Do Online Friends Matter as Much as Real Ones?

We’ve heard your elevator pitch, seen your affiliate link and received your sequence of auto responder emails. Great. We know what you’re selling, where to find you and you’ve done a good job of proving how valuable you are. But excuse me while I ask…


Recently on My Lifestyle Max, I wrote a post about the loss of a dear friend which sparked a lively conversation around the complicated nature of friendship.  Our resident fire starter, Dino Dogan, casually stated:

“Statistically speaking – you are more likely to commit suicide than make a friend after turning 30”

When challenged on the source of his statistic,  he said it was from the 1980’s. In other words, “ pre-social media”.  I was able to breathe a sigh of relief, as we all know stats before the time of social media no longer count.

Did you know that 42% of all statistics are made up? This is based on real research based on a study I made up for this occasion 🙂

He then asked:  

“Do online friends count for as much? My instinct tells me no, but could I be wrong? Is there a post here? Will Stacey write it? “

Readers, friends and paying customers

The world of blogging and conducting business online is a spectacular phenomenon. The method of communication and the tools that facilitate it have changed forever, and in many ways the lines of our business and personal lives have become inextricably blurred.

We have:

  • Our readers: Those who enjoy our content, extract value from the knowledge we share and are happy to share their own.
  • Our customers: Those who purchase the slamming products and cutting-edge services we provide, then come back to testify just how freakin’ awesome they were. Sometimes they hang around, sometimes they don’t.
  • Our online friends: These people do a little of both. They stick around to join in the conversation, become part of the community and retain your services if they need them. Equally important, they help to share your message and partner with you to do even greater things. It’s a real win-win situation.

Those who make a real impact online are adept at mixing business with pleasure. They join exciting and progressive online communities and become really skilled at creating connections. They understand the synchronicity of working successfully online.

But I have to ask:  Are we REALLY creating friendships, in the authentic sense of the word ?

Authentic friendship

There was a time before social media when friendship meant you actually hung out together. You were able to recognise a friend’s laughter a mile away, and we knew one another’s embarrassing stories and unique talents.

Friendship was more than 140 characters, or an ‘on topic’ comment. It was intimate, personal and a little vulnerable.

You could hang out for the day and no one tried to sell you an ebook for sale when you went home.

My theory is that although we enjoy and participate in the online community, there is always an undertone of business, keeping it professional and, dare I say, projecting and protecting our brand.

It’s a wonderful thing that technology allows us to connect with people in different time zones, but I’m not sure if we’re really making the most of that channel of communication to deepen our friendships. Despite the ridiculous amount of time we spend online, how many of us really know each other?

So to answer Dino’s question, whether online friends matter as much as real ones. For me at least, the short answer is no. But, I’d like to change that.

So here’s the idea

Wouldn’t it be cool to spend a day just hanging out together. No selling, promoting or marketing, but totally busting out of your niche, and sharing a little about who you really are and what makes you unique. Let’s scrap protocol for the day and just have some fun cruising each other’s blogs.


Because that’s the way people deepen their communication and become friends. They share.

I’m wondering if we can come to together, put the marketplace on hold and have a day of Show and Tell like when we were back at school.


Why: Show and tell is a day to connect with your neighbors, not your readers. Our blogs have no borders; we are making connections with people from all over the world. It’s time to share your special flavor.

What: Create a post that represents who you are.  No marketing messages, niche talk, affiliate links, nothing. Close shop for the day and get creative on a personal level

You might include things like:

  • What do you like to do on weekends
  • Your previous life as a singer in a punk rock band
  • Your skills with a sewing machine or a paint brush

Your only limitation is your imagination. Use video, audio, paint, show poetry, pictures. Whatever you like, just create a digital mosaic of your life and present it to us, your friends; not your customers.

When :Monday 25th of July 2011

Where: Your blog, of course

How: Share this post as much, and in any way you can. If you’re part of Triberr let’s see how far this reach really extends.

