Evolving Your Product: How Pokémon Go is Still Going Strong

Perhaps one of the most surprising stories of 2016 was the complete explosion of Pokémania throughout the world in July. Pokémon, originally launched in 1996 by Nintendo, was a pair of handheld video games in which players caught, trained, and battled a large selection of fictional monsters called Pokémon. The franchise quickly took off, spawning game after game in addition to movies, tv shows, comics, and trading cards. This summer, it made the leap to augmented reality with the help of software developed by Niantic with the release of Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go brought the monster-catching game to the real world, with real-life landmarks becoming “Pokéstops” used to catch supplies or “Gyms” to battle over, features that were only visible on a player’s phone. The Google-Maps-style overlay also showed Pokémon themselves, allowing players to throw items called Pokéballs to capture them, and eventually train them up to battle others.

Pokémania Sweeps the Nation

The love affair with Pokémon Go was instant. Millions were playing with regularity, visiting real life locales to catch the virtual monsters. Restaurants that happened to be near important in-game landmarks saw their sales increase. Once-empty parks were now full of Pokémon trainers. Players reported that they were more physically active now than they had ever been. This was a result of one of the game’s mechanics by which walking a set distance allows a player to hatch a Pokémon from eggs.

Pokémon Go was downloaded over 500 million times in its first two months, setting numerous records in both app stores and even the Guinness World Book of Records. While the mania has predictably cooled significantly, the game still has tens of millions of active users roaming the world.

Regenerating Interest

One way that Niantic is trying to once again heighten interest around Pokémon Go is with the introduction of the Pokémon Go Plus, a small Bluetooth-controlled device (usually attached to a wristband) that allows players to visit Pokéstops, capture Pokémon, and accumulate walking distance while the user’s phone rests safely locked in her or her pocket. This new product saves trainers the hassle of constantly looking at their phones, which also saves a significant amount of battery life.

This wasn’t a shot-in-the-dark money grab though, but a planned release that many were looking forward to from the start. The emergence of Pokémon Go Plus will help invigorate the current player base while helping to draw former players back into the fold. While it has only been out for a few days, it is expected that it will lead to an uptick in active players and playtime, as well as an uptick in company profits at a tidy $34.99 a pop.

Evolution is Key

One of the features of Pokémon Go and the Pokémon franchise is evolution, where a trainer can turn their basic monster into a bigger, better form. It’s only fitting that Niantic has taken the idea of evolution to heart with their approach of making sure the game is constantly moving full steam ahead. Pokémon Go Plus is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to product development.

Soon, players will be able to trade their Pokémon with other real live people. The battle system will become much more complex. And, of course, the next batch of monsters themselves will join the fray by year’s end. Niantic launched a successful product, but they’ve invested in constantly evolving that product, a winning strategy which will keep current users around and bring new and old users alike back into their arms.

No Man’s Sky – How NOT to Promote Your Product


No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky from Hello Games was one of the most hyped video games of the past few years, and it was easy to see why. It allowed players to fully explore a procedurally generated universe, the scale of which had never been seen before in a video game. That universe boasts an unfathomable number of planets; so many that if you spent just one second at each one, it would take you 5 billion years to visit all of them.

So, it was no surprise that when No Man’s Sky finally arrived on the Steam gaming platform on August 12, it launched to a massive audience. At one point on launch night, No Man’s Sky peaked with 212,613 concurrent players, the fifth highest peak ever by a game on Steam, just behind well-established franchises like Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V, and Bethesda’s Fallout 4.

Empty Promises

No mans sky space battles

Unfortunately, players quickly realized that the game was missing many key features shown in trailers or discussed by the game’s creator, Sean Murray. Multiplayer was non-existent. Large-scale space battles had been removed, along with numerous other “big” locales and settings. The physics behind the game had been dumbed down; planets were stationary and tied to stars the player could never reach. Interactions between the game’s various creatures and the environment suffered the same fate, as did the crafting system.

Hello Games had essentially released a shell of what was promised, a game that none of the fanbase was expecting, and the backlash was in full swing by the end of the weekend. Negative reviews started pouring in and players turned to Steam for full refunds in such force that Steam had to issue a release re-stating the limitations of their return policy.

