The Anti-Facebook

There is a conversation from the movie Stepbrothers I would like to share with you.

If you have not seen the movie, it is a comedy starring Will Ferrell and Jon C. Reilly. The movie tells the story of two sons, both from single parent homes.  When their parents marry each other, they are forced to create a new family together and right away both stepbrothers decide to hate each other. The story of these two middle-aged slackers who can’t hold down jobs and still live at home is hilarious.

Below is an excerpt from the movie:

Mom (to Dad): Why is it that your son never left (home)?

: Well, Dale has always coasted off my accomplishments. I mean, he left college his junior year…

…because he said he wanted to join the family business.

Mom: But you’re a medical doctor.

Dad: Believe me, I’ve told him that. But he just always says, “It’s all about who you know.”

Not only is that exchange hilarious, but it really speaks to how we feel about job hunting and networking.  It’s all about whom and how many people we know.

We judge the success of networking events by the amount of business cards we hand out. Twitter users with thousands of followers are seen as impressive.  On Facebook users with hundreds or thousands of friends are looked upon with high regard. As if more friends equals being a better person.

When it comes to social media it seems we prefer quantity over quality.

While that may be how we use social media in our personal lives, it should not be how we use social media for business.  The popularity of using sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter in business is growing rapidly. It seems everyone from plumbers to the President is creating an online profile for their business.

As a result there is a lot of effort put into growing followers and friend lists.

While I will not argue against the fact that having a large number of followers is impressive, having thousands of followers not in your target market is about as useful as having no followers.

You may have 3,000 followers but none of them are necessarily interested in purchasing your products.

For example I like products from a high end men’s grooming store called The Art of Shaving. Several years ago I was given a gift set from their store as a birthday present. I loved the razor and shaving gel from the set and ever since I have been a fan of their products. I went so far as to “Like” them on Facebook.

Alas I have never bought a product from them. As I said before they are a high-end store. High-end products come with high-end prices. Instead I buy much more affordable grooming products from more conveniently located stores. Just because someone likes your Facebook page or follows you on Twitter does not necessarily mean they are your target market or will buy your products.

Having large quantities of friends, connections and followers does not necessarily translate to higher sales. Marketers and business owners get even more frustrated when they hear statistics that suggest users are more likely to buy from a company they are a fan or follower of.  What they are missing however is the key ingredient…quality.

It’s a matter of quantity versus quality. In business would you rather have a thousand hits and zero sales or one hundred hits and seven sales? Would you rather have five hundred Facebook friends or five real friends who can physically meet you for happy hour after a bad day?

Personally I would rather have 30 real connections than 3,000 friends. Always choose quality over quantity, especially when it pertains to your business.

Several years ago I attended a conference. Hundreds of others did too. I mingled, chatted and handed out business cards to a lot of people that weekend. I couldn’t tell you half of the names of the people I met, except for one. I met one person that weekend that changed my business. I met a programmer that weekend that I collaborated with on a number of different projects that ultimately helped me create more products and put more cash into my pocket.

I find that most businesses have only a handful of connections like this that really matter to their business. It’s all about finding those quality connections that will in the long run help you grow your business and increase your profits.

[Ed. Note: Scott Martineau recently stumbled upon a company whose shares that same philosophy. created a one click network that matches you with other entrepreneurs based on your profile. They don’t just match you up with thousands of business contacts from every part of the world. They match you up with people who can help grow your business or even help you start your own. Efactor knows the power of quality versus quantity. They are the antithesis of sites like Facebook and Twitter that encourage large numbers of connections.  To read more about Efactor or to join click here.]
  • Hi Craig – I never do this. I really, REALLY think that people who have nothing better to do but email or post complaints about someone else’s opinions or angles on things really need to get a life.

    But when I skimmed this morning’s newsletter, I paused, went back, and re-read it. Your line “My other faux pas, according to one reader, was admitting that I read the magazine, Newsmax”… made me stop cold.

