A Comparison of Facebook Friendships and Marketing Value

Sometimes you just want to roll through your entire friend list and tell everyone “it’s complicated.”  Facebook, the Biggest Brother of them all, makes its money trying to unravel those twisted threads into usable marketing data.  I imagine that if they used underemployed humanities majors to sort that out instead of multi-million dollar computer algorithms, it might look like this.

“The Buddy System”

Somewhere on your list is the friend that you get drinks with every weekend, and never see in the daylight.  You probably don’t have anything in common except a favorite bar and a party schedule, but you know they can be trusted.  When you’ve done a tequila shot too many and wind up doubled over in the bathroom, they’ll bring you your phone and make sure you find a way home.  When they pass out halfway through the party, you find them a nice dark place to curl up with some Gatorade and a trashcan.  No one gets left behind.

FB Value: 9/10

Your entire online relationship is based on checking in at clubs, tagging each other in pictures, and professing how much you just love doing whatever is you’re doing with them around.  If that’s not a data gold mine, I don’t know what is.

“Last One Standing”

The party’s wrapping up, and almost everyone’s called it a night already.  Whether you have a preternatural alcohol tolerance, or you’re too buzzed to go anywhere just yet and need another cigarette, you’re stuck with the other Last Ones Standing.  It doesn’t matter why you’re not going home yet – you still have to have a conversation with people doing the same.

FB Value: 3/10

This friendship is full of garbage data.  You’re dazzling them with every crowd-pleasing cat video and celebrity breakup article you can find.  Anything to keep the conversation from slowing down long enough to ask “Why are you still here?”

“The Work Friend it Got Too Real With”

“Hey, good morning!  How are you you?  Yeah, sorry about last night.  I mean… things kinda got out of control, and I… yeah.  No, no, I’m good now, but you know.  So yeah… how about those TPS reports?”

FB Value: 7/10

While you don’t talk to this person often, you only talk about insignificant things like what kind of shampoo you use, which is definitely valuable to the marketing folks.  More importantly, this person now has power over you – whether you made a pass at them, or got sloppy at a work function and they saw, you’re going to spend the rest of your friendship trying to act “normal” enough that they forget your moment of weakness.  Hint: they never will.

“The BFF”

You’ve been friends as long as you can remember.  You picked on the same kids in kindergarten, and things just blossomed from there.  You hang out all the time, but if someone asked you what you did, you’d just say “nothing.”  You exist in the same space without having to draw attention to, well, anything.

FB Value: 5/10

Of course you’ll share plenty of preferences, and gravitate toward the same check-ins and tags, but in the end your friendship isn’t really on Facebook.  You talk too much face-to-face to glean anything valuable from your chat logs.

“The Fandom Friend”

“Omg, you like Star Trek?  Me too!  Who’s your favorite character?  Me too!  I thought the first movie was just ok, but then when I finally saw Wrath of Khan I was like WHOA and now I go to conventions and have a nice Klingon costume and I’m looking into buying a Bat’leth, but you know how expensive it is to get one with real wrapped-hide handles… you should follow me on Tumblr!”

FB Value: 10/10

If you’re putting up with this person, you’re really into whatever they’re into.  Your mutual geekery will serve as the marketing strategy for every other FB user with the same… proclivities.

“The Dealer”

“Hey.” “Sup?” “You around?” “Yeah, come on through.”

FB Value: 0/10

Seriously, they’re like a CIA operative.  No names.  No code words.  Nothing.

“Pretty Much Everyone”

In 2012, Facebook users aged 18-24 averaged 429 friends.  How many of them do you actually talk to?  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having acquaintances, even a lot of them.  The world is a friendlier place when people know each others’ names.

FB Value: 8/10

These are the people who won’t accept you for who you are.  These are the ones staring at you from every sidewalk, silently judging you at face value because they don’t have any other information.  How are you supposed to cope?  Wear what they wear.  Eat what they eat.  Walk how they walk.


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