The Problem Isn’t Facebook; It’s You

Filed in Facebook by on May 6, 2010 0 Comments

A survey was recently conducted by Red Associates, a Denmark-based polling service, that found Facebook users did not “deepen or strengthen their friendships” using the service.  The participants stated that Facebook did not deliver on its promise to “connect and share with the people in your life.”  Instead, more than half of the people surveyed viewed Facebook as a digitized phone book or gossip board.

Frankly, there is a problem with those results.  Although the article doesn’t dive into the details, I have a hunch that a majority of the people surveyed don’t actually try to use Facebook as a tool to strengthen their friendships.  If you don’t put in a little effort, of course it won’t help you develop closer relationships!

I firmly believe that users don’t intend to botch their Facebook experience.  Instead, I think a majority of Facebook users don’t know how to use the social networking service effectively.  They see comments, messages, and fan pages and immediately take a bird’s eye view, as is they were watching the plot of a movie unfold.

The problem isn’t with Facebook and it’s so-called fake promises.  The problem lies within the user and the lack of education on how to connect using Facebook.

So, how do we solve this crisis?  How can users dive deep into the waters of Facebook?  What steps can be taken to reverse this trend?

**Warning: The steps detailed below will require a person to exert some effort.  Building relationships on Facebook, or anywhere for that matter, doesn’t happen automatically.  If you aren’t willing to devote a small amount of time to this process, stop reading.  Otherwise, let’s get rolling.**

The Process:

  1. Develop your goals and expectations
  2. Reach out and initiate conversation
  3. Continue to foster the interactions
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3

To begin transforming Facebook from phone book to relationship builder, you need to set goals and expectations for your experience.  Remember, this is where the problem started last time.  It goes without saying that you want to use Facebook to deepen your interactions with people.  But how?  Saying you will use the site just isn’t enough, especially since that is what landed us in this situation.

When you’re developing your goals and expectations for your Facebook experience, ask these questions:

  • How many people do I want to connect with on a daily or weekly basis?
  • What tools and resources will I use to do that? (Comments, messages, groups, etc)

Both of the questions listed above will help you center your goals and make them reasonable.

Next, do it.  Connect with five or 10 people a week using comments.  Enter the fan pages you belong to and start discussing different things.  Don’t just sit there with the goals in front of you and wait.  The goals can’t achieve themselves.

Creating a schedule to help you manage your connections (and time) is a great way to jump start your relationship building pursuits.  If you want to connect with 5 people a week, allow yourself time Monday through Friday to connect with one person.  Don’t be an overachiever.  Stick to the schedule.  If you don’t, you’ll create unrealistic expectations for yourself and when you don’t achieve them, you will give up.  Again, stick to the schedule.

After you have started your interactions, it’s critical to keep them going.  Once your friend responds to your comment or message, keep the conversation going until it has naturally reached its course.  Don’t force anything but make sure that you make an impact on your friend.  One or two sentence pleasantries don’t deepen relationships.  The conversation and information after the formalities hold together the friendship.

Finally, when all is said and done, start over.  After week one, start week two.  Move onto weeks three, four, and five.  Don’t stop connecting because once you do, you’ll break your rhythm and won’t be able to regain it.

As I said before, this plan requires effort and without it, no relationships will prosper.  If you’d like to stop using Facebook as a gossip tool and use it as a social networking tool, build relationships.  No formal training is required.  Just put yourself out there, begin conversation, and stick with it.

Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

  • Comments and messages make connecting easy.  Use them to your advantage.
  • Pick a few friends that share your interests and try connecting with them first.  This will ease you into the process.
  • Groups and pages are a great way to connect with other people you don’t know but they can take up a lot of time.

Eric Alpin is the Associate Editor of Folk Media and works for a telecommunications company in Baltimore, Md. He is a social media enthusiast, blogger, writer, and student with a passion for leadership and self-development strategies and techniques. Find out more about Eric on Twitter.

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*Photo by nkzs

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