Many of my readers know that several years ago, I started the Facebook Group called “Celebrate Hand Quilting.” This group now has over 11,000 members. Each day, we get requests from people to join our wonderful members who share the love of quilting. It saddens me to have to turn people away who may be great quilters… or brand new quilters… or people who want to learn to quilt but, for some reason, have not begun. Unfortunately, every day, we receive several requests from people that we (the Admins for the group) find suspect. Here is what I sent by private message to four people this morning: “I would love to add you to the group, but I can’t see any photos or anything on your own Facebook page that shows you to be a quilter. We are very careful when accepting new members and do everything we can to ensure that they are not spammers, which is why I’ve been looking around your own site.”
The only way an Admin has to learn anything about someone who wants to join a group is to visit their personal Facebook page. Checking profiles is time-consuming, but necessary. Unfortunately, many people are fearful of Facebook and other social media and have their Facebook profile locked so tightly that nobody can see a thing. This actually does them more harm than good.
When he was little (elementary school), one of my boys used to put on a pouty face and in a funny voice say, “I’m not talking.” It was the funniest thing to watch. That image comes to mind as I write this post. Does your Facebook page tell the world that you are “not talking?”
I understand why people are fearful of allowing strangers access to personal information. It’s a way to protect yourself and your computer from bad people and electronic harm. At Celebrate Hand Quilting, we want to protect all our members from stalkers, spammers and other dangerous types; our members are all precious and we don’t want anything to happen to them. Do we want new members? Sure! Just not scary ones!
If you are new to Facebook, you can adjust your privacy settings quite easily. You can set your posts so that only your friends can read them. You can set your photos so that only certain people can see them. Your friend list can also be tweaked to suit your needs.
One thing that I do if someone’s profile is tightly locked down is look to see if Facebook tells me that any of that person’s friends are also members of my Facebook group. If you have friends in the group, I might take a risk and accept your request to join the group.
If you don’t want to share your friend list, you can put a few photos on your profile that don’t show you or family, but DO show what your interests are. Let’s say you are trying to join a group about horses. You could post a few photos of some horses on your page and make only those photos public. Perhaps you love cooking. Post a photo of your favorite dish or cooking equipment online. Make that photo accessible to the whole world. Do SOMETHING to let the world know SOMETHING about you. By not doing anything, you’re really telling the world that you’re not interested in communicating with anyone, and that you really don’t want to share anything about yourself. If that is how you feel, then social media is really not your thing.
Think about it… let’s pretend you are in a coffee shop and I sit down at the table next to you. I take a few sips of my coffee, and you try to strike a conversation with me. “What are your hobbies?” “Do you have children?” “What do you do for a living?” I ignore you, keep drinking my coffee, and make no eye contact. You would probably assume that I want nothing to do with you or anyone else, and a relationship has never been started. “I’m not talking.”
Now, pretend I sit down and open a quilt magazine to look at. You spot the magazine and think to yourself, “wow, she likes quilts!” So you lean a little closer and ask, “Are you a quilter? What kind of quilts do you like to make? I enjoy making applique quilts!” I look up from my magazine and ask, “Machine applique’ or hand applique’?” BiNGO. We have something in common, and a conversation has begun, thanks to a non-scary quilt magazine you were able to spot on my table.
Your Facebook profile does not need to be a picture of you, though that is nice. But a profile picture of a hobby that is a big part of your life tells a little something about you. It’s an innocent way to smile at the world and give them a non-threatening glimpse at who you are.
Some of you who read this post might think that it’s a little rude or discriminating to let some people into a group and not others. Today’s world is different than it used to be, and being a Community Moderator (also referred to as a Social Media Manager) is actually an occupation that can actually pay a salary. It is a necessary task to keep groups functioning properly. There are companies that train people how to monitor groups, and what we are doing at Celebrate Hand Quilting actually follows best practices for monitoring social media. And, I believe it is a big reason why our group is as successful as it is.
So we at Celebrate Hand Quilt will keep on doing what we’ve been doing and will enjoy the wonderful new members that come our way.