The notion of marketing to “friends” on social networking websites  has great superficial attraction, after all it is a free audience, with presumably something in common. 

This has led to an explosion of banner ads and offers of various types on these social sites, but is it a good use of resources? The research indicates the cost often outweighs the result, as click through rates are very high, pretty obvious when you think about it, people go to social sites to connect, not to be the target of an unsolicited ad where they have the choice to ignore it.

On the net the word “friend” can mean someone who is simply too sensitive to push the “ignore” button, but who has no connection to you at all, so they are not friends in the sense that they have any sense of mutual affection or obligation.

The net has enabled hordes of random people to become “friends” but it really means nothing until there has been a meaningful exchange of some sort. It is possible to have millions of friends, but who needs them!

However, social networking opens the opportunity to connect to people who in pre-net days you would have had no chance of meeting who share something that makes the opportunity to “meet”  potentially valuable to you both, but to create the value, there has to be an exchange. 

I guess we need another word, one that means “friends on the net who we have not necessarily met in person, but with whom we have a connection we both value”.