I’ve always been a Facebook friending minimalist.
300 friends was my limit. And when I reached 300, I had a “one friend in, one friend out” rule.
I didn’t want to have thousands of ‘friends’ I barely even know. Besides, I was sharing so much of myself through my podcast, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, my personal Facebook profile was the only sacred place where I could share actual ‘personal’ stuff with my real friends.
At the time, my thought process was: if I wouldn’t go out partying with you, I wouldn’t add you as a Facebook friend.
But then I quit my job and went travelling. As I met more and more people and made friends with other entrepreneurs and podcasters, the lines between ‘business’ and ‘personal’ began to blur. I’d meet people at conferences – clearly ‘business’ context – and then we’d go out partying. Then they’d friend request me. What to do? My old rule about Facebook friending no longer worked.
So I created a new rule: I’ll friend you on Facebook if we’ve met in person.
That rule seemed to work for a while, but then I started building relationships with people online, without having met them in person. I liked them, I trusted them, I considered them actual friends.
They’d friend me on Facebook. And I’d think: ‘Ok, I’ll add you…but just this once!’
And so my boundaries began to loosen.
But what I’m finding now as my brand builds, I get more speaking engagements and I become part of more communities, the friend requests are becoming more frequent…and they’re mostly from people I don’t know. And I find myself in this predicament: to friend or not to friend?
- These people could be podcast listeners – who know?
- They may have been told about me by a mutual friend – and perhaps they are genuinely keen to connect?
- Having a bigger Facebook network means my stuff will be seen by more people – that can only be a good thing, right?
But on the other hand:
- What if they are random trolls?
- They may have just added me because I’m part of a particular community – I don’t want to be ‘friends’ with people who just want more connections!
Now, the problem with Facebook is it doesn’t require you to add a message when you send a friend request. At least with LinkedIn, you have an opportunity to write something like: “Hey so-and-so, I’m a fan of your blog; I’m also part of the ____ community; would you be willing to connect with me here? Cheers, Christina”
On Facebook, you have to send a ‘message request’, which some people may not check, or assume is spam. And most people don’t bother to make the effort, they just hit “Add as friend”.
It’s a feature I hope they add to Facebook in the future.
A possible solution
I toyed with sending the following messages to unknown people who friend requested me:
“Hi there, thanks for your friend request. I actually only friend people I’ve met in person, but if you’d like to follow my page, please click here. Thanks, Christina”
“Hi there, thanks for your friend request. I’m sorry, I can’t seem to remember where we met. Can you remind me? Thanks!”
I once had a guy write back:
“Oh we haven’t met, but I see we’re in the same ‘Digital Nomad’ Facebook group, so I was just adding everyone from the group.”
Uh, no, we cannot be friends.
What do you think?
Since then, I haven’t kept up with it and I have a bunch of friend requests sitting there. So what do you think? Do I let everyone in? Do I ask them all to follow my page? Where would you draw the line?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just leave a comment below :)