Tag Archive Dunbar


Like for Like – Facing Up to Facebook

My daughters and in fact now my son, all teenagers, would be more than happy to tell you that I’m no expert on the world’s largest social media platform.

Compared to them and I suspect the vast majority of the teenage user demographic my personal posts would look rather tame, dare I say boring but then I’m not trying to connect to that age group. I do have a few family and friends who fall into the sub 20 category and they politely comment or “like” the odd post as I in turn return the compliment.

All very civilised, and that’s how I like my Facebook but I’m acutely aware that many have a very different view of the site and use it for baring their souls or at the very least the pain of their morning hangover. Facebook can also encourage narcissistic behaviour, posed photos craving “likes”, surveys to re-enforce your view of your personality or who of your friends think you’re the best looking…”Pleeeaasse!!!” save me from this.

Back to the matter in hand my challenge as a marketer is to try and understand all communication mediums and see how they best apply and work for not only my own personal use but in a business context too. Facebook presents the biggest challenge for many businesses.

Sure, Lee Cooper, Amex, Red Bull and many others have very slick Facebook pages and are making the medium work by adding multi layered engagement programmes which include clever competitions and “like” fests. These multi million dollar corporations can and do spend to develop these campaigns but can we learn anything from their efforts, can a Facebook page help your business?

The simple answer is “yes” if the true objective to having such a presence and the audience to whom you wish to connect is clearly understood.

On my personal Facebook page I’m not interested in building a “friend base” of hundreds, (I don’t have that many friends 🙁 ) its purpose is to help me stay connected with close family, friends and an alumni offering a varied and entertaining news feed. For my part I hope to add value to their feeds through my posts…sad as they may be according to the Laud clan.

When it comes to business or personal profiles we should really apply a similar philosophy. You know who you want to engage with, the messages that you want to share and the response you’re hoping to gain.

Despite my earlier negative jibe the Facebook “like” is solid social media currency. By creating an interesting, funny, poignant post that resonates with your network you can build a bank of “likes” and even better if it stimulates readers to comment back.

Unfortunately this clammer to be “liked” has led to a proliferation of cause related posts. A good friend likened them to a type of “chain letter” which is an excellent analogy given the implication that not liking the particular post meant you were by definition taking the opposing view. So therefore ignoring these posts meant you liked cancer, bullying, mistreating small dogs and generally suggested you change your username to Voldemort. All complete and utter nonsense yet many of us do click “like” on these posts and gain a little sense of community in feeling part of a group taking a stand against a particularly offensive topic.

So no I’m not an expert but then I’ve yet to meet a true expert in any social media platform. They move too quickly to be tied down analysed and given a de facto conclusion on how to use them. We all use Facebook in slightly different ways, there is no single correct way but there are plenty of poor examples.

For business or personal pages my advice is to be clear as to your purpose, keep the audience in mind and be consistent with your message. Don’t be disheartened by the lack of response to a particular post, in offline life there’s many a time friends would groan rather than laugh at my jokes. The key is consistency and believing in yourself. Of course we are all slightly different in a relaxed social setting than we are at work. The same approach should apply.

Facebook isn’t Linkedin but the business page won’t be enhanced by the type of content you’d normally deliver to your friends. An edge of professionalism touched with an element of fun is where I find my Facebook business page personality. I’d like to think that’s not a million miles away from how I am physically at work. Easier to be true to your own personality or culture of the business than to try and reinvent yourself for each social media platform.

By being consistent across platforms you’ll gain respect and understanding from a multitude of networks.

If you’re just starting out with Facebook for your business please feel free to drop me a line or comment and let me know how you’re approaching it. Be great to hear of a variety of ideas.

To find us on Facebook go to http://www.facebook.com/i2isolutions

David Laud – Chartered Marketer FCIM


Making Connections – There’s a Limit So Make Them Count

I’m a big fan of social media in all it’s forms; they’re great tools to help keep you in touch and connected to a wide circle of friends, colleagues, contacts and acquaintances.

Online or offline there's a limit to true relationship numbers

But apparently there’s a limit to how many people we, as humans, can physically maintain valuable inter-personal relationships with. At the risk of getting all anthropological with you, it is actually a key factor in our effectiveness to communicate and being aware of our limitations should help in our approach to all forms of networking including social media.

The science behind this is a calculation known as Dunbar’s number. It’s the limit to the number of people who we can keep regular social relationships with. So what’s the magic number?

Professor Robin Dunbar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar’s_number has theorized that the number of inter-personal relationships we can maintain falls between 100 and 230. Quite a range but the quantity of quality relationships we can maintain is predominantly governed by the size of our neocortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for managing communication.

The introduction of social networking tools has been suggested as a method of growing an individuals Dunbar number however there is a flaw in this argument. Whilst they may increase our ability to communicate with an ever wider audience they don’t provide the time or platforms to build meaningful relationships.

True social relationships require a little more than a cursory tweet or facebook post. If you analyse your most regular interractions on these sites you’ll typically find the same “friendly faces” responding. Although an exchange on Twitter does not count as a true stable social relationship to qualify for a Dunbar point it is a start.

Getting involved in Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can enable us to build a better understanding of how we are developing new tools to communicate, perhaps enabling more of us to realize our Dunbar limit. But for those of us looking at social media for a return on investment for our business will we simply be acquiring followers or making truly effective connections? Perhaps we should simply accept that we all have our limits and if that’s 100 or 200 so be it. The true power of the social media phenomenon is not how many individuals we have following, connecting or friending us, it’s the collective interactivity of multiple networks.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” makes frequent references to how ideas and products catch on by this use of social group dynamics and the manner in which information transmits throughout a group. Just look at the way in which Facebook users have turned their profile pictures to cartoons. The core message began in November in Greece, and has been translated and tweaked to become a global trend – it taps into a desire to show solidarity against the abuse of children and the fun element of associating yourself with a favourite cartoon. A win win in social media trend terms but all generated by a multitude of networks with key drivers within “spreading the word”.

As a marketer my challenge is to find a voice and a message for myself and clients that interacts with chosen networks adding real value. When we then have a key message to relay we have a far greater chance of success and opportunity for the message to travel beyond these known networks.

So rather than being disheartened with the news that we have limitations when it comes to the number of stable relationships we can form; we should embrace this truth and seek quality in our groups.   Why would we want to spend valuable time building relationships with people who are just not likely to “tune in” to our message, get our humour or recommend our services?

David Laud

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