Friends, vanity and Nova Barakel

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There is a funny discussion going on about how people were fooled by the fictional Nova Barakel, who was really a marketing product for a new novel. Some people insist that you should only have “real friends” on FB, and not let people like this in, most seem to agree that this is really bad marketing because it is dishonest. But let’s not be so quick to judge.

There are different strategies for how to handle social media. And the different systems have somewhat different characteristics. While Twitter is an asymmetrical system where you don’t have to follow those who follow you, Facebook is symmetrical. So if you look at for example the Twitter account of Karl Lagerfeldt he has 79717 followers and is following 0 people. He uses his account as a broadcast channel. Some people use their Facebook accounts much in the same way but it’s a bit unusual since they become hard to use for the more intimate and personal stuff. I haven’t personally looked at exactly how many “friends” each of the accounts of the people who “got fooled” had, but if some of them were broadcast accounts, they were hardly fooled. And if they didn’t use them as broadcast accounts, perhaps they were just curious. Either way, why portrait them as vain flagpole sitters? I don’t think they are.

Regardless, we don’t all have to use these tools in the same way. Seth Godin has a quality-rather-than-quantity approach that he endorses in his talk below, that makes sense in many ways. But like I said, it all depends on what you are trying to achieve. Chris Brogan for example has taken the opposite approach quite successfully.

There ARE different ways to use social media because it’s just a platform. A tool. Sure, how you use it says things about you. If you are only following 100 people on Twitter, who those 100 are will say a great deal about you. If you only have 30 friends on Facebook, we can conclude that you are very restrictive about your private life or just very uninterested in Facebook. If you are following 50 000+ people on Twitter because you are autofollowing everyone, well, at least you have a good grip on who is following you, even if a lot of them are probably spam accounts.

You can befriend or follow people for different reasons. Here are a few ideas:

* Friend people you find interesting.
* Friend your customers.
* Friend your prospects.
* Friend your competitors (why not?)
* Search for friends based on interest (easy on Twitter, by using Twitter Search).
* Unfriend spammers.
* Unfriend folks who bother you.
* Unfriend people who talk too much if they’re swamping your stream.

(Suggestions from Chris Brogan).

Based on this list of ideas, there could be many reasons to befriend Nova Barakel, if only because you find here stories interesting. Like I said, I don’t think we should be quite so quick to judge. Personally I would love to make friends with George Orwell for example, even though I could probably guess that his account wouldn’t be entirely genuine because he’s been dead for 59 years, so that he could tell me what happened today in 1939. I can already do that actually by following his excellent blog.

And while I believe in Honesty, I don’t think that it is neccessarily dishonest to do something like this if what you contribute is fun or exciting or mysterious or valuable in some other dimension. If it is not, on the other hand, it’s just spam. And filtering out spam is actually just a click away.

Some links to the Nova Barakel discussion:

About the Blog

This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.
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