    The phrase – don’t shoot the messenger – came to mind.
    or: a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Your readers are (theoretically) business people. People who either are in business, want to be in business, want to improve their businesses, etc. While I might only be a university professor – teaching marketing – AND running my own couple of businesses, but I really DO know something about the importance and relevance of research. Which is what YOU are TRYING to teach your readers.

    In this day and age, few firms (and even fewer small businesses) can afford to formally do market reserach. What I would suggest to your readers, who might be displeased, is that research means being OPEN to the outcome. It means being willing to say “Gee I might not agree with this person but they could have a point. Let’s examine what they are saying and see if THEIR worldview/truth holds water in comparison to mine.”

    Easy, easy easy research is as close as your local Barnes & Noble. Go. Buy yourself a cup of coffee. Walk the beautifully displayed magazines in your interest area (after all – they’re all conveniently arranged for you right there!) Now:

    * What are the topics being covered? How are they being covered? What attention grabbing information did the magazine use to get you to pause? To pick up the magazine? To actually open it?

    * What themes are emerging? After all – while a journalist might say their job is to deliver the news – the magazine’s PUBLISHER is to say they want readers so they can serve up advertising for their advertisers to those readers. In both cases they care about one thing: competing for the best stories, the most interesting stories, and serving up those stories in new, different ways so that people will stop and read. They’ve done the leg work for you (and for the price of a cup of Joe, you’re seeing it all displayed)

    * Venture out of your comfort zone: are you a tech consultant? Get out of the Computer magazines. What is Home Office Computing writing about? Fast Company? Chronicle of Higher Ed? Working Mother? Don’t these folks (home offices, universities, small entrepreneurial businesses etc) have technology too? Maybe their writings reveal a new market? A different way of positiong your products? Example: how long did we all carry around really ugly computer bags as provided by the manufacturers? Someone realized that we all don’t necessarily LIKE those ugly bulky things. (Maybe it was a fashion-forward female executive?) Now? You can find beautiful computer bags of all shapes, sizes, utilities, and price points. But someone had to pay attention FIRST to the idea that Henry Ford isn’t ALWAYS right (any color but black? If you don’t know the saying – look it up.)

    Why do I dare to suggest getting down to the local B&N rather than just surf the interenet? Because we’re still tactile people. We LIKE to touch things. We LIKE to scan stuff, flip through things. We still are stimulated by colors. Going to your local news stand as archaic as that sounds means you can see AT A GLANCE what the magazines are talking about.

    Ever pulled a bunch of clothes out of your closet (or maybe watched your significant other), lay them out on the bed to get a view of everything, before picking your clothes/outfits to go on a trip?

    Same idea.

    If you, as a business person, are not reading, scanning, etc at LEAST 40-50 magazines, news papers, or other real News sources monthly (minimum) (ok, yes, including web), then you aren’t working this process.

    And if you’re not working this process, you are going to be constantly caught back on your heels wishing you knew that “cloud computing” would be the next big thing. Or that “the aging poplulation isn’t going to be able to retire in the traditional sense, and might be interested in XYZ product to help them supplement their meger social security checks, rentiremehts, etc.

    There are people who DO futures and forecasting. For a living. And then they talk about it. And more often than not – they talk about it to the press.

    And if you want to be able to take a peak around the corner to see what what the next big thing MIGHT be? Open your mind. Take these simple steps. Be willing to hear information you don’t like. Listen to all the information and sources of information in aggragate.

    Remember the small business people who, back in 1997 time frame, said “oh this internet thing is just for kids….”? Remember folks back a few years ago who said “Facebook just for college students trying to get dates?” Remember when no normal person carried around a cell phone all the time – after all “who’d want to carry around a phone all the time?” (in a bag, or the size of a brick, etc. etc.)?

    Who indeed.

    Class Dismissed. Have a good weekend. No homework folks – except for those of you who want to get ahead in your businesses. The only grades you get now – are the number of zeros at the end of your pay checks.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you so much for your wisdom,