Social Media World Forum North America – Let’s Take Back the Word “Friend”

Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist & Brand Evangelist, Collective Bias

Peter Shankman, Social Media Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, CEO, Consultant & Adventurist

Lately, what’s been happening with the word “friend” has been upsetting Ted Rubin.  Nowadays, we just click on a box, and we consider someone our friend.  He wants to take the word “friend” back and give it value again.


Shankman, similarly, wonders what will be the future of friends online.  He believes that the concept of “friending” as we know it will soon go away. Over the next 24 months, he believes, that online friending will be based on more than just an add button.  He believes that friendships will require multiple, relevant interactions and positive sentiment, just like real-life friendships require.  After all, how many of the people that we consider friends offline have we only spoken to once?


What is a friend, and how do we develop a relationship?  Rubin believes that we need to look people in the eye digitally just as we do offline.  Whether you’re an individual or a brand, you have to engage a person to build a relationship.  Interact with people, and “pick up the damn phone”.  A connection is only as strong as the last time you’ve used it, Shankman notes.  We have more people than ever in our networks, but we only interact with only 1% of our network.  You can’t overestimate the power of just saying hello on Facebook.


Social media is, ironically, making us less social.  Rubin likes that Klout focuses not just on to whom you’re connected, but with whom you’re interacting.  Always take the chance to meet and interact with new people.  Don’t be a “business card ninja”, don’t just take a card and walk away, find out something about people.  Be aware of what people do; be conscious of who you are meeting and don’t just talk about you.


Engagement is about providing value.  If you are going to break through the noise of an individual’s social network, you have to touch their passion points.  If you’re listening to people (and more importantly, hearing what they’re saying), then you’ll know how to interact with people in a way that builds relationships rather than creating more static.  As far as finding those to whom you should talk, trust the recommendations of people you trust.  There are no real experts or gurus in this space; listen to people with whom you can build a relationship.

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