Cause and Effect

no man's sky

Within a week, No Man’s Sky’s concurrent player base dropped to less than 43,000. Nearly four weeks after launch on a Wednesday night, only 4,000 players are currently playing. While all games, even well-received ones, experience a significant drop in users, No Man’s Sky is setting the bar extremely high in terms of fiery crashes.

However, the lack of previously advertised features might not be the biggest reason for the continued decline. Studios often have to cut content late in the process as deadlines approach, and the relatively tiny Hello Games likely had to make numerous such cuts. That, at least, is understandable to more level-headed members of the fanbase. Not ideal, but understandable.

The importance of Communication

The real problem is that the communication between the company and its community has been sorely lacking at best, and non-existent at worst. There were no hints beforehand that major gameplay elements had been removed, and little acknowledgement of the issues in the days after launch. Sean Murray, a frequent interviewee prior to launch, hasn’t done an interview since. His Twitter has gone dark for three weeks. The only word out of Hello Games has been the occasional patch notes addressing various bugs.

It’s a deafening silence that No Man’s Sky players are taking to heart. While many quit after the disastrous launch, more are leaving in droves as the lines of communication fade. Players are frustrated that there has been no apology, no acknowledgement of player concerns, or no explanation as to how it all went so wrong.

While the poor launch drove players away from No Man’s Sky, the lack of communication will likely keep those same players from coming back, no matter how many improvements they make to a game that still does have the potential to be great. As a result, Hello Games has provided an excellent blueprint on how not to communicate (quite literally) after a crisis.

Learn from these missteps. When promoting your product or service, it’s imperative to communicate your value to consumers. Clarify what it is you can offer and make sure to follow through on these assertions. A critical step in this process is establishing brand recognition. An assortment of kitted merchandise imprinted with your logo is a great way to provide customers with a tangible reminder of which company to turn to when they need the product or service you provide.

NFL and Fantasy Drafts | A Delicate Balance of Cost and Value


With both fantasy football and its professional counterpart kicking off this September, a great deal of attention will be on drafted players. In the real NFL, fans will finally get their chance to see whether the players their team selected this past April turn into star-caliber performers or plain old lumps of coal. Fantasy football players will be knocking their drafts out, hoping to assemble a roster capable of winning money and pride.

Some Players Offer Excellent ROI, Others May Not

In both situations, the goal is to find the best players, while also getting the best bang for your buck. The Seattle Seahawks are the perfect team to emulate in that regard. Their starting quarterback, Russell Wilson, was drafted in the third round and was the sixth passer off the board. Wilson has developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the game today and the Seahawks picked him up for a relative pittance compared to where players of his caliber are usually selected. They’ve also nabbed other players late, such as cornerback Richard Sherman (4th round) and safety Kam Chancellor (5th round), both of whom are now among the very best as their respective positions.

Contrast that with the Dallas Cowboys, who have made some solid picks in recent history without getting the same value. There’s no question that the Cowboys’ starting center, Travis Frederick, is among the three best centers in the game, if not the best. However, Dallas selected him late in the first round on the 2012 draft, almost a full round ahead of where he was expected to go.

The FOMO Is Real

While the pick certainly worked out, they may have missed out on a chance to get another high-caliber player at that spot, while still picking up Frederick later in the draft. It was a great choice, but a poor use of available resources, and draft picks are among the most precious resources an NFL team is given. The Cowboys’ selection this past April of Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth-overall pick may fall into the same trap. Elliott looks like a fine player, but he’s a running back, a position that can filled cheaply in the modern NFL. For the Cowboys to get proper return on that selection, Elliott will have to have a hall-of-fame career.

Fantasy football follows the same principles. Managers need to find the best players at the best prices. Getting the best quarterback in the league might not be the best plan if there will be a second-tier option available for a fifth-tier price later in the draft. Indeed, managers can also fall into the trap of reaching for one of those “sleeper” picks, which essentially makes the pick no longer a sleeper.

When Buying Promos, Weigh Price Vs. Quality

These are all basic principles of the business world as well. Every company’s goal is to make or obtain the best possible product or service at the best possible price point. A great idea can turn into a negative pretty quickly if there’s no basis of value behind it. That’s not to say that the ideal goal is to be a cheap as possible. There’s a tightrope to walk between having a good product at a bad price and having a bad product at a good price.

