Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 26, 2008 2:41 PM

6 Reasons Why We Can't Be Friends

It's getting harder and harder to define the friends from the foes in these social circles. People are starting to choose wisely instead of widely.

It's getting beyond information overload. The slew of invites from the myriad of social spaces increases as the days and new applications wane on. If you've been following this Six Pixels of Separation Blog, you might remember a Blog posting titled, Mass Media or Mass Content - What's Worse? We're quickly getting to the point where even adding more individual people to our social spaces is not so cut and dry.

Sure, there are those who will either add anybody and everybody, and then there's the other side where people do not add anyone unless they have met them in person (or actually like them). In the middle of those extremes are probably people more like you and I. We love connecting with those we know, but are equally excited to meet and explore the possibilities of making a new connection.

Some people are using these channels for the sole purpose of personal gain. And while there's nothing wrong with that, they probably have no idea how much it is affecting their opportunity to really meet new people and grow their business and personal brand even more effectively.

In the spirit of this thought, here are:

6 Reasons Why We Can't Be Friends:

1. Trying too hard to sell something - "buy now" or "special offer". Realize that whenever someone checks out an invite from you and those are the primary messages they see (be it on Twitter, on your Blog or the website where your Blog is linked to), they're usually going to be suspicious and think that they're not connecting to an individual but rather some MLM pyramid scene (multi-level marketing). You invited someone to connect on a personal level, the first impression should not come off like an Amway meeting.

2. Usernames, bio, photos and links - choose a username, add your bio and include photos and links that make it personal. Keep in mind that most people have never met you, so when they get an invite from "b_gord_76", odds are they have no idea who you are. Choose a real username (like your real name), make sure to fill out the full profile and include a picture. Also include links to your personal Blog/online spaces, so the invitee can do a quick hop-around and see if the connection makes sense. No one likes connecting to someone with a username like, "AcmeMarketing" with no personal information or external links. They are trying to connect to a person... not the company.

3. Too many inside jokes with people I don't know - this is a huge one. Be it on Twitter, a Blog or even flickr, if the main crux of the conversation is inside jokes between friends, why should anyone new connect? It's already strange enough because you don't know the person. No one wants to be the kid in the playground alone by the fence when everyone else is huddled around one another telling jokes. Make your content welcoming and warm... and open.

4. You're more of a shill for a company than an individual - we're all trying to grow our businesses and make more connections, but the power of these social channels is how the individuals connect. If your username is your company name and most of your content says "we" instead of "I", there may be problem. I don't follow Dell. I'm not interested. However, I do follow Richard Binhammer (Richard@Dell), because he's real, interesting and adds value. The fact that he works for Dell is the bonus... not the main reason to connect.

5. Expecting people to come to you, versus you being a part other communities - One of the main criteria in connecting is not what value someone can bring to your personal space, but rather what value you have added in other communities and the additional great content that can be received to connecting to you directly. All too often, Marketers think that by having a Blog or joining Twitter, they are enabling their consumers to connect to them. The fact is, consumers probably don't want to connect, but would rather see those brands being a part of the myriad of existing online conversations. Then, having a space of their own to add even more value makes sense.

6. I don't feel special - it is immediately clear by one glance at your content where the value in our connection is for me. W.I.I.F.M (What's In It For Me)? More often than not, the reason someone does not connect is because whatever it is you are putting out there is more about you than it is about the person connecting. Make your community feel special.

On top of that have some original thoughts and perspectives. Most people are not connecting because the content is random riffing of regurgitated thoughts on news items that have already been beaten to death.

What are some of your main reasons for not adding people to your digital social circle?

By Mitch Joel


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