Being active on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook is kind of like having a basement in the suburbs. These accounts can quickly become so cluttered that you might as well shut the door and say goodbye — you're never finding anything you need again. But social accounts can be kept tidy with some occasional attention. Here are some tips for cleaning out your feeds and timelines and making social platforms more useful. (These steps are to be used with the full Facebook site on a computer, not a mobile device.)
Prioritize your friends
On Facebook, as in life, some friends are better than others. To fill your news feed with more photographs and status updates from people you truly care about, separate your Facebook friends into two groups: "close friends" and "acquaintances." Facebook will feature your close friends' posts more prominently in your news feed. To add a friend to a specific list, go to the person's page and hover over the "friends" button. A drop-down menu will appear with different options.
Unfollow the ranters
If you would rather skip the endless dog photos a former roommate posts on Facebook, you don't need to go as far as removing him from your list of friends. Instead, when you see your friend's name appear in your news feed, pull down the arrow on the right side of the post and click "Unfollow." Your former roommate won't be notified that his posts no longer appear in your feed.
Cut out annoying ads
You can also hide specific advertisements on Facebook. Don't want to see ads for "office-appropriate yoga pants"? Pull down the arrow next to the post in your news feed and choose the option to hide all ads from that brand.
Trim back groups
If you're like me, you have joined countless Facebook groups and you can't remember who or what some of these groups are. To subtly sneak out the back door, go to the page with your news feed and next to "Groups" in the left column click on "More." Next to each one listed, click on the icon on the right that looks like a wheel. You can then decide if you want to leave the group or simply turn off notifications from it.
Control future and past posts
You can also clean up what is posted on your own Facebook page. If you don't want to worry about friends tagging you in unflattering photographs that then appear on your page, adjust your settings. Go to Settings, and then select Timeline and Tagging. For "Who can add things to my timeline?" you can set it so that only you can post to your timeline. You can also require that you review all posts you're tagged in. If you're worried about what strangers might see on your Facebook page, you can make all of your past posts viewable only to your friends and anyone tagged in a post and their friends. Go to your Facebook privacy settings, and under "Who can see my stuff?" click on "Limit Past Posts."
Adjust, make private your twitter lists
Many of us now follow so many people on Twitter that our timeline overflows with too many tweets to read. You could unfollow some accounts, but if you're following hundreds of people, it's probably easier and less time-consuming to make lists. (This method is also less likely to hurt anyone's feelings.) You can create lists by subject, like travel or local news. You can also create a master list of essential people whose tweets you don't want to miss. Keeping a list "private" lets you be as discriminating as you'd like. And you don't need to follow someone to add him or her to a list.
Check your bios
The short bio on your Twitter profile is your one big opportunity to tell people why they should follow you. If you recently changed jobs or started tweeting about a new topic, update your bio to reflect that. While you're at it, make sure that your profiles on the other social platforms you use — especially LinkedIn and Facebook — also reflect your current employer and position, geographic location, etc. This is particularly important for LinkedIn, which many people use like an online resume.