An NFL team that doesn’t find the balance between production and value won’t make the playoffs; a fantasy team without that balance will be the laughingstock of its league; and a business without that balance could very well lead to an empty bank account.

Why Your Business Needs an Online Store

Unless you own a restaurant, there is really no such thing as a purely local business anymore. You may own a store in a small town in the middle of Wisconsin, but you’re still competing with manufacturers, retailers, and other services from all over the world. The internet has erased most of the borders that used to allow businesses to thrive exclusively in a local market. Consumers have a wide variety of choices now, and in order to stay competitive, owners have to find ways to compete in a global economy.

As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. There’s no way to roll back the clock to the days when a business could count on staying local, so savvy business owners are finding ways to compete in a new global economy. There is no better way to succeed in the modern marketplace than by having a robust, well-built online store. An online store offers tremendous benefits that range from the obvious to the frequently overlooked.

Reach Out And Sell Something

The most obvious benefit of an online store is also the most important. A brick-and-mortar store is able to effectively serve anyone who has the means to reach your location. An online store is able to serve anyone on the planet with a working internet connection and a computer, tablet, or smartphone. There is nothing you could ever do to expand the reach of your business so far or so effectively.

For the price of building an online store and setting up a shipping mechanism, your reach is extending from one section of one city to essentially the entire world. An effective online store adds literally millions of people to your potential customer base. No advertising campaign, sale, or promotion will ever generate that many potential customers. It’s the single most powerful tool a business owner has to increase reach.

The More You Know

Having a well-built online store doesn’t just let you reach more customers, it lets you know more about who you’re reaching. One of the great things about an online store is that it provides you with useful data on each transaction. Every time you sell something, you’re gaining valuable information about what works for your business and why. You don’t know just know that you sold, for instance, a new computer monitor. You know that you sold a new computer monitor to a man in Upstate New York, at 4:13 PM Eastern Time on a Wednesday, and that before he bought that monitor he looked at 4 other models.

That kind of detailed transaction data lets you identify patterns which you can exploit to grow your business. It shows you what is working so that you can expand those efforts and what isn’t working so that you can make course corrections and plug holes. Just as importantly, it gives you a huge database of names, physical addresses, and e-mail addresses which you can couple with the transaction data to build laser-focused marketing campaigns and promote repeat business. An online store doesn’t just let you sell to more people, it gives you tools you would never have had otherwise.

Something For Everyone

Obviously, an online store is a huge boon to a business owner. Believe it or not, though, you aren’t the only one who benefits from internet retail. There’s a reason that online shopping has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Consumers love the convenience, the ability to instantly compare prices, and the huge increase in options that online shopping provides.

Not only that, online shopping gives them a whole set of tools that they wouldn’t get at a physical location. Things like order tracking, e-mail feedback, and a saved order history at your store give them flexibility and freedom that a traditional shopping experience can’t match. They can shop when and where they want, from anywhere in the world, the second they make the decision to buy something.

The Future is Now

If your retail location doesn’t already have an online companion, there’s no time like the present. It is the single best investment you can possibly make to grow your business. The overhead isn’t dangerously high and the benefits so far outweigh the risks that you’d be crazy to let the opportunity pass you by. An online store will not only expand your customer base and dramatically grow your revenue, it will open up new options for your existing customers that will keep them coming back time after time. Don’t let your competition render you obsolete. Embrace the future today.

Back-to-School Essentials

Summer is almost over, and that means back to school time is here again. While kids pick out those first-day outfits, sharpen up those pencils, and load their bookbags, school administrators and teachers are preparing for every facet of the new school year. That means ordering textbooks, writing lesson plans, setting up classrooms, and planning for the year ahead.

This year, to help our friends in the Principals’ Office and the School Board, we’re offering a special Back To School Sale on custom-branded merchandise specially selected to help educators and administrators save big while promoting school spirit.

Having an affordable, reliable source of custom merchandise for your school has a whole range of benefits, from promoting a sense of community to helping generate donations.

School Athletics

Your teams are already competing in matching uniforms that are designed to promote the school’s name. Why stop at the uniforms, though? With our custom branded merchandise, your athletes can represent the team to the fullest. We’re talking water bottles, equipment bags, and everything else you need to keep your team totally decked out in school merchandise.

