When Facebook started out, it was just a cool place to post your pictures and connect with friends. Today, though, Facebook has become a universal platform. Real-world activities like socializing, art-making, politics and running a business have all become interwoven with Facebook.
What is the full power at your fingertips? What abilities does the social media giant grant you that you didn't even realize, let alone use?
Here are five amazing tools that millions of users have never heard of but may be incredibly useful in your everyday interactions. Whether you're a multimedia journalist reporting from a war zone or you're a parent who has to send quick cash to a stranded college student, Facebook has become one of the most useful online forums on the planet.
Here are some features you should consider trying.
1. Advertise your product
You've seen a million ads on Facebook, both in your feed and in the margins. You've probably clicked on a few just because you were curious. You can also advertise on Facebook, whether you're selling jewelry on Etsy or inviting people to your concert. If you're on a budget, Facebook is arguably the best online advertising there is. You can access the Ads Manager through your main menu.
First off, more than a billion people have Facebook accounts, so the audience is enormous. You can also set a strict budget, say $10 per day for three days. Then you can target your demographics. The tools are very simple, allowing you to insert text, photos, videos or even slideshows.
What's more: Facebook makes it easy to post ads on Instagram as well. Tailor your publicity to two different social media platforms at the same time.
2. Stream your video live
Facebook Live remains mysterious to many users. Can you really stream live video from your Facebook account? Yes, you can, and the tool is attracting everyone from amateurs on vacation to major media companies like CNN and the New York Times.
The thing about live streaming is that it's happening, well, now. If you make a mistake, everybody sees it, and there's no "undo" button. If you're a master of improvisation, you'll enjoy this virtual high-wire act. If not, Facebook Live provides some handy tips for how to attract the right audience and connect with them via video.
3. Message requests
Every time your smartphone pings, you check your Facebook messages. Someone tagged you? You check. Five new likes? You check.
But many Facebook users have no idea they have a separate inbox, the "message requests." This inbox is designed specifically for people you aren't friends with. If you've never heard of it, you may have messages from years ago that you never knew were sent. Some of these might be spam; other messages might come from a backpacker you chatted with on a train to Vienna.
When you click on your "messages" icon, you'll see "message requests" in the upper left-hand corner.
4. Pirate speak
There is nothing useful about this, but it's a great party trick, and if you need a pick-me-up and are all out of funny cat videos, the pirate feature should fit the bill.
Here's what you do: Go to the Settings >> Language and change to "English (Pirate)." All of the main text will change. Example: "Friends" becomes "Me Hearties."
5. Animated profile shot
No, you aren't hallucinating: some people have found a way to animate their profile shots – and you can, too.
What you're looking at is actually a GIF, specially created by Facebook. To do this, you'll need the Facebook app for your mobile device. Just go to your profile photo and hit Edit, then you'll find the video option. You can use your camera to shoot a new video, or you can use an already-existing one.
Remember, though, that the GIF can only be seven seconds long, so make every second count.
Bonus: Send money
Many people are still leery of online financial services like PayPal, so how could you possibly trust a social media site like Facebook? What's more, the site wires money back and forth through Facebook Messenger.
Facebook uses your debit card to make the transactions, so it's basically just like swiping your card at a store. Just enter your information into Messenger and send and receive money the same way you'd move dollars from one online bank account to another.
Just remember that some bank services are slower than others, and the money may take a few days to post. Even in the social media universe, that's the price of doing business.