Jim's Marketing Blog

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Facebook friends: Don’t expect too much from them

I have always found it odd that Facebook use the word ‘friend’ to identify the people we connect with. Yes, there are true friends we know, who we ALSO connect with via Facebook, but there’s no classification for those who we have never even met face to face, yet find interesting enough to ‘friend’.


Friends… really?

If we ever doubt the chasm between our friends and Facebook friends, we need only look at the way they interact with us on Facebook. Imagine Bob or Barbara is your Facebook friend, they read a Facebook update of yours and find it useful or they agree with whatever you said – so they ‘like’ it. One click. Done. Simple.

So, as they like it enough to click ‘like’, why didn’t they share it with their ‘friends’?

I asked this question once and had lots of replies (dozens) – almost all of which said that something has to be AMAZING in order for them to share it. If it’s just useful, interesting or something they agree with, they won’t make the extra effort to click the share button and maybe insert a handful of words to explain why they are sharing it. It’s just too much effort. It requires more work from them.

A Facebook friend may have never met you or even spoken with you, let alone shared the kind of experiences with you that builds true friendship. They need a lot more motivation than a real friend, if you want them to go to the extra effort of sharing your work. Otherwise, it’s a ‘like’.

Friendship that goes beyond a ‘like’

A true friend is someone you know well. Someone who supports you and who you support in return. Someone you can confide in. Someone who you know will be there for you if you needed them. A Facebook friend is often someone you have never even met. Don’t expect too much from them. Don’t be like the guy I saw earlier, who was going nuts because his Facebook post got 50 ‘likes’ and not a single share.

Rather than get frustrated with Facebook friends for their lack of true support, maybe this is a better way to look at it: A click of the ‘like’ button, from someone you have never met, is actually very generous.

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  1. Hi Jim,

    I agree about not getting many shares on Facebook. I have a hard time getting likes much less shares from people that I do know in person.

    I recently wrote a post that many people talked about to me and others in person even though they learned about it on Facebook.


  2. This is so true. Ive never thought of it like that but it explains everything I see on facebook.

    Your best post this year.

  3. Saw (Tweet.) Read (blog post.) Liked (FB page & post.) Shared (post.) Viola! Commented on blog (this FB comment.) :-)

  4. Fair point Jim, I’m guessing that it’s both that the average user doesn’t understand the benefit to the original poster and also it’s subjective. Post an informative article on FB and chances are it’ll attract likes, post a photograph of a cute kitten with a smart title and chances are it’ll go viral with shares.
    It’s an odd platform that ol’ Facebook :)

    • Welcome to the blog, Steve. You’re right – An interesting photo with a catchy quote or joke will travel far on Facebook. A well crafted article can really struggle. I’m guessing it’s easier to share a funny photo, than take time to actually read the blog post or article.

      It’s certainly an odd platform, sir.

  5. You are engaging in the debate around social networking changing our behaviour offline, our definition of friendship & how behaviour in friendships is sadly changing!

    I like it…

  6. I mean, Facebook is a place to connect with friends (in my opinion) so it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a bunch of re-shares. I only add people as friends who I actually know, because watching my friend from high school pre-stardom and seeing my step sister in law’s sonogram is the goal for me in that I’m connecting with real friends.

    Even when I’ve liked businesses on facebook, it’s mostly entertaining or controversial content. Videos work well. I don’t think the platform can be a neutral/serious place, really.

    • Thanks for the feedback. Think we have crossed lines, Corey. As this is a business blog I am talking exclusively about the nature of Facebook sharing with *non* friends – Just so-called Facebook friends. This changes the dynamic, because the relationship is totally different… hopefully.

  7. “A click of the ‘like’ button, from someone you have never met, is actually very generous.”

    I absolutely agree with this statement! *By the way Jim is there a way for me to like this post?* LOL

  8. Couldn’t agree with you more..A like could be considered generous enough..In order to prompt them to take that extra effort something wonderful has to be there..This is not the case with real friends who will share anything you have posted just because of fondness..I think that’s the line between real friends and facebook friends..

  9. Most people on FB are not marketers. They do not even understand that sharing helps you in any way.

    • Good point, though I was specifically writing about business owners and their business networks – rather than general ‘personal’ FB accounts.

      Thanks Michelle.

    • I agree with Michelle, in my personal experience (limited as it may be) Facebook is a social platform, and I don not mean in the business sense. It is where I go to interact with family & friends. I don’t log into Facebook to find a good pair of shoes. 😉
      I am more likely to share an inspirational quote with my daughter than an informative article on marketing.

      Great Post!

  10. I agree Jim, take what you can get and hope for the best. I try to like and share content and hope that the universe will respond to this.

  11. What a great post Jim, couldn’t have said it better.

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