Facebook Rant #2 — The 5,000 Facebook Friends Fallacy

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Aren’t you tired of people using at the number of friends they have on Facebook or followers they have on Twitter to justify their experience or value as a social media “expert”?

Listen, do you really want to know how easy it is to get 5,000 friends on Facebook. Here’s the “secret” that’s been used and is still being touted by some of the so called Facebook gurus:

  1. Send blind friend requests 30-40 people a day. Why is 30 -40 the secret number you ask? It’s because Facebook realized that real people don’t friend 100+ people in a day.  So they will ban your account if you send too many.
  2. 30 – 40% of them will accept your requests.
  3. In 4-6 month’s you’ll have 5,000 friends.
  4. Or if you’re really “smart” you’ll go to Odesk or Elance and hire someone for $2 an hour to do it for you. You figure 1-2 hours a day for 180 days $320 – $640 to make yourself an expert.

Wow wasn’t that easy.

Here’s the deal, social media is not about the number of connections it’s about the quality of those connections. Now let me explain the dos and don’ts of friend requests.

Don’t send Blind Friend Requests

A blind friend request is any friend request sent without a reason why you are want to be their friend. I have 59 friend requests waiting right. 50 of them are blind friend requests. Several of those friend requests are from people who have social media consultant, strategist or expert in their profile…really. Is this what they teach their clients? The friend request is your first impression and we never get a chance to make another first impression.

Do send real Friend Requests

When you send a friend request you should take the time to explain why you want to be connected. If you aren’t willing to take 30 seconds to say why you want to be connected then you obviously don’t care about the connection.

When I send a friend request it’s because I met someone in person or read a good comment or post of there’s. There is usually a reason, you should have a reason as well. You should tell them the reason in the friend request:

“Dave it was nice meeting you, I look forward working together in the future…”

“Becky I couldn’t agree more on your comment on Jonathan’s post today. I think you’re someone I need to follow.”

Here’s a great friend request from Nancy Bain. Nancy “gets it” She listens, she learns and she passes her knowledge on to her clients. She’s someone worth paying attention to as well.

Nancy Bain

Nancy’s request was sent after a webinar I did with my friend and business partner Jonathan Rivera, the Real-TechGuy. She had a reason to listen to me and she told me what that was. That’s how a friend request should be sent.

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  • http://www.socialmediamarketingjourney.com neilashworth

    Yep! The truth Doug – but people don't like to hear the truth and the majority are fooled by quantity over quality – uh; hmm… (okay – less about me)

    Really though, the point you are making is missed by most people and will continue to be missed I guess for a while to come. There are a couple of interesting add-ons to this…

    As you know, I cut my “friends” list down recently from over 1,500 to a managable 118 – this was the number I actually knew anything about when I looked through my list, people I had something in common with etc…

    Having cut my cloth accordingly, I have now re-focused on a far more appropriate strategy – connecting with 10-20 individuals who “get it” and are looking to connect and support each other in our various content sharing plans. No competition, just collaboration and 20 is all it takes as we know to dominate most niches if executed correctly. BUT…

    Facebook are pushing me every day to expand my network – increase my friend count through automated “friend finder” applications built inside facebook. I've never used these actually – have to say my initial 1,500 or so was built hand over hand (wated time of course) but the pount is that facebook themselves perpetuate this myth by encouraging us to grow large networks – why?

    So that they can hit us with advertising we may then share with our network, offering their advertisers better ROI. Will it work?

    Not in my opinion. Down the line…facebook will be filled with people with 5,000 strangers all hitting the HIDE button and nobody listening to a word each other is saying.

    Second point of interest – I got an auto friend request a couple of weeks back from a woman who had on her profile bio – “Social media expert AND etiquette coach” !! hey, now not only was she no expert but she could hardly spell etiquette let alone coach it with an automated friend request and NO personal message…

    So, I contacted her and politely pointed out that if you are going to talk the talk then perhaps you should walk the walk..

    Great article Doug.

