Saturday, May 22, 2010

How should you construct your list of friends?

Accepting Facebook friends: One of the issues Facebook users need to deal with at some point is who to accept as friends. Some people accept every friend request. Some only accept family. Some -- especially teenagers -- only accept friends and no family (no parents allowed!), while others seem to be on a quest to amass the most friends possible regardless of whether they have any connection (even remotely) to them or not.

I've seen every kind of Facebook user. Teenagers not accepting their parents as Facebook friends usually do so to develop a form of natural independence from them. Those accepting only family are usually older and have only joined the bandwagon to keep in touch with their adult children and to see photos of their grandchildren.

Facebook users who amass more than 1,000 friends are ironically usually not very active on Facebook. Although there are certainly exceptions, they are either trying to sell you something, are broadcasters (not in the media sense) with a cause to promote, are nosy and want to see what everyone else is posting (but rarely share anything themselves), or feel like having that many Facebook friends makes them important.

However you use Facebook, ensure that how you're using it works for you. If you're willing to share with a network of 400 people -- and they're willing to share with you -- this can be a very powerful tool in order to build trust and credibility. It's the quality of the experience that matters, not the number of friends you have -- or don't have.

Another YouTube sensation: If you're a singer and not yet using YouTube to promote yourself, then consider this: Greyson Chance is only 12 years old but when he posted a video of himself singing Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" on YouTube on April 28, he could have never guessed that the video would have around 20 million hits just a few weeks later -- not to mention on appearance on Ellen and, reportedly, a record deal with the recording company that handles U2.

Greyson seems to be following in the footsteps of another young singer who was discovered because of YouTube -- Justin Bieber. Social media outlets such as YouTube can be incredibly powerful mediums for promoting yourself, whether you're a teenager, filmmaker or other type of artist. You just never know who's listening!

You'd be pleasantly surprised at the number of very talented (and very funny!) comedians there are on YouTube. And no, they don't do the comedy club circuit -- they make their own videos right at home and post them online. The world is changing, folks. A lot of middle men are being cut out of the talent discovery process.

School reunions being nixed because of Facebook? I was interviewed a couple of times on CBC Radio last week regarding a new phenomenon that seems to be sweeping the world of school reunions. It appears that since Facebook has become the standard for reconnecting and keeping in touch with old friends, that level of curiosity about what your old classmates are doing and what they look like now has been taken away and high school reunions are being cancelled.

After all, why go through the time and expense of attending a reunion when you already know who lost their hair, who gained weight, who lost weight, who looks great, and who looks like death warmed over, when you can find out all that stuff just by joining Facebook and finding your classmates?

Personally, I think people need to step back and look at social media tools as just that -- a tool. They are not a substitute for in-person human interaction. Perhaps they're a reasonable facsimile, mind you, but you shouldn't avoid getting together in person with people. The in-person experience is still essential. You still need to hug people. You still need to shake hands with people. You still need to see and read body language. It's all an essential part of truly effective networking, as well.

The online experience is but one aspect of networking and socializing. The in-person experience shouldn't be avoided because online is seen as an acceptable substitute. In-person networking is still the preferred option whenever possible and feasible. With that said, if people you're interacting with online don't ever want to meet you, you may want to double-check what you're posting. If you're constantly critical or whining, there may be good reason why you're repelling people instead of attracting them. When it comes to why you may have no friends, checking the tone of your Facebook status updates is the new smelling of your armpits or checking for bad breath.

Google it! I often get requests to find out information for people as a favour. I usually do find it and they think I'm sort of genius. I'm not. I just use Google. By the time you e-mail your kids or a computer-savvy friend or co-worker to find information for you, you could have probably found it yourself in less time had you spent the time plugging a couple of words into Google instead of e-mailing someone else to do it for you. Trust me, whenever you ask someone to find something, they usually just Google it.

Celebrities on Twitter: If you're wondering whether the celebrity you're following on Twitter is real or an imposter, check for the blue checkmark followed by the words "Verified account" on the celebrity's Twitter homepage. This is found on the right-hand side of the page across from the celebrity's username.

This means that it's actually the celebrity (or an official representative) sending the tweets.

Just a word of warning, however, follow unverified celebrity Twitter accounts at your own risk. Many of them are not real. Twitter is a great tool for connecting with celebrities. Many of them actually respond to questions and comments from fans, but before you run all over town claiming a celebrity answered your question, though, ensure it was a celebrity with a verified account.

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