Back in October there was an article in the New York Times called "Facebook in a Crowd" by Hal Niedzviecki. In the article he describes how he reached out to his almost 700 friends to invite them to a Facebook party. After tabulating the responses Hal had 15 people who said they were attending, 60 that said maybe, a few hundred that said no and no responses from the rest. On the evening of the Facebook party one person (a friend of a friend) showed up to meet him.

The moral of this writer's particular story: When people on Facebook say yes, they really mean maybe. And when they say maybe, they really mean probably not. But ultimately the potential moral is that "friends" might have time for you on-line, but not off.

What does this have to do with business? Well, it was a business that shared this article with me...almost as an example of how social media and/or Web 2.0 applications aren't really reliable for generating business. If you relied on this example alone, that would be understandable.

Here's the thing, being involved in social media isn't just about collecting friends or followers and, voila!, your work is done. Social media takes time and roll-up your sleeves work to develop and nurture conversations. And it's these conversations that can ultimately lead to relationships (i.e. customers).

Facebook is just a tool and having a lot of friends or the ability to start a group doesn't necessarily mean that you will be successful in really connecting people to your company.

If you're considering Facebook as part of your social media strategy, consider Hal's experience one more time. Perhaps take pause and reach out to your customers (or prospects) instead and ask them where they'd like to connect with you. By doing so you might just save yourself that embarrassing situation of your "friends" not showing up to the party.
December 1, 2008

Beth Harte is a marketing, communications & social media consultant, speaker and professor that started her career when companies barely had e-mail—let alone websites. Experiencing Web 1.0 first hand, she also enjoyed the mad dash towards implementing integrated marketing communications and SEO/SEM. Beth is deeply engaged with marketing, PR & social media and helps companies do the same. Being a firm believer in ‘walking the walk to talk the talk,’ Beth blogs at The Harte of Marketing where she shares tips, opinions & observations that she’s experienced firsthand or picked up from some of the best marketers, communicators and social media leaders in the world.


Although a sad story, I think this goes to show that while we're all building these relationships, we need to know why we're doing it. And how, obviously, as you point out perfectly.

And also work more at our offline relationships, personal and business.

@DannyBrown, very true. I see so many companies rushing to get Facebook accounts or ads because they think it's the thing to other reason.

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