Hitting the friend/follower wall: facebook

by vernsanders on February 8, 2011

I’m in the middle of a series of updates about social media and ministry…

The backstory is this…

In April, 2009, my friend Doug Lawrence convinced me–not a social butterfly–to join Facebook. From time to time I’ve updated my progress (here, here, here, and, most lately here), and it is that time again…

In this round I’m going to do a number of posts on the “nuts and bolts” of what I’ve discovered about social media (SM). Hopefully what I’ve learned will be useful.  I should remind everyone that I’m not a social butterfly…some would say more like a social cocoon… :)

Up today? The 5000 wall and facebook (you can read about twitter here)…

Facebook doesn’t have the wall that twitter at the 2k level, so things  are somewhat different. The trick, again, is to be consistent and disciplined at how you make the system work for you.

It is a bit more difficult than it used to be to get a mega list on facebook, but if you pay attention to the “friend recommendations” that show up, and reach out to people on that list, your own tribe will grow fairly quickly. My rules here are that I have to personally know at least one (and, depending upon the circumstances, more) of the mutual friends from the list. I used to be more indiscriminate, but like my twitter rules, I’ve decided that it is more important for me in SM to actually have a connection with someone than to just farm followers.

The facebook magic number is 5000. When you hit that number you have to start getting fans instead of friends. My experience is that the sooner you start to get fans, via a “fan page,” the better, because you’re going to need to go there eventually if you are serious about building a good sized community. Fortunately for me, I have the Creator pages, so I can build my “fans” there, so I can choose to be more selective about actual friends.

I tend to look at facebook more than twitter, in part because of the pictures, and in part because it feels more like a community to me than twitter. Somebody I respect once told me that twitter is like a billboard…you want to tweet headlines and a link for people to follow up if they are interested. Facebook, on the other hand, he said, is like a cocktail party. You have the chance to meet and, potentially, become friends with friends of friends that you find interesting.

I’ve written about the 1000 true fans model of economics for small businesses and artisans, including church musicians, and facebook, for me, seems to be a better place to develop fans through real interaction. Twitter, on the other hand, is a great place to let people know who I am and what I’m interested in. In my opinion, both are necessary if you want to use SM in ministry.

Got a story of how social media helped or burnt your ministry? Please leave a comment below.

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