Social networks – friends conundrum

Why can’t we be friends?

Someone that I follow on Twitter asked a question this morning about joining an online marketing community, and one of the other members automatically added her to their email newsletter list – without asking for her permission.

First, that’s just bad permission marketing. I have no problem if you alert me to your newsletter so that I can check it out, figure out if the content is compelling and relevant to me, and decide whether or not I want to subscribe. But, don’t just subscribe me. You’re just going to piss people off, and at the end of the day, you’ll defeat whatever purpose you had in the first place, because you’ll have a ton of unsubscribes.

But, that situations leads to a question that I think many people will continue to ask as social networks continue to grow, mature, and morph. Is this person truly my friend? Are they a business contact? If I’ve never done business with this person, what is that person’s value in my network?

In addition, if you’re a solopreneur or consultant, and things end badly with a client (and lets face it, if you’re in business long enough, you’re going to have a client pull the plug because they weren’t happy or it just wasn’t the right fit). Now, if that happens, do you immediately defriend the person, or do you continually see their updates and ignore them.

Maybe there should be an awkward ending button on most digital networks. You click it, and the connection will gradually fade away, so there’s not a sudden delisting.