You have one new Friend Request

It is common to get friend requests on Facebook. Even more common if you are in AEGEE. Even more common if you are an “AEGEE celebrity” but in many cases you could read a name on Facebook thinking “who is this” but then reading that you have more than 50 friends in common would make you accept the friend request despite not being sure whether you know this person or not.

Maybe it is a special bond between AEGEEans, maybe it was one drink too many that makes one doubt and possibly embarrassed not to remember the person who is sending you a friend request. Whatever reason there may be, editor of The AEGEEan Patricia Anthony chose this topic as inspiration for a university assignment and an article for The AEGEEan, hoping it will make AEGEEans discuss how our organisation could be more structured online, especially in Social Networks.

124 persons, 44 males, 80 females (again the females rock) from countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Poland, Georgia, Germany and Turkey took their time to answer few questions. One proved the difference of ages in AEGEE.

18 – 20: 8

20 – 22: 30

22 – 24: 48

24 – 26: 19

26+: 19

So the majority of these people were between 20 and 24, and 50 percent of the survey takers (62) have been in AEGEE for more than four years.

Huge difference in number of friends

Maybe it is because of difference in popularity, maybe it is because of not everybody accepts just any friend requests, maybe it is a mixture, maybe it is something else, but what is certain is that there is no clear pattern of how many Facebook friends AEGEEans have. None of the survey takers have less than 100 friends, only three people have between 100 – 200, only 20 persons have what is said to be the “normal” number of Facebook friends 200 – 400 and the remaining 101 persons have above 400 Facebook friends with 20 popular AEGEEans having more than 1000 friends on Facebook. This might lead to the question “how can you know so many people?” and there is somewhat an answer to this. Because not all Facebook friends are “normal” friends: we have AEGEE antennae (101 are friends with one or more), 122 are friends with people met through AEGEE, 63 has chosen to friend cute AEGEE mascots, and more or less everybody are friends with relatives, co-workers, fellow students etc.

To share or not to share

What is interesting with the survey is that about 50 per cent (59) say that they have accepted a friend request not sure about who the person was, the remaining 60 persons say that they have never done so, and three individuals are not sure. Then again, another different thing is that the majority : 63 versus 60 persons share everything with their numerous Facebook friends whereas the remaining 60 individuals choose to keep some personal information, pictures more private.

"La Nave" - The Facebook group for "La Tripulación"

So many groups, so many pages, so little structure

Being active on Facebook The AEGEEan has a high understanding that there are many different groups, many different Facebook profiles of e.g. antennae and many different pages. The exact number is hard to tell but the document created by The AEGEEan editor Patricia Anthony is more than four pages.

To the delight of The AEGEEan 109 persons out of the 124 “like” the Facebook page. What could make some people wonder is that The AEGEEan has more “likes” than AEGEE Europe’s “official” Facebook page, which has 96 likes, which is only one more like than the Summer University Coordination Team. The Network Commission still has many potential “likers” out there because they only have 45 likers out of the 124, a number that is quite similar to the rest of the pages. What is the reason for that, one may wonder and there are numerous opportunities. Surely, it is easy to create a Facebook page but usually Social Network experts give these advices when making a page or group online:

  • Have a strategy: Why do you have a Facebook page? Is it to promote something e.g. an event? What will be the purpose when the event has passed? It seems that many Facebook pages are just there to well… to be there. Too many have the focus of gaining likes, and some groups e.g. for past Summer Universities or Agorae tend to turn into Spam groups.
  • Create a page for your cause: Usually, the advice is to create a page because this gives you the possibility to make deeper analysis of your followers and greater interaction. Facebook groups are great for that purpose as well but there is an overall belief among the Public Relations Committee as well as the AEGEEans that took the survey that the number of Facebook profiles for AEGEE causes is too high! Not only is it against the regulations of Facebook to have profiles for organisations that are not individual humans, but it also does no good in terms of interaction with the followers of e.g. your antenna.
  • Be creative: Create a logo, make your page different from the others in some way. It can be through games, through a nice cover photo, anything that would make the page different from all the other AEGEE pages and other fan pages your target group may be fan of.
  • Interact: Talk with the likers of your page, comment on what they post. Many AEGEEans agree that Facebook is good – to connect AEGEEans (on the question “do you believe that Facebook contributes positively to the work of AEGEE” 109 answered yes, one person answered no and 14 were not sure), but it seems that it is not being used in the best possible way these days. Right now, what many pages are doing is to post their events, their message on all AEGEE pages on Facebook, spamming people who are interested in following and receiving news about the different Working Groups and Projects Teams of AEGEE. In the end, The AEGEEan is not suggesting you to comment on every single post written on your page, but to interact a bit more with the people.

In general, there could be a great discussion between the ones who believe that there are too many pages or too many groups related to AEGEE on Facebook. Due to the survey being anonymous it is not easy to tell who likes what but what can be revealed is that 50 persons believe that the number of AEGEE related groups is too high, 52 disagree and 22 are not sure. When it comes to pages, 51 persons believe that that number is too high, 59 disagree and 14 are unsure.

Food for thought

When asked about the changes that would increase the quality of AEGEE on Facebook there were different comments that The AEGEEan will leave for you to consider.
  • Keep the websites updated, as a communication tool.
  • Communication channels have to be defined properly, members have to know what to find where.
  • “Stop the dependency on Facebook, rather use our own Network. It is bad that you have to submit so much personal data and pictures of you to Facebook just to participate sufficiently in AEGEE. I deleted my Facebook account recently to get rid of them getting more and more information about me, but I more or less HAD to go there again because of event planning, staying in contact, fotos and so forth. Event planning and important information should mostly if not ONLY be promoted by intranet and our mailing lists.”
  • Put more documents online on those pages so we have better insight in the work done by these groups, and thus offering more opportunities regarding advise and help.
  • “Maybe we should delete the different groups or pages some time after the event. Also try to create pages and groups only when it is really important.”
  • Use other platforms, such as Podio, to have a more professional outlook.
  • “Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a protocol (like colors or other stuff) to highlight the most important messages (the few ones that everybody should read) and distinguish them from spam.”
  • Have just one page with all the information.
  • “Antennae should not use personal profiles but pages. Spam about events shouldn’t be spammed on all the groups and pages as they are not meant for that. Parts of the Network that are no real entity like the CD which actually represents the whole Network, and “I’m an AEGEEan” shouldn’t have pages. Also AEGEE itself has too many pages”
  • More structured and focus on the ones that are necessary, have a common approach (e.g. logos etc.), have pages and not profiles for antennae.

What do YOU think should be done?

Written by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-København

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