I was chatting with Dale Chumbley about Facebook Pages and how we’re both using them to reach out to our respective communities when he touched on an interesting topic… He said about 1/3 of the folks who became “fans” of his page were not his “friends” yet on Facebook.
I’ve had a few conversations on this topic lately and I’ve boiled down the different types of social media relationships into the four most common types and given a bit of an explanation about the implicate meanings behind each type:
1) No connection. This one seems to be obvious… but there could be a number of reasons you don’t connect with folks. Most of the time it’s because you simply don’t know them, but maybe it’s because you don’t like them, don’t think they’ll add value to your network or, even worse, view them as spam.
2) Follow. This is the Twitter model and the connection is probably one of the “weakest” ones out there. You could have any number of reason to follow someone and it’s completely one-way. There’s no reason to expect that just because you follow someone that they’re going to follow you back, be interested in you, or even take time to learn anything about you.
3) Fan. This is the model used by Facebook Pages. While functionally it is identical to a “follow” connection (i.e. a one-way connection with no reverse interest implied whatsoever), there’s a value judgement implied when you become a fan of someone. Whereas it often only takes one interesting tweet to get me to “follow” someone, it takes a bit more before I’ll become a “fan” of someone.
4) Friend. This is the model used by Facebook Profiles, Digg and many other social networking sites… and clearly implies (and most likely requires) a two-way relationship. However, the term is so often abused (I’m just as guilty as anyone else of becoming “friends” with people I’ve never met and am likely never to meet) because I thought I might find some value to having them in my “network” in the long run.
Similar to Dale, a little over 1/3 (30 out of 85) of the people who have become “fans” of my Page are not “friends” with my personal Profile. This tells me that based on their actions, a fair number of folks feel more comfortable becoming “fans” than “friends” with someone they don’t know.
Almost all of these people are professionals I *would* have connected with on Facebook (via a “friendship”) in the past, but I’m so much happier to have them separated on my business page so I can begin to do a better job separating my work life from my personal life.
Also interesting is that from a marketing perspective these relationships imply different levels of business outreach. When someone becomes a “fan” of my business page that definitely implies an “opt in” to a certain level of marketing that is not necessarily part of being a “friend”… or even a “follower”.
If you’re ready to explore how different professionals are using Facebook Pages, start following (i.e. become a fan!) of these pages:
And while you’re exploring, you should probably also check out the page I created for my listing syndication tool.