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Follower, Friend, or Family?

by Randall Craig on June 30, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social Media

Tagged as: ,

There is an important hierarchy in the real world when we think of our relationships with others. At one end of the spectrum are those nameless individuals we see on the street, while at the other end are those closest to us – usually our immediate family. And in between, there are many more:

  • (People on the street)
  • Citizens
  • Folks
  • Acquaintances
  • Associates
  • Ally
  • Contacts
  • Followers
  • Fans
  • Disciples
  • Connections
  • Colleagues
  • Friends
  • Girlfriend/Boyfriend
  • Fiance(e)
  • (Immediate Family)

In the real world, we understand implicitly where each person we know sits in this hierarchy. When we interact with a person in one group, there is nuance: we treat colleagues different than acquaintances, who we treat differently than our immediate family.

In the Social Media world, however, this isn’t the case at all: we treat all Friends, Connections, Followers, etc, the same. For the most part, there is no way to specify the strength of each of our relationships. This has to be done manually – and thoughtfully.

This week’s action plan: Whenever you update your status or send a tweet, carefully consider how different groups would interpret it. Depending on the strength of their relationship to you, they may, or may not, be interested in what you have to say.

Bonus idea: Set your status differently on different Social Media sites, as some are designed for personal social interaction, while others are more professionally focused.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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