Brian Keaney

Tag: facebook

With (Facebook) friends like these

Saturday was my sister’s wedding reception.  Her second wedding reception in three months.  For a marriage to the same guy.  That’s a post for another time, but even though he’s been around for a couple of years now, her husband just got around to adding me as a friend on Facebook the other day.

Why have I never added him?  I have a no-add policy on Facebook.  I figure that I’m friends with the people I want to be friends with in real life, and everyone who I don’t see very often but in whose life I am interested is already a Facebook friend.  Only in extremely rare occasions, such as when my childhood best friend  joins, will I click the friend request button.  As has been noted previously, I am just that cool.

I won’t hazard a guess as to how many or to what percentage, but a number of my Facebook friends are not friends at all.  Some are former acquaintances at best.   It got me thinking: how many of them know me well enough to know when my birthday is?  To test it out, I changed my birthday on Facebook.  Rather than pick a random day, I selected the day of my little sister’s birth.  As a bonus, that way I could see how many people would wish both of us a happy birthday.

In July, 66 of my 606 friends posted on my wall to wish me a happy birthday.  I don’t know what the problem with the other 90% is, but I probably don’t like them anyway.  In September, slightly fewer, 54, wrote on my wall.  The best part is that almost half of them, 22, wrote both times.  The worst part is that someone who I would hope would remember my actual birthday wrote in September, but not in July.

Both my sisters picked up on this, and one even wrote on my wall questioning why I was stealing her birthday several weeks ago.  So as to not ruin the experiment, I promptly deleted the post.  A few other cousins also noticed that something was amiss, and one even facetiously mused about how he could have gone all these years without knowing that Krissy and I shared a birthday.

A couple people did recognize that September 29th wasn’t my birthday.  A girl I haven’t seen since 1998 commented that she knew my birthday was a week before hers.  Another who I haven’t seen much since college also knew it wasn’t my birthday, but I don’t know how she remembered that.  Finally, one cousin who loves to remind me of how old I am pointed out that two birthdays in a single year must mean I am even older than previously thought.  I didn’t like that one very much.

Now comes my favorite part.  A total of four people, consisting of two high school classmates, including one who was a good friend at the time, one of Krissy’s classmates who I probably knew better, and a second-cousin I haven’t seen in at least a decade wrote on both our walls and wished both of us a happy birthday.

I don’t know that my experiment has any great importance, but perhaps the fact that the Ig Nobel awards were awarded on the same day as my fake birthday might be significant.  Laugh at me if you will, but it makes you think.

I’m getting cooler, not older

–“We’re gonna be like three little Fonzies here. And what’s Fonzie like?” –“Cool.”

I must be getting old.  Either that, or the definition of “friend” has been radically changed by Facebook.  Or, and I like this option the best, I am a lot cooler than I thought I was.

I hit the bars on three nights last week.  I met a bunch of new people, saw some old friends, and got two girls’ phone numbers and one business card.  What I didn’t get was any Facebook friend requests, and I’m just fine with that.

Then, on Sunday, I gave a kid in high school I know and some of his friends a ride so they wouldn’t be late for a Christening.  I was happy to do it, but I was only in their presence for a couple of minutes.  In the few miles we traveled I talked to my friend about his recent breakup and what a dope he was for causing it, and offered some sage advice to his friend about why it’s not a good idea to sneak out of the house – especially when that means a leap from a second story window.

I dropped them off at the church – sans thank you’s, I might add.  What’s the matter with kids these days? – and thought that was that.  Today I woke up and discovered that the previously unknown friend had added me on Facebook.  To be honest, I didn’t even recognize his name and had to look at the photo to see who it was.  I’m not even sure how he found me as I’m sure I didn’t give my last name.

It’s not the first time a random high school kid has added me as a friend on Facebook.  My roommate works with a lot of them, and somehow my Jeep and I have become a source of amusement for them.  I usually accept their requests, but not today.

