Throughout history, from pre-language communications to the new social media, connection has been the catalyst for cultural evolution. Connection is about sharing ideas, but in 2011, when advertisers entice us to "like" them on FaceBook, and marketers measure their effectiveness by how many Twitter followers they can acquire, the quality of the connection has been eroded.
It seems to this writer that a little clarity is in order where our so called "conversation" is concerned here on the web. I don't think it is uncommon to acquire thousands of friends, followers, and fans without knowing who they are and without establishing connection, other than names appearing on the same list.
Eric Qualman says 'Facebook me" is the new "can I get your phone number". There just seems to be some comfort in those online friends, so many more that we could manage, or even hope to connect with in real life. Facebook is becoming the new Rolodex.
Todd Carpenter, social media manager for the National Association of REALTORS® has been trimming his Facebook friends for the past year:
“Why? I feel that when it comes to Facebook, or any social network for that matter, having a friend shouldn’t be taken too lightly. Today, after months of quietly deleting "friends," I can say with confidence that the 400 who remain truly are my friends—online and in the real world.”
Todd’s article Less is Definitely more, is well thought out and definitely worth a read.
How many of those friends do we really know? How many of them would you be willing to have dinner with, or invite over to meet your spouse? I have implemented the Birthday Test for trimming my Facebook friends. On your Facebook home page, in the right column, there is a list of your friends who have birthdays that day. Click a profile; think about why you “friended” this person; then look for the friendship link on the top right.
If there is no commonality or no record of previous interactions, go back to their profile and unfriend them. Chances are you will never hear from them, but if you do, you can always refriend them if there is good reason. Also, if you get friend requests, you don’t HAVE to friend them. If you don’t feel there is a relationship, or potential relationship there, there is no need to accept.
I “friend” my customers and clients on Facebook whenever I can. The openness of the medium enhances business relationships too. Yet Inman News writer, Bernice Ross, suggested last week that real estate professionals “unfriend” their clients for confidentiality reasons, implying there might be some liability if one of your friends’ personal information is shared with a third party. Social media is about interaction and engagement, and it is the responsibility of individuals to protect their own privacy within their own comfort level. This not only applies to Facebook, but to all the social platforms. Remember, what you put on the internet is available to everyone – The World is Watching.