Keeping Up with Everyone on Facebook

I recently had a leader with a direct sales company reach out to me with the following question:

How do you deal with/keep up with all your facebook friends?!   Here’s my story: I am at the top level with a national direct sales company so I feel that I have to say yes to everyone in my company who friend-requests me. But, I am overwhelmed by all the status updates and private facebook messages!

I feel guilty spending time on facebook when I think I should be spending time talking with “my team” but I know I’m part of a greater team (my company) and I’m also part of the greater facebook team and embracing social media.

I’ve seen you become friends with a dozen people at a time and I’m wondering how you keep up! Are you reading all those status updates? Are you responding to all the personal messages?

Now I’m not going to share with you the name of the individual that sent this, but I will share that this is a common dilemma that I hear often, both from top-level leaders in organizations, as well as corporate staff.  The very nature of our companies mean that we are typically connected to a LOT of people.  How on earth do you keep up with hundreds, or even thousands, of people online?  Especially when they all want the human touch from you?

I have a similar situation, as I have thousands of friends on Facebook and Twitter.  And I’ll be quite honest with you…there are not enough hours in the day to read every single status update, and answer every single request.  If I tried, I’d never be able to focus on my income-producing activity!  So how do I balance it?

  1. I connect with everyone involved in direct sales who requests it. This will work until I hit Facebook’s limit of 5,000, at which point I’ll be forced to send my business contacts over to a Page.  It’s not really something I want to do, because I much prefer building relationships and sharing value through my profile.  But I won’t have a choice at that point.
  2. I pay more attention to the posts on my wall than anywhere else.
  3. I scan posts in the news feed, and comment sporadically when I have time.  I don’t expect myself to read everything.
  4. I have set up a group where people can ask specific questions about social media.  If I get one of those questions in my inbox, I send them to the group, or a blog post I’ve already written that answers it.  I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to answer individual messages from folks.  And when I do answer, I prefer for those answers to be in a public place, so others can benefit (and I don’t have to answer the same questions repeatedly, which isn’t the best use of my limited time.)  Thus, the group and the blog.
  5. I set up friend lists, and look at the lists of posts from the people I need to follow up with.  Sometimes that’s family.  Sometimes that’s corporate contacts, where I do the bulk of my income-producing activities.  You get the idea.

Now as leaders or corporate folks, it’s tough because you don’t want anyone to feel bad, but at the same time you need the time to do what you do best…lead.  You also deserve a private life.  Sometimes that’s hard when everyone wants something from you.

Now individual direct sellers…let me pause a moment here…I’m talking to you, specifically now.  Realize this is a dilemma your leaders have, and be sensitive to it.  Find the avenues your leaders have set up to get the information you need, and use them, even if it takes you 2 extra minutes.  And realize that if you’re not communicating through the official channels you’ve been provided, you may not get an answer.

For leaders, the answer is NOT 2 Facebook accounts.  Facebook may shut you down.

Rather, adjust your privacy settings so personal friends see those personal photos and updates you don’t want the whole world to see, while posts for business contacts are seen by those folks.  Facebook lists will be your best friend for this, so that you can adjust who sees what by list, rather than individual.  And in terms of responding, you simply won’t be able to respond to everything.  Don’t set the expectation that you will.  Rather, have specific places for specific interactions to occur, and then don’t make exceptions.

At the end of the day, I think it’s a good thing for leaders to connect online with people in their downline/in the field.  It makes us more accessible, more human, and people enjoy seeing us as a whole person, instead of just a business machine.  It makes the whole thing seem more do-able…if that person is a mom with kids and a sports schedule, etc, and they can reach that level, I can too!

Schedule the time you’ll work on contacts/requests outside your immediate team, focus on providing valuable content that everyone on your list can use, and let your personality shine through.  No, you won’t see everything from everyone.  But you will provide a view of your personal life that can be good for business.

How do you keep up with everyone on Facebook?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

3 Responses to Keeping Up with Everyone on Facebook
  1. Julie Ann Jones
    August 23, 2010 | 11:37 am

    I agree with Patty. I couldn’t manage Facebook or Twitter without friend lists. I also periodically switch back and forth between “Top News” and “Most Recent” on the Facebook home page so I stay current with not only those who post the most often from my friends, but also those who are posting at the time I happen to be online. I like this option.

    I have noticed more and more IM chat requests through Facebook lately and often hide the fact that I’m online so others don’t use that feature to connect with me. I never want to be rude, but it’s rarely a “good time” for me to chat, especially during the day when I’m working on other projects and just checking in on Facebook.

    I also think it’s important to remember that people who friend you who don’t know you personally probably don’t expect to have lots of interaction with you. I know that most of my direct sales friends are there to see what I’m posting regarding their businesses and gain education from me, not chat about my life (even thought that does happen now and then). So I don’t feel guilty or a sense of urgency about “getting to know” everyone who friends me. I understand the reason we’re friends and hope that they do as well.

    Thanks for a great post, Jennifer!
    Julie Anne 🙂

    • Jennifer Fong
      August 23, 2010 | 12:12 pm

      I have the same experience with chat. In fact, I never turn it on anymore. I also find that when business contacts friend me, I have to draw the line at personal coaching help. People get so used to finding value from my posts, that they just send messages asking for help on their specific situations. Which would be fine if it was one or two people. But when you have thousands of contacts, it’s just not feasible. I’m happy to point people to personal coaching resources. But that’s not what I can realistically do through social networks. I guess it comes down to deciding where your boundaries are, and then remaining consistent.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Patty Reiser
    August 23, 2010 | 8:52 am

    I utilize the Friend’s List. This has been a great time saver for me. I have about a dozen lists so far. Some of them include: Family and Friends, Clients, Consultants, etc.
    Usually twice a day I will look at each list and make comments where appropriate etc. If I did not have a system in place, I would waste a lot of time trying to see what everyone is up to.
    I will say that I do have Pages for each of my businesses. I value my friends and don’t want to come across spammy and don’t need the headache of FB shutting me down.

    Celebrate Life and Storybook It!

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