In fact, he has caused me to go through and remove a bunch of the other people I don’t really know from my friend list.  I don’t use Facebook all that often and I don’t post any objectionable content to it, so that’s not my worry.  Sadly, my days of objectionable behavior in public (or at least in view of a camera) seem to be dying fast anyway.  Even my three trips to the bar this week were pretty tame.

Nonetheless, one of the allures of Facebook used to be that it was a closed network.  Today, any idiot with an email address can get an account.  I’m a friendly guy, but if you’re not my friend, you’re not going to be my Facebook friend.   I’m just that cool.

The above photo of the Fonze by robotsandwrestlers is used under this creative commons license.

Jesus was a party animal, and other things I learned on blogs

For those of us with an interest in social media, we know that it is here right now.  For those of us immersed in it, however, it helps to remember that not everyone is.  My grandfather says with great pride that he wouldn’t even know how to turn a computer on.  He’s being slightly facetious, but just last week I saw a woman at Staples struggling to use a fax machine.  We are now several generations beyond the fax machine, but there are still those left behind.

There are plenty who get it, though.  At my alma mater, the Campus Minister has a blog and a Facebook account.  He will usually  post his homilies on the blog, and this week he began with an account of how he is using social media to keep tabs on his flock.

Recently I saw a facebook announcement for a 5 keg party and I thought to myself ….. that’s a lot of beer.

(Sometimes people obviously forget that when they “friend me” I see all of their status updates.)

Like any good fisherman, Fr. Bob goes to where the fish are.  When you are dealing with college students, the fish are on Facebook.  He’s not the only one.  On Twitter, the person I am most proud to be followed by is His Holiness the Dalai Llama (@OHHDLInfo).  Not to be outdone, the Pope is on YouTube.  Plenty of other religious leaders are also increasingly turning to social media to engage and evangelize.

I can no longer stand in the back of St. Vincent’s Chapel and listen to Fr. Bob preach any more than I can listen to the Pope at the Vatican or the Dalai Llama in Asia.  Through social media I can continue to be enriched by their teachings, however.  How else would I have known that Jesus was an even bigger party animal than my classmates?  As Fr. Bob told the students,

Being an inquisitive soul, I asked myself how many gallons 5 kegs would make?

The incredible internet told me that each keg has 15.5 gallons so 5 kegs is 77.5 gallons of beer

It sounds like a lot but a five keg party has nothing on the wedding feast of Cana.

With his first miracle Jesus made 120 gallons or 444 bottles of wine…That’s a real lot of wine.

You have to reach your audience where they are.  That means both in a place (Facebook)  and with a message (keg parties) that they can understand.  Fr. Bob gets it.  If only more did.

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The power of social media

A few years ago I had the great fortune to live in Waikiki and work for the Vice President of the Hawai’i Senate as her communications director.  It was a great job in a dream location but, being the parochial New Englander that I am, I missed home (even the snow!) and knew that eventually I would return.

In the meantime, I knew that life at home was not frozen in time and that there were conversations taking place that I wanted to participate in.  At the time, a major conversation was ongoing about the special election for state representative, but there were plenty of others as well.  Fortunately, in the day and age in which we live, residing half way around the world does not prevent  you from taking part in those conversations any more.  At least, it doesn’t have to meant that.

From my lanai overlooking the Ala Wai Canal and the Manoa Valley, I started a blog about the town that is home to the Charles River and the Peanut Butter Valley.    Nearly three years later, I’m back in Dedham and a different special election is taking place, this time for the U.S. Senate.

In the world of state politics, I’m nobody special.  I’ve worked and volunteered on campaigns, but I don’t command an army of volunteers, nor do I have a platform like Blue Mass Group in which I can reach a statewide audience and speak with credibility.

I did, however, have myDedham.org.    With an audience of roughly 2,500 unique visitors each month, it was a pretty healthy chunk of a town with 8,600 households.  I also think that I’ve built up a fair amount of credibility with those 2,500 visitors.

