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One quarter of all people who friend me on Facebook don’t respond to personal messages

by David Spark on January 24, 2010

I’ve just started receiving a flurry of Facebook friend requests from people I don’t even know. And like my mother, Facebook is recommending people for me to be friends with. I suspect the increase in friend invites has everything to do with Facebook’s new design feature which offers friend recommendations on the front page. It’s right there next to my news feed of my actual friends. It’s so intrusive. Just like my mother.

Want to be someone’s friend? Introduce yourself

It’s odd that I have to write a subtitle like that. But sadly given the mechanisms and behaviors around social media, it comes off as perfectly normal to ask someone we don’t know to be our friend through a social network without introducing ourselves. And to a degree I’ve seen this behavior bleed into the real world, but only by a few select people. Ever have someone come up to you and say, “Can I have your card?” and then nothing else? Or someone walk around at a business function and just shove their business card in your face without even speaking to you? Yes, I’ve seen both happen, but gladly only a few times.

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If you’re going to friend a complete stranger, introduce yourself and why you’d like to connect. Again, why the hell do I have to write this? Because I just received about a dozen friend invites in the past week from people I don’t know and only two of them actually spent the time to write one sentence introducing themselves. Why, why, why wouldn’t you introduce yourself to someone you don’t even know? What is a person who doesn’t introduce them self thinking? Do they believe because I have 1,500+ friends on Facebook that I’m just collecting these friends like bottle caps? If they do believe that, is that how they want me to think of them? As much as I value a bottle cap?

But I don’t jump down people’s throat who don’t introduce themselves. Instead, I send a standard reply to everyone, but personalize it by putting their actual name in the message. Here’s my standard reply:

TITLE: Friend Request

Hey ______:

I saw your friend request. Thanks. Excuse me for my ignorance, but have we met before?

David

About 3/4th of the people do reply. Usually it’s a situation of us not having met before but we have similar interests or they saw that we have a lot friends in common. If they just reply, then I’m more than happy to be their friend on Facebook, but if they don’t reply I refuse to friend them. And that’s what astounds me. The people who want to be my friend on Facebook yet refuse to engage in dialogue.

One quarter of all people who friend me on Facebook don’t respond to personal messages

It’s amazing the number of people who DON’T respond to that message right after they send a friend request. Of the people I don’t know who send me friend requests, I estimate it’s about 25 percent. That’s mind blowing. I can’t even begin to think what’s going through their head. What’s the logic? Have any of you readers ever done this? Can you explain it to me? I’ll have to interview the next person who does this to me to determine why the lack of response.

Lack of response after a friend request can actually be damaging

If you choose to ignore a direct message after a friend request, don’t expect anything from that person again. That’s exactly what happened to me. Some guy sent a friend request, I responded with a personal response, and then he ignored me. Two months later his PR firm sent me a request asking if I would write a blog post about his company. The nerve and gall was amazing. I’m sure he never realized that his ignoring me would slap him in the face later on. This is a really fascinating two part story that begins with the PR firm treating me like a tool, and then the client being clueless. Give it a read.

How best to be recognized and remembered by a new Facebook friend

This advice is definitely not for the people who don’t want to spend the fifteen seconds to write a simple note to introduce themselves. To be recognized and remembered by a new Facebook friend, you need to be the first person to extend effort and show it. Here are some techniques that others have used on me, and I definitely remember them as a result.

  • Find what other content that person has published online. Ideally, they’ll have a blog. If not, it might be a Flickr, Twitter, or YouTube account. Best way to figure this out is to search for them on FriendFeed. That’s where they’ll have all their social media publishing services listed.
  • Read at minimum two blog posts over two weeks. Leave comments on those blog posts.You want that person to know that you’re following them in earnest.
  • After the two weeks, send a friend request introducing yourself.

It definitely takes a little extra work, but I guarantee you’ll be recognized and remembered. And isn’t that what you want, rather being tossed off as yet another bottle cap?

