Another attempt to ease the struggle while describing your online friendships to your Arab Marketers who just don't / don't want / cant understand the power of social media.If you did not hear the news yet!! online friendships are different from what we've traditionally called friendships. Digital technology has affected the number of relationships you can maintain, and the intimacy of those relationships, effectively enabling us to create fans who feel like friends.
This is the easiest level of engagement. It asks the least of your friends, and achieves the least commitment from us. But, it's the crucial starting point. I follow my curiosity to you, I'm interested in what I find, and I choose to pay attention. e.g. repeat visits, blog readers, fans, followers, etc.
This is when I care enough to let you know that I care (in a nice way, not in a stalker way ;). It's a small step, but a big opportunity for you to identify key members of your audience who are candidates to move along the spectrum. We don't yet expect a response, we're just letting you know that we're listening. e.g. people who leave comments on your blog, wall comments, @replies on Twitter, etc.
At this point the audience member starts to become a fan. You and your work become part of my identity as I use it to talk to my own friends about what interests me (remember that we share content for social reasons). I also have made myself more valuable, because I am now partly responsible for the spread of your ideas. e.g. social bookmarking, retweeting links, posting links and content to my own sites and profiles, etc.
This is the first phase that requires action on your part. I have either demonstrated an Active Interest or have Shared your work with my own friends. You foster a relationship by responding to my interest in a public forum. By doing so, you make the rest of your friends aware of my existence, and welcome me to the group. e.g. public @replies, referrals in a blog post, and references posted to our various sites and profiles, etc.
At this step, we begin to transform mutual interest into mutual trust. We are willing to share thoughts, ideas, experiences with each other directly. We trust each other with direct access, which has increasing value in an increasingly always-on world. e.g. exchanging email, TXT messages, IM, and direct messages on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc.
At first glance, Advocacy looks a lot like Sharing. But, the crucial difference is that Advocacy means that I am making an explicit recommendation of you to my friends. It's too easy now to simply share, all it takes is one click on your bookmark tool bar. Choosing to actually say, "This is important. It's worth my friends' time. And I'm willing to risk my own reputation to convince my friends to check it out." e.g. same tools as Sharing, but different language; usually entails recommending the person or brand, and not just a specific piece of content
The brass ring of online friendship. This is the most difficult achievement to recognize or quantify. But it's the most important because it represents the willingness of your friends to take action on your behalf.
Investment, became clear to me in the wake of well-wishes deservedly showered on David Armano after his announcement last Friday of his move to the Dachis Corporation. I was one of those well-wishers myself, and was genuinely proud and excited to hear about his new gig.