Field Day

Field Day is a beloved elementary school tradition. It promotes healthy physical activity and teaches kids the value of teamwork and cooperation. What better way to hammer that message home than by providing branded t-shirts in a variety of colors to the participants. It helps instill the concept of the team into your students and, best of all, it gives them a functional souvenir to remember all the fun they had.

Incentives

Branded school merchandise makes a great way to reward exceptional behavior in both students and faculty. Why not give out a Teacher of the Month award with a grand prize of one of our USB flash drives? It’s a great way to keep the teachers motivated and engaged. For the students, our custom pens and notebooks make great rewards for Honor Roll students, perfect attendance, or any other exemplary behavior.

Fundraising

A lot of people don’t realize just how much fundraising goes into running a thriving school. Whether it’s a bake sale to send the cheerleading squad on an away trip, a candy sale to buy instruments for the band, or a raffle to put new computers in the lab, schools find any number of ways to expand their budget. Branded merchandise is a great way to get more donations and larger amounts. Offering a little big of swag is a proven way to promote giving. Just ask NPR or anyone who has ever run a successful Kickstarter campaign. At these unbeatable sale prices, some custom-branded “stretch goals” for your next fundraising campaign will more than pay for themselves.

Put simply, our Back to School sale helps you add those special touches to your teams, functions, and fundraisers that really make your school shine. There’s no better way to promote school spirit, increase fundraising, and create an overall environment of excellence at your school. Take advantage of our summer sale or your math teacher might have to put you in detention.

Rush Kits – Bundle Your Promos and Save

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Scouring the internet for promos can be taxing, especially when there are so many other facets of your event to plan. From reserving your booth to speaking to the efficacy of your product or service, planning a promotional event involves a myriad of steps. Bouncing from site to site to compare prices and inventory doesn’t have to be one of them. Instead, get all of the promos you need in one place with Rush Kits.

The concept of kitting isn’t exactly groundbreaking. Remember the first time you took the training wheels off your bike? That feeling of short-lived freedom punctuated sharply as your inept limbs sent you crashing to the side of the road. The good news was the brush you fell into broke your fall, leaving you only with minor scrapes and cuts. The bad news was that brush was actually poison ivy.

Good thing mom had that first aid kit in the medicine cabinet. Inside was antiseptic to disinfect your wounds, a bandage to cover them, and calamine lotion to soothe your itching poison ivy rash. The kiss on the boo wasn’t included in the kit, but was, of course, just as essential.

What made that first aid kit so great was the fact that it encompassed all of the necessities into one convenient package. This is the same model behind our Rush Kits. Here, the promos you need are bundled into kits suitable for any event. Think of it as a one-stop shop for your promotional product needs.


No matter what event you’re planning, there’s a Rush Kit that will fit.

With football season on the horizon, the Tailgate Kit is just what you need to make sure your brand is seen at stadium parking lots and man caves around the country. Your customers can carry their belongings in the small hit sports pack, leaving their hands free to barbecue or hold an ice-cold beverage in your imprinted cup. Stylish Malibu sunglasses and a durable rally towel round out this kit to make it a must-have for marketing planned around sporting events.

If this heat wave is any indication, it’s clear that we’re still firmly in the unforgiving grip of summer. To that end, the Poolside Fun Budget Kit is exactly the thing to keep your customers both cool and brand-conscious. The included rubberized sunglasses and waterproof phone pouch make this kit a perfect beach or pool-side companion.

Marketing to a health-conscious clientele? The Active Lifestyle Kit is designed for you. It includes everything an outdoor fitness enthusiast would need to stay active on the go. This expansive kit contains retractable ear buds to keep them motivated with their favorite music, sun stick and lip balm to protect their skin from the elements, folding Malibu sunglasses, a safety light wristband for late night jogging, and a mason jar with a straw to keep them hydrated.

These are just a few examples of our Rush Kits designed to save you time and money when shopping for promos online. There’s no easier or cheaper way to get the products you need all in one spot. Just like mom’s first aid kit salved your scrapes, let our rush kits soothe the pain that comes with planning a promotional event. Just don’t expect us to kiss your boo boos.

Always Read the Comments


If you’ve spent much time on the internet, you’ve no doubt heard the oft-repeated advice, “Never read the comments!” There’s a reason this has become such a pervasive idea. For a normal person browsing the internet, avoiding the comments is a brilliant way to avoid shocking assaults against the English language, hideous vitriol, spam ads, and all of the baser aspects of human nature. For a business owner, though, not reading the comments would be a cataclysmic mistake.