Tag It: If you plan on getting involved in Show and Tell, then put the hashtag #NicheAmnesty in the title of your post, so we can all know who’s sharing. Additionally please also use the hashtag when tweeting about your post or others.

Make this a “No Blogger Left Behind” initiative. Get everyone involved. Let’s change the agenda for a day and simply hang out and get to know each other better.

  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • Do you prefer to keep it strictly business?
  • Can you see the value in getting to know each other better?

Stacey Herbert

Stacey Herbert is the Managing Editor here at DIY Blogger NET. She is also a thinker, schemer, detail driven dream chaser, the brains and the smile behind If you’re in search of a blog-less-ordinary, her's is the place to be.

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  • Elena Patrice

    Hello Stacey!

    So great to read your post and see that smashing red hat and beautiful smile of yours!! I really dig this idea and think it’s a worthy endeavor! This should definitely be interesting and I’m in! Personally, I think there’s great value in getting to know our online community friends better. For me, it’s an opportunity to share laughs, gain a great connection through being more authentic and therefore building trust, which is key to any real and lasting friendship. Oh the things we could learn and enjoy! Nice to let down “our guard” for a bit ey?!

    Great post – thank you! Thank you as well for being super creative and spicing things up a bit! Have a fantabulous day!
    Much kindness,

    • Stacey Herbert

      Elena…glad your going to take part and share you special “hot sauce” with us all. Don’t forget to hashtag it up

  • Makobi Scribe

    I am so in! This sounds like a fab idea! I am online so much, and I feel I have forged some “friendships.” I will share this post with others and hashtag it up on the 25th! Can’t wait to meet all of you.

    • Stacey Herbert

      Awesome I can’t wait to meet ya Makobi…beautiful name by the way

  • Stan Faryna

    I’m SO in! Because if you can’t bring it online, you don’t bring much… online – professionally or personally. [grin]

    Oh – I love you too, Stacey! A bit delayed and out of place, but there it is.

    • Stacey Herbert

      I can’t see wait to see what you come up with…I have to seriously get my thinking cap on  hmmmm..what to share with the’s a difficult question?  Expressions of love and appreciation are never delayed or out of place. Bring it Stan!

      • Stan Faryna

        It happens offline. I will actually wonder how Stacey is doing. And about JM, Jack, Lori, Janet, Dino, Dan, etc.

        I think of you. I pray for you. I wish you to be happy and successful. I keep you in my heart. But I don’t always get to every blog post. Or I may miss a week of posts. Or I stop by and don’t have anything to say. Just came by to see what you’re thinking about.

        I think that means something. What do you think? Lock me up? [grin]

  • Tracie Thompson

    My immediate response to this question was, “Since when are online friendships NOT “real” ones? Why the automatic assumption?”

    I have four online friendships that matter as much as any I’ve ever had. It’s worth noting, though, that I’ve developed those relationships (all with other people who, like me, are past 30) on sites unrelated to business, where I feel much more free because I don’t have to constantly be aware of Being Professional.

    There’s a group of four of us, in my life, who are friends in all the “real” senses you described. One of us had surgery yesterday, and the others gathered around her (online) when she got home, telling stories and jokes. She’s already received the first of the packages we’re sending. We comfort and support each other in every way friends do — jobs, family life, moving, fun, all of it.

    Perhaps the question ought to be, “Is it possible to make deep friendships in business-related contexts online?” For me, that hasn’t happened, but it’s not the “online” part that’s the obstacle. It’s the “business” part.

    • Stacey Herbert

      I get your point..but it wouldn’t have been such a clickable headline : ) I agree though, business agenda’s can get in the way of people just connecting and supporting each other. So are you in? #Nicheamnesty.

      • Tracie Thompson

        Sure, why not? I’m an artist and probably have more latitude, on that account, than I might suppose. On the other hand, I’m an artist and thus I feel like I have to be extra-careful because of the “crazy unreliable artist” stereotype in our culture, you know?

        It’s been something I’ve been considering anyway, though — whether to start putting more of myself, rather than only my work, on my blog. I’ll take you up on it.