Creative Commons photo attribution to fbouly and Tracy Hunter / CC BY-ND 2.0

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

purposeinc January 24, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Hilarious David. I do the same thing and people do not respond. In fact my wording is so close to what you write, that I thought you might be writing about my messaging back to new friends. LOL dk = David Klein

I do this to new twitter followers too, and they usually do not write back. Very odd. :)

Emily Landsman January 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

i frequently reject friend requests if i can't figure out how we actually know each other. i've asked a few times and i don't think i've gotten replies.

i have something like 300 facebook friends and know all of them. but…i swear i haven't met 300 people.

David Spark January 24, 2010 at 11:56 pm

I believe people think Facebook Friends are like baseball cards. How many can I collect? But being that there's a real human on the other side, ignoring can result in a very awkward and uncomfortable moment should the two of you actually meet. And if Facebook is recommending this person, then chances are you have many friends in common. And if that's true, chances are highly likely you will cross paths.

Doubledown Tandino January 25, 2010 at 11:30 am

I think you're a bit off-base when it comes to this particular point of your logic on how facebook “should” be used. Facebook isn't real life, facebook friend request isn't someone shoving their business card into your face and then walking away. Facebook isn't the way you want it, and all others shouldn't somehow intuitively know how to follow your methodology.

Example: some people want to friend up with you to follow your wall feed, so they can see when you post to your blog… for example, me. I have a mobile phone that has web2go, so I can't access your blog easily, but I can access your facebook posts very easily, which then links me to your blog.

Example: some people simply want to follow. You are the social media voice. They just want to listen (or stalk). Do you see any problem with that?

Example: Their facebook experience is not to “connect” or “network” or be “socially interactive”. Their facebook is to collect valuable people so their live feed and news feed is filled with the info they would like to see and read.

… When you're on twitter, do you expect every single person to reply to you? No. All of your followers, including myself, just want sometimes to hear what you say and see when you post. For example: I have your blog's feed set to autopost onto my twitter feed. The reason: Because just about every post on this blog is relevant and worthy. …. but I don't need to actually communicate with you to do it…. sure, I know we'd like each other, I know we'd be friends, I know we see eye to eye about a lot of things… and perhaps this comment on your blog may induce us talking to each other more….
but, I don't expect us to become actual friends because of it. I don't expect a reply from you MY way…. I expect you to maybe read it, and maybe reply, in your way….

And that's what facebook is…. people use it for their own reasons and purposes. Your facebook “friends” are not your actual “friends” … they are just people that have found interest in you…. and perhaps you should use the facebook feature to categorize your friend's list into “people that actually correspond” and “followers”

There's nothing wrong with people on facebook (or any other social network) simply following along, and not wanting to speak… let em follow… they're interested in you, they don't want you to be interested in them…

David Spark January 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Excellent response. And honestly, I didn't see it that way.

But I guess that's the general problem with social media overall. And I've written about this a lot, that people have different views of how you should or shouldn't use social media. For example, LinkedIn is branded for “business” and Facebook is branded for “friends.” But the line between the two is heavily blurred as we all know.

But I argue that when you have something that's a symmetrical relationship that you do need to make an introduction. Twitter is asymmetrical as you can have more followers than people you follow. And Facebook Fan pages are similar in that way as well.

But obviously as you have pointed out, not everybody sees Facebook as a relationship engine, but rather a news gathering engine from people you like to follow.

Again, thanks for following me on Twitter and feel free to friend me on Facebook.

Doubledown Tandino January 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Personally (and in a righteous idealistic social media world) everyone would know how to use Facebook, and other social media sites to their fullest (and proper) potential. The example you laid out is a perfect example. I think a personal facebook page should be more about “friends”, close connections, people that interact and correspond… whereas a public profile/fan page on facebook should be more geared towards the PR and promotion of getting your word out to the public…. but… how ya gonna get all your people onto your public profile page, without friending em on your personal page first?

