So, I was asked the following question on Facebook the other day “Jerry, do you think I should be friending more people say friends of friends even though I don’t know them?” At first glance that seems like a simple enough question to answer, but as I thought about what I should say to him I had some conflicting thoughts.
My first response was to tell him not to send friend requests to people that he doesn’t know. My second thought was to say, sure, go for it. Either answer has pros and cons, so let’s take a look at both answers. Then you can decide which is right for you.
First of all, feel free to disagree with anything I have to say here, but please do it in a comment so that we can all learn from it. In others words, don’t send me an email or a private Facebook message because others won’t be able to see them.
Next, there is NO right way and wrong way to do social media that will work for all people in all circumstances. The one sure thing that you can say about proper behavior on social sites is this: Your readers will let you know if you are misbehaving in their eyes. Either by blocking you (Or hiding you or un-following you) or they will speak up about it!
Since the person that asked me that question is a real estate agent and therefore interested in marketing his services, I’ll answer from that perspective. If you are not a marketer, then my answers will probably not resonate for you.
On the pro side of the coin, I would say that mining other people’s friends lists is a great way to meet new people and add to your sphere of influence. But, to make the most of this method, I think that you have to look closely at each individual. Visit their Info tab and see what you can learn about them. Try to find something that you have in common and if you do, then add a personal note to your friend request. Since it’s unlikely that the person will know you, the personal note should also let them know how you decided to send a friend request, and also give them a reason to accept…such as that thing you have in common. That way, if they accept, you will have a basis for forming a relationship, and you will have given them a reason to accept you.
On the con side of the coin, I would say that mining other people’s friends lists is counter productive, unless you already know them. Part of the allure of social media as a marketing tool is the ability to create and nurture relationships using a medium that is in wide acceptance these days. But, unless you have a plan to actually interact with people, I’m not sure what benefit you would hope to achieve by friending people that you don’t know.
One method of interaction that you might choose to do would be to read each post that appears in your News Stream and make a conscious effort to comment where appropriate on the “new friends” postings. If you are effective on this, you stand a good chance of actually making a new friend in more than just name only.
Another good side effect of this is that if you can get people to comment on your postings, then their friends will see that the mutual friend has some interaction with you. (If they visit that mutual friend’s profile page) That could in turn lead to making new friends.
So, to summarize, the question really doesn’t have a definitive answer. Going back to the fourth paragraph above, I firmly believe that there is no definitive right and wrong way to do this. As many different people as there are, there are as many different ways to approach the use of social media. What I would say is a truism for marketers using social media is this: The goal of social media marketing is to create an opportunity to have a face to face meeting, or to create a sale.
If you are doing that, you are doing social media marketing correctly