Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A Facebook birthday - MY rules

I had been thinking on my aunt's birthday and the unfortunate timing of her friends and acquaintances birthday wishes on her Facebook wall, two weeks after her passing.

I know people have written about this before, and everyone has their own sense of what's proper Facebook etiquette or not. But I decided to put these out there anyway: these are my rules when it comes to celebrating birthdays on Facebook.

1. If you would normally send your friend a birthday card in the mail,still do. Downgrading your previous card to a message on a wall is rude, unless you want to downgrade your friend to being just a "Facebook friend." If you interact with this person outside of social media and s/he means more to you than a simple posting, send a damn card.

2. If you usually intend to send a card in the mail but didn't get one out in time, resorting to an e-card is an appropriate substitution. You may want to acknowledge that you didn't get a physical card in the mail, or that their "real" card will be coming soon.

3. If you normally would not have acknowledged the person's birthday then by all means, wish them a happy one on their wall. Having a Facebook wall full of love is one of the things that makes birthdays in the social media world so wonderful.

4. Before wishing a person a happy birthday, check to see if they've posted recently. I have friends who have opened Facebook pages but abandoned them. Writing on their walls is like sending a letter straight to the dead letter box at the post office. I have a friend from high school who started a Facebook page after our high school reunion but doesn't usually get on it, so I sent her a birthday card in the mail and let her know that her Facebook wall was filled with birthday love. She was pleased to get the reminder in the channel she uses (mail) and then checked her wall and said "thanks" for all the well wishes. She'll probably use Facebook again on her next birthday.

5. Make sure it is actually that person's birthday. I have a friend who set his birthday to January 1st when he first signed up for Facebook because he didn't trust what was going to be done with his data. Later on, just to mess with people, he set it to December 25th. Sure enough, on both those days his walls were filled with well-meaning but meaningless messages. I knew better: I acknowledged his birthday in April like a good friend should.

6. If you meant to write on the person's wall on their actual birthday but never did, wishing them a happy birthday a day or two later is completely appropriate. It's recent enough to be an attempt to extend the birthday. If, however, you are writing in July and the person's birthday was in May, then you look a bit ridiculous.

7. If the birthday person writes "Thanks for all the birthday wishes!" don't comment on that status to wish them a happy birthday. It makes you look like a lazy tag-along who wouldn't have done anything except that your friend reminded you (again) that today is their special day. Take the extra effort to go two clicks in to that person's wall and wish them a happy one there.
8. By all means, please ensure that the person is still celebrating birthdays. If you haven't heard from or interacted with that person for a while, reading past posts on the wall and checking for recent activity wouldn't be a bad idea before wishing someone a happy one and coming across as insensitive.

Your Facebook friends will thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Good Post!!! I haven't gotten around to putting ANYONE's B-day card in the mail yet THIS past year... but I have been making actual phone calls to people...