MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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How to be a better friend…online

The blog that I was assigned to follow is titled The Buzz Bin ( This blog is run by Livingston Communications offering thoughts and analysis on marketing, buzz, and PR. Described as edgy, creative and genuine, the blog was created by Geoff Livingston, who worked as a public relations strategist in the Washington, D.C. area for 15 years and has been called a “local blogging guru”.  His award-winning book “Now is Gone” was recognized as a valuable source for social media by the Wall Street Journal.

 In looking at this blog, I see that the archives date back to 2006. I decided to touch base by looking at the more recent entries to find one that caught my interest. To be honest, the first post I saw dated May 14th and titled “Friends: Principles Applied 80 Years Later to Social Networking” is the one I found very thought provoking. In this post, Geoff applies the principles stated in Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and influence People” to social networking using Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Geoff maintains that “ Dale Carnegie’s principles have stood the test of time because they are about fostering better relations amongst people. And the classic mistake with social media is to treat it like a mass communications vehicle, when it’s a conversational form that builds relationships. Social media is about a larger community and its concerns, as opposed to a litany of messages”. This I whole heartedly agree with, despite being guilty of feeling quite overwhelmed at times.

Geoff goes on to reference the different considerations in “How to make Friends and influence people” such as becoming a friendlier person, winning people to your way of thinking, and being a leader. He then directly links these tips to online behaviour, and reaffirms how social networking sites can maintain friendships.

 For example, Dale Carnegie suggests these steps to becoming a friendlier person:

1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
5. Smile.
6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most
important sound in any language.
7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
9. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Geoff then presents these steps on how to be Friendlier on Facebook, such as commenting on status updates, asking questions, remembering birthdays, reposting links, and reccomending friends.

This analysis to me is both entirely relevant in the daily lives of social networking users, and also somewhat frightening. After reading this post I realize that in my daily life I can directly identify with the things Geoff lists. This just goes to show how much reliance is on networking sites these days to maintain relationships with the people in our lives. However, I do need to maintain that my close friendships need to have an offline existence in order to be just that – close friendships. While I will always comment on statuses and notes, send messages, and write on walls, I still hope that 5 years from now I will still be going out for coffee with friends and having phone conversations as opposed to public wall posts. This also relates to online and offline identities and behaviors, discussed in class on Wednesday. Still enough, this post has certainly educated me more in the ways to utilize these networking sites to their fullest potential, and I will surely try to be more of a friend online if I can’t do so offline.

 To read on about this, click here:


-Sarah MacLellan


May 16, 2009 - Posted by | Review of Monitored Site


  1. I agree with you Sarah (isn’t that the sweetest sound you’ve ever heard, your own name!?) in that this analysis is very relevant in our daily lives and also somewhat frightening.

    I’ll use Facebook as an example here. When I write on someone’s wall, I expect them to write back! When I send someone a message, I expect them to message me back. When someone sends me a birthday message, even if I don’t really know them, I truly appreciate the thoughtfullness of it. I always make a point of looking at the Facebook “birthday reminders” whenever I go on and wishing everyone a happy birthday! I know how great it makes me feel.

    I would say that all in all, I feel that I am a pretty good “offline friend” and I would like to think that I reflect that in being an “online friend” as well. Thanks for the insight Sarah!


    Comment by Hilary | May 16, 2009 | Reply

  2. Glad you liked the blog. Keep rocking and rolling.

    Comment by Geoff Livingston | May 17, 2009 | Reply

  3. I agree with you Sarah. That analysis is completely relevant and somewhat frightening. I think we often use Facebook and other online mediums to avoid the commitment of face-to-face friendship. If a ‘friend’ tells the Facebook world they are having a horrible day, we will read the status update, possibly comment on it, but how often do we call that friend or go see them to make sure they’re doing okay? And from the other perspective, people will post all kinds of thoughts, feelings and opinions online, but would they be so forthcoming with that same information if they were asked face-to-face?
    I guess when it comes down to it, social networking sites like Facebook are just the tools and it’s up to us whether we use them to positively or negatively impact our offline friendships.

    Comment by sarahjanemac | May 18, 2009 | Reply

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