by Will Viharo
Back in the previous, analog century, an author named Dale Carnegie made his name, and a fortune, writing bestselling self-help books, the most famous of which was perhaps “How To Win Friends and Influence People.”
Most of his suggestions still apply to business relations and social media today. Ironically, the rules for “losing” followers are basically the same as those for “winning” them…
Facebook caps your friends list at 5,000, though if you have a community or fan page as an author, or for any or all or your books, as I do, a virtually unlimited number of people can “like” that page.
However, if like me your personal profile page predates your fan pages, most of your friends (and potential customers) are already following your career updates. That doesn’t stop me from duplicating the same announcement on my various pages, so some folks might be seeing the same information spread out across their newsfeed.
And while maximum exposure can work in your favor, especially since all of your posts are only seen by a small fraction of your followers at any one time, in can also backfire. For some reason, many people resent this sort of aggressive self-promotion, even if you’re essentially spamming your own pages (and make sure not to spam anyone else’s, a big Facebook no-no that can get you permanently banned).
MUTUALLY ASSURED APATHY
I’m not one of those people. I really couldn’t care less how often anyone in my newsfeeds posts about their work, their cats, their meals, their woes, their triumphs, their new jobs, etc. That’s their business, and as long as they’re not force-feeding me personal posts by sharing them on my page, relegating it to their own, they can post all day and night about the same topic, and however obsessive that may seem to me, it’s none of my business. If a post, or posts, does not interest me, I just keep moving.
But as I pointed out, posting “too frequently” is considered bad Facebook etiquette, just like “SHOUTING” at people in all caps (though I still do that if I’m “headlining” a post, like: NEW INTERVIEW, etc., just to get attention, then resuming the announcement in regular case type).
Now, "frequency" is relative and subjective. It may depend on the popularity of your topic amongst those who happen to see it. If your posts are open to the public, they are subject to trolls that aren’t even your official “friend.” They can be easily blocked, though. And those that don’t appreciate your posts can just as easily block you, whether they’re “friends” or not.
Most people that suddenly drop off my friends list disappear without a trace or explanation, and I never know who they are, or why they unfriended me (if they did – maybe they just closed their account). In fact, I probably didn’t even know we were “friends” to begin with, unless the action takes place during the heat of an exchange, something I now rigorously try to avoid.
As of this writing I am bumping against my 5,000 friends limit. My various fan pages only have a few hundred likes apiece. But most people follow me via my personal profile page, so that’s where I generate the most interest in my latest activities, if any.
I don’t personally know the vast majority of people on my friends list. Most I assume came to me due to common interests, or mutual friends, as suggested by Facebook itself. I know I’ve done the same. I always make sure to wish everyone on my list “Happy Birthday” as a matter of diplomacy, and to acknowledge my awareness of his or her existence in my social radar.
BEWARE FRAUDS AND FEUDS
You need to be careful of accepting “fake” friend requests, but a quick study of their pages reveals they’re either hackers or robots or both, posing as someone from a foreign country, or even stealing the identity of someone you actually know. Check out the “about” section of their profile page, and if it’s blank, that’s a clue it’s bogus. Also, if you have hardly any mutual friends, and their posts don’t go back very far, that’s another sign it’s a spam trap. Just delete it.
So I went through my friends list and deleted anyone that seemed suspicious, or those that had closed their accounts (FB will let you know as you’re scrolling through – the lack of a profile pic is a flag), just to “weed out” the list and make room for more folks that might share my interests, or maybe even buy a book of mine someday.
My page exists to promote my brand name. That’s it. People can take it or leave it. If they leave it, that’s fine with me since it frees up room for someone that might actually enjoy what I have to share, professionally or otherwise.
But I can’t really determine that on my own. I hate arbitrarily unfriending someone because I don’t know them, or remember how we “met.” They might be secret fans, hopefully not stalkers, but if so I’d probably have figured that out by now. And since anyone can follow your page without actually requesting friendship, you can’t really prevent that, anyway.
So rather than be rude and presumptuous, I often flout the “rules” and deliberately yet subversively alienate anyone that is “offended” by my amount of self-promotion. I do this by carpet bombing my page with memes, or making a controversial wisecrack (never political in nature, though, since that invites contentious feedback which is a waste of my time and energy). The idea is to get them to leave you, thereby avoiding the awkward task of unfriending strangers that might get their feelings hurt due to the sudden, inexplicable rejection.
JUST BE NICE - EVEN TO YOUR HATERS!
I never want to offend anyone, any more than I intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings. I just want to a) be myself and b) network with like-minded folks that aren’t turned off by the fact that my Facebook page is primarily a business tool to promote my brand. I don’t block anyone else for doing the same, but if someone doesn’t want to see constant reminders of what I do in their daily newsfeed, please, unfriend me, or block me, because you will be replaced by someone that actually wants to read my stuff.
So to sum up, IF YOU DON’T WANT ME YELLING AT YOU, or if you are tired of hearing about my fiction (which can check out here, by the way) – aloha, sayonara, arrivederci, adieu, adios. And no hard feelings. I totally understand.
But hello to anyone out there that wants to step into the vacant slot! I welcome you to my world, and thank you for sharing yours as well. Cheers.
Of course, if your goal is to expand your friends list, do the opposite of what I’ve said here. It works both ways. That’s the raw, simple beauty of social media rules. Follow or break them at your own expense - or to your benefit, depending on your agenda.
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New Orleans, LA