Any Facebook newcomer will tell you: the site can be awfully confusing. What is "poking"? Why should you give people virtual gifts? And should you accept friend requests from people you don't know?
These questions and more are addressed in Dave Awl's Facebook Me: A Guide to Having Fun with Your Friends and Promoting Your Projects on Facebook. Mainly aimed at first-time Facebook users, the guide does provide some tips for experienced members as well. Awl's humorous tone keeps readers interested — for example, a sidebar article is titled "Why Send Someone A Picture of A Cupcake?" However, the advice he gives is solid and straightforward. When receiving a friend request from someone you don't know, Awl explains, investigate which friends you may have in common as well as groups and network memberships. The author stresses that users are not obligated to accept every friend request, virtual gift, or application invitation — the control lies completely within the individual.
Awl also addresses another important topic: Facebook etiquette. The sidebar "The Fine Art of Not Being Obnoxious" advises against inundating friends with various requests or simply spamming people with advertisements promoting your work. Other cyber "Miss Manners" issues addressed include whether to accept your boss's friend request, how to politely ask friends to stop sending annoying application invitations, and how to request that users not post offensive material on your Facebook page.
The manual is organized in a clear, easy-to-use manner: chapters include Facebook's basic structure, introductions to applications, page setups, privacy settings, groups, mobile applications, and groups. Differences between "notifications" and "updates" are clearly explained, and descriptions of the wall, publisher bar, and editing menus apply to both new and experienced users. Full-color screenshots illustrate various aspects, with Awl providing directions on how to change profile pictures, notification settings, and how to post a video or photo.
While these issues may seem basic for experienced users, Awl does not neglect the more seasoned audience. He offers tips on how to promote your projects on Facebook, including whether to set up a page, profile, or group. Looking for unique birthday "gifts" to send to friends? Awl suggests YouTube clips and other virtual gifts that can be overlooked. Keeping up with various friends' updates can be overwhelming, but the book contains tips on how to organize your friends into various lists. Even those interested in posting paid ads will find useful information in Facebook Me.
Although the manual's layout allows for easy reference, one element that could be improved is the sidebars. Many pages contain brief tips, notes, and warnings which are quite useful — many tips include shortcuts, while the notes provide additional information about a particular application or feature. But the introduction does not include a key to the corresponding symbols — for example, one symbol resembles iTunes's podcast icon. What does that signify? A brief explanation of the symbols, their meanings, and the differences between tips, notes, warnings, and the catch-all podcast icon would have better clarified the supplementary material.
Otherwise, Facebook Me serves as an essential guide for newcomers, and as a refresher course for seasoned Facebook members. Both audiences should find information relevant to them — those who consider themselves "pros" will be surprised by lesser-known tricks and tips Awl's likable persona makes for enjoyable reading, as if a patient friend were sitting next to you, explaining the sites' various quirks. Perhaps a more apt title of Facebook Me would be Everything You Wanted to Know About Facebook, But Were Afraid to Ask.