Social Networking Is Getting Personal

How Social Networking Is Getting Personal

Have you logged on to Facebook recently? If you’re like me and you pop in a few times every day, you’ll have noticed that the site has changed in a bit of a strange way. Instead of the usual status bar with a prompt for you to make an update, we’re now getting greeted with a cheery and personal remark that would be more suited to your best mate than a computer screen.

Over the past few days I’ve been asked how I am, how I’m feeling, what I’m up to, and what’s happening. I’m getting more conversation from Facebook than I am from my family.

It’s not just Facebook that’s making things personal.

If I’m downloading some software or a web page now, and something goes wrong, I’m likely to be faced with a cheery comment like “Oops! We’re having a bit of a glitch!” rather than the traditional bland, faceless error messages or the dreaded 404 screen. There’s something about this subtle shift in communication that can be unsettling.

While I know full well that all of this friendliness is simply stemming from a cheeky line of code from a programmer somewhere, it does actually make me respond differently to my computer.

The first sign of madness is when you start talking back…

Anyone who’s worked at home for a while running an online business will be familiar with some of the quirks we pick up along the way. These could include patting your computer when you shut it down for the night, swearing and threatening Microsoft applications when they seize up, crash or destroy the document you’ve sweated over for the past three hours, and pleading gently with your PC when it looks as if it about to go in to meltdown for no reason.

These are all natural ways of responding to an interface that we interact with so much.

Just as people give their cars names, lovingly polishing them, or talk to plants to make them thrive, so we bloggers sometimes develop odd relationships with our tools.

I like to think I’m pretty sane and balanced, but I still find myself responding with a barbed comment when Facebook enquires after my health or greets me with a cheery remark when I log in, in the morning.

The power of our online communities

It makes me wonder what the future of social networking is going to be.

Right now, we can spend a full day in our home offices chatting away to people globally through Skype, e-mailing, messaging and commenting to the extent that if feels as if we have spent a busy day out in a networking meeting catching up with all of our contacts. We don’t need to do more than switch a button to be thrown headlong in to a whole virtual world of socialising.

With the advent of avatars, online automated chat responders and virtual reality gaming, we could one day get to the point where we are spending our entire time chatting away to inanimate objects and lines of code, yet still feel emotionally satisfied with our interactions.

Turning our backs on scripted socialising

Facebook’s new friendliness and familiarity has spurred me on to an act of rebellion this week.

I’m going to get out and network face to face with real people to talk about my business, and generate customers the traditional way as well as online.

That way, when I get asked how I’m feeling, or what I’m up to, I’ll be able to look at a real person and give a genuine answer, and be pretty certain that I’ll get a genuine response.

As online workers, we need to remember the importance of face to face networking with real people, before we get sucked in to the virtual world of pleasantries that social sites are creating for us.

I like to think that no matter how powerful and persuasive online networking can become, it will never be a substitute for shaking someone’s hand and letting them meet you in the flesh.

What’s your view?

Do you like Facebook’s new greetings?

Do you meet your customers face to face?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below?

Andrew is a full-time Internet Marketing Specialist and blogger from the UK. At his blog he shares all his knowledge and experience on how to make a blog .


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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Mottaret February 21, 2013, 6:02 am

    Mailchimp has been using this technique for a long time, and their little greetings are quite humorous. I don’t mind Facebook and others using this approach. It’s up to the individual to keep it in the back of their mind not to relax too much and post information they might otherwise not have done!

    • Andrew February 22, 2013, 3:29 am


      Yes I have seen the Mailchip ones – very humorous.


  • Bob February 20, 2013, 9:11 pm

    I always work with my customers face to face but I always ask them to like me in facebook and leave great feed back. I don’t need thousands of followers, just great reviews!

    • Andrew February 21, 2013, 3:26 am


      I understand you don’t need lots of followers.

      So you only deal with local customers? Or do you do a lot of travelling?
      Could you expand into worldwide customers?


  • Rashmi Sinha February 20, 2013, 1:06 pm

    Social network is changing with such a rapid pace that it is quite difficult to keep the tab on every knick and knack of it. Only after reading this post, i just realized what Facebook has changed in last couple of month. Great piece of information Andrew. Thanks

    • Andrew February 21, 2013, 3:40 am


      Very true – they do change so often. It’s almost full time keeping up with them all. I only use Facebook and Twitter. I have far too many other things to do, to use any others.


  • Sam February 19, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Great post Andrew, I hadn’t noticed the new Facebook greeting until I read your post but I completely get where you are coming from. I have on a handful of occasions found myself interacting (mainly pleading with Photoshop not to freeze) with my computer. I also get the sensation that I have socialised with colleagues after an hour spent on Skype completely alone, just hammering on my keyboard. But as you concluded it will never be the same as shaking a persons hand regardless of how personal social networking may become in the next 2-5 years. I will get out of my office tomorrow and arrange to network with at least one potential client!

    • Andrew February 20, 2013, 3:26 am


      I hope the ‘getting out’ is worthwhile. Tell us how it goes, won’t you?


  • Andrew February 19, 2013, 5:31 am


    I don’t believe FB’s greeting is country specific – they change it every now and then.


  • Pawan February 18, 2013, 4:26 pm

    Social networking has become very personal. We can find every information about the person from social networking sites with ease. Is that Facebook’s new greetings country specific.

  • Andrew February 18, 2013, 2:01 pm

    Thanks, Hesham for publishing. Hopefully we’ll get a good conversation started here!


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