Lesson Learned: My First Go At Helping Someone With Social Media

I spent a very enjoyable 90 minutes last night at my neighborhood Barnes & Nobles with my friend Reuben (name changed to protect the innocent).  He asked me to help him better understand Facebook and I happily agreed.  And I learned a lesson along the way.

Reuben lost his job earlier this year.  He called me in February for some basic business advice.  I see him periodically at our synagogue and I'd see what he was up to.  I then saw him in mid August at the Shivah for a mutual friend who had died very unexpectedly. 

Reuben told me he had started a new business doing large format printing (anything from bumper sticks up to really large signs) and he was asking if I knew anyone who might need his services.  We talked for a good 15 minutes.  I gave him some networking suggestions and told him I had a couple of clients who purchase signs like he could print and I'd see if I could make an introduction.  I also sent him a copy of Bob Burg's Endless Referrals (no Bob doesn't pay me to plug him or his books from time to time - I think they are great).  Reuben thanked me profusely and asked if we could meet sometime to talk about social media.

Apparently, many people think I'm quite adept at social media, especially Facebook.  I find that quite amusing.  Seriously, I'm 48 years old (gasp!) and I'm not supposed to be tuned into stuff like this.  I have found many benefits to Facebook besides reconnecting with people I hadn't talked to in over 20 years:

  1. People tell me they didn't know I was this funny.  That in itself is amusing.
  2. People tell me they always know what I'm up to.  That to me is VERY important.  I want to stay in front of mind with people.  Most of my Facebook friends are not in a position to buy from me but they might know someone who does (more on that later).
  3. People always think I'm travelling.  Truth is, my flight this afternoon to Boston for a conference tomorrow is my first plane flight since February.  But people always think I'm going somewhere.  That to is good, because it reminds people that are SEC clients are all over the country.

Reuben wanted to set up a Facebook page for his business.  Funny thing is that is the one thing I hadn't done for my Firm.  I did set one up (which means I'm going to have to work on it) and he now has an idea how to get started.  He owns a domain for his business but right now it shows up as under construction.  I suggested he set up a blog on Blogspot and point his domain to that.  He could write blog posts on different products he sells, show examples of what he can make, etc. and then have them on his Facebook fan page.

This is where the big lesson came in for me.  Reuben is a very nice guy but somewhat quiet and reserved.  When we looked at his wall, it said he had 72 friends.  I was at 593 (now at 594 as I added one afterwards).  I kept telling Reuben he has to be more open to accepting friend requests and he was a bit resistant.  We looked at his friend suggestions and he kept saying "Why do I want to be friends on here with someone from high school?  Or so and so from our synagogue - I don't really know them."

It started to make sense to me.  I post a lot on Facebook, LinkedIn and even now a bit on Twitter.  It works for me.  I used Facebook earlier this year to tell my friends I had prostate cancer, and then a few months later that my PSA post surgery was zero and I was pretty much done with cancer.  I even did a blog post on here about my diagnosis (The Gleason Score).  Reuben said he just would never have been able to do that.

I realized that was ok.  We are different people and have different ways of communicating things.  If G-d forbid my wife had cancer, I doubt she'd tell the world on Facebook.

But if Reuben wants social media, especially Facebook, to work for him, he is going to have to be more open to making and renewing connections with people.  Bob Burg says that everyone knows 250 people who know us, like us and trust us.  Reuben with his 72 Facebook friends has a potential reach of 72 x 250 = 18,000 people on Facebook.  Not bad.  I, on the other hand, have 593 x 250 = 148,250 people.  It isn't about who you know - it's about who the people you know have relationships with that you don't know.

Please share your experiences - I'm very interested in your thoughts.

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Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies. Joel writes observations on different matters and especially on working with and using LinkedIn. He thinks he has a sense of humor.

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