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What’s Your Friending Policy?

Do you have a clearly defined personal policy for requesting and accepting friends on Facebook? I sure hope so.

Over-friending can get your profile shut down in a heartbeat by the FB police (this happened to two of my buddies recently).

The bad news is you’ll lose ALL your accepted friends, posts, emails, installed apps – the works. You gotta start from ground zero again. (To my knowledge, there is not yet a reliable way to back up all your FB data).

The good news? Well, you can pretty much restart right away. And, if you somehow manage to get Facebook to respond favorably, they might even reinstate your original account. Who knows.

Tripping someone’s hot button can get you plastered all over their blog in a very negative way. Sorry to say, this happened to a good buddy of mine this week.

There really is a certain etiquette on Facebook. I believe I heard it called “fetiquette” once.

Here’s the thing: you only have one reputation. I like to live by the credo, “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.” Also, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Everything counts.

I approach potential new contacts with a WIIFT attitude. (They’re really contacts to me, not friends – unless we do personally know one another). You’ve probably heard of WIIFM – what’s in it for me. WIIFT is what’s in it for them.

I cannot reiterate this enough: whenever requesting a new friend, always, always use the “[add a personal message]” link.

Add Facebook Friend - Armand Morin

When you click on the link, a text box opens up where you can insert a private message to this person. Best you can, write the note to include:

  1. How you found, met, or know this person.
  2. Why you want to friend them.
  3. What’s in it for them.

You might include a compliment as well, though keep it brief as you have a limited amount of characters.


Here’s my own friending policy:


Do I personally know them? Are they someone I want to get to know better? Is this a person whose work I know, like and admire? Do we have similar interests? Is there some way we could collaborate? Do I have something that could help or benefit them? Are they offering a product or service I’d like to help promote?


Is their profile photo warm and friendly? Do I recognize their name? Can I view their Friends?* Do we have mutual friends? Have they included an acceptable personal message? Do I like their “vibe”?

*This is not always a prerequisite, as some Facebook members set their privacy settings to hide their Friends from non-friends which is fine.

By the way, something to keep in mind whenever you’re unsure about accepting someone you don’t know: there’s always unfriend, see less of, and block altogether.

Also, be respectful of the fact some FB members only accept friends who they personally know and have met.

What’s your Facebook friending policy?

UPDATE: Just wanted to let you know, Armand accepted my friend request. I’ll be watching him and Alex Mandossian, among others (like Joel Comm), on their Facebook strategies over the coming months into 2008!


Mari Smith

Premier Facebook Marketing Expert | Social Media Thought Leader | Keynote Speaker | Ambassador Wave.video, Agorapulse, HubSpot, BuzzSumo | Columnist Bank of America

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  1. NESA on October 20, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Mari,
    Thanks for the advice. I was beginning to wonder how I should control this aspect and how to set parameters. Thanks!

  2. Maryann on September 9, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you, Mari! You are making a confusing topic (at least to me!) very comprehensible. Thank you again!

  3. Thomas Mangum on September 8, 2008 at 4:21 am

    Absolutely! 100% agree. You’re always SOOOOOO right now!

  4. Janet Barclay on July 31, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I am curious, how do you handle requests from strangers who don’t bother to include a personal note? I used to ignore them but recently have started sending a message asking them how we might help one another – most don’t even bother to reply.

    Janet Barclay’s last blog post.. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

  5. mari on February 3, 2008 at 8:17 am

    @Mike – Facebook has very strict TOS (Terms of Use)… http://www.facebook.com/terms.php

    However, I think mostly members’ profiles are temporarily taken down by bots. I had a friend the other day whose profile was down for about 24 hours. He was sending bona fide messages in batches of 20 to his 1500 Group members. FB’s auto email said he couldn’t send the same message multiple times. Hmph!! 😐

  6. Mike on February 3, 2008 at 7:48 am

    why do they ban ppl just from using their site?!

  7. Michael Roach on December 13, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    Great post, Mari. I could have used this advice a few days ago! 😉

  8. Peter Koning on December 13, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks for this post Mari.

    I’m new to facebook but I can see how we all have different interpretations of what it means to be a friend.

    I think I’m more on the foregiving side and open to meeting people I don’t even know.

    I kind of go by the rule “strangers are friends you haven’t met yet”.

    But if I see someone I accepted is sending nothing but app invites every day, then I start to close the door.

  9. Scott Bradley on December 13, 2007 at 4:59 pm


    I agree completely.
    I always send a message when requesting someone to be my friend…
    Even though it takes longer, it is so worth it in the end because you know that the quality of the exposure is far superior to the others that are just adding the friend randomly.

    The message gives the person you a contacting a reason to accept the request and reply to you in a favorable way through a message to start dialog!

    Gosh I love facebook!

  10. Chris Shouse on December 13, 2007 at 7:52 am

    Good advice Mari

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