You’ve spent countless hours on Facebook and while navigating through your friends’ profiles you occasionally come across somebody with 1,000 or more friends and think to yourself: does this person really know 1,000 people and why do they have so many friends? Whether you like it or not, the number of friends you have on your profile has suddenly become a regular topic of conversation and many users wear it as a badge of honor.
Aside from the social value developed through a large network, there are many other benefits of improving your network. In his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People“, Dale Carnegie explains how to achieve financial success through building more effective relationships among other things. Facebook can just as easily be used as a tool for accomplishing your goals in similar ways that Dale Carnegie taught.
Below are 10 of the best ways you can use Facebook to win friends and influence people. Please feel free to add to this list in the comments!
1. Never Post To Brag
Within social dynamics, it’s always best to make others look better and Facebook is no exception to that rule. While you can aggressively promote yourself, you can actually can gain much more value by being you and letting other people provide “social validation”. In the next steps, I’ll outline how to improve your relationships on Facebook and by using these tips, your Facebook friends will typically interact with you more often as well which in the end increases your value within your social graph.
In other words, being a good friend generates more friends and having good friends generates social value. Be a good friend, not a bragger.
2. Segment Your Friend Lists Properly
When I wrote about the “10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know“, the first setting that I wrote about was to “Use Your Friend Lists”. Friends lists are not only useful for managing your privacy but they’re extremely effective at helping you to filter your content and more effectively keep in touch with people. There is an infinite number of ways you can configure your friend lists but there are some specific ways for configuring your friend lists to build better relationships.
In the book “Never Eat Alone“, Keith Ferrazzi describes his model for mastering the art of networking for success. One component is breaking down the importance of various relationships. For example, you’d clearly want to keep in touch with someone you are looking to do business with over someone that was a random acquaintance.
By organizing your friend lists into specific priority levels, you can optimize your time spent interacting with your various contacts.
3. Pay For Birthday Gifts, Don’t Just Write On Walls
In short, don’t be cheap. If you are looking to build successful relationships on Facebook, take the time to send someone a gift on their birthday. All too often I see a wall filled with thousands of “Happy Birthday John!” messages. One after the other they each say the exact same thing. While I have seen people say thank you to every single person that wished them a happy birthday, the value of saying happy birthday via a simple wall post has been substantially diminished over time.
Want to make that birthday wish even more memorable? Pick up the phone and call the person! I know this may be asking a lot but if your network has 1,000 people in them, that would mean you have less than 3 people a day who’s birthday it is. Spend the first 30 minutes of the day making three calls and you’ll be glad you took the time to do it.
While Facebook is an amazing supplement when building successful relationships, it cannot replace the normal interaction with others.
4. Regularly Comment on Friends’ Statuses And Stories
Take this rule too far and you’ll be considered a stalker. Commenting in the world of Facebook is a great way of letting somebody know that you are paying attention to them. It’s also a great way for letting that individual know that you enjoy what they are sharing. Did one friend post an interesting article? Comment on it! More important than just commenting though is creating an active dialogue with the individual who posted it, and other people who join the conversation thread.
Those little comments have a much greater impact than you could imagine. It creates a false sense of presence. For example if someone that you know is constantly commenting on your posted items, when you actually reconnect in person, it feels like you have been continuously in touch with that individual since you last saw them.
In some ways, commenting on shared items (including status updates), has become a substitute for more traditional communication. Yes, Facebook is changing the way humans interact and in a world of instant gratification, short snippets of conversation make us feel connected even if it is for a brief moment. Trust me when I say that regular commenting is a good habit to get into. Just don’t over do it!
5. Post Stories That Are Interesting To Your Friends
This is one of the most important components of building relationships on Facebook. Yes, each user has their preferences and while many complain about an excess number of “useless” status updates from friends, most people don’t invest much time into publishing quality content. Some of those users eventually stop updating because of one or two people that tell them they find people who update all the time “annoying”.
Well, I too don’t enjoy everything that comes through my feed but thankfully I have a group of contacts that understand the concept of sharing interesting articles. Many of those Facebook friends also have similar interests which makes it much easier to find relevant content for my personal network. For those of you with diverse networks, satisfying all of your contacts can be much more challenging though.
In the end, finding the most “globally relevant” information is probably the best way to go. Does that mean you need to spend your days searching for interesting content on the web? Not at all! When you happen to be browsing the web (which I’m sure is not too often, especially while at work) and you stumble upon an interesting article, simply share that through your profile.
Just as they taught us in elementary school: sharing is caring! So share with your friends and your Facebook friends will thank you for it.
