How Many Friends?
Bragging rights in the social media world come in the form of friends, followers and connections. “Social Media Ninjas” brandish their number of Twitter followers and newsletter subscribers as if it is the holy grail. Does the number REALLY matter?

They Like Me!

 Here is the nomenclature for the social media map:

Facebook (personal) = Friends

Facebook (business) = Likes

Twitter = Followers

LinkedIn = Contacts

 When I teach LinkedIn classes for financial professionals or business owners, they want to know how many Likes they need on Facebook to generate a profit. The answer? Just one. As long as that one person is influential enough to drive sales and revenue, you only need one person.

 However, your ability to influence people is not wrapped up in just a number. It is directly related to who you are connected to and the value of those relationships. 

The Numbers

Your number of friends is not the only metric by which to measure social media success. If you have a great message, and you scream it in an empty room, it doesn’t matter. You need enough people listening to your message that it will be heard. In high school and college, I didn’t have the largest number of friends, but I did have enough friends to get me elected to Student Council. The social media world operates in a similar manner.

Is this enough “Friends?”

 The Person

Who are your friends? If you have five friends and those friends are President Obama, Michael Jordan, Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban and Warren Buffet, you are keeping pretty good company. LinkedIn calls these people “influencers.” Even if the leader of the free world is not following your tweets, make sure your business is connected to people with influence in your industry. Know who these people are. If your business is financial accounting, connect with the most influential financial accountants. They should be your friend / follower / contact.

The Relationship

Mark Schaefer (Return on Influence and The Tao of Twitter) describes when he was a kid, his engagement with friends was based on his interactions. Quality interactions are not based on tweets asking people to follow you on Twitter and Like you on Facebook. Read other people’s blogs and share the information with your audience. Mention your followers in your tweets. Use “Follow Friday” to list other people to follow. It will take time, but these actions will strengthen your relationship with your audience. 

Too Many Friends?

I have close to 1500 contacts on LinkedIn. When I tell this to some groups they ask if I know all of them. The truth is, I don’t. Sorry! However, I do try to connect with them on a regular basis. When I see a promotion or work anniversary, I’ll send a note. When I see a birthday, I’ll call or text. This allows me to stay in contact and keep the “social” part of social media.

The average Facebook user has 40 Likes. The average Twitter user has 208 followers. Build your audience and stay in touch with them. Provide them with relevant and interesting information. 

 And don’t forget to…

There is nothing wrong with having a few more “friends.”

 Scientifically Speaking, of course. 

 Next Week: 4 Pre-presentation Tips