When internet friends become real life friends

 

This week I am travelling around Australia delivering Digital Marketing Strategy workshops for Connecting Up.

It’s also  a great chance to catch up IRL (in real life) with friends in each city that I now rely on social media to keep me in contact with, and up to date with the going ons in their lives.

I’m really excited about catching up with my good friend Suz in Sydney tonight. We both work in the same field (as well as having other common general interests) and chat online almost every day about work, life and nonsense.

It will also be the first time I meet Suz.

In this era of Facebook “friends” (purposely in inverted commas), where we reluctantly accept friend requests from old school friends, family members, clients, colleagues, friend’s partners etc, and then ignore their updates or have no more to do with them, it might seem odd that I consider someone I’ve never met to be one of my best friends.

To some it may seem downright weird and stupid.

But it’s no different to the pen friends of yore that were set up for us through our schools with the intention off broadening our horizons.

In fact, its a perfect example of making friends based on common interests rather than simply proximity.

It’s also what we try to do as businesses; develop relationships and make people who might not have met us, “like” us and be our “friends”. And we do that by sharing content and information in a manner that reaches and engages our target audience, which is exactly how Suz and I first “met” (online).

Through common interests and work areas, and possibly mutual followers/followings, we first got chatting on Twitter.

This grew from sporadic retweets and replies, to more regular mentions, and then following on Instagram, which gave us a greater insight (literally and visually) into each other’s lives.

Then we connected on LinkedIn.

Then we became friends on Facebook.

So basically your typical friend-makes-friend online scenario (well, one day it may be considered more normal).

And it’s just what we as businesses, brands and organisations aim for from our online communities.

Moving from brand awareness, to engagement, to brand loyalty.

Following, connecting and liking us in different places, until the brands content becomes part of our every day that we look forward to, like, comment, share, talk about with our friends, and if appropriate, buy from or recommend onto others.

Technology allows us easy access to people outside of our general vicinity.

Through online communities, groups, hashtags and searches we can find other people kinda like us, regardless of where they are.

We can still become friends with our colleagues and other people in our real every day lives, but our online friends further enrich, enlighten and maybe also challenge it.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I’m sure I’ll still feel the same after “meeting” my good friend Suz too.

 

This post was written a couple of weeks ago just pre-meeting as depicted, but only published now. I have since met Suz in real life, I’m pleased to share that we are both who we seemed to be online. A good example for us as social media professionals of having consistency between your online and offline personal “brands”.

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