A friend of mine sent me the following story of a Canadian union organizer banned from Facebook for making too many friends:
CUPE organizer/Labour Start correspondent Derek Blackadder’s foray into labor-related social networking was rudely interrupted by a warning from Facebook saying that he was making too many friends.
He then asked me, “Does this thwart the potential for organizing through Facebook?”
No, I said. And here’s why:
Obviously, if you want to get a message out to organize a protest, a prayer service or anything else , you’ll get that message out most QUICKLY by having a lot of friends, say, more than the 5,000 limit. Note I said most QUICKLY. (This is the equivalent of broadcasting a message through a traditional one-to-many medium).
But not necessarily most EFFECTIVELY, nor most SUCCESSFULLY, if the barometer for success is how many people take the desired action you’re hoping for.
Here’s the key
Successfully organizing on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean one person broadcasting a message to 5,000 people. If anything, that message is going to be watered down for broad appeal, less relevant to each specific person, and prompt the least (percentage wise) action.
The KEY is getting 50 people to each tell 50 people to teach tell 50 people, etc., etc., etc. (Or, really, 5 people to tell 5 people, etc., etc., etc.) Each message then becomes a relevant, targeted message, and a message that the recipient of which is most likely to pass on.
And that’s what gives social networking sites, such as Facebook, such a great potential for organization.
So you sort of have two issues: 1) crafting the right message and 2) getting that message to the right people.
Obviously what I’m describing here is simply viral marketing in theory (the practitioners of which will tell you in reality is anything but simple).