Connie Bennett February 22, 2010 at 4:32 pm

David, that's a very interesting post. You're right! — It is is weird how some people ask to be your friend but then don't write back! By the way, I don't have the time to write to everyone I don't know. FYI, for the sake of speed, I always accept Friend requests if we have a lot of friends in common. But when we have none or only 1 friend in common, then I'll write a personal note, as you suggested. Thanks, David, for being my new Facebook friend, too! I'm glad to replied to you! LOL!

kusiki May 14, 2010 at 4:19 am

Hi David,

Shortly after I joined facebook I requested friendship from three old school friends and each time I sent a personal message that said something like “Hi remember me, hope you're doing well etc”. They all accepted my request but I never heard from them in response to my message. I gave them about three weeks to contact me and then I took them off my friends list. I now have strict rules of engagement on facebook and if someone doesn't show me the courtesy of responding to my messages just as a quick catch up, then I want nothing to do with them.

I have noticed now with new fb the dropdown menu makes it easy to confirm or ignore requests, but you cannot see the personal message unless you click on friend requests in sidebar. I can't remember what the setup was when I requested these three friends, but maybe they never saw my message???

David Spark May 14, 2010 at 5:27 am

Good point. It's very possible that people never see your attached note. Would be nice if they put a little envelope icon next to the drop down so you know there's a message attached.

Iva June 1, 2010 at 1:05 am

Curious…does this mean you'd accept everyone you can remember? I have cc. 400 Facebook friends and I reject requests from people who visit my website and then search my name or email address on daily basis. Otherwise, I would've had 1500 friends by now.

In case this doesn't make sense, I am talking about a website I run on another person. If people would really want to connect with me because of my design work and writings, if it was really about who I am, I would probably create a bunch of filters and accept every person's request, yet group people I don't know well under a filter that disables them from seeing a significant portion of my page's contents.

The owner of this website probably cringes at comments like mine, so I apologise if I offended him or appeared more amateurish than I really am. I thought it'd be interesting to add a somewhat different view, with a different experience in its background, to all of this.

David Spark June 1, 2010 at 1:41 am

I don't cringe at all Iva. I happily accept dissenting and conflicting opinions. I appreciate you taking the time to offer your viewpoint.

What I've discovered with social media is that everyone has their own opinion as to how people should and shouldn't behave on social networks. But often these opinions aren't expressed until there's a conflict.

kapil June 1, 2010 at 8:49 am

Yes, I agree on your statement / comment /or expression of frustration.In my experiences people want to be more personal instead of socially responsible.The confusion starts if there is gap between the mental level who are involved in the correspondence.

Booty the Unicorn August 16, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I also think that it becomes problematic when you run a social media company, or you have some general awareness of who you are. Because then people assume that you know them when you meet them in person – or worse, you don't answer their FB request because they didn't include a message, and then they accost you in public: “why didn't you accept my friend request?!?” Um, because I don't know you?

David Spark August 16, 2010 at 6:44 pm

No one has ever said to me “Why didn't you accept my friend request?” in an accusatory manner. Usually it would be a situation of me not knowing them and they reintroduce them at an event. They may say, “Oh, I sent you a friend request.” And I'll say, “Send it to me again and I'll accept it.” :)

dk August 16, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I like what booty said, which is exactly what i would say. “Ummm, because I don't know you?” LOL

Glad this post has some legs and keeps rolling.

Booty the Unicorn August 16, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Consider yourself lucky! Haha! It has definitely happend to us!

find missing people October 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm

People are naturally attracted to things are similar. Not you, but to share what you're everything. Make sure you're always on the site page FB and always correct. Nobody likes broken link!

