Having just purged my Facebook profile of over 2500 “friends,” and deactivated my Twitter profile at 50K followers and 2K lists, I’ve learned a lot about the definition of a friend. According to Webster’s (yes, I am old fashioned and use a real dictionary, get over it!), a friend is the following:
- One attached to another by affection or esteem.
- One that is not hostile.
- One that is of the same nation, party or group
- A favored companion
Now that really is a pretty broad and very generous description particularly when it comes to social media. I believe that friends are those with whom we share common values, beliefs, and experiences whether real or virtual. I also believe that friends do not pitch or sell us. Friends stay in touch with us. Decorating your Facebook page with pretty faces, just because (there are really peeps who do this) isn’t what being friends is about.
I’ve witnessed a lot of non-friend like behavior from many and want to dish the five top ways to lose friends and alienate people.
#1 Send anonymous, generic, impersonal invites to someone you want to be friends with. This is what I call “Drive-By Friending,” it is the equivalent of whistling to someone on the street and thereby letting them know of your interest. Huh? Either send a personal note or don’t invite them. Twitter is the only network that doesn’t have a way to do this, so when you follow someone, why not send a tweet saying, “I enjoy your tweets, following you,” or something to that effect. Stop being anonymous in social media.
#2 Collect friends based solely on the number of “friends” you have in common. This is a ridiculous measure of meaningful relationships. Yes, I did use this as a guide over two years ago when I began on Facebook. Then I realized how incredibly meaningless and random it really is. While we all know that today there are generally no more than three degrees (no longer the Kevin Bacon six) between any two people, arbitrarily deciding to friend based on number of friends in common makes no sense. Find out more, do your research and make it meaningful or don’t friend.
#3 Inviting friends based on their looks alone. Well I guess this has been done since the dawn of time and will probably be done until time stops. It is still shallow, superficial and meaningless. It isn’t name dropping it is “Face Dropping.” The term “beautiful people” shouldn’t be about the Hollywood starlets and political celebs but instead a measure of the depth of someone’s interior beauty, gratitude, and loving spirit.
#4 Pitching instead of building a relationship that precludes a pitch. In my case, it was someone I recognized who instant messaged me with a pitch. UGH! This person had no relationship with me (I’ve since unfriended as I let him slip by when I was less selective, lol.) And yet he was comfortable wasting my time with a pitch. The funny thing is that if he’d begun building the relationship, it is likely that I’d have wanted to know more about him and found out what he does and considered doing business. He led with a pitch, not a relationship. Social media is about being social, not about selling.
#5 Believing that numbers matter; they don’t! I can say this from a place of true experience. When I first jumped into social media I was taught by folks who were truly plugged in (so I thought) to accept everyone as a friend and follower. Say no to no one. What a crazy way to do it. It filled my Twitter followers with unengaged noise, and my Facebook with meaningless names and faces that didn’t interact. YUCK! It has never been a numbers game but all about engagement. Those who have sought me out and whom I have sought out have created meaningful reciprocal relationships that support and nurture us both. The rest, fugetaboutit! It is never how many, simply how HOT!
Five real friends will take you farther than 500 meaningless names and anonymous faces. Get real in your social media experience. Stop building an empty following, know that when you are yourself and let go of how you think you should be, you will find the diamonds among the stones.
I can also say that I have an unnatural and unnecessary feeling of responsibility toward my Tweeps and my Peeps, so imagine the burden that 50K followers felt like to me. It was crazy really. I interacted with about 200 on a regular basis and really enjoyed them but the rest not so much and it was time to change that.
Your comments count! I welcome your stories about your social media experience and what it means to you.