5 simple hacks to make your Facebook experience more enjoyable
TODAY Show, Kayla Jardine
August 2, 2016

Most of us spend a decent chunk of time on social media, but we often complain about how badly it makes us feel about ourselves and our lives.

It’s time to change that.

TODAY spoke with Michelle Gielan, author of “Broadcasting Happiness” and founder of the Institute of Applied Positive Research; and Caitlin Hudspeath, a Facebook spokeswoman, to discover how to find happiness on the social media site.

First, remember that Facebook can be a great tool to connect people, Gielan said.

“I think Facebook can be really great for inspiration and connection,” she said. “Social connection is the greatest prediction of long-term happiness. If you’re using Facebook to deepen a connection, it’s really powerful.”

Gielan conducted a study in 2012 that found three minutes of negative news in the morning can lead to a 27 percent higher likelihood of reporting your day as unhappy six to eight hours later.

But if you go on Facebook in the morning and read inspirational posts or see funny pictures from your friends, you’re 27 percent more likely to have a better day. So it’s all about structuring your Facebook and setting limits for yourself, Gielan noted.

“It’s about understanding who you’re following,” she said. “If you’re following celebrities, it doesn’t really do anything for us. Whereas, if you have a friend who lives across the country, every time you see their post it can really bring happiness.”

Here are Facebook’s tips to enhancing your experience:

1. Streamline notifications

Ever look down at your screen and wonder why you’re receiving notifications? Chances are it’s probably been a while since you updated your notification settings — make those daily pings more noteworthy and take a minute to double check your settings.

To do this: Click on the globe at the top right of your Facebook profile. Next, click on “Settings” and then “Notifications”, on the left side. Manage your email and push notifications on your phone — use email for “only important notifications” and manage your push notifications on your phone to your liking.

2. Block people who are bothering you

Is there a certain someone you would rather avoid on Facebook? You can block them from seeing things you post on your timeline, tagging you, inviting you to events or groups, starting a conversation with you or adding you as a friend.

To do this: Access “Privacy Shortcuts” by clicking the lock in the upper right hand corner of your news feed and selecting “How do I stop someone from bothering me?” Enter the name or email address of the person (or people) you wish to block. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings — the person you block won’t be notified that you’ve blocked them.

You can also turn off your app or game notifications in your settings.

3. Hide negative people from your news feed

Want to see more updates from your best friends and fewer from the casual acquaintance who updates her status seven times a day? Put your news feed to work for you with a few simple steps.

To do this: When a status you’d rather not see appears, hover over the top right of the post — a drop down arrow will appear giving you the option to hide the post or unfollow that person. Unfollow for a while and their posts will no longer appear in your news feed. When you’re ready to have them back, go to news feed preferences (by clicking the down arrow at the top-right corner of any Facebook) to re-follow them as well. Don’t worry, they will never know you unfollowed them!

4. Control who you see first in news feed

To help prioritize stories and make sure you don’t miss posts from particular friends and pages, you can select which friends and pages you would like to see at the top of your news feed.

To do this: Within “News Feed Preferences” (which is located under the lock icon on the upper right corner), click “Prioritize who to see first” and then tap on a friend’s profile picture to see their posts first. You will then see any new stories they’ve shared since your last visit to Facebook at the top of news feed with a star in the top right of their post so you know why they’re at the top. You can scroll down to see the rest of your news feed normally.

5. Improve the experience when relationships end

When people change their relationship status to indicate they are no longer a couple, they will be prompted to try certain tools, giving them the option to quickly and easily dissociate with their ex.

To do this: Go to your profile page, click “About” and then click down to “Family and Relationships” on the right. You should be able to edit your relationship status and then save the changes. After that, head over to your ex’s page and follow the steps outlined above to unfollow or hide their posts. This way, their posts won’t show up in your news feed and their name won’t be suggested when people write a new message or tag friends in photos.

Finally, be aware of how social media makes you feel. If Facebook is making you feel bad even after these changes, scale back on how frequently you’re using it. Do what works best for you!