We’re Friends, But it Is More Complicated Than That

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a story on NPR when the interviewee mentioned that someone was a “holiday card friend.” Having just dusted off my holiday card list, the fact that we all have different categories of friends really hit me.

There are friends who we talk to all. the. time.

There are social friends who we see now and again and are always happy to catch up when we do.

There are friends who we know through work or through our kid’s activities.


You get the picture. All friends aren’t equal and that’s OK. We don’t treat everyone we know exactly the same in our offline interactions and we need to bring that insight into our social media strategy.

We need to look deeper at who we are connected to, understand what level of connection makes sense, and plan accordingly.

Some social media connections need regular interaction, while others benefit from a less intense connection.  The person who friended you after you met at a business event does not need the same treatment as your BFF.

This all makes sense, but all too often I see social media strategies that treat friends as if they are all created equally. The result is interactions that miss the mark – they are too much, too little, or somewhere in between.

Take a look at your social media strategy. How well have you defined your target audience and, by extension, the people who comprise your social communities? Probably not well enough.

Spend time looking through your connections. Come up with the categories of the people you engage with.

Define the expectations and needs of each. You can get excellent insight by looking over the recent history of your interactions:

  • How often do they engage?
  • What is the most common form of engagement – a “like” or a comment or something else?
  • What types of content do they react to most often?

Refine your strategy based on these insights. You will want to be sure that what you do on each channel meets the needs of each significant subgroup within your community with the right content, the right tone, and the right frequency.

Your aren’t talking to the same people with every post. Approaching social media with that insight will boost the impact of your social media efforts.