  • http://www.socialmediamarketingjourney.com neilashworth

    Yep! The truth Doug – but people don't like to hear the truth and the majority are fooled by quantity over quality – uh; hmm… (okay – less about me)

    Really though, the point you are making is missed by most people and will continue to be missed I guess for a while to come. There are a couple of interesting add-ons to this…

    As you know, I cut my “friends” list down recently from over 1,500 to a managable 118 – this was the number I actually knew anything about when I looked through my list, people I had something in common with etc…

    Having cut my cloth accordingly, I have now re-focused on a far more appropriate strategy – connecting with 10-20 individuals who “get it” and are looking to connect and support each other in our various content sharing plans. No competition, just collaboration and 20 is all it takes as we know to dominate most niches if executed correctly. BUT…

    Facebook are pushing me every day to expand my network – increase my friend count through automated “friend finder” applications built inside facebook. I've never used these actually – have to say my initial 1,500 or so was built hand over hand (wated time of course) but the pount is that facebook themselves perpetuate this myth by encouraging us to grow large networks – why?

    So that they can hit us with advertising we may then share with our network, offering their advertisers better ROI. Will it work?

    Not in my opinion. Down the line…facebook will be filled with people with 5,000 strangers all hitting the HIDE button and nobody listening to a word each other is saying.

    Second point of interest – I got an auto friend request a couple of weeks back from a woman who had on her profile bio – “Social media expert AND etiquette coach” !! hey, now not only was she no expert but she could hardly spell etiquette let alone coach it with an automated friend request and NO personal message…

    So, I contacted her and politely pointed out that if you are going to talk the talk then perhaps you should walk the walk..

    Great article Doug.

  • http://www.dougmcisaac.com dougmcisaac

    I remember your post about cleaning out your friends. I have several friends that have done that. I delete people almost every week. But I disagree that Facebook will ever be full of people with 5,000 friends. The average is around 130 friends, that's only increased by 120 in the last year. I doubt the average will ever get above 200 or 300.

    I think you're looking at it like a marketer still. When we started we ran out and got as many friends as we could, but most people, the average people that Facebook is actually built for will never connect with that many.

    That's one of the main reasons why I don't think they will ever increase the friend number above 5,000 no matter how many marketers/coaches/speakers whine about it. The simple fact is Facebook is not made for them to “pretend friend” thousands of people. Facebook is built for the average user who has 130 friends.

    On the other note, I chuckle when I receive messages from people like that “social media expert” I cringe when people call me an expert and have struggled to come up with a title to use that isn't trite and overused. When people ask me what I do anymore I simply say i help people sell stuff online…

    Good to hear from you Neil I miss all of our crazy multi continent calls

    Doug

  • http://www.socialmediamarketingjourney.com neilashworth

    True enough Doug. Facebook was not designed for masses of marketers – the average user with average following numbers is, on average, using it a lot better than the vast majority of “social media experts” I see out there.

    The weekly list clean seems a good strategy and I see facebook now offers an option to “opt out” of updates – which should remove some of the noise for those with big lists if needed. I'm in and out still with facebook on a personal level – although have to say the Pages is proving very valuable in terms of profiling andlist building.

    Neil.

  • http://Real-TechGuy.com/ Jonathan R. Rivera

    I'm thrilled you finally got around to finishing this post.

    I couldn't agree with you more. Numbers are empty, while relationships pay dividends.

  • http://www.WebRealEstateTools.com/ Drew Burks

    Good stuff… and to think I could have just spent $320 – $640 instead of spending the ridiculous amount of hours over the past 10 years just to consider myself a “student” of all this stuff. Man oh man … I really missed the boat on this whole “expert” thing ;)

  • http://www.dougmcisaac.com dougmcisaac

    See that's all you had to do. I'm sure I spawned a couple of ads on Elance already :-)

    You know as well as I do that most of the people making real money in social media are making most of their money through relationships that were initially made in real life. My most promising new projects are with people I met at conferences and your social media classes were driven by real life relationships and live training.

  • http://www.dougmcisaac.com dougmcisaac

    and there should be one tomorrow too…