The anonymity promised by the internet makes it possible for business owners to gather unvarnished feedback that it’s nearly impossible to get in person. That’s why the level of discourse is so low in so many comment sections. It might make for unpleasant reading if you’re just trying to watch YouTube videos, but when it’s your business, it serves you well to pay attention.

Give Your Customers a Platform to Speak

Not only should you read any and all comments about your business, you should set up your entire online presence to generate as much feedback as possible. Obviously that means having a contact form, but a savvy entrepreneur will take it much further. Using your website to collect e-mail addresses gives you an easy way to generate honest feedback from existing customers. You can entice them by offering giveaway contests, coupons, or e-mail only specials. It helps you solicit input from your customers while driving business to your location at the same time. Another extremely smart way to create conversation is to post specials or coupons on your website’s blog and then enable the comments. Sure, you might get a few spam ads, but they’re easy to weed out and it’s a small price to pay for the invaluable information you can get.

If it’s important to listen to comments on your website, it’s absolutely essential on social media. Way too many business owners think of social media as just another advertising platform. To them, it’s a place to post pictures and run advertisements and not much else. In order to get the most out of social media, though, it has to be a two-way street. You can’t just fire off a post, wait a couple of days, and then fire off another. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, the real strength of social media is the ability to interact directly with customers. That means reading what they have to say and, even more importantly, responding promptly.

Don’t Just Read, Reply

Simply reading the responses your posts get has an incredible number of benefits. It lets you know which posts your customers do and don’t like, which helps you craft a more effective social media strategy. It helps to identify any potential problems your customers may have and allows you to address them instantly. Listening to your customers makes it much easier to deliver exactly what they’re looking for.

By replying to the comments, you can create an authentic connection with your customers. If something goes wrong, dealing directly with someone on social media can help retain them as a customer. Getting involved in conversations is a great way to create deep brand recognition and trust. It’s also a great way to generate word of mouth interest and reach your followers’ friends with no additional budgeting required.

In short, if you’re a business owner, always read the comments. Go out of your way to generate as much input as you can and read all of it. Sure, you might have to wade through an occasional tornado of misspellings and a few pitches to make $20,000 working from home, but the benefits are well worth the cost. Don’t worry, though, you can still avoid the comments section on those random YouTube videos. No one should have to deal with that.

Why Your Business Should Be Blogging


Today’s business world is increasingly dominated by digital advertising and the need for a strong online presence. A successful small business in the modern market needs to utilize every possible method to generate business on the internet. That means a well-designed website, a thorough online marketing plan, and an active presence on all of the largest social media platforms. One thing many businesses tend to overlook, though, is the blog. Many companies opt not to have a blog at all. Worse, some companies have a blog and don’t keep it updated. Nothing sends a worse message than a blog that hasn’t been updated in two or three years. Having a frequently updated and engaging blog is one of the most effective ways to promote your business online.

Increase Your SEO Value

Probably the most obvious benefit to having a good blog on your website is the tremendous SEO value. Frequent posts about relevant topics will help your site rank better on the search terms your potential customers are using. The constant updates improve your search engine rankings and help boost your other SEO efforts. It’s one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to keep your site relevant and ranking well.

Stay Relevant

Just as important as the boost it gives you on your most valuable keywords, though, is the fact that a blog can help inject your business into the public conversation. Just like businesses use Twitter hashtags to sneak their message into public conversations, blog posts are a great way to capitalize on the increased search traffic that comes with big events like live sports, hit TV shows, and holidays. On Mondays, it’s a safe bet that a lot of people are going to be searching for articles about the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Why not throw up a blog post using the show to make a point about your company? It makes your business part of the conversation and helps drive eyes to your site.

Add Personality

Less tangibly, but just as importantly, having a quality blog helps personalize your business and give it a unique voice. Having a recognizable voice with a track record of posting not only differentiates your company from the competition, it helps build trust with consumers. Given a choice between a largely anonymous business and a business they can relate to, the average customer is going to choose the option they feel like they know the most about. A blog is an amazing way to let your visitors know what you stand for, what you believe in, and how you like to do business. It can highlight your professionalism, your quirkiness, or whatever it is that makes you special and sets you apart from the rest of the market.

