January 30, 2014

Facebook Invites (How Not To)

I recently posted the following to my Facebook timeline:
Facebook folks, if you are using your personal account to promote your business or services, send out mass INVITES to events and workshops to your entire friend list, etc. I am probably going to unfriend you. You need to set up a separate business page and direct your solicitations and invites to folks who have specifically LIKED your business, rather than to every single person you know.

I don't mind an occasional update on what is going on, but my INVITE list is often filled with invites to events I have no interest in from folks I rarely if ever see that are pretty much the Facebook equivalent of SPAM.
Despite this, one of the main offenders on my friends list proceeded to send out a spammish INVITE just this morning. And was summarily unfriended.

I look upon invites from the perspective of "what if everyone behaved that way". I have 580 Facebook friends. Not bragging; it's just that I move through many communities - yoga, music, arts, local, history, glbt, etc. and a few in particular (yoga teacher training, GLBT summer camp, and the Falcon Ridge folk festival) tend to be "meet lots of people" places. Mind you, that 580 is a conservative number of "friends" - I have a fairly rigid "if we've never met in 3D, we're not friends" policy, I almost never make friend requests (but also rarely turn them down), and I have a "one friend connection per person" policy for folks who have multiple facebook identities.

Now, if every one of those folks used Facebook to promote a business, hobby, group, or cause with a handful of events or activities per month, I'd be looking at 1000-2000 "invites" per month. Declining Facebook invites would become a full time job, and I'd no doubt miss a lot of events and invites that I want to see in the "noise" of the unwanted solicitations.

We're not talking about a party here - but rather things like a weekly meditation class, or a monthly reiki training. Hey, I teach yoga. I could, I imagine INVITE all 580 of my friends to each of the three yoga classes I teach weekly, every one of the dozens or so Guinea Pig gigs we play. But no, because that's abusing the system.

Learn how to use the technology, folks. Set up a business page for your business, and send out invites to those who have specifically LIKED the page and expressed interest (and no, accepting a friend request is not an acceptance to get dozens of event invites). Create events for your activities, but instead of inviting 100s of people to each event (and forcing them to decline through gritted teeth of resentment) just post it to your personal and/or business timeline - folks will see it.

And if you are active in a cause, be mindful of flooding your timeline with posts about rescue animals or queer rights or politics or whatever. While nowhere near as intrusive as excessive invites, my "friends" list has several dozen people who I effectively ignore (using the Facebook tools) because of one too many "URGENT PIT BULL RESCUE" post or whatever. Love animals, my pup is a rescue, but I really do not want to weed through 20 such posts on my timeline each day.

Doing the social media dance, whether you are using it for personal or professional purposes, is walking a tightrope between "out of sight, out of mind" (under utilizing the platform) and "annoying your fans" (resulting in "unlikes" and "unfriending") 

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