Crises Management Template: Child Relations for Social Networks (Facebook)

Apparently my post this weekend on What the Web Strategist should know about Facebook went all over the web. There are over 45 comments, 35 trackbacks, I’ve received emails, tweets, messages in Facebook how it helped folks get a stronger understanding of the opportunities. It was printed out, emailed, and sent to VPs and executives at many companies. As a result, I received dozens of requests to be people’s friends, and the Web Strategy Group hsa increased by way over 100 people. That’s all fine, but there’s a few drawbacks…

I was told by a handful of middle aged folks that they added their son or daughter to their network as a friend after signing up. All of them told me their son or daughter was absolutely shocked, horrified, invaded, repulsed, disgusted that their parent connected. Some felt it was immoral, invasive, or unethical, almost as if their parents were sneaking through their drawers when they were gone to school.

PR and Corporate Communications professionals are preparing responses for that exploding battery, picked lock, or stuck-on-the-tarmac airplane all day, the same priority one focus should be put on child relations in social networks.

As a Web Strategist, I’ve composed the following letter as part of my CRI (Child Relations Initiative) to help smooth over this difficult time in the home life. I’ve made the following letter customizable, kindly use the appropriate salutation for your offspring.

Crises Management Template: Child Relations for Facebook
During an emergency, Copy and Paste the following into an email and send to son or daughter, or better yet, post on their ‘wall’ in Facebook.

Dear Son/Daughter

I know you’ve felt exposed, embarrassed, and just downright creeped out that I sent you that invite to be my ‘friend’ on Facebook. I know it’s hard for you as you’ve always though the internet was your entire playground but not for us adults.

Just as you’ve grown taller the last few years, things are and will always change. Facebook, isn’t just for college students, they’re allowing the whole world in. It’s now for office workers, presidential candidates, neighborhood watch, retirees and all those ‘other people’ on the internet.

We’re not that different, ya know, I’m adding friends to my business network to grow my professional reach (which will help you get those new sneakers), and I know that your generation uses Facebook to show who you’re you’re interested or documenting who you’ve ‘hooked up with’ in your profile. I don’t hold it against you, in our time we had “notches on the bedpost” –I’ll tell you in a few years.

Frankly, when I sent you that invite to be my ‘friend’ on Facebook, it was just a courtesy, I really didn’t want you to connect to me. Quite honestly I don’t want you to know about all that professional stuff I do during the day, because if you found out how much work I’m doing you may never want to grow up, and then you’ll never leave the house, and I prefer my car in the garage rather than you.

Someday, when you grow up and get a professional network of your own you can feel free to add me as a ‘friend’, I’ve enclosed my Facebook profile URL below, but don’t be surprised if I don’t add you back –I may be too cool.


Mom or Dad
Facebook Profile: (insert hyperlink to Facebook Profile here)

It always pays to be prepared, I recommend bookmarking this post for when the time comes.

Ironic Update: This is all in contrary that Facebook users are adding strangers, but not their flesh and blood!

  • Thank you for the big smile this gave me. Thankfully my kids are not old enough to be playing on these networks yet, but I KNOW it’s coming.

  • I’m rolling, because it’s true. The saving grace is that after they are actual adults and have kids of their own they kind of like to keep track of what the old folks are up to.

    Which then brings up the other kind of problem. I get text messages saying “when are you people going to get home?” How do they even know I’m gone? They read about it on facebook!

  • I sent an invite to my 17 yr old daughter. No reply- no add. When I saw her I said “I sent a facebook friend invite to you a couple days ago.” She said “Yeah dad, I know. That was funny. I gotta go. Love you Dad, Bye.”

    Sas it all- doesn’t it.

  • Thanks for the laugh, Jeremiah! I’m so glad that I’m many, many years away from having to deal with this sort of thing.

  • Do you know you’re supposed to poke someone before you friend them? That way they get a chance to clean up their profile before showing it to you.

    (parent of a 6 y/o who is an avid Flickr user, on his parent’s account & w/supervision)

  • Jeremiah, this is a terrific piece. While I have never been so rash as to actually “friend” my daughter — the very thought fills her with revulsion — there is an underlying reality here that relates to how social media and networking are used during real emergencies.

