How I Use Facebook Friend Lists

Why Use Lists

In real life we talk about different things with different friends. Conversations vary depending on who I’m with and our unique shared history.

I use Facebook in ministry. I work at a church. I accept friend requests from anyone who attends my large church. I don’t necessarily know them all well enough to want to let them into every corner of my family life. I do want to be able to share church-related information with them and invite them to church events. But my family and friends in Australia probably don’t need to hear details of an upcoming sermon series, or registering for Sunday school, or a collection for a local mission partner.

The answer for me is friend lists.

What Lists

These first two lists are the ones I use most related to ministry as a person of faith and as a member of a congregation … sharing things of a general inspirational value, and sharing the things my faith community is doing :

  • Close Friends (the built-in FB list, marked by a yellow star, but you pick who you put in it) is the people I share my family life with. I’m not ‘friends’ with them out of obligation or politeness or because I need to connect with them for work or some other organization I’m involved with. I would select this (or ‘all friends’) when posting more general inspirational posts that are not specifically congregation-related.
  • Local Area  is people who live in or near my town (use the default FB ‘MyTown MyState Area’ list or make a custom one if you want to include college students etc. who live somewhere else but still are connected to their hometown). This is the one I use for more ‘outreach’ posts, things that are not just relevant to attenders, but might be of general interest to anyone in the community … information about community events and local mission projects, ‘newsy’ stuff. I also use the same group to share information about the Local Roots Coop that I’ involved with.

Then I have these additional lists which are more specifically related to my work at the church, focused on those who are already connected to the congregation in various ways:

  • Church #1 is staff, council, and ‘core’ members. I mostly use this for ‘early’ event invites (when I first set up an event, and then invite others after a few people are already marked as ‘attending’). Occasionally also for a special request or something that is more relevant to this group.
  • Church #2 is anyone who is a current Zion member or attender. This is the one I mostly use for congregational ‘insider’ information … we need this volunteer or that donation etc. I don’t usually send friend requests to members I’m not otherwise connected to, but I always accept, so that I can add them to this list.
  • Church #3 is former Zion members. I don’t actually use this much for posts, rather mostly as a place to re-categorize them from #2 and keep that ‘clean’. Might sometimes use it in conjunction with other groups for things of general Zion or Buffalo interest.

Building Lists

  • You can find your existing lists at https://www.facebook.com/bookmarks/lists
  • To start a new list, click on Create List, give your list a name, and add a couple of people.
  •  To edit an existing list, click on the name of the list you want to manage and then on Manage List > Edit List.
  • Change the On This List dropdown to Friends, and then you can simply select and deselect who you want and then click Finish.

custom privacy screenshotPosting to Lists

When you want to share something with a particular list, use the audience selector. It is located to the left of the Post button on a desktop view, or as To: on some mobile views. The text on the link will vary based on what your default post audience is. It might be Public, Friends, Close Friends, or something different. When you click on the button you will get a list of options. It might be a complete list, or it might be an an abbreviated list with More as one of the options.

One of the options will be Custom, with a gear icon. If you click on Custom, you can combine and exclude lists and individuals. For example, I could specify to share a post with my Close friends+local people+church folks but maybe exclude the pastors (of course, this is just an example).

Be aware that once you start selecting audiences, you always want to double check what audience you last used and if you want to change it before you hit Post 🙂

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