These are just some of the ways a blog can benefit your business and enhance your overall web presence. Enabling comments on your blog also helps you interact directly with your customers and generate valuable feedback that you might not be able to find anywhere else. Don’t miss out on one of the easiest, most effective ways to market your business. Get out there and blog away!

Pepsi Resurrects 90s Classics to Target Nostalgic Millennials


In case you hadn’t heard yet, Pepsi recently announced the return of Crystal Pepsi, their early 90s cult hit soda. Not only that, they’ve also packed it with everyone’s favorite educational death simulator, Oregon Trail. While this might seem like a pretty underwhelming announcement to a large segment of the population, it is earth-shakingly momentous to others.

Only people of a certain age can truly understand the sheer joy of sitting in a computer lab with a 20 oz. bottle of clear, sugary goodness while your entire family dies of dysentery.

I’m talking about the generation that drank enough sugar water to put a hummingbird to shame and shot more buffalo than ever even existed. To millennials, this announcement is like watching your childhood be gloriously resurrected in front of your eyes.

Overlooking no detail, Pepsi even designed their campaign-specific site, crystalpepsi.net, in what can only be described as true Geocities splendor. This throwback to early webpage design includes everything from rotating Crystal Pepsi GIFs and scrolling banners to a visitor counter near the footer.

If You Aren’t Marketing to Millennials, You’re Doing It Wrong.

It’s no coincidence that a huge company like Pepsi would be reaching out to young people right now. With each passing day, millennials are supplanting baby boomers as the nation’s most active consumers and trendsetters. In an increasingly digital world, the 15-35 demographic has taken control of the conversation and, increasingly, the marketplace.

If you look around, it won’t take long to see that Pepsi is far from the only company making blatant appeals to millennial customers. Cinemas are packed with adaptations of comic books that saw their heydays in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s hard to find a popular children’s show from those years that hasn’t been rebooted, repackaged, and resold in wide release. It’s clear that the largest companies are shifting their focus away from boomers and toward the future, and that nostalgia is the tool they’re using to power their efforts.

Nostalgia Transcends Generational Gaps

Nostalgia has always been a powerful marketing tool, and the reigning baby boomer generation was no exception. Try to find a city in America that doesn’t have a “classic rock” radio station attempting to cash in on the childhood and teenage memories of the 40-plus crowd. It wasn’t until the millennial crowd grew into a powerful consumer base, though, that the popular remake culture was born. Maybe it’s their newness to adult and professional life or the combination of high student loan debt and years of a bleak economy, but for some reason millennials seem especially receptive to childhood nostalgia as a marketing tool.

Running a successful business is about staying ahead of market trends. The economy is steadily changing and the youngest segment is driving most of the growth and activity. When big companies like Pepsi start shifting their marketing younger, it’s a sure sign that a sea change has come. In order to succeed in the coming years and decades, businesses absolutely must find ways to effectively market to young people.

Try Nostalgia-fying Your Marketing

If you own a business, examine your current marketing and see how you can optimize it to appeal to millennials. Whether it’s a nostalgic promotion, a more creative social media presence, or another method of selling the comforts they associate with childhood, finding ways to expand your reach in the youth market is the best foundation for future success. So sit back, hit the Trail, grab a Crystal Pepsi, and start brainstorming about how you’re going to tap into this powerful consumer base. If you’re looking for suggestions, we were all promised Hoverboards.

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When to Friend –The “Science” of Social Media among Coworkers

You enjoy the occasional chat with your coworkers; discussing the weekend, sharing vacation stories, or making vague observations about the weather. This type of casual conversation can be a welcome break from job monotony, and social interaction in the workplace is important. When it comes to friendships, though, where do you draw the line between your work and social lives? How much do you want your work friends to know about your life after 5?

Sooner or later, that friend request notification will pop up, and it can only be left pending in limbo for so long before the situation becomes awkward. So when do you accept it, or on the flip side of that token, when is it appropriate to send one?

Who We Are Online


Social media outlets are essentially our online identities. Our behavior there can affect how we’re perceived in reality. By uploading photographs of our pets or ourselves at the beach, crafting what we think are witty status updates, sharing links to potentially polarizing news articles, and praising or criticizing political candidates, we carve out a very specific online persona. Often times, however, this persona may differ from our work identity. Because personal opinions may cause unwanted friction at work, it may be crucial to keep them neatly compartmentalized. When you’re clocked in, you want to be judged based on your performance, not your beach body.

