The Influence of (Facebook) Friends

Do you have friends? Real friends? Or are they just Facebook friends? Maybe you have both. Maybe you have neither. I’m sure you have some.

Me? I have some. Probably around 600 give or take. Real friends and Facebook friends. Some even qualify under both categories. But are they all truly friends? Especially the ones on my Facebook list? I mean some of the people on my FB friends list I have never met. It’s like the term “Friend” is thrown around like a dirty old penny.

Many of the people on my FB friends list went to high school with me. Some of them were more acquaintances than friends. But we have kept in contact…a little. Some that were friends in high school would probably be more like acquaintances now because of how little communication (basically none) that we have had.

So what does any of this have to do with anything? Or maybe I should ask what any of this has to do with the title of my post? Actually, it is something I have thought about a lot lately. I have actually started to get bored with Facebook and part of the reason why is the lack of communication between me and my FB friends. So, I decided to conduct a little experiment by posting a simple little question on my wall asking for a response from my FB friends.

For those FB friends that responded, thanks. 25 out of 569 FB friends responded (although three of those 569 weren’t on my list when I posted the question). That equates to 4%. This did make me start to really think about the communication value of Facebook. But the question itself that was asked was worded specifically to test the influence of friends.

Some interesting facts about those that responded:

  1. They all know me personally, and many of them have known me for more than half of my life. (Now I didn’t expect any of my FB friends that haven’t met me personally to actually respond, but how cool would it have been if they had.)
  2. 2 of the respondents are directly related to me; with two more having ties through marriage.
  3. 4 of the respondents met me while I was living in another country.
  4. 6 of the respondents were my co-workers.

So, for the rest of you that are reading this that aren’t on my FB friends list, let me fill you in on a little more info. The question I asked was, “What imprint have I made on your life?”

I don’t think that the question was that hard to answer. However, I was a bit disappointed in the number of responses. I honestly thought I would get more. I asked a simple question. In fact, I opened myself up to criticism by telling everyone to respond even if that imprint was bad. I wouldn’t have been upset if someone had responded with a bad imprint. I know I have made some dumb choices in my life and said some really stupid things. I even acted without thinking a few times if you can believe it. So I figured there would be more responses than what I got with at least a few coming from people that haven’t had the greatest impressions of me. But there weren’t. Maybe I should be grateful.

One week after posting the question I was no longer receiving answers. No surprise there…the post was so far down on peoples timelines that they would only see it if they actually went to my profile page and scrolled through my postings. I decided that there wouldn’t be any more responses so I closed off the response period and move on to the analysis period.

The first part of the analysis period was actually making assumptions; that most people don’t really read my posts. Now I don’t know if that is true or not, but I decided it wasn’t important enough to dwell on. Maybe I will pretend that each FB friend actually read the post but just didn’t have time to respond. Or maybe they couldn’t narrow it down to one impression and didn’t want to list more than one. Or maybe it was something else, like their dog running away or the power going out.

The second part of the analysis period was making up excuses. Maybe more people read my post than what I think, however, they just didn’t care to respond. But if I am going to use that as an excuse I would have to know why they didn’t care to respond. There is no way I will know that unless I send a private message to each one asking why they didn’t respond. I don’t care about it so much to do something like that.

The third part of the analysis period was actually the analysis. As I read through the responses, it was interesting to note that most of the responses didn’t mention a specific thing that I said or did that left the impression. Instead, they seemed to be more focused on how I made them feel, or memories from an earlier time that included me. And you know what? I am good with those responses. And that is what ties this whole discussion to the topic title.

Some friends on Facebook are truly friends. They are people that will be friends even if Facebook goes away. Those are the type of people that responded to my post. Some friends on Facebook are merely acquaintances, those that come and go and don’t necessarily forget about you but rarely think about you either. Others are friends because you had a high school reunion coming up and that nostalgia set in as everyone started “friending” each other before the big event.

Then the least influential, or maybe in some rare cases the most influential of the list are those that have never met you, don’t share a career or social media path with you, or even want to follow you. They are the ones that send a friend request because you speak the same foreign language, or because you know someone in common so you “have” to be friends, or because they just want to increase their friend list count to show how many people they are friends with. Yes, these “friends” can be influential as well.

I want to share with you some of the responses that I received to the post. Some responses (from friends that I have known the longest) spoke about how happy and kind I was to everyone and the impact it made in their lives during specific time periods. I am glad that I could cheer people up and make them feel good (and yes Tamara, I did have bad days occasionally). Some spoke of dependability and hard work while others spoke of specific things that I did for them. Some responses spoke of things that I don’t even remember while others brought back memories that I hadn’t thought of in quite some time.

