Apparently the optimum number of Facebook friends is around 150. This research is based on an anthropological study that suggests outside of a core group of 5 ‘insiders’, you are unable to maintain a high level of personal contact with the other 1,145 people you play Farmville with!
So, is Facebook relevant for today’s modern interim? Well, the answer really depends on what type of interim you do for a living. Ever since Facebook started advertising, many corporations have jumped on the ‘friend-me’ bandwagon – seeing this social network as a way to engage customers and build brand loyalty by connecting with them in their leisure time. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to be BFFs with my broadband provider or energy supplier. I just want the 24 MB speed I’ve been promised and a tariff that reduces my monthly utility bills!
That’s not to say that Facebook isn’t a useful medium. It’s informality and ‘like’ features mean that FMCG brands like Marmite and Innocent can build a huge following. They can also use the information about their followers to shape future marketing campaigns and identify consumer trends, so… exercise some care when you press that ‘like’ button. Global consulting firms such as Deloitte and KPMG also have presence on Facebook – they do it because it connects them with a talent pool they might not otherwise reach. Again, there is a brand building element here – targeting the Gen Y workforce of the future means you must catch them where they play.
This is all good stuff, but does that mean you should do it? I’ll go back to the first question. It depends. Personally, I don’t and won’t have a Facebook page that represents my business. Why? Well, I have a web-site, business blog and twitter feed (@lisa_bondesio) for that purpose. I raise my profile by being a guest writer on the Interim Hub. I keep my personal life extremely separate from my professional one for good reason – and I’m not talking about the photos from my last summer holiday here – but you get the point. This is also the reason that I don’t ‘friend’ my clients – I connect via an appropriate business channel such as Linked-in.
I’m not an FMCG brand and I am not in the business of recruiting graduates from top tier universities. I’ve made a conscious decision not to use Facebook, instead of blindly following the herd. I am definitely not a fan of ‘Me-too’ Marketing! I have colleagues who have taken a different tack, but they are photographers, designers, therapists, coaches – what they do is an intimate part of who they are, and therefore Facebook is appropriate as a way of marketing their business. It’s also a great place to post pictures of your work, so can be a boon to those of you who earn a creative living.
Still, like any online medium, consistency and content are key dimensions. If you are going to utilise Facebook, then be sure that you are updating your page regularly, and that any content is relevant. Also, don’t bombard your real friends (you do have those, don’t you?) with requests to become fans of your business page, or to ‘like’ your content. It’s a sure fire way to become Billy-no-mates overnight. My advice, keep your friends close and your clients elsewhere.
Lisa Bondesio is the founder of Chiridion Consulting. She provides common sense to corporate clients in times of transition and specialises in business change, strategy and stakeholder engagement. She does post her holiday snaps on Facebook, but only the flattering ones!