  • Robert Dempsey

    Nice headline Stacey – getting the clicks. As I’m in Thailand and connecting with people in the US, UK, Australia, and many other countries, you could say that I have a lot of “online friends” that I won’t be meeting in person any time soon. Typically we meet via a blog – theirs, mine, or another – and the relationship begins by being personal and not discussing business. Later (typically in the first conversation) business is discussed in brief. However that’s not the focus of the conversation.

    So for me my online friends mean quite a lot. I’m not sure if my talking with them on a regular basis via Skype still makes them “online friends” though they could fit the label as we’ve never met in real life.

    As for them counting or not, I’ve had many opportunities, both business and personal, arise from these relationships. So it’s a big yes to that one.

    So no need for me to hashtag things as I already operate on a personal level and have a number of posts like that too.

    • Stacey Herbert

      The hashtag, was to help easily identify via twitter who was sharing. It’s awesome that you already operate on a personal level. I remember emailing you myself and you being so incredibly helpful.  So will you be sharing on this occasion?

      • Robert Dempsey

        My response is going to take more than a comment section can handle so I’ll be replying in this coming Sunday’s post. Thanks for another thought provoking post Stacey.

        • Stacey Herbert

          Ah, ok..I take it this either inspired or inflamed you…should I be concerned? Get a hard hat or a fire hose or something? : )

          • Robert Dempsey

            I’d say both! It’s more fun that way 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Splendid idea. I’m in.

    • Stacey Herbert

      Great. I’m excited I can see it being so fun and insightful to see how people express themselves. #NicheAmnesty..I can’t wait. Look forward to coming over to your place

  • Eric Wittlake

    Stacey (and Dino), this is an interesting topic. I am a proponent of using social media marketing to build relationships, the best ones are like the friends you describe above. The strongest relationships stretch across channels, and it isn’t the channel that matters, the channel is merely an enabler.

    Do I recognize someone’s laugh on Twitter? Of course not. But I can identify their view or unique brand of sarcasm. When the intention is creating a relationship for mutual benefit (not just until you refuse to by my product or read my whitepaper), real friendship can blossom in any channel. It’s just a little harder online, where it forms on the equivalent of a busy sidewalk cafe with a barrage of constant interruptions.

    — @wittlake

    • Stacey Herbert

      Hi Eric I agree, there some people online I’m incredibly found of @faryna:disqus @bdorman:twitter @Jkthustler not to Mention Mr Dogan, who is usually just cheeky to me, all come to mind, lol. But I think it would great to get to know the, and you a bit more. This channel enables us to share a bit of our special flavour. Will you be joing in ..I hope so #nicheamesty

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  • Riley Harrison

    Hey Stacey
     I went back and reread the blog  loss of a dear friend . What a great (real and chock full of wisdom) conversation ensued in the comments. What you propose is an interesting idea. If it’s successful perhaps it could become an annual event in which people provide updates as to what’s going on in their lives. It would be the internet version of the Christmas letter (or for non-Christians a happy holiday letter) that many send with their card.Riley

    • Stacey Herbert

      Now that is an idea and a half Riley…please partner with us in getting the word out there and making it super successful. I went back to that post last night also, and the reader comments..took it to a whole new level. I love you guys

  • Adrienne Smith

    What an interesting subject and one I definitely would like to chime in on. 

    I met a lady online two years ago and that same year she and her husband were in town for a conference.  We spent the evening together and had the best time.  Since that time we talk on the phone at least once a month and I am delighted to be able to call one of my closest friends.  She does live in another state and we haven’t seen each other since but I’m someone she can talk to and count on and she is the same way for me.  So I do believe that some of your online friends can be just as important as your offline friends.

    Count me in and I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone.  How fun that will be.  Thanks for giving us this idea Stacey. 