6. Compliment Others Publicly
Paying a compliment to someone privately is great but a public compliment becomes a testimonial. One site that has become a hub for testimonials is LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, users will go out of their way asking people to write a testimonial. Don’t let users ask you for testimonials, just compliment them publicly. You will not only have a friend for life but you will also have helped them increase their social value.
It is always best to have a valuable network of friends and contacts because it ends up increasing your value. As someone once said, “A Rising Tide Floats All Boats”, and by helping up others you end up helping up yourself. This does not mean to become a “serial complimenter” (I just made that up but I think you get the idea).
For example, if you post compliments on everybody’s walls, your friends will see this. Eventually the value of compliments are diminished when they aren’t genuine and if they are used in excess. If you have used Twitter for any extended period of time, you’ve no doubt seen a “serial complimenter”. These people have profiles filled with @ replies (“at replies”) but never post any relevant information.
You can compliment someone on their photo or just compliment them for being a great person! This is part of being a good friend and it’s also a great way to build a stronger bond.
7. Only Tag People When They Are Most Attractive
Are you in to taking photographs? While most people don’t mind being tagged in photos, the last thing they want to get tagged in is a photo that makes them look unattractive. I see people regularly tag people in photographs where they don’t look their best. I’ve actually been a victim of such circumstances and it can be really annoying.
If you make a person look good however, they will thank you forever. That’s why great event organizers know to always hire amazing photographers who can make others look great. Great photographers know not to publish photos of people that don’t make them look attractive. Amateur photographers often don’t. I really don’t need to say much more beyond this. If you make a person look attractive, they’ll forever thank you.
8. Ask Questions Regularly
The best way to get people instantly engaged is to ask questions. Not surprisingly, the easiest thing to get Facebook users talking about is: Facebook. Try it sometime. Ask you friends their thoughts on one aspect of Facebook and you’ll instantly get a few responses. I remember my teachers once saying that “there’s no such thing as a bad question”.
I have to disagree. A bad question is one that doesn’t receive any comments. Mastering the art of conversation is great both online and offline. The other thing people always love to talk about is themselves so another way to get responses is to target a group of people with a specific question about the individuals in that group.
One problem with the targeted question model is that there is a good chance that those people will miss the question (it won’t show up in their feeds). Broadly targeted questions are always the best. While coming up with those questions that generate the greatest response can be challenging, it’s well worth the effort. Experiment with questions and once you get good at it, you’ll have a great skill that can work on Facebook as well as in person.
9. Use Facebook To Enhance Existing Relationships
Facebook friendships without context don’t provide much value to anybody. While having a lot of friends is always one way to impress your artificial friends, being friends with people you don’t know will result in a littered news feed. Facebook is best used as a tool for enhancing existing relationships. If you meet someone at an event, a great way to fill the gap in between the event and the next time you see them is Facebook.
As I mentioned earlier, short snippets of conversation helps us to feel more connected and that’s what Facebook is great for: enhancing an existing relationship. I go to conferences regularly and one thing I’ve realized is that when you see some that you haven’t seen for 6 months or even a year, it feels like you’ve seen them recently because you’ve connected with them through Facebook.
It’s even the same for longer durations of time! I stay in touch with friends from high school and I feel like I know a lot of what they’ve been up to since they are regularly updating their Facebook account. If you want to bridge gaps of time in a relationship, then use Facebook, period.
10. Create A Public Profile
I can’t express how valuable public profiles are for expanding your influence. While it makes sense to expand your network and increase your contact base, it’s even more useful to let other people that you don’t know stay informed about your activities. While people you don’t know may not be interested in what type of hamburger you are interested in (although you’d be surprised how many people are interested in that type of story), public profiles are a great platform for connecting with “strangers”.
I put strangers in quotations because as soon as people you don’t know start becoming fans of your public profile, you are actually building a relationship with them. While there are a few challenges to truly connecting with someone through a public profile (for example when you comment, you comment as your brand, not yourself), public profiles are a great tool for fostering new relationships.
In order to increase your influence, you need to be able to reach out to people outside of your personal network and make them part of it. Using public profiles as a platform for accomplishing this is great in addition to providing others with a platform for connecting with each other.
Facebook has transformed the way humans connect and it has become an excellent platform for sparking new relationships and enhancing existing ones. If you are not taking advantage of the opportunities to network and build valuable relationships through Facebook, you truly aren’t realizing Facebook’s full potential. Become proactive and use Facebook to build your network, increase your influence, and generate long-term success. Are there any other tips that you would recommend?
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