Michelle Sullivan Communications

Facebook limitations

Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this publicly, as it might discourage potential suitors, but I have come to the conclusion that I always expect more from those I love most. Apparently, this does not limit itself to the human creature.

Now I’ve already gushed my admiration for Google in the ‘pages’ of this blog. Today it’s Facebook’s turn, although the gushing will be more subdued.

Why subdued?

Well because despite the fact that I love it for all its wonderful qualities, Facebook is letting me down somewhat.

In a nutshell : it’s not doing everything I want it to do. My expectations are high and it’s not meeting all of them.

Long version : With the blessing of two of my clients, I’ve begun experimenting with Facebook applications, namely the Group function.

First off, I realized that in the case of least one of my clients, given my responsibilities as Director of Corporate Outreach, I would need to set up a 2nd profile. Luckily that client provided me with a separate email address that lets me pass the system’s filters. It would be great if Facebook provided levels of access to information so that I could keep my personal and professional lives a little more separate. This is the only way I’ve found to do that with any degree of certitude.

Secondly, I realized that Groups have their limitations. It’s great to be able to send messages to all and take advantage of Facebook’s inherent viral capabilities. In the case of one of my clients, who has his own Facebook profile and a great network, it’s perfect. We set up the group. All his friends and professional contacts from Facebook joined. And their friends joined. And so on and so on. The only thing holding this Group back is the work I still have to do to train my client to actually FEED the page with new material to keep interest lively. But that’s another story.

For my other client, who is a globetrotting lawyer in Ottawa who knew nothing about Facebook until I introduced him to it a couple of months ago, it’s another story altogether. With no built in network to work from, and with a mandate to bulid notoriety, I embarked on a journey of seeking out like-minded people and groups. Facebook’s group search function made that easy. Facebook protocol and spam filters made my life more difficult, however.

Which brings me to the crux of my issue with Facebook. It’s not great for networking with people you don’t know. Approaching non-friends is a delicate matter, apparently. Approaching Group creators has been quite fruitful, and those who have replied to my Facebook-mail request to add a post to their Group wall and/or discussion forum about my client’s Outreach have responded favourably. Slowly, the network is building.

Slowly being the key word.

My outreach efforts have been hampered somewhat by Facebook’s spam filters. Not wishing to be accused of spamming groups, I decided to approach their creators first. About a dozen or so. Have them pave the road a little, if you will. Problem is that, although I did personalize each communication, there are only so many ways to explain who I am, who my client is and what I want. Facebook sent me a warning, advising me that I risked being banned from the site for spamming. Eek.

Here’s Facebook’s reply to my request for guidance :

Please feel free to proceed in using our message and wall post features. Please be sure to avoid writing the same message or text in multiple messages and wall posts because it might get flagged as spam. If you would like to get the same message to multiple people, you can alwaysmessage up to twenty friends at once by starting a message thread fromyour Inbox.

Problem is, group creators won’t become my friend until I introduce myself properly and a relationship is built. Some have, in fact, accepted friend invitations after an exchange of emails. But that exchange had to happen first.

And Facebook won’t let me send the same message to a group of people who aren’t already my friends. And besides, I want to personalize my messages. Not spam…

I’m starting to feel like a chicken. Or is that an egg?

My PR strategy has hit a snag that will require even more creativity and effort on my part as I try to weasel my way past spam filters branding my I swear I am not a spammer flag.

I wonder if that means that I’m trying to turn Facebook into something he’s… erm .. it’s not. Where’s my Web 2.0 is from Jupiter, Women are from Venus book?

If you’re a Facebook subscriber who would like to check out my Facebook endeavours, you can find my 2 groups, here (Rats de Ville) and here (Canada’s Telecommunications Hall of Fame). Help a girl out. Tell your friends!

And please. Feel free to ‘friend’ me. I’m thinking of creating a group to donate $1 for every person who befriends me to some worthy cause. Like The Siamese Cat Friendship Society or maybe PRPPA : PR professionals’ procrastinators anonymous.

Note to potential suitors : I’m not as crazy as I sound. Really. No, really.

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