    • Stacey Herbert

      Hi Adrienne, I do too. I think a wonderful plus point in your case was that you actually got the opportunity to sit and connect with this woman, eye to eye, energy to energy. Now, you can call each other close friends because you have invested time and love in your friendship..I don’t think it so much matters hows we meet, but maybe the approach or maybe the way we manage these connections we make. I’m so glad your in Adrienne…I think the 25th is going to be an eye opener of a day in the best possible way. 

  • Marianne Worley

    I love this idea Stacey! When I started blogging, I thought I would be writing about business topics 90% of the time, but as time goes on, it’s more like 50% business, 50% personal. I enjoy reading personal stories–getting to know people is the best part of this big social media world.

    Definitely count me in!

    • Stacey Herbert

      Brilliant…the more the merrier. I have a feeling I will be spending all of the 25th on line, being blown away by the amazingness every one will bring to the table. Super excited and even more excited to have you on board Marianne. Love and light.xx

  • Erica Allison

    Stacey, what a breath of fresh air you are! I love this idea and I will publish something totally me on the 25th…must put some thought into that because I do share a bit of myself with each post, but will try to put down the brand management bag for this post and give it my authentic all!

    Great idea and I’m sorry to hear about your friend.

    • Stacey Herbert

      Thanks Erica…I’m sorry about my friend too..but sending her love and light and leaving a big space for many more like her to come into my life. Online or off. Its good to connect with you , you have some super nice I just sound like a purple haired hippy, lol

  • The Nerdy Nurse

    I have a few “online” friends that I speak with on the phone and have met in person, so I don’t think they count as online friends anymore. However, the majority of my communication with them is online. 
    And although I’m always aware of my brand, my friendships with them go deeper than that and those people I am never try to sell anything to. 
    That is the difference I believe between “online friends” and “Friends”- it’s when you stop actively marketing to them and are just yourself. 

    • Stacey Herbert

      Hi lady, I totally agree. It can be a tangled web, but I’m really starting to appreciate how much people “buy from people” and not just brand identification…Apple being the exception, lol. I really hope you come and share your special flavour

  • markivey

    Good post. They “matter” in different ways. Maybe not the way we’d like to think in the “good old days” when it seemed like “real relationships” were more prevalent- deep, personal relationships where you can confide your deepest secrets, and come to your rescue in the times of a personal crisis. The world has changed-how many people even know their next door neighbors? But online relationships still count, now more than ever to help us navigate our personal and business lives. My take on “the Power of Loose Ties” here

    • Stacey Herbert

      Your right the world has changed and it’s funny…since I moved away from the place I call an island where I know pretty much no one. My online relationships with both long term friends and people I’ve met blogging or just online have become a bit of a life line, normality even to me. Good point you make here. Hope you’ll be joining us for a day of show and tell #nicheamnnesty

  • Stan Faryna

    Here’s my warm up for Monday, Stacey. “The First Duty of Love is to Listen.” #nicheamnesty

    Do you like it?

  • Constantin Gabor

    I just hate to write about me – I used to do that like a personal journal but I don’t do it anymore… I only mention me when my experience is relevant to what I’m blogging about.

    I think my YouTube or Vimeo channels say a lot about me:

    • Stacey Herbert

      Horses for courses, I say..bloggers by their nature can be quite narcissistic, I guess I fall into that category. I hope you will come and share with us, what makes you tick though my friend. It’s just a day to let loose and have pressure

  • Brad Holland

    Ahh, this is a great idea. I’ll try and dig up the county jail mug shots, security footage of my first bank heist and audio of my failed attempt at being a gangsta rapper. See you there folks..

    • Stacey Herbert

      I knew you were a dodgy one Brad…but can;t wait to see you bring it…share the vibes…the more the merrier

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      S.P.A.M… thinks?

