Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest – and that’s just my most frequently visited social media hangouts . I don’t know about you, but I’m so damn social that I don’t have time to sleep anymore! It seems that every time we start to settle into somewhere on the web another social network pops up and we’re all creating yet another hangout. I know I got hooked on Pinster in less than 4 hours and before I knew it – bam! – people were following me and I was engaged with yet another audience.
The problem with being social is that unless you have a unique message, people really don’t need to see that you are “Going out for pizza at the new place” on 10 different social networks. For one, it gets to be a chore to update them all and second, if you have time to post the same thing to all 10 different networks I’m going to start to question just how much free time (and creativity) you have! Pretty soon people really get tired of seeing your message repeated your message repeated your message repeated. Not to mention the fact that some networks are there for professional/business opportunities, and that potential employer or your current boss probably doesn’t need to know that you are “kicking it at the club” every Wednesday night.
This is the dilemma I found myself in. I had a lot of great social networks going with various folks – some that overlapped, but many were becoming unique to that particular community – and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just copying and pasting the same information over and over. So I decided it was time to segment out the social networks and take the strengths of each to define what I wanted to use them for.
Facebook – It’s the social gathering spot for your friends and family. The beauty of it is you can control your social circle, but still it’s meant to be more of “what’s happening” network instead of something you probably want to build up a professional resume on. Interesting articles I read about social issues, what I’m doing (as if anyone cares), and where I’m going all end up on here.
Twitter – Used mostly for interaction with companies I do business with and as a broadcast tool at conferences. Twitter has a unique ability to “evolve on the spot” to whatever situation you are in thanks to #hashtags, etc. It’s not unusual to get a bunch of new followers that are all at the same event you are, and then to have them unfollow the next week. That’s cool – I consider that one of its strengths.
Linkedin – This is a no brainer. Professional references and colleagues only. If I don’t know you, you aren’t a thought leader in professional areas I am interested in, or someone who I have worked with then I don’t add you. I consider Linkedin to be the professional side of me and not a catch-all.
Google+ – I used this for my more professional social networking. I tend to post more technical stuff here, things I’m working on or researching at the moment. I keep all the “fluff” and social/economic stuff off there. It’s open for all, but definitely more geek-tech-business oriented.
Pinterest – This social network exploded out of nowhere and really is burning up the social atmosphere right now. This is a place where I share what interests me visually. I tend to connect to folks on here that I may not know, but who share my same tastes in home décor, clothing, etc. The few friends I do know on here I follow because we share similar tastes and/or backgrounds.
Flickr – I use Flickr as my primary photo album. It’s open to all, and can be pictures of anything I have personally taken about things that interest me. It also makes a good place to store pictures that I don’t want to lose. I’ll also use it for a place to find Creative Commons licensed pictures I can use in my blog and other places.
My Blog (this website) – I don’t blog quite as much as I used to, only when I have something I feel needs saying. I use my personal blog and web space for promoting things that interest me – such as hobbies, interests and professional material. It’s my “index” on the web.
There are of course other social sites that I use on a less frequent basis such as Foursquare, Tumblr, etc. It seems like each week a new social startup is launched. The problem is that I simply don’t have enough time – or interests – to be active on all of them. By narrowing down each one to a specific purpose I feel I can get my “brand” (personal image if you will) out to more people more effectively. In the end, that is what social media should be all about – your brand, whether you are a person or a business promoting a product. You have to use the tools available to communicate most effectively in a voice that people want to hear in order for your message to ever be heard.
One last thing before we call this blog post quits. No matter which social site you are on I always recommend that you use a consistent username. As long as your content is safe for public consumption, and you want to build up an online reputation, I always recommend grabbing your own name as a username. You’ll find that on most sites I’ve used my name (Robert Stinnett) as my public ID, or a variant close to it. Keep in mind that as long as you are conscientious about what your posting, this has a lot of benefits because it allows you to build up a presence and following online. However, the drawback is that if you are trying to keep stuff private and not linked back to who you really are then this isn’t the answer. Of course, remember, no matter who you are or what you say, the Internet has a way of unmasking us all…
See you on the social channels!