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Facebook Friends Request

facebook quandryNot sure if it’s my age, my leanings towards introversion or my busy schedule, but I confess that I’m having a difficult time with Facebook. I sort of get Twitter, and enjoy the constraint of 140 characters, but when it comes to Facebook, I’m at a loss.

Perhaps it all starts with the word “friend.”

Four or five years ago when I first set up my Facebook account, I started getting friend requests. Which apparently is one of the objectives. And in the process, I noticed an interesting problem. I didn’t really “know” many of the people requesting to be my friend. Apparently they knew me, staring back at me from within a sea of faces all day at a speaking gig.

That’s when I made my first major mistake. Because I didn’t know that the meaning of “friend” had changed!

Initially, I used a rather blunt, old-fashioned way of determining whether to accept a friend request: would I enjoy spending time with this person over a cup of coffee? Would we have enough in common to talk for say 15-20 minutes? If so, accept. If not, pass. Which means, I’d need to have a memorable, real-world experience with this person to even remember their name.

Now I’m told by people who spend hours on Facebook each day that this may have been a needlessly restrictive criterion! (For all of you who I may have virtually snubbed in the process, I apologize!)

Silly me. That may be how you might define a real-world friend, but this is the Internet! Apparently, the word friend has been reduced to something closer to what I’d call an acquaintance. Or, “I’m-familiar-with-you.” Or, “I can spell your name.”

Who knew?

Overlay that revelation with the motive that there are some complete strangers who are motivated to collect as many friends as possible (whoever has the most wins?) and you can also fall victim to “friend spamming.” How strange!

So. What to do?

I’d appreciate those who are Facebook literate to weigh in on my current strategy and provide some guidance. Here’s my current approach: Even if I don’t recognize the name, I’m accepting anyone for whom we share 20 or more mutual friends (acquaintances). Is that number too high? Too low?

Granted, this relies on the “wisdom of crowds.” But it would seem to help avoid having the wall cluttered with spam. Right? Is that a good idea? Or is there a better strategy? If so, please share it.

Comments (4)

Hi Bill,

Great memories from Alicante, Spain, last month!

I agree with Michael, it depends what use you make of FB... I have 3 accounts: one for my personal use, one for my professional network, and the last one for my company. I am VERY selective for the first one, the second one is more open, and the last one I set up as a "page" so you don't even have to accept "friendships" but people can "like" you page instead!

I think you are too modest Bill and I imagine most of the people who are trying to be friends with you are chiropracTORS or others you have inspired. Of course there are people who are just trying to sell things but you can always delete them. I added you as a friend because I am a fan of this site, and what you and your company are trying to do. By the way thanks for accepting!

Andrea:

Hi Bill,

What are your goals with FB? Are they to stay in touch with family friends? Do you want to network with chiros and put your company in front of them for potential business? Do you want another medium in which to get your message to the world at large?

FB is a delicate dance. Depending on your goals, you may want to just "friend" only your true friends. If you're looking for a networking opportunity, though, anyone related to chiropractic or other holistic professions is a potential "friend."

For a time, I accepted almost every friend request. FB stopped being fun for me. I missed my family's posts, my "wall" became a walking billboard for all these people I didn't know - and their businesses - blech.

Now, I rarely add new "friends." If they're chiros, yes, immediately, and I have made some true friends and business connections there. But if anyone starts using FB strictly for advertising or promoting their own business and doesn't add value to me, I delete them. Likewise, I strive to balance between enough personal posts that people learn about me, and a smattering of health/chiro related stuff to pique people's interest.

Hope that helps, and feel free to "friend" me. I'd be honored. ;)

Dr. Andrea Mills

Michael Soucy:

Bill,
I would say that it depends on the purpose of you Facebook account. If it's a personal account then being conservative makes a lot of sense, however if it is a business related account start hitting the "accept" button.

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From May 4, 2011 4:40 PM

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