Faye October 27, 2010 at 11:11 am

What would you advise if the person does not have a blog or any other media, i.e. YouTube, Flickr, Twitter? How then can you demonstrate an acceptable pre-friend-request interest so that you can be recognised before making the request? For example, there is someone who I would like to connect with – we met some months ago but had not spoken since because we had not met again or had any form of online media to talk through – and I have just found them on Facebook where it seems they have created an account a few weeks ago. I have a handful of Mutual Friends with them, and Facebook homepage has been suggesting that I add them… but I am not sure if they will remember me and as has been pointed out below my accompanying message with my friend request might not been seen. This person doesn't appear to have any other media online for me to comment on here and there – to make myself known to them – before making a friend request. Do you have any advice? The person does have a limited public profile on Facebook and the only thing available to comment on is a couple of photos that they have uploaded – they have a wall but it is not available for me to comment on (until presumably I am Friends with them) and in any case there is not much activity on the wall – only a few comments from existing Friends but no replies from this person. Will commenting on the photos achieve the pre-friend-request recognition that you recommend before sending a request? I also note that this person has only 75 friends, most of whom I feel pretty sure know them better than I do – leading me to wonder whether I should even put in a friend request in case they are only adding people they know really well. I'm unsure of what to do. My intentions are definitely wanting to connect and talk with this person and be a real friend – not to just never speak to them again after they accept my request – but I'm not sure how to go about it given the issues I described above in regards to their existing friends and how to make a successful approach? Can anyone advise me about how to proceed and give myself the best chance of success?

Faye October 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Actually I made a blunder, it seems I can't even comment on the photos until I am an accepted Friend! How do I do a pre-request recognition now?

David Spark October 29, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Faye, the answer is to simply introduce yourself. Does the friend on Facebook allow you to leave a message? That's all you need to do. Usually that's enough. If for some reason that's not turned on, can you see each other's mutual friends? If so, contact a mutual friend and ask for an introduction or the person's email.

Debora Nice Herlein May 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm

What I personally don't like, or appreciate, is the fact that I am only trying to ask Christians, and Christian Bands like “Pat Boone” & ” people who I can tell that I trust that when they say they are a christian I can tell by the things they say and the music video's and songs & music they like,..and I just love the christian bands.
I ask all these Christian Duoe's and Christian Qaurtets and all the sudden as I am inviting all these Christians the “FACEBOOK OWNER HE CUTS ME OFF” My question to him is this “do you know Jesus as your personal savior ? & are you saved ” ??? if you are saved and if you have accepted Jesus as your personal savioure then “stop blocking me from asking christian bands and christians to be on my “FACEBOOK PAGE”
OK ? Please ?

“Jesus Loves You”
God Bless You
Sincerly,Mrs.Debora Herlein
Prince Williams 13th Cousin

Ritu_hundnani May 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

one boy wearing earing on left ear from ulhasnagar he is sindhi and believe in waheguru …can u pls help me

Tea Silvestre July 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Yes! I just found this post after googling “how do I put a standard message on friend requests that direct people to my fan page” after experiencing for the millionth time this week, skads of people I don't know wanting to friend me on facebook. (And without offering any message as to why). I've seen a few people do this in the past and thought it was cool, but didn't think to ask how they did it. And now I want to do it too. Anyone know? Anyone??

David Spark July 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Tea, I don't know what exactly you're asking. Do you want to know how to friend people you don't know on Facebook or how you should best respond to people who friend you anonymously?

Tea Silvestre July 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Sorry to be unclear. I'm frustrated by the number of people who send me friend requests when I don't know them. I've seen other people put a standard message on their profile that says something like “I only accept friend requests from people I actually know. If you'd like to get to know me, I invite you to like my business page (URL).” Something like that. Right now, I send this out by hand when someone I don't know requests to friend. But it's time consuming and I thought there might be an easier way. ;-)

David Spark July 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Well, you could do the technique I spell out in this article, or you could just ignore them. That seems to be what you'd like to do.

Jenn September 11, 2011 at 8:06 am

Hi David! I agree with your posts regarding facebook. I get so annoyed by people who don't take the time to reply to a message. For example, a female (a “friend”) posted on her status that she was looking for a dress to borrow for an event. I quickly replied that I had one she could borrow that fit the description of what she was looking for. She never responded. I even sent her a private message later that day describing the dress in detail, and still no response. Yes, it sounds petty, but social networking or not…. it is absolutely rude. period. Do you think it's rude to delete these “friends” when they are non-responsive? When I say “friends”, I mean people I know casually, but don't have any daily interaction with in the real world. Also, these people fall in the same category of people who never respond when you make a comment on their status updates, or recent photos.