  • Life, for instance

    Sure! Have the big party as soon as I go off the grid LOL
    It sounds cool and now we CAN hangout – at GOOGLE+ – how cool is that?
    Then again, my blog is a social one so you’re pretty much going to get to know me, whether or not you want to, if you hang out there at all!
    I love the idea of connecting through video though. When I return I hope to spend more time on Google +

    • Stacey Herbert

      I was thinking that went I saw your vacation dates…bummer….although we did catch up over dinner last night.! Btw..thanks for picking up Bill…and bringing the chilled sparking goodness…..Bills desert…well that’s was just off the scale..and Bern…well you just gotta love the guy…#imagination. We must do it again soon, lol.xx

  • Betsy Cross

    Stacey, I’m in for the fun of it! When we moved last year I started a blog and let all of me hang out CAUSE I THOUGHT NO ONE WAS LISTENING! HAHA! Surprise! My friends and family now know everything about me (they think) than they ever would have! Transitioning into finding an audience for business has required me to look outside of my circle of friends and create new relationships.Sign of the times! Honestly, online business is the same as walking into a store. The advantage you have in person is assessing the ambiance and reading body language. Somehow that happens online, too. You can just feel a person’s integrity. I’m having a blast figuring it all out. Seriously, Stacey, you scare me!(in the good sense)!!! Sometimes I think you’re going to jump out of the screen!

    • Stacey Herbert

      Betsy, that it possibly one of the biggest compliments you could pay me…..that’s my goal. “to jump off the screen, into your heart, mind and life”. I’m so glad your going to take part.

  • Stuart Mills

    Funnily enough Stacey, this is something I’ve been thinking about recently. Good timing!

    I’ve been using Skype a lot these days, and I’ve had some really great conversations with other bloggers. However, I couldn’t help but feel a level of discomfort when using Skype, like there was something not quite ‘right’. On reflection, I realised it’s because I wasn’t actually ‘there’ with the other person.

    Sit me down with anyone, anyone at all, and I’ll get a good conversation going. Maybe not great, but good. However, get me on Skype with the most engaging person of all time, and although the conversation may be very engaging indeed, there will always be that something missing. That human connection, where human beings are in close proximity with each other, will always be absent.

    I think it’s this desire for that connection, that will keep me seeking out more conversations with people who I’m there with. Not that I’m saying online friends don’t matter, because they sure as hell DO. But without that ‘human connection’, it won’t feel complete 🙂

    • Stacey Herbert

      Hey Stuart, you touch on an interesting point. I can remember the anxiety and nerves I felt when I spoke to Dino and Bern on skype. I felt like I knew them..but I realised well …I don’t actually know them. There is something to be said for being able to look dead into someones eye when you speak with them, touch their knee when making a point, and just be in their presence to see them laugh rather than,”lol”. But hey we have to work with what we got eh. I hope you’ll be joining us on Monday?

      • Stuart Mills

        It’s unlikely, I don’t have any plans on writing a personal one on Monday, mainly because I like to mix it up on my blog, and I’ve recently done a “25 Things About Me” post! So I’ll be getting down to business again 😉

  • Benny Hsu

    When I follow a blog regularly, I always enjoy reading or seeing another side of that blogger. I’ve read some fun “things you didn’t know about me posts”. 

    This is a great idea! I don’t know if I’ll have a post ready by Monday! I take awhile to craft my posts cause I edit like a mad man!! 

    However I will definitely read what others have written!

    • Stacey Herbert

      Hey Benny…there were some things I just discovered about you kick box…and your fiancée is a total honey. Those pics are amazing…Go Benny..ya did good, lol. Hope you’ll find a bit of time to have a bit of fun and get into the spirit if it…no pressure just good times! 

  • Anonymous

    Oh, so this is #nicheamnesty? Does it mean I have to do some work? Yikes……….I’m as transparent as a pane of glass. What you see is what you get………pretty simple, huh? 

    I’ve already done my post for Monday and it touches on a little bit of who I am and what I haven’t done for my community so I will make that count. We’ll see how it runs………..

    • Stacey Herbert

      Hi Bill….sorry you didn’t see this in time to totally get into the spirit of things..but looking forward to hanging out at your joint this Monday. Peace

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  • Susana Aires

    That’s a great, great idea, Stacey! We are so much more than we normally show 😀

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  • Justice Wordlaw IV

    I really like the idea of how you put this. I know that a lot of people really get to involved within the business world and forget about just trying to build relevant relationships with people. I know some of the people I met online that contained no business at all we have built more income together in the long run.

