When Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004, there were no pages, instead the site modeled real human interaction. To quote The Social Network, “Are you having sex or aren’t you. It’s why people take certain classes and sit where they sit and do what they do, and it’s um…center, you know, that’s what TheFacebook is gonna be about. People are gonna log on because after all the cake and watermelon there’s a chance they’re actually gonna [...] meet a girl.” If real socialization is what drives Facebook user interaction, then no matter how much we market brands and pages, we can never hope to efficiently (and completely) reach users. In a way, this is bad news. Brands can interact with users like humans. So how can we use this element of human nature to reach influential people about our startup? It’s easier than you’d think.
The method is really easy, and you’re already doing it, a lot. You’re going to friend people! Then, you’re going to interact with them and pitch them and subtly work towards being their best internet friend. The key word in that sentence was subtle, busy people hate annoying people, so don’t be annoying. Before you click that add button, there’s a few things to know.
Mutual Friends = New Friends
Mutual friends power the Facebook experience. When users receive a new friend request, most don’t just click the confirm button without any further thought. They look at who the requester is mutual friends with. So, if you’re requesting someone who is a Silicon Valley Awesome Person who manages everything and everyone, you’re probably not going to get a new friend unless you have a bunch of mutual friends. The first influential friend on Facebook could be your hardest. They have to decide to confirm, and it’s up to you to make that happen. It could be something you say in the request message, or maybe you’ve messaged them on Twitter a few times. Whatever the reason, they need to find you interesting enough to be one of their 5,000 or less friends. 5,000 friends sounds like a lot, but if you’re dealing with someone like Daniel Brusilovsky (Teens in Tech CEO, who, as of this writing has 390,202 Twitter followers), he has to be pretty selective. Come up with something interesting, or get on their radar in whatever way you think is best. Repeat this a few times, the mutual friends you have, the easier it is to be added.
You’ve Got The Friends, Now You’ve Got The Adding Power
When people see that their friends know you, they are likely to add you. Here’s an example. When I decided to expand my personal Facebook friend network, I was already friends with a few of the teen tech industry leaders, but not many. Now that I have several teen entrepreneurs who are generally considered to be awesome, I can add just about any teen entrepreneur and they are much more likely to confirm.
Great, I’ve Got 50 New “Friends” I’ve Never Met, Now What?
First, stop posting stupid things on Facebook. I’ll be the first to say I struggle with this. When I post stupid things on Facebook, the status gets more likes and my self- importance is inflated. STOP. You’re new friends won’t like it. Granted, they are teens too and will also post stupid things on Facebook, but keep it to a minimum, they want to be seen as professionals and won’t like it if you don’t act professional.
Second, create a list of these people. Mine is called “Startup/Tech.” It doesn’t matter what you call it, but keep in mind the list name is public. Now you can send out updates only to this list. Because the update was targeted to a small group of people, it’s more likely to appear on their top news feed (which still exists in its entirety, even though Facebook changed the format to make only one feed). Also, you’re normal Facebook friends who aren’t an awesome entrepreneur like you don’t care about TechCrunch posts or how much Groupon’s stock went down today.
Third, post cool things. Whether it’s about your startup or not, make it cool and interesting. This idea comes directly from all of the classic preachings about Facebook’s EdgeRank, but that’s because it is true. The cooler something is, the more likes and comments it gets. The more likes and comments it gets, the more news feeds it will show up in. That cycle repeats recursively until the update is weighted down by time decay in about 24 hours, if you have enough of the other components. If you’re looking for cool things, try video. It’s hard to make very good videos and very expensive to have them made for you, but people love to watch videos, especially if they’re cool. Try it out, it might get your startup a lot of attention on your personal Facebook network.
What Did We Learn?
There’s a lot of different social verticals on Facebook and there’s one you’re probably not using. Your personal network on Facebook, like in real life, can be extremely powerful if used appropriately. Make some new friends and share some fun stuff with them, you might just be surprised how your new friends help you in the future.