I was going to send you a friend request on facebook, but there was no place to leave a message! lol. :) Thanks,
Jenn

David Spark September 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Ah Jenn, well now you wake me up and it may qualify some things I said in this article. Go ahead and friend me on Facebook. Happy to accept and friend you.

Dan Marcus October 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm

@3ab8377dd8f867b9b910811e0acf5ea9:disqus – Timely topic. Similar is bleeding into linkedin. I promomote a variety of FB properties. Some of those are simply fan collection and communication. But Linkedin? No response to the “excuse me, how do we know each other” email is crossing the line.

David Spark October 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Yeah, I have a long list of LinkedIn requests from people I don't know at all. And LinkedIn is a “recommendation” service?

Tenorlove December 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm

FB no longer allows one to send messages with friend requests, which doesn't help matters. 

I am currently blocked from friending because someone with whom I was friends with in high school said he didn't know me — I found out through a mutual friend that he didn't look at my profile, and he didn't recognize my married name. After my friend clued him in, he sent me a friend request and an apology for the misunderstanding, and all is well. 

That still doesn't get me off FB's naughty list. They say I've got old unanswered friend requests. Big whoopee. With my high school prom date, it took him 8 months to accept, because he goes on FB maybe once or twice a year. They won't tell me WHO these unanswered friend requests were sent to, but they want me to click a button to cancel ALL friend requests. I seriously doubt I have that many. 
 
The only thing I can think of to do to “get back” at FB is NOT EVER tell them I don't know someone who sends me a friend request, even if it's some teenage boy from Nigeria looking for a ticket out of poverty.

David Spark December 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm

You are correct, but now you can actually send a message to a person even if they're not a friend. It's not within the general friending process, it's just sending a message like you normally would. That's the default. Of course people can change their privacy settings.

Janice Aguabella January 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Ditto its like giving your mind a chance to connect with someone that can meet you at your minds eye.

Ashish Kaushik February 20, 2012 at 2:43 am

An amazing and admirable article…i do add many unknown people as my friends if they too have some similar way of life but that they did not even bother to reply my message makes me think…why did they even add me…what exactly do these ppl have in their minds while adding me and  these ppl don’t even have time to reply me and they think i am their slave or some fan who would want to have them no matter how they behave..i would not even add the person i am a big fan of…if they  don’t even have the courtesy to reply. i have always felt that adding people whom u have not been able to physically meet is always a bad idea!! and when ever i add unknown ppl on Facebook i first send my own introduction in about 300 words and tell them to introduce themselves and if it hits their ego..i just kick them off my profile..so u are just like me and thanks for such an excellent article!!

David Spark February 20, 2012 at 9:02 am

As I wrote this article two years ago, my policy has changed. I stopped responding to people I don’t know because I’m tired of being ignored by people who friend me. Also, Facebook now allows for subscribers (not friending) of people. Turns out this phenomenon is true on LinkedIn, but even more severe. A friend of mine said he has sent 20 personal responses to people who have friended him on LinkedIn only to be ignored by all of them.

Ashish Kaushik March 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Thanks a lot David sir !! your reply meant a lot to me and has made me take a better view of social networking sites after some very very horrible Facebook experiences of adding ppl i didn’t knew personally!! Thanks <3 <3 :-)

James McLoving August 27, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I came here to find out why firends are ignoring posts on my Timeline. All I get is this and some stupid articles about businesses timelines (not personal timelines). Anyone else have this problem?

jon distefano October 14, 2014 at 12:55 am

any kids out there who use facebook….can all go to hell for not fucking respond to me for fuck sakes….you all or so fucking lame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Windrunner96 April 22, 2015 at 2:17 am

James, I’m right there with you man!!! It has to be some of the rudest behavior I’ve encountered, but you have to know these same “so-called Friend’s” only act this way because of the electronic insulation/armor (computer) they use to embolden themselves to do so!!! Clearly, face-to-face they would be a completely different animal!!!

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