    You don’t want artificial boundaries making communications difficult in such situations. This suggests to me that “walled garden” systems such as Facebook should not be counted on during such emergencies, even though we have seen during the Virginia Tech shootings and the recent Minneapolis bridge collapse how useful such systems can be for certain types of communications.

  • Edward

    I had no idea poking was a warning that you’re supposed to clean up a profile.

    Someone should make an app called (auto clean up before befriending parents)

    All instances of “Alcohol” will now be convereted to “books”. All instances of “drinking” will be converted to “studying”

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  • Jeremiah, Given that i was the mom who told you i had friended my 18 year old son and he denied me the “friendship”, I got a big laugh when i read this. I was told that he did not want me to see his “hooking up” friends…which i am told by another PodTech colleague that it is all a joke..they are NOT really hooking up…the transparency that my son has with his friends is really rather amazing…but very much part of this generation’s candor.

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  • LOL

    OK, I can see your humour clearly now.



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  • I am serious: use this to your kid and your Wall is going to get ugly. They’ll be throwing more than sheep at you.

  • You know the funny thing about this. I recently joined facebook and asked my children, all of whom are in college or out, to be my “friend.” Three of them had no problems what so ever. We regularly communicate via our “walls.” My youngest had initial reservations (actually, she was quite horrified at me seeing her wall, but within a couple of days, she also accepted my invitation.

    So, it can work.


  • This really put a smile on my face. I have my Dad on my friends list, but that’s because we live on different continents and 12 time zones away (I live in China and he is based in Canada). FB is one of the ways he can stay in touch with me besides, email, Gtalk, my blog or the phone.


  • Really funny ! Also put on smile on my face before going to work 😉 I might use you post on my blog if you don’t mind ?!

  • Funny! But there’s a serious side to this too.

    I have three teens, 18, 16, and 14, and they’ve all friended me on Facebook. Where they HAVEN’T friended me is on MySpace, where they’ve set their profiles to private. We’ve talked ad nauseum about friending policies, how predators can conceal their identities, etc. And I’ve done “pop profile inspections” where I’ve asked – okay, forced – them to show me their profiles.

    I don’t blame them for wanting privacy. But as a dad, it’s my job to keep an eye on them too. 🙂


  • Sandrine feel free to use the template wherever you want. Just credit me please!

  • Thanks for this! I have a 14 year old daughter on Facebook, who threatened to disown me if I even TRIED to friend her on Facebook.

    My wife is only on MySpace and I’m not even in her Top Friends list! Ouch.

  • My younger daughter (19) added me as a friend as soon as she knew I was on Facebook. The elder one (23) added me when she became a member. Some of their friends did too, spontaneously.

    I would never have dreamed of taking the first step. I was a teenager some time ago!

    My younger one is away studying. Facebook is one of the convenient online channels we share to keep up to date with each other. We don’t use traditional phones or letters anymore (I do send ‘love’ cards though), as we have MSN, Skype, Facebook.

    They are not on Twitter yet 😉

  • New media Mike, wow you’ve got it tough!!!

    Nadine, always good to be sensitive for others. Remember when we were growing up? those note boxes or trapper keepers? that was very private, now it’s our myspace pages.

  • Ro

    I was the one on Facebook first, and wouldn’t dream of friending my daughter. Since I use it for more business-related stuff, I don’t think she’d be interested anyway. And since she’s now an “adult”, there’s some things I just don’t want to know – I remember those years!

  • I just saw this on a link in your post today. It is absolutely hilarious! I follow you regularly for industry news and have forwarded your page to head folks at my publishing company to advocate for transparency within and without the company.

    This is pure gold! It is absolutely shocking to not only your relatives (children) but also the whole ‘connected’ generations out there who are so ‘totally’ shocked when a comment is left from anyone over age 30. Many can’t comprehend how a 25+ person would even know how to ‘plug-in’ to any of those social media tools, let alone actually use them properly. Heh Heh! they have no idea how big the ‘horde’ of marauders actually is – and it probably terrifies them that we not only use the tools, but can actually affect, if not fell; gov officials, improper/illegal use of legal system, corrupt company behavior, politically incorrect policies, celebrity “bad boys/girls” and those not-so-private college antics. Let’s hear it for those “connected” Boomers! You never know where we will pop-up! Talula

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