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Social networking and Facebook birthdays: Gotta play to stay

Do Facebook birthday and holiday greetings count as social networking?

You bet they do. Online greetings can count for plenty, when it comes to keeping up with colleagues, business contacts, target customers, and friends. It pays to be smart, even in seemingly casual sociability.

Take birthday greetings, for example.

Annual best wishes on birthdays have long been a hallmark of savvy business networking. (Excuse the pun. No company affiliation is intended.) Insurance agents, real estate professionals, and plenty of other marketers have long practiced this strategy. Consider how many pre-embossed cards come in the mail each year to mark such an occasion. Now transfer the same concept to internet networking.

Facebook makes it easy, listing friends’ birthdays each day. And posts are free. So why not?

But here’s the catch. The birthday connection can be shaky sometimes. 

Allow me to elaborate.

I manage a Facebook page titled Holidays Examiner – Madison and More. A key feature of this Facebook holiday page is an extensive collection of colorful birthday greetings. These include cartoons, clipart, illustrations, photos, and text art images. I post them to this page for my own use and for Facebook sharing by any who wish to do so. (The only rule is that folks use the Facebook “share” button, rather than copying or saving the pictures to repost.)

Alright. Let’s get back to the business at hand.

When Facebook alerts me to online friends’ birthdays (pretty much daily), I choose and send some of these cards to those people. Frequently, birthday celebrants “like” the greeting posts or even comment on them.

However, an astonishing percentage of online birthday greeting recipients do not respond or acknowledge the greetings at all. Maybe they amass such an overwhelming amount of “Happy Birthday” posts that they find it impossible to do so.

That’s understandable, once in a while.

Here’s the other side of the proverbial coin. Lots of Facebook friends reciprocate. It’s delightful to receive scores of happy greetings on one’s own birthday. Plenty of folks don’t bother.

What if a Facebook friend does not reach out or respond to anything for a long time?

That’s a different story. Eventually, such inaction logically leads to culling. Friends who aren’t really friends are frequently deleted.

How can a Facebook user keep track of which friends actively interact and which don’t?

Actually, it’s easy. Facebook (at least in its current incarnation) allows each user to view a recap of interactions with any specific friend. Here’s how it works:

  • Open that friend’s Facebook profile page.
  • Click the little box with a series of dots (presently located just to the right of the “Message” button in the lower right-hand corner of a friend’s profile banner photo).
  • Choose “See Friendship.” (See photo - below.)
  • Give it a moment to load. (Sometimes this feature seems to take a little longer than usual.)
  • Facebook will produce a log of posts and messages between the user and that particular friend. If you or that friend posted to one another, it shows up. If that person “liked” or commented on anything you put up, it will appear.

Throughout the year, when Facebook offers me daily birthday lists, I use the “See Friendship” option to determine whether to retain or remove less-than-active contacts. Sure, I’ve deleted tons of folks on their own birthdays, but I’m fairly sure they won’t miss the alliance, if they haven’t participated in it in ages (or at all).

Is it worth the effort to keep Facebook friends who fail to interact at all?

Is there any value in sending birthday and holiday greetings, year after year, to contacts who seemingly ignore them? Is it valuable to keep online friends, if they never reach out or respond?

Perhaps that decision depends upon the purpose for which one initially befriended such folks (or for which one accepted their offers of Facebook friendship). If they are regarded as current or prospective business clients or contacts, perhaps some forbearance is in order. However, if these individuals are to be regarded as possible personal allies, then it may be time to reexamine the merits of continuing such one-sided efforts.

Birthday-themed graphics
Adapted from public domain art
Facebook screenshot
Fair use
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1 comment:

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