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August 25, 2008

“IM NOT GUNNA B FRIEND WIT U ON FACEBOOK!!!!  haha nooo wayyyyyy”

That was the response to the Facebook friend invitation I sent to my soon-to-be 15 year old daughter. 

Shame on me… I failed to ask one of the most important questions when planning to engage someone via social media:  what will your membership get out of this relationship?  The ironic thing is that when I was at Mzinga – at least 3 – 4 times a week – I counsel our prospects and clients to ask just that question!  They usually know what they want their company to get out of a new social media initiative or community, but they do not understand or have not asked what the target membership will gain from participating.   The obvious question of “What are you offering that will attract and engage the members in such a way that they become active members of the community?” is (and in my case, was) simply not asked.

You see, my daughter’s use of Facebook  is strictly as a mechanism to network with her school friends and acquaintances.  The reaction to my invitation was very similar to the reaction I got when my daughter realized that I knew the words to many of the songs she currently had on her iPod – it was totally “uncool” that I knew some of the same songs.  Just as “uncool” would be if she friended me on Facebook .   By not asking the question, I assumed an end result that was not the reality of my target member.

Good thing my daughter and I have many other channels of communication… our relationship will not be damaged by my social media faux pas.  However, if social media is one of the primary means you’re planning to use to engage your customers, employees, or partners (the membership), be sure to ask the question I didn’t.  Otherwise, you may risk damaging your relationship.

[This post orginially appeared at  It has been reposted with slight modification by permission.]

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