Relationships on the Social Web

SMS Text

While most people make the argument that the social web is doing exactly what the name suggests, making us more social and harnessing our collective strengths to deliver a better experience, others are not convinced.
With the rise of the social web, we have seen social networking and social bookmarking/socially driven sites garner a lot of attention. These sites allow users to connect with each other (in the case of social networking sites) and make collective decisions (in the case of socially driven sites) which are theoretically better than decisions an individual would make. The secret sauce for these sites is the so-called ‘friend power‘, but the definition of friendship seems to be evolving.
a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

On the social web, this individual is not someone that will help you in a time of crisis and is not someone you will go to for advice. You don’t need to have ever met this individual in person or even have talked to him in real-life. Furthermore there are no degrees of friendship or hierarchies in relationships. Wether another user be a boss, a co-worker, a client, an acquaintance, or simply someone you admire and would like to get to know better, on the social web, he is just a friend.
But how much value does this friendship hold? With ‘friendship’ made this easy I have had countless encounters where people have emailed me or added me to their contact lists (or social network lists) only to ask me to ask me for blogging tips, social media tips or critique (which I’m happy to give) or ask me to look at a facebook application they have created, etc, only to never get in touch again once their specific goal has been accomplished.

Is this friendship? Or is it playing a game called Friendship, using someone else’s words, by someone else’s rules?

The only way to truly excel on the social web is to get the definition of social right. It all starts with building relationships and not playing a game called friendship.

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

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  • Robi

    Your reflexion is interresting but I think there is “degrees in relationship” in LinkedIn : Friend, colleague, etc

  • Scenic British Columbia

    There is definitely different degrees of relationships online, whether in social media or otherwise. I come from the late 80s Bulletin Board System (BBS) days, in fact I was even a SysOp on a BBS up in my home town of Victoria, BC. I actually met my all time best friend when I was around 11 BBSing, and we’ve been friends for the last 17 years since.
    I’ve also met SEO colleges and Photographers online, who are now friends who I would consider spending time with if they lived here. For each person friends are relative to their state of being. But overall the term friend is thrown around very lightly online. Cheers.

  • kristen

    I totally agree about the degree of relationships online. Social acquaintances, or social contacts are a better title for those we meet on the web. And I must say, the term “friend” is thrown around lightly not just on the web but all over the place. It is often a manipulative term used to steer people in the direction you want them to go. Especially in business.

  • steve

    Yes i agree there relationships built here may vary in degree and it also depend on the sincerity of the person to share and seek information without any ingrained objective or vested interest

  • Rony John

    This Guy really knows how to make relationships.No wonder,he is a top digger.

  • Jeff

    Funny you should post about this. We have had this exact conversation within my company. In fact, it has caused some problems in terms of SNS perception among people who are unfamiliar with how social networking works. Since most sites use the term “friend” we have had a problem convincing some that social networking can be an important tool in the business world. We’re making progress, but its an uphill battle.