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Hey, social networks! Customers expect you to be a good friend

Isn’t it funny that many social networks call the folks you choose to associate with “friends”? How ironic then that Facebook’s recent Beacon clusterf… er, kerfuffle was one of the least consumer-friendly actions any of us have seen in a long time.

Do social networks have to play by a different set of rules? Must they protect their customers more than any other site? Should you behave different when engaging your customers on a social network?


You should always treat your customers like they’re friends. Very fickle friends.

Look at Webkinz. Silicon Alley took Webkinz to task for peppering kids with ads, and acting “unfriendly.” In practice, it appears a tempest in a teapot. Anne Zelenka, over on GigaOM says it’s no biggie. Speaking as a father of two Webkinz-addicted kids, I agree. Frankly, the ads for sugary crap on TV bug my much more than banners for movies and I’m relieved that Webkinz keeps the links within its friendly confines. Webkinz is acting far more friendly than most companies, while finding ways to grow their revenues. Even better would have been if they’d provided more of a heads-up, but, their actions reflect thoughts about what their customers would care about.

Whether you’re a social network or a more traditional business, increasingly success depends on collecting the best group of customers. Treat them like friends. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. After all, sticking it to your friends costs you friends.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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  1. […] If you’re serious about social, take a look at Forrester’s POST methodology, which emphasizes people first, too (that’s what the “P” in POST stands for). Seems to me that the folks who think social is something different than people are the ones who insist social isn’t ready for business. They’re wrong. Period. Customers want companies who want to listen to them, who genuinely pay attention, who genuinely have something to say, who are friendly. […]

  2. […] It’s no secret that I believe in social media for growing your business. Most businesses have more to gain than they have to lose. But, you’ve got to remember that once you’re “out there” in the social space, your customers, followers, subscribers and “friends” expect you to be a good friend. […]

  3. Well that didn’t take long: Google Buzz leads to class-action lawsuit…

    Looking to get sued anytime soon? Well, then, just follow Google Buzz’s lead…….

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