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How to avoid getting unfriended on Facebook


Want to stay in your friends' good graces on Facebook? A new study suggests that you should start by responding to posts on your wall.

The research reveals some of the unspoken rules of Facebook — the social dos-and-don'ts that keep the site humming more or less happily. Fortunately, most of these rules are pretty simple: Respond to messages, avoid disrespecting people, and don't post photos that are going to get your friends in trouble with their bosses.

"If you're trying to project yourself as very professional and you're trying to get a job and your best friend comes on your page and posts something like, 'Oh what a crazy weekend, I saw you do those five keg stands,' then your friend has hurt your reputation,'" said study researcher Erin Bryant, a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University.

Many of the "rules" people live by on Facebook are designed to prevent such awkward situations, Bryant and her Arizona State colleague Jennifer Marmo found in their new study, published online April 25 in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Facebook's rules of engagement
It may seem that maintaining a bit of discretion on Facebook is a no-brainer, but in fact, it's these sorts of unspoken rules that make the social world go 'round. Research on these so-called "interaction rules" is relatively rare, but studies in the 1980s found that people can articulate their friendship dos and don'ts when asked. Important friendship rules include standing up for a friend in his or her absence, sharing confidences, showing trust and support, and volunteering to help in times of need.

In the social network world, however, "friend" can mean anything from your mom to your mom's second cousin to that guy you met at a party one time. With so many different relationships under the umbrella of "friend," Bryant and Marmo were interested in whether real-world friendship rules and Facebook friendship rules would look very much alike. With 483 million Facebook members around the world checking into the site on a daily basis, Bryant said, the site has clearly become an important part of the social landscape.

Not wanting to impose their own conception of social-networking rules, the researchers set up focus groups of Arizona State undergraduates to develop their own list. A total of 44 students, ages 19 to 24, participated. They averaged about 200 Facebook friends each and spent nearly 40 minutes a day, on average, on the site. [Inside Facebook (Infographic)]

The focus groups came up with 36 rules big and small, from "don't post anything that will hurt a friend's image" to "monitor your photos to make sure they are flattering."

"They were very adamant that you needed to wish people happy birthday," Bryant told LiveScience. "If it's your close friend, you have to call them or text them, you can't just say it on Facebook. But everyone else, if they're an acquaintance, you should at least say happy birthday on Facebook."

Friends versus "Facebook friends"
Next, the researchers created a questionnaire to figure out which of these rules really mattered. They gave the questionnaire to 801 undergraduates, randomly assigning the students to think of a real-life Facebook "close friend," "casual friend" or "acquaintance." Close friends were defined as someone the student would consider a best friend, casual friends were defined as a person they would hang out with offline but not consider close, and acquaintances were people the person had met but did not regularly interact with.

Students who did not show enough differentiation between these three categories in their friend circle were eliminated, leaving a final sample of 593 students. The students then completed the survey about whether each of the 36 focus-group rules would apply to their relationship with the Facebook friend or acquaintance.

The results revealed that overall, reciprocity was the most important ingredient for a successful Facebook friendship. People generally agreed that if you post something on a friend's Facebook profile, a response is expected. It was also important to avoid posting anything disrespectful of a Facebook friend and to consider how posts might affect other people's relationships. [See the Top 10 Rules of Facebook]

The researchers also found that the closer the friend, the more Facebook communication channels were open to them; acquaintances wouldn't use the Facebook chat feature, for example. Acquaintance relationships were understood to be for "passive Facebook stalking," Bryant said.

"Even though I'm letting you see these things [on my profile], I don't expect you to suddenly try to IM me on Facebook," she said. "It creeps me out if you come post on my wall."

Close friends were also more aware of the need to protect each other's reputations on Facebook. They might choose to leave a photo unposted if it reflected badly on a close friend, for example, but they were less likely to take such pains for acquaintances.

Interestingly, however, Facebook rules related to maintaining a relationship, such as saying "happy birthday," were ranked as most important for acquaintances, but least important for close friends. That's likely because Facebook is only a portion of any given best-friend relationship, but it may comprise the entirety of an acquaintance relationship, Bryant said.

"We use it less with [acquaintances], but what we do holds more importance, because it's one of the few modes of contact we have with them," she said.

The only category of rules that did not differ by friendship type was the category related to Facebook's role in one's own reputation. Everyone is careful not to hurt themselves on the site, Bryant said. For example, people were equally likely to say that they would not post information that could be used against them, regardless of whether it was a friend or an acquaintance who might consider using that information for evil.

"People are starting to be aware of all the negatives" that can come with posting on Facebook, Bryant said. "They are aware of it whether it's a close friend, a casual friend or acquaintance."

New social landscape
Many of the Facebook friendship rules echo real-life friendship dos and don'ts, Bryant said, especially in the sense that we're supposed to watch our friends' backs and avoid hurting them. Because college students tend to spend more time on the site than older people, and tend to use it in a more tell-all capacity, rules might differ slightly among different age groups, she said. [Top 10 Social Networking Sites]

But the study highlights the complications of Facebook's one-on-one interactions in a public sphere. Many students complained of seeing "emo poetry" from acquaintances in their Facebook Newsfeed, for example. It seems wrong to read raw emotions from someone you may have had a class with two years ago but barely know, Bryant said. Other issues come up when in-jokes or pictures of a fun night out get posted publically, perhaps alerting a friend who was left out of his or her exclusion.

