we’re connected, they’re gone.
- If I am unsure, I will see how many mutual friends we share. If it’s more than 75 or so, they can probably stay.
- If it is less than 75 or so, I will click through to their bio page and make sure they’re not a friend from school who has changed their name (marriage or witness protection) and that they do not appear to be a serial killer. If they are then familiar to me, or have killed two or fewer people in their lifetime, they can stay.
- Anyone whose profile picture contains more cleavage than shirt has to go. Nothing good will come of this connection.
- Anyone whose name is “Michael” but is spelled with Ks, Ys or extra Es … gone.
- Anyone whose profile picture is them holding their crotch or pointing directly at the camera — gone. If they’re doing both, that’s talent. They can stay.
- Anyone who has a picture of bourbon, is sipping a cocktail or mentions either in their short bio paragraph stays, but is immediately routed to my AA lead-gen list.
- If the person is from a foreign country and has not interacted with me or my content in the last six months, they can go.
- If I cannot pronounce their name, they probably fall under the first round of omissions, but they’re not likely to stay. Keep in mind this isn’t a racial or national origin thing. I have high school friends whose names I can’t pronounce. Example: Clintanya, who, fortunately for all of us, went by “Skeeter.”
- If they have a blue checkmark icon — meaning they have a “verified” account — they automatically go unless I decide I can tolerate their gratuitous ego. (That one is for Peter Shankman, Brian Carter, Robert Scoble and Jeremiah Owyang, whom I have on a special filtered list called “Douchebaggery Suspects.” And yes, they’ll see this. They have vanity search alerts set for their names. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have verified accounts. Heh.)
Keep in mind that about 1-2 percent of the people you unfriend are also ego-sensitive and have alerts and tools set up to tell them when someone unfriends them. You’ll get a note from them asking what they did to offend you. These people don’t realize your social feeds are for you, not them, and you are allowed to filter them however you like. They can follow your content without friending you. And Facebook friendship status has nothing to do with whether or not you like or value them as a person.
Do not re-friend these people. They are needy and will only constantly look to you for validation of their own lives or work, which you don’t have time to notice. If you do notice it, they won’t be that needy. Politely explain you’re conducting a timeline experiment and it’s only temporary. They’ll likely forget.
Try those filter parameters on for size and see if you don’t get a more satisfying Facebook experience. If you don’t, then go back and add all the ones with gratuitous cleavage or holding their crotches. That should fix it.