    • Stacey Herbert

      Hi Justice, sometimes you have to go through the back door, to come out the front door right…I hope that makes some semblance of sense, lol

      • Justice Wordlaw IV

        It made some sense after I looked at it for about 5 minutes. LOL

  • Central E

    This is very clever – I really like it. 🙂 IT should not be once in a while it should be one a week or every two weeks – it’s not always about branding and business.

    • Stan Faryna

      You see, I’m not the only one that thinks this is one of the best things to happen on DIY. [smile]

      • bonnie

        Stan is rite it should go on not only did  I learn about 
        other bloggers but I’ve gotten some business ideas
        and help from other bloggers. I’ve even had 1 or 2 bloggers
        I met threw this day saying I wish there was a way we could
        keep it going. So I’m glad to here it will be going on  Stacey.

        You Rock Girl 

    • Stacey Herbert

      My buddy Stan, thinks the same..leave it with me..lets see how this good vibe can be continued in the best possible way

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry I missed out on this. I’ve seen several tweets containing the #nicheamnesty hashtag and I honestly had no idea what was going on. Guess I need to get more in tune to what’s out there! 

    I agree with Central E. This should be a once a week or once every two weeks type of thing. I’d love to get involved the next go around.

    Great idea by the way!

    • Stacey Herbert

      I’m sorry you missed out with getting involved on the actual day, but you know what…any day is a #nicheamnesty day if that’s the day you decide you want to share. Come on over and get involved.. the more the merrier I say.

  • Stan Faryna

    I don’t think I got around to everyone that made a #nicheAmnesty post. A link and list of all the participants would be helpful.

    • Stacey Herbert

      I’ll be doing a round up post…except even to today the 28th, people are still getting involved I can’t even believe it, its amazing. Woo man..I stoked about about this..#nicheamnesty was awesome in so many ways

  • Alexis Kenne

    What a great title to share. A conflict between real friends and online friends is such a dilemma one can debate on. The purpose of any online business is profit and traffic and we all know that your real friends cannot impact your online business like online friends. Online friends will know exactly what you are up to, by understanding your business ventures but real friends might not have that expertise in understanding what online business is all about so will be limited. I take for example facebook: you can have real friends & online friends, the difference is that what yu say to real friends is not what you might say to online friends and most at times real friends will be in better positions in sharing views on your  blog post than real friends with exceptions.

  • Anonymous

    Many of my close personal friends are people I met first online, and later in person. Online relationships absolutely matter as much and are as real as those relationships I make with people in my local area. The means of human interaction are less important than the interaction itself. Every time I blog and comment, I’m connecting with other people, and that relationship is invaluable to me!

    I heard about this challenge on Adrienne Smith’s blog and decided to give it a go myself. So here’s my #NicheAmnesty contribution:

    Thanks for this great idea!

    • Stacey Herbert

      Hey Chrysta..I’ve seen your awesome post and will be over to share some love tomorrow…we have something in common…both scooter riders..I drive a pink honda vario..not half as cool as your though, lol

  • BuildOnlineBusiness

    Well, I kinda already did this and not by reading your blog – it was just an idea of I did get your link from Adrienne Smith! But, I actually have many friends online that I have never met and never sell anything to, but on But, no really, they have been my friend for over 10 years, through other business ventures. I probably have more online friends than off. I have met some wonderful people through all my business ventures and even just adding them as friend players on various games – yup, I play games to relax


  • Stan Faryna


  • Michael Said

    Great idea and I agree that it would be nice to better cement online relationships. Your idea of sharing this type of info on a blog on a set day was a very good one, pity I missed it. 

  • Geolocation App

    Interesting post. Nowadays many of using social media sites and it’s helps to make new friends, share information and engage with users. 

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