What We Say

Some may even use social media as an outlet to vent work frustrations. Relieving though it may be, blowing off some steam can land you in hot water with the bosses. As such, it may be critical to keep a division between this fabricated, online persona and your work life.

How We Behave

Like in the real world, different social norms exist on different platforms. You wouldn’t behave the same way at a rock concert as you would in a board meeting. LinkedIn, for example, is a buttoned-down social platform meant strictly for business interaction. Others, like Facebook, are intended to be a bit friendlier.

Of course, businesses do have Facebook pages, and there are certainly individuals who incorporate a professional component to their profiles, but Facebook is largely a personal outlet. It’s meant to be a way for friends and family to keep in touch. So when a colleague reaches out through Facebook, things can get complicated.

We Compartmentalize

Even outside the digital world, we separate the people we know into different social circles. How we interact may differ between our family and coworkers; between our friends and our friends. Google+ integrated this natural tendency into their platform. In Google+, you are able to separate people into literal circles; work friends into one, close friends into another, distant acquaintances in a third, and so forth. You can then choose which of your circles see what you share.

Facebook, however, is slightly less intuitive when it comes to sharing. Yes, there are several options which allow you to select who sees your status update or picture. However, these options are off by default and require a bit of digging to find-more digging than the average user is likely to do. Generally speaking, your Facebook posts are visible to everyone on your friends list.

Real Life Relationships Are Often Unstated

It’s rare that we explicitly apply labels to those with whom we socially interact. Conversations don’t begin with phrases like:

“Hello, work-friend Emily!”

“How are you, long-time-pal Tim?”

“Still selling body wraps, person I went to high school with?”

Other than marriage or “Facebook official” couplings, a level of ambiguity exists in our real-life relationships. It is because of this undefined nature of our relationships that we often run into awkward situations on social media.

We may be friendly with coworkers, but not necessarily consider them a friend. Conversely, a coworker may assume a certain level of friendship based on his or her interpretations of your interaction. This has the potential to hurt some feelings. Denied or unaccepted friend requests could cause an amicable relationship to collapse.

So what’s the answer?

You could do nothing.

Leave the friend request pending or deny it. As previously mentioned, this might bruise a few egos, but not always. Many people choose to send requests en masse to anyone they meet. These people are looking to expand their network and will likely not even notice if one of those requests is left pending.

If, for some reason, the pending friend request is brought up in-person, you have two options:

1) Lie. You could either say you only use Facebook to keep in touch with close family and friends, or that you didn’t see their request because you aren’t frequently on Facebook. This way, you can have your cake (maintain your work relationship with this person) and eat it, too (avoid interaction with them outside of work). If you’re ok with a touch of dishonesty, this may be your best option. Is it conniving? Sure. Does it make you a bad person? Probably.

OR

2)Be honest. Explain to this person that while you do enjoy the time you spend together at work, you would like to keep your relationship strictly business. If they’re not ok with respecting your boundaries, then the distance this dose of honesty puts in your relationship with them may be for the best.

You could nip it in the bud.

If you anticipate a friend request from someone you know you won’t accept, a last-ditch, preventative effort would be to proactively block their profile. When they search your name to send a friend request, they won’t be able to find you, nor will they be able to see your communication between mutual friends. An extreme measure, for sure, and certainly a little harsh, but it’s also a clean way to avoid undesired connections.

You could accept it.


Maybe you’re interested in expanding your social network. If this is the case, you likely have a large number of connections. With the exception of family and close friends, you probably don’t interpret any of them to be particularly close. So when your phone flashes with that friend request notification, accept it!

Even better still, maybe you genuinely enjoy this person’s company. You get along well, share the same interests, and look forward to the after-work happy hour with them. There’s no reason at all that you should hesitate to befriend someone just because you work together. If this is the case, you shouldn’t have even needed to read this article at all.

You could stop caring so much.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. The Amount of energy spent pondering Facebook friendships is probably better invested elsewhere. This was a platform created for college students after all. Drama between who said what to whom is a kid’s game. The decision to accept, deny, or ignore a pending friend request from a coworker is probably much less consequential than you think.