Yes, all of the responses had an impact on me, just like all friends will have an impact on your life. It doesn’t matter as much on how well you know them or how much you interact (although those two criteria do help at times), but rather on what is said and when. Like one response said, “people will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel”. That one comment can sum up the influence of a Facebook friend. The communication doesn’t have to be frequent, but what is said in that communication will make all the difference.

So, what will your influence be?

Just another view from a Palmtree.

Thanks for the follow…

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Here’s a shout-out to the people that have started following me on twitter.  Thanks.  And even though I don’t know any of you personally, I look forward to learning more about you and what you want to share with the Twitterverse.  Well, maybe not for all of you.  Let me explain before you stop reading.

Last week I saw a re-tweet that mentioned an article titled “The 40 Most Approachable Social Media A-listers on Twitter.”  Of course, the list was not created after a poll of all Tweeters, but instead was a list created by the author (Brian Rice) showing his own opinion.  But he said that following and interacting with these individuals is a MUST!  I read the list and saw that of the 40 names, I was already following six or seven on Twitter.  I was even following a couple on Facebook too.

I decided to follow every single person on that list.  My reason?  Mainly because I am the social media marketer at the company I work for and I am always looking for people that know what they are doing in this arena and what they can share to help me.

Another reason I started following all of those people is because I have read so many articles about things that can be done to gain a following for your blog, and one of the suggestions was to be interacting with A-listers that have a large following.  Now, I know I am not interacting yet as was suggested, but I am starting.

After following all forty people on the list, I posted a Tweet saying that I was following them all in hopes of going viral.  Two things happened as a result over the last few days that I think is interesting.  First of all, I received a message back from Marjorie Clayman (@margieclayman) with some profound truth.  She said in essence that doing things because I want to go viral will not help my postings go viral in the way that I want them to.  This comment directly relates to the second occurrence that I found interesting.

In the last few days since posting that tweet, the number of followers that I have on Twitter has doubled.  No, that is not viral.  In fact, many of those new followers are members of that list of forty names that I started following, and they are following me back.  Others that started to follow me are people that also follow those forty names.  All of us seem to have some common interests when it comes to social media.  It is to all of you that I say “thank you” for following me and I hope to enjoy more interacting through comments and direct messages.

But along with these new followers, I acquired another twenty followers that don’t tweet.  They follow dozens, if not 100-200 people, and are even followed by a few dozen others, but they don’t tweet.  Who are these people?  Why do they want to follow me?  Do we share any common interests?  I didn’t know the answer to these questions so I decided to click on their profiles to learn more about them.  Marjorie was right… I don’t necessarily want to go viral in this way.

All of these unknown, non-tweeting followers are women.  Most of them work in the porn industry… at least that is an easy assumption based on some of their profile pictures and website links on their profile.  But I could be assuming erroneously.  It is all a judgment based on outward appearance.

It is interesting that I suddenly had these people following me.  I don’t blame it on the fact that I started to follow those forty social media A-listers.  Timing could have played a huge role in the whole thing.  But regardless, it is still interesting to me.  I don’t think that I share anything in common with these people.  I don’t think they share much in common with any of the people I follow (I could be wrong… I don’t know their personal lives one bit).  Maybe they are just using social media to help market their own business, whatever that may be.  And they are trying to become viral, just as I would like to see happen with my own blog postings.

So in the end, I have actually learned a lesson… or two, or maybe more.  The first lesson I learned is that when I tweet using sarcasm, I need to make it clear that I am being sarcastic.  I had no intention of following those people so that I could become a viral blogger; I just said it out of jest.  When Marjorie responded, I decided I better not lead anyone else into misunderstanding so I deleted that tweet.

The second lesson came from Marjorie’s response.  Although, it wasn’t necessarily the response itself that taught the lesson, but also the resulting follows that reinforced what she was saying to me.

The third lesson was actually something that I had already learned, but was reinforced learning.  It is that if I want to become approachable like those 40 A-listers, I need to interact more.  If I have a question, I need to ask it.  If I have something to share, I need to share it.  If I want to comment on someone else’s tweet, I need to say it… especially if it contributes to the conversation.

I can’t just write my views and expect that the posting will get 10,000 views in the first three days.  Heck, I have written 50 blogs postings and I haven’t even gotten 10,000 views combined since I started.  But that is not the objective.  My interaction will hopefully return interaction, which in turn will help me as I develop my writing, which is the reason I started my blog in the first place.

Summed up, if I am social, people will be social back.  If I have the objective of quick popularity, I may get it… but who will I be popular with?  Probably not the ones that will help me accomplish my goals.  So hopefully I have learned what I need to know and will be able to follow through as I follow all of you.  And if you have learned from my own experience, than I am glad that I could help.  The view has definitely expanded.

Just another view from a Palmtree.