Dave Atkins of Dave Atkins Media!, an expert in the field of social media, has written on my LinkedIn page that myDedham “is notable for the high level of participation by residents and responsiveness of elected and representative officials. I don’t know how he finds the time and forges all the connections he does, but the result is a must-follow site for anyone who wants to know what is going on in Dedham.”

So, too, apparently, did one of the candidates running for the Senate seat think that I had audience that I could speak to with authority.  I was invited to several conference calls for bloggers with Congressman Mike Capuano.  Since myDedham focuses strictly on local issues I didn’t avail myself of the opportunity to participate, but it told me that the Congressman “got it.”

We all have personal networks, and increasingly they are moving online.  I have a network of family and friends that I speak to in person frequently, and I have a much larger network of friends, business associates, and acquaintances  online.  They put the social into social media.

My friends and I will sit over a beer and discuss politics, or sports, or technology, or just about any other conceivable topic.  I take their thoughts and advice seriously, and I will often incorporate it into my own life.  The same thing happens with social networks.  If I know that a friend that I know is politically astute, and I read on Facebook that he is supporting candidate X, I’m that much more likely to dig into Candidate X’s beliefs myself.

Why? Because my friend is an expert in politics, and I value his judgement.  I can’t sit down with all my friends every day and pick their brains on all topics.  I can, however, log onto Facebook or Twitter once or twice a day and read what they are thinking.  It takes just a minute of their time to update their status, but they reach hundreds of individuals.

Incidentally, my friend Mike Lake is running for State Auditor.  I would appreciate it if you would give him your consideration.   See?  That’s the power of social media.

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Social media as a marketing and campaign tool

Today at the 2.0 Life, David says that he is “a serial early-adopter” of social media.  I’m most certainly not, for a few reasons.  Most importantly, it’s  for the very reason David says he quits most of them:  “Most of the time, social networks don’t have any real value unless everyone you know is using them, and most don’t have any value even if everyone is.”

Like most people I know, I’m a busy person and I have neither the time nor the inclination to try every new fad that comes down the pike.  If I am going to invest in a technology, I want it to have a proven value.  This is often the advice I give to clients.  Many feel they should be everywhere at once.  I disagree, and counsel that rather than trying to do too much at once, they should focus on a few that 1) they (or I, under their name) can do well, and 2) give you the most bang for the buck.

Facebook is an obvious choice, simply because it is so ubiquitous.  It is the place, as David says, where everyone you know (and many you would like to know) is already.  It doesn’t take much to set up a fan page or group, and, once you let a few friends know about it, then it can spread like wildfire.  Each time someone joins your group a notification is sent out letting their friends know they support a candidate, or enjoy shopping at a particular store.   If the friend also join up, a notification is sent out again to all their friends, and so on.  Even if they don’t join, simply seeing the notification is a free endorsement.

Twitter grows in popularity each day, but can be slightly tougher to do well.  It requires more work than Facebook, but the payoff can be even bigger.  At b.good (disclaimer: I am the winner of a contest there), they know how to “tweet” effectively.  b.good has an interesting marketing strategy.  Disdaining things like newspaper ads, they will tape coupons for free burgers and fries to objects in the neighborhood of their restaurants.   When they do, a tweet will go out  to their followers alerting them, often with a photo showing you where you can find them.  It’s a great way to get people in the doors who might not otherwise.

For the professional set, blogging is probably your best bet.  Of the three social media mentioned here it takes the most amount of work, but there is no better way for you (or me) to showcase your talents.  This morning Jay Donahue posted to his real estate agency’s blog the do’s and don’t’s for holiday decorating while trying to sell your home.

No one will want to buy the cow if you give away all the milk, but supermarkets know that by giving out samples they can entice you to buy.   The same is true with blogging.  If you are a tax professional, you don’t want to provide step-by-step instructions on how to file your tax return.  However, you can use it to alert your clients (and potential clients) of a change to the federal tax code that could affect them.  In doing so you can establish yourself as an expert on the topic.

All three formats mentioned here, plus many others out there, provide a very cost-effective way to expand your base of clients, customers, and constituents.   And, as they are social medias,  you might even find yourself making a few friends along the way.