Aaron Brazell is talking about it in "Friends vs Fans" and Jared Goralnick talks about it in "Avoiding the online popularity contest to seek a deeper connection".
It all boils down to: What is a friend?
There are some people on social networks that seem to add everyone and anyone they have ever, will ever, or ever want to meet. This gives the massive networks of people whom they don't know at all or know in passing. This seems to be the most common on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Personally, I approach it a bit differently…
When I joined Facebook (FB) in early 2005, I used it to connect to grad school trapped friends. Add in a few younger friends who were recent graduates and it made sense. It was a way to reconnect and find out what they were up to. LinkedIn (LI) served a similar purpose but for previous coworkers and contacts. Fast forward three years and I'm still selective in who I add… I have about 200 LinkedIn contacts, 275 Facebook connections, and following 360 Twitter'ers.
But I think that's the key: To me, these people are contacts and connections.
My personal network does not have value unless:
- I can trust the individuals and it collectively;
- I can reach out to individuals for information, making/getting introductions, and generally gathering/sharing information;
Without receiving these things, my network doesn't make sense. Therefore, I group people into a handful of labels:
Contacts – These are people that I meet at an event, meeting, etc. We shake hands, may trade cards, and may never see each other again. If they do something interesting or applicable, I follow up. I rarely connect with them on FB & LI but I normally do on Twitter.
Acquaintences – These are people that I run into a few times. Or Contacts who I meet for coffee or drinks and talk further. I always connect with this group on Twitter and usually on the other two.
Colleagues – Plain and simple, these are people with whom I've worked. It could be one project or years of working together. I usually connect with this group on all three networks… if I enjoyed working with the person or want to work with them agian.
Friends – This is a whole other level. These are people that I have connected with personally, have probably had a beer/coffee or three together, and normally spent time together outside a normal professional atmosphere. I always connect with them on all three platforms.
But the point is…
By adding random people and contacts, it would clutter,
disrupt, and dillute those contacts which are valuable and that I do
need. I don't keep score. I don't care how many people are following,
connected to, have "friended" me. In fact, during the writing of this
post, I had to check my numbers… I don't care who/if anyone else is listening.
Other than my four readers here, they're fantastic…