10 for 2010: #2 UNFRIENDING and UNFOLLOWING

Anyone remember the Burger King campaign last year — defriend (or unfriend) 10 people on Facebook and we’ll give you a burger? Regardless of what you think of the campaign or Whoppers, their ad agency jumped on the beginning of a trend that is really coming to fruition in 2010. The Oxford English Dictionary even named “unfriend” a 2009 word of the year (along with “tweetup”).

As Facebook and Twitter have become so mainstream, and friending so casual, our rolls of friends and followers have grown extensive. Maybe too extensive. Just at that time when we’re trying to manage our precious time and sort through reams of content to find the gems, it is our own “friends” weighing us down. Dunbar proposed that any individual could really only have 150 stable social relationships at any given time. Others propose that with tools such as Facebook we can manage higher numbers. In a recent update, Facebook set the number of people to show up in your news feed to 250 (which you can change). While it may be true that our maximum number is far over Dunbar’s 150, many people are starting to approach their limit and are pruning their social network gardens.

There are two things you should be thinking about:

  1. How should I pare my friends and people I’m following to get the most bang for my social-media-hour-buck?
  2. How are other people making decisions about paring their lists, and how should I position myself to stay on the friends list of those I care about? (note: you may not care about all of them)

How you answer these questions will depend on your business, your brand, your audience, your goals, and how you have been using these tools. People want value (which can be information, insight, humor, etc.). People also want to be talked with, not talked at.

One of the challenges is that when you’ve mixed company in your friend or follower list, there’s not one clear value proposition. For example, family wants pics of your kids, college friends want to know what you’re reading, business colleagues want professional insights, customers/clients/members want meaty information and connection. You cannot please all of the people all of the time.

Some people have dealt with this by creating multiple profiles — in some cases with hard lines (members of the congregation can befriend a staff person here but not there), and in some cases much softer lines (e.g. I tweet about Jewish social media and innovation at @darimonline, and I tweet personally about kids, chickens, music and other things at @lisacolton) where you’re welcome to friend or follow in both places, but at least you know what you’re getting (or as the writer, what you’re giving) with greater specificity.

I predict that the next waves of functionality and privacy updates from Facebook and Twitter will offer greater control over sorting these groups (they’ve already begun), targeting content to this group or that, and being able to hide or categorize friends and followers with greater ease to create customized feeds (how cool would it be to login to Facebook at work and see only updates from professional colleagues, and get home and login to see updates only from friends and family?).

In the meantime, put these on your to-do list:

  1. Be educated about privacy and friend list categorization opportunities on Facebook. There’s more control there than you probably realize or use.
  2. Set up friend lists, and each time you accept a new friend, add them to a list. When you use your settings you’ll be able to count on knowing who’s getting what info. See a tutorial here.
  3. Be aware that the functionality, policies, and culture of these tools will continue to adapt and change, so adopt a nimble stance (modern “sea legs”) and keep educating yourself.
  4. Think about how you can talk with your community, not just talk at them. Experts suggest a ratio of 1:12 (or even 1:20) — for every one self-promoting post (“come to our young adults event Tues evening…”) you should add value 12 times. What value can you offer? What questions can you ask to tap into your community? What conversations are happening related to your work and how can you participate? And don’t forget to LISTEN.
  5. Discuss among staff how people are managing these issues. There may be creative ideas, and you may or may not want to have everyone on the same page and taking the same approach. Either way, staff should be aware of expectations as employees if they are engaging with members, prospects, board members or donors. You should consider drafting a social media policy or guidelines, or revisiting to existing policies. See info here from Wild Apricot and info here from Beth Kanter and sample policies here.

How are you identifying what your target audiences want to hear, learn and discuss? How are you thinking about what to post and/or tweet? Where are you adding value and growing your online community? How will you know if people and dropping out and why?

10 Blips On Your Radar for 2010: #1 MOBILE

In the coming days and weeks we’ll be sharing 10 things you should have on your radar screen for 2010. If you’re already on top of them – mazel tov. Share with us what you’re doing in the comments. If not, time to get hip to the new decade. Don’t put it off. This isn’t the future, it’s the present, so pay attention.

To kick us off, mobile mobile mobile. Everybody’s got a phone in their pocket, and increasingly it’s a pretty intelligent one. The iPhone, Blackberry, Android and others are taking over the market, and shaking up the status quo. Assume that people are looking for and engaging with you while on the go, not just while sitting at their desk.

Some things to know:

  1. Compose your emails for easy reading on a mobile device. Send a test and check it out on a Blackberry and iPhone. Some Blackberry users are reporting a lack of patience with graphic emails because it takes too much time to wade through. “Give me the bullet points and important information straight up and in brief” seems to be the attitude.
  2. Start learning about fundraising via mobile. I just made my first donation by text message to a radio show I love, This American Life, when I saw a tweet. $5 went on my AT&T bill. So easy! Check out http://www.mobilegiving.org/ to see how they do it. Sophist Productions has been hosting events (a UJA Young Leadership cocktail party, for example) where people “text to pledge” their donation, and pledges are projected on the wall. Yes, it is a new world. And it works. Read more here on text-to-give programs.
  3. Redesigning or tuning up your website? Make sure you’ve got a mobile friendly version. Check out a Google tool here to see what your web site can look like on a mobile browser. Beth Kanter iPhone-ized her blog with an easy $200 IPhone app tool. Learn about it here.
  4. Twitter was conceived of, and largely used as a mobile tool. Thus, don’t neglect this community when you are putting together a mobile strategy.

Want to learn more?

http://mobileactive.org/ is a great org with useful resources and a discussion list on how nonprofits are using mobile in their work.

http://www.mobilecommons.com/ offers services for marketing, advocacy and fundraising via mobile (and thanks to Mobile Commons for donating their services for our Boot Camps)

http://www.mobilecitizen.org/ has excellent resources for mobile use in education and nonprofits.

Great resources from Wild Apricot: Is Your Nonprofit Website Mobile-Friendly?

Examples of cool, mission-centric mobile uses from nonprofits, on Beth Kanter’s Blog