How do you cultivate relationships initiated and largely conducted online via social networking? And how does it work with thousands of people following you?

The answer to the first question is, pretty much like you do offline relationships. And the answer to the second question is...the same.

For me, "shared experiences" are at the heart of successful relationships. The extent of peoples' common experiences strengthen and sustain relationships, even when contact levels may be minimal at times. The degree of emotional intensity in the experiences also drives memorability.

While social networking allows for many more "shared" experiences, it doesn't facilitate a comparable expansion in emotional capacity. Thinking about Twitter, it's clear an RT or a brief DM exchange provides little emotional impact. That makes it tough to remember some people you may have engaged with even a few months ago.

For those with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, it's no different than an offline star: emotional intensity isn't always bi-directional , i.e., fans have intensely emotional experiences with (Twitter rock) stars who have no emotional connection in return.

Beyond simply managing numbers, it's important to manage how you create opportunities for shared experiences online and offline, (i.e., participate in tweetups) and emotional connections within your network over time. By actively, acting on these variables, you can introduce new shared experiences to help keep a waning relationship going within an expanding network. - Mike Brown