Using Facebook Lists to post different status updates to different people



I’ve been doing a lot of Facebook wrangling lately, but one issue had me stumped and I couldn’t find a clear answer.

The problem: I have a Facebook Fan Page, and of course my own personal profile. I usually post my artwork and other stuff regarding this website, etc. on my Fan Page.

However, I actually still want to pester the people on my personal profile about my artwork and updates.

There’s a lot of overlap on my personal profile and Fan Page, so I don’t want to bombard the people on both with double posts. It’s kind of rude.

The solution to this problem is Facebook Friend Lists.

I monkeyed around with it myself for a whole day and couldn’t quite figure it out, so I decided to ask the Facebook Guru herself, Mari Smith.

She responded the same day. She’s really good about that despite having over 20,000 fans(!). Guess that’s why she’s the queen, huh? If you haven’t “Liked” her page, get over there and do it.

Anyway, so she pointed me to this article on Facebook Privacy. It’s not all about lists but this is a good place to start.

I say “start” because Facebook has changed up things a little, even though the article was published very recently.

So as the article says, you want to login, then click the “Edit Friends” link under the “Account” tab on the top right.

Edit friends pic
The “Edit Friends” link

Once in the “Friends” screen, the article says to click “Create New Lists” at the top. My screen didn’t have that button yet. To get it, I had to click the “Friends” link under the “Lists” heading in the left sidebar.

friends link under list heading
The “Friends” link under the “List” heading

Once I did this, then I had the “Create New Lists” button. So, you click this button and then you’ll get a popup with all your friends and your Liked Facebook pages. I was a bit surprised by this but oh, well.

create new list
The “Create New List” button
create new list pop-up
The “Create New List” pop-up

The unfortunate thing here is that I couldn’t sort the list by excluding people who had already Liked my fan page. Facebook should definitely put something like this in there. It could check to see if you administer any pages and give you the option to select or exclude all those people.

Since it doesn’t do this, I had to go and click the people one by one. I opened up my fan page in a new window so I could compare side by side.

This still wasn’t quite good enough, though. As you probably know, Facebook sorts the list of Fan Page members by date joined, so the last to join are showing up at the top, with no way to change the sort order. Even though I have a small number of fans, this was still turning out to be a pain in the ass.

To ease the pain of this, I copied all the names in the fan page friends window (I just marqueed my cursor over everything, photos and all), then pasted them into a text editor, I normally use TextWrangler on the Mac but any plain-text editor will do.

This removed the pictures and graphic from the site. Now I just had the names and some x’s and return characters. I’m pretty good with the search and replace in TextWrangler, so it was easy for me to remove the extra spaces and work/school information that showed up.

Now I had a list of names, each on one line, but they still weren’t sorted alphabetically. You can probably do this in TextWrangler, but I already knew how to do it in NeoOffice so I opened up a spreadsheet with it, then pasted the text into one of the columns, then sorted that column alphabetically.

You could also use Excel if you have that or the spreadsheet program in OpenOffice.

So getting back to Facebook, the point of all this is to have an alphabetical list of names you can use to check against the window of all your friends as you make your new list.

I called my list “non-hype”, and I wanted it to contain all the people who were not fans of my Hypertransitory Creative World page. The list window even lacks the basic functionality of “select all”, so you’ll have to pick one by one. Again, I don’t have that many on my personal profile, either, so it was more of an annoyance than a true problem. Those of you with longer lists will be spending a lot of unnecessary (to me, anyway) time clicking on people one at a time.

Still, once you get the list created, you can hopefully just keep up with it and not have to rebuild from scratch anymore.

Now that I had my list, I was still stumped as to how to make a status update to ONLY those people on the list. Yeah I could control how they see photos and posts over-all in the privacy settings, but I wanted to do this on a post-by-post basis. I didn’t really see much on this, but the answer came from a Facebook help file (crazy, right?).

It turns out you can click the lock on the bottom right of the status update that’s right next to the “Share” button. In the drop down menu you get, click “Customize“.

lock icon under status update
The Lock Icon under the Status Update field

Under “Make this visible to“, there’s a drop down. Choose “Specific People…” from this list. A field will appear right underneath. They want you to start typing and it will suggest the names of your friends.

specific people
The “Specific People drop-down
specific people field
The “Specific People” field

Well, I was still stumped. I was expecting to be able to choose my list from a drop-down menu or something. No go. I searched around but still didn’t see anything specific about it. It turns out all you have to do is start typing the name of your list, and it will fill in there.

start typing
Just start typing your list name in the field and Facebook should auto-complete for you

Once you have your list in that field, you can share your post and it will only be visible to those people. Sweet! No more annoying double posts for all the people who are on your fan page!

And that should take care of that. Just let me know if you have any trouble and I’ll see you guys around Facebook.

UPDATE: Well, as my personal profile grows at a much quicker rate than my fan page, I’ve found it easier to make a list of all the people on my page, and just exclude them (using the “hide this from -these people” field when you click the lock icon under the status post) when I make a post to my personal profile.

This way I don’t have to keep adding the new people on my personal profile to my “non-hype fan page” list.

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8 thoughts on “Using Facebook Lists to post different status updates to different people

  1. Glad to be of service, Mervan. Glad you found it useful, Facebook changes so much there’s no telling how long it will stay relevant.

  2. I’m finding that if I post from my Blackberry it goes to everyone even though my account is set to post to everyone “but” my “work friends list”. Any suggestions?

    1. Actually now that you mention it, I found the same situation when posting from my Droid. There’s gotta be a setting somewhere to control this. More investigation is needed…

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