"The public and private component is something that becomes huge with Facebook," Bryant said. "And that's what gets people in trouble, too."


3:07 pm akdt

Social Casual vs. Direct Qualified Prospects

Every sales person knows that there is a difference in prospects.

Leads provided by people who love your products and services convert better than those found in the phone book. Prospects who request catalogs generate better response rates than those from rented lists. Pre-qualifying people before investing marketing resources improves success rates. The more they are vested in the buying path, the more likely they will complete the process.

Direct marketers understand this and use their skills to create a path from pre-qualification to conversion. When prospects enter the marketing stream, they are segmented by source and any other qualifying information that is available. Catalogers often charge prospects a catalog fee because it qualified shoppers and helped offset prospecting costs. A person who pays to receive a catalog is three to five times more likely to buy than one who doesn’t.

There are other ways to qualify prospects, too. Requiring email address, full name, street address, and phone number is stronger than just asking for the email address. Overlaying demographics to existing information helps target messages well. Direct marketing is a science that has been tested for years. We know that when people to invest their time and resources, they become more open to the sales message.

Now this doesn’t mean that direct marketing is a perfect science. It is quite the opposite because a 97% campaign failure rate is a roaring success for most prospecting campaigns. Yes, you read that right…a 3% response rate is a profitable campaign. This is something that has always bugged me. Nothing in my engineering background adequately prepared me for the direct marketing industry standard. It was the polar opposite of my quality control experience. Over the years, I’ve learned to adapt my expectations as needed and to always push for better analytics that deliver better results.

Direct marketing results are stellar compared to those of social media.

I never would have guessed that a channel would emerge that required more resources, delivered lower response rates, failed to generate profits without integration, and still be accepted as the new normal. But then, I’m weird that way. I believe the purpose of business is serving customers for a profit. All activities must move the company towards fulfilling that purpose. The better customers are served, the more profits.

Social media as a marketing channel was handicapped by early adopters who imagined a future of conversations driving sales. Individual participants were trained to expect free and easy access to everything. Corporate participants were promised free or low cost marketing that delivered over-the-top results. Both were misleading.


3:07 pm akdt

Get the Facts About Social Media
Listen to this archived webinar.

If you write about social media often, you might find yourself needing a few statistics. The following sources will give you the most current data available about social networking usage.

Overall Stats

The following sites are a good place to start for statistics about most of your favorite social networks.


Wikipedia is a good first stop to get the latest stats about social networks. Their pages usually have each social networks launch date, current number of users, founders, revenue, traffic, and other information as applicable. You can see what I mean on Wikipedia pages for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and so forth. Be sure to click on the number next to each stat to see the official source for more information.


If you’re looking for traffic and demographics, Quantcast is a great source. See some interesting information about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, and so forth. Use the search box to find even more domains.

The Top 10

Want to know which social networks are the most popular now in the US? Find out on Hitwise. You can also see most popular search engines, search terms, and politicians.

11:23 am akst

Too Many Social Media Marketers Still Believe Size Matters

A recent study revealed that social media marketers are still hung up on size; still worried about quantity over quality when it comes to social media marketing measurement.

As anyone who knows me or has been around me for more than thirty seconds knows I am a somewhat of a pop culture savant. I love to combine my knowledge of inane, otherwise useless information with my knowledge of social media and marketing and advertising.

Exhibit A can be found in an article I wrote last year for Marketing Profs titled:

"Baby, We Were Born to Market: Springsteen on Social Media Marketing,” in which I used lyrics from Springsteen songs and applied them to social media marketing.

Today I want to quote another fine American, Foghorn Leghorn.

Yes, that Foghorn Leghorn for after reading the results of a survey conducted by Awareness called the “
State Of Social Media Marketing” the first thing that came to mind upon seeing one finding in particular was Mr. Leghorn’s classic lament...

"No, no, no! You're doin' it all wrong!"

This is the finding in question:


It was quite disheartening to say the least to see over 75% of the respondents still worried about size.

This is not the porn industry here, kids and this is not about buying a house… SIZE DOESN’T MATTER!

Read More

9:39 pm akst

Have You Checked Your Online Reputation?
Online reputation management is not a one-time job. You can never get it done with and then move on. It’s a continuous process of building up a brand image and working every single day to keep things running. Brands are fragile. You have to protect them through proper reputation management services. You have to be vigilant and on the prowl for any emergency situations as well.

Keep an eye out for mentions of your brand or services on the Internet. You need not go surfing around for updates. You can use the Web 2.0 tools that are available for online reputation management solutions. For example, Google Alerts inform you about updates through email. Create an alert with your brand name and you’re all set!

The key to successful reputation management is to work on it daily. Check the social media profiles you have on a regular basis. Responding to posts and comments immediately has a lot of novelty among the consumers. You have to understand that customers feel special when you answer their questions promptly. They feel that
your brand is out there to help them with their issues any time they want to call on you. This will build up brand loyalty, something that your brand desperately needs in this age of transition.

You cannot stop a consumer from flipping over to your rival, unless you’re treating them well with some quality online reputation management. Take good care of your customers and keep checking your online reputation daily: you’ll soon be where brands should be.

10:10 pm akst

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