Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Email to a Friend about Facebook

A week ago I got an email from a good friend and business associate who asked some questions about Facebook. He wanted to understand how to effectively communicate on the Network, in a way that was both efficient, and more importantly, effective. I asked him if I may republish my email to him, and he agreed. I hope it is helpful to you as well.


I notice you’ve made a lot of “friend” suggestions on Facebook to me recently. I was wondering if you have a particular strategy regarding the people you suggest?

I have a basic strategy, but I admit it is not a whiteboarded/heavily planned one.

I have several lists of friends. Personal, business1 (people I've personally met that do business in the region), business2 (they are business oriented but I don't know them personally), acquaintences, etc. When I sent suggestions to you , I sent ones of people that were on the business1 list. Further, I didn't send everyone I know to you , as I understand that not everyone might be a mutually advantageous friend on Facebook.

But sometimes I will recommend a friend or two that is simply an interesting soul. I believe Facebook is a place to expand horizons in many directions, including non-business. Even this can help business down the road. Remember Facebook started out as a college socialization tool. (by the way maybe we can all get together and go see "The Social Network"!)

I still don’t really get how I can use Facebook strategically (LinkedIn is an obvious tool for me).

Think branding and strategy, not instant sales and tactical activities. They are important too, but it's more about being an active participant in various communities, be they business, charitable or otherwise. If you participate, they remember you...

There are certain ongoing activities you should perform on a daily basis, such as:

1. Post status update (80% interesting articles, wise ponderings, interesting life experiences that you think people might comment back on) and 20% business message (hey I hope to see you at the networking group this week, etc.)

2. Comment on other people's posts: VERY VERY VERY important: after you post a status update, go to your Facebook news feed and comment / like other people's posts. It comes down to the rule "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". Only comment on things that you genuinely have an opinion on, or you can simply click the like button if you like the post. Feel free to be a little humorous, quirky or unique. This is welcomed with most in the Facebook community.

If I were in a retail business or a B2C business, I could be “friends” with just about anyone. But I get confused by friend requests from people who I may have little or nothing in common with. If someone sends an invitation NOT from a suggestion of a friend (you) and I don’t know them and don’t seem to have common interests, I ignore it.

Believe me, I do get selective with adding people I don't know. Sometimes I'll send a message back asking who are you, how do I know you, why do you want to be friends, but generally speaking I don't put a heavy guard up unless I think they are potentially unsavory as a Facebook friend. You can generally get a feel for this by simply looking at what type of stuff they post on their wall, prior to friending them. If you see that most of their stuff is centered around making it to level 127 of the game mafia wars, run. :-D (Not that there's anything wrong with Mafia Wars - lol)

But when someone fitting that profile sends an invitation at the suggestion of a friend, I feel a little uncomfortable.

Feel free to always ask the person who originally sent the friend suggestion.

How do I maintain a balance between personal and business relationships on Facebook?

One word: lists. Start with a personal and a business list. If you are a more private individual, begin by simply communicating with your close family and friends, not business associates. If you use Facebook first to communicate back and forth with family and close close friends, you will eventually be comfortable with expanding outward into the Facebook business community, with a more well rounded understanding of how to effectively communicate with that demographic.

This is actually backed up by one of the ultimate core books "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", in which Stephen Covey states that we need to first work on our circle of influence (the people places and things that we can help make a positive difference in), and only then will our circle of concern (that which we WANT to be able to change) expand. If we apply that to Facebook communities, we should first be genuine with those we trust, and then we will be able to be genuine and comfortable with others.

Thanks for the great questions!



Rodrigo Silveira said...

That's a great article, and an awesome template. How do you make such a large image load so fast?

Unknown said...

Hi, Rodrigo.

Thanks for your comment. Yes I love that template. I can't take credit for it, good ol' Google has a bunch of them in their new template editor. The bg images were optimized nicely to begin with.

If you get a chance, check out the back end on a blogger account. The css coding in particular is very clean.

I saw your portfolio. Very impressive. I'm sure those for whom you worked on project are very pleased, indeed.

Keep in touch. :-)