Ten Facebook tips for power users

The following article is reprinted from PCWorld.com.

So you signed up for Facebook, added friends and photos, joined a few groups, and updated your profile status. But now what? Isn’t there more to Facebook? There is.

Here are ten tips to tweak your profile and get more out of Facebook. These tips go beyond the typical and include ways to stay better connected to your friends and look good doing it. To compile this list I searched high and low and even called on Facebook for the best tips. Most are easy to do and all will add some Facebook pizzazz to your profile.

Dig up demographic dirt on your friends with Socialistics

If you want to know the demographic breakdown on your Facebook universe of friends, Socialistics does a nice job at breaking it down. This application can show you information about your friends’ ages, the languages they speak, their country of origin, and lots of other interesting information all within Facebook.

Socialistics data does not show up on your profile pages and you are not able to share Socialistics information with your Facebook Friends through your wall. However, if you want to take a look at the trends for your personal network, then add Socialistics to your profile and you can access it privately.

Power search tips

Just like Google and other search engines, Facebook has some built-in power search tools and terms to help you find people. Want to search your Facebook network or friends list, but you want to narrow the results to fall within an age range? Just enter a term using the “name,” “y1” and “y2” search filters. For example, I wanted to find my buddy Colin from college, but I can’t remember how old he is. To find him I just entered in “name: Colin Bauer y1: 25 y2: 40” and voila! The search string asked Facebook to look for people named Colin Bauer between the ages of 25 and 40.

You can also use two search terms at once by dividing the terms with the “pipe character” (|) (the pipe is found on the same key as the backslash).

If you want people to easily find you when they search, fill out your profile as much as you can. That way your profile interests—music, books, movies and so on—will move you closer to the top of Facebook search results for those keywords. Check out Facebook’s help page for more handy search terms.

Integrate Facebook information with Gmail

The Firefox add-on called Xoopit is designed to streamline browsing and sharing of files, photos, and videos with friends on other social networks via Google’s Gmail service. One of Xoopit’s handy features (seldom touted) let’s you see who among your e-mail contacts is signed on to Facebook and displays their profile photos, status updates. The Xoopit add-on also lets you update your status inside Gmail via a nifty little Xoopit box that integrates into the Gmail interface.

This Xoopit Facebook Demo from Jonathan Bruck on Vimeo walks you through how it works.

Personalize your Facebook URL

SocialToo allows you to create a custom domain for your Facebook profile page such as username.socialtoo.com. This allows you to share your Facebook site with other people without requiring them to search for you on Facebook to find your profile. Granted, you might have to explain to your friends that even though Facebook.com isn’t in the Web address it’s still takes you to your Facebook page. The domain is much easier to remember than an eight-digit profile ID.

Signing up with SocialToo is quick and free. You can set up your Facebook settings under “preferences” on SocialToo’s Website. Just remember to choose your SocialToo username wisely.

Another way to create a custom domain for your Facebook page is go to your Profile page in facebook and copy the Web address that appears in your browsers address bar. Then head over to Tiny.cc. Now paste your Facebook profile Web address in the Tiny.cc’s “Enter a long URL you want to make tiny” form field. And directly to the right you’ll see a Custom option. Here you can create a custom URL that follows the convention http://tiny.cc/username.

Hack your profile photo

Want to juice up your profile photo? Check out AllFacebook.com’s 5 Creative Ways To Hack Your Facebook Profile Photo. You’ll learn how to maximize your picture size to 200 pixels wide by 600 pixels high, and how to create some neat effects like making it look like you’re hanging off your profile Wall.

In my tests, the specifications for this effect took some carefull tweaking but the payoff was worth it. If you’re handy with a photo editor this will be easy for you. If you don’t have Photoshop, you’re going to need to get yourself a photo editing program to take advantage of this hack. There are pleany of good free photo editing programs to get the job done such as such as Paint.Net or Photoshop Express (online). You’ll find more free photo editing software at PC World’s Download section.

Put Facebook Chat in your browser sidebar

Is Facebook your main IM tool? You can place it in your browser’s sidebar. For my tests I used Firefox, but this also works in Opera. In Firefox just go to Bookmarks -> Organize Bookmarks and click on Bookmarks Toolbar. Select New Bookmark, and name it Facebook Chat. Then paste in this URL: http://www.facebook.com/presence/popout.php. Make sure you’ve selected “Load this bookmark in the sidebar” and hit Save. Now you’re ready to go. Sorry IE fans — this is not for you; however, you can paste the URL into a new browser tab if you like.

Get back the old Facebook look (more or less)

Ever feel constrained by the Facebook layout and look? You can actually change the look of your Facebook page with some tinkering and a little help from a tool called Greasemonkey that allows you to use Java Scripts to change the Facebook look. The only catch is the new look is something only you can see—your Facebook friends see the same old Facebook page. Once you’ve added Greasemonkey to Facebook, visit Greasemonkey’s companion site UserScripts.org and browse dozens of layout options for your Facebook page. Click “install” on the new Facebook layout you want and let Greasemonkey take care of the rest.

A word of warning: Before you go nuts downloading Facebook layouts like crazy be carefull. Greasmonkey scripts for changing your Facebook layout use JavaScript. JavaScripts can be malicious and harm your PC if created by a sloppy or crooked coder. Scripts on UserScripts.org can be submitted by anyone and are not reviewed by Greasemonkey. Before you download a new Facebook layout check out the user reviews and exercise caution before installing.

That being said, here are a few of my favorites:

Remove Facebook Clutter: This is a close approximation of Facebook’s previous look and feel. This hides the filters on the left side of the “stream” and the “highlights” section, and takes away the rounded corners on profile photos.

Facebook Color Changer: Pick a color scheme and change your FB colors. This script used to let you change the Facebook icon on the top left of the screen as well, and the developer promises this feature will be back.

Facebook Twitter Style: Have you heard how Twitter supposedly inspires Facebook’s new look and feel? Why not take this concept to its logical conclusion and view your Facebook homepage as if it really were Twitter?

Upload mobile photos or videos straight to your profile

Just took a great picture or video with your cell phone and want to post it on your profile right away? Set up your profile settings to allow mobile uploads.

Go to the Mobile tab under your Facebook account tab and set up your phone to send photos to your Facebook page directly from you mobile phone. A word of caution if you set up Facebook to do this.Take heed of your Facebook mobile settings and adjust them properly.

When Facebook Mobile is activated you also let Facebook send text messages to your phone for those sending you friend requests, e-mail messages, wall posts, and status updates. That could become an astonishing text message bill if you’re not careful. This feature is only available in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

Tweet your status

This is one of my personal favorites. Adding the Twitter Facebook application to your Facebook profile gives you the option to turn your Tweets into your Facebook status updates. Not only that, but Twitter is smart enough filter out @replies so that personal messages don’t end up on your profile.

Use these third-party apps

There are many Facebook third-party apps that help you keep tabs on your Facebook friends. Some are barebones, while others give you more in-depth information. Here are the ones I like the best that will give you the biggest bang for your buck (actually they are all free).

Facebook Dashboard Widget: Similar to Windows Facebook Desktop, this widget will notify you of friend requests, messages, pokes and group and event invites.

Facebook Exporter for iPhoto: If you don’t plan on buying iLife ’09, but loved the idea of posting photos directly from iPhoto then this plugin is for you. Pick or create a new album, tag your friends and add captions right from iPhoto and then send your work straight to your Facebook profile.

So that’s my ten Facebook power tips to take your Facebook time wasting to the next level. Try them out and me know what you think. And if you’ve got other tips post them in the comment field and share.

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