There are so many social networks out there, with more and more launching every week. With invitations flying through cyberspace to a whole host of emerging networks in alpha or beta testing, how do you decide which to accept and which to ignore?
When I’m faced with this decision, I recall a saying of my dad’s: “It’s not or; it’s and!” This alters the situation entirely. Suddenly I no longer approach these decisions considering, “I could join Plurk, or I could join Kwippy”. Instead I think, “I could join Plurk and I could join Kwippy“. By adopting this attitude re-adjustment, I no longer operate from a position of lack, but of abundance.
Your response, however, may be that there’s not enough hours in the day to invest the time and energy required to establish strong connections within each individual community. And you’d be right. I’m not here to tell you to relinquish all ties with the offline world in order to cultivate multitudinous online communities! But, I can think of many benefits in following the advice, “It’s not or; it’s and” when approaching social media. You can:
- Direct traffic: By maintaining a profile on multiple social networks you can inform others of your blog/site/project etc. You can use your profile as a promotional space, directing others to connect with you wherever you so wish.
- Ensure brand consistency: Claiming your username across a number of social networks will prevent others appropriating it. Their reasons for doing so could be completely innocuous & coincidental, but they could also be maliciously intended to cause your brand identity harm. For whatever reason, this can lead to confusion and a lack of consistency. Maintaining the same username & avatar will limit any confusion.
- Strengthen already existing connections: Different social networks focus on different aspects and interests. For example, LinkedIn has a professional focus while Last.fm has a music focus. By connecting with the same people on both, you learn more about your contacts and establish multiple points of commonality.
- Back-up: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s a well-known saying, but with social media, this advice is so often ignored. Let’s say you’ve limited yourself to a Twitter account; you’ve made lots of new contacts, re-established others and you’ve worked hard at nurturing these online relationships. What are you going to do if Twitter was to disappear tomorrow? What happens to your connections? What happens to your online community?
- Experiment and play: Creators of social media are ceaseless innovators. New networks tend to function in different ways, offer new ways of communicating and have many different features to explore. Think of social media as a space of infinite possibility and take the time to investigate and play. Who knows where it’ll take you!
While you may, and indeed should, limit your focus to a few networks for the majority of your community building, I think it makes sense to establish a presence on as broad a spectrum as possible. A little effort goes a long way!
I do get tired of there being so many accounts to keep track of. I try to limit it by linking up as many accounts as I can for example Facebook, Twitter and Bebo – one update does the lot.
I think the point about maintaining your brand is important . I use our company name for everything but it was more out of pride when we first started than a considered action! Mind you I do remember signing up for one account and ‘polr’ was already taken – I was a little miffed at that (until I realised it can also be a surname – doh!) 🙂
Another insightful post. And again, I think a fresh look on things.
Again, something I’ll certainly take into consideration when I take a dive into the blogosphere in the next few days.
I have to confess Amy… I don’t agree with you on this one. I think it’s all too easy to get distracted by the next new shiny thing, and there just isn’t enough time to invest time in relationships and genuine conversation in each.
Ifyou’re a pioneer and need to investigate and try things out yes (and maybe that is the role you play for us) but I’m not sure it’s the right approach for your average social media user.
But maybe that’s because I’m so stubbornly attached to twitter.
PS How can I back up my twitter network? Saw someone suggest that yesterday, but don’t know how I could
That’s a good point, Joanna. I know I would not really have the time to update so many different accounts.
But, as Amy mentioned: “By maintaining a profile on multiple social networks you can inform others of your blog/site/project etc. You can use your profile as a promotional space, directing others to connect with you wherever you so wish.”
Add in a Twitter or Facebook etc link on your profile, and people will be able to contact you in other places. And, with effective ‘tagging’ of your account, especially on new networks, you could be found easily and quickly by new people. And with very little work needed to be done.
And, as PoLR mentioned, being able to link accounts ‘cross-network’ you can show activity as well without needing to go and check more than your preferred site.
Well, at least from how I interpret the idea here.
Polr – there’s nothing quite so annoying as discovering your username has been taken, is there? That’s why I suggest opening accounts on a variety of social networking sites, but, yes, absolutely keep your focus to a smaller number!
Matt – Totally agree with your interpretation! Oh, and let me know when you take that leap into the blogosphere, and I’ll help however I can 🙂
Joanna – I agree with you completely. My suggestion to investigate, explore, play with new networking sites is more as a source of inspiration & I absolutely recommend that you channel your energy into a small selection of sites. However, as Matt suggests, I think you can use these other sites that you’re not actively engaging with to cultivate personal brand and to direct traffic to where you can be found most of the time. Does that make sense?
Thanks Amy. I appreciate the offer of help. 🙂
I imagine it will be at one point before the end of the week that I will be ‘opening’ my blog, so will keep you posted.
I’d say a bit of both is a sensible approach…especially if you’re using social media as part of your business/marketing plan.
On the one hand, you need to be where your prospects/customers hang out but on the other, you don’t want to spread yourself/your brand too thinly (especially if that means diluting your brand).
And as it’s obviously often about community, you do have to put quite a lot of time and effort into building and being part of one – rather than drive-by status updates to multiple places.
Having said that, my Mum always used to say “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” so I think a multi-pronged approach for businesses is just future-proofing yourself and very sensible!
I have a friend (whose Husband works for Facebook, as it happens) who maintains that I am everywhere online. It’s kind of fun to be omnipresent, even if i don’t have the time to visit all of the sites regularly.
Matt – Definitely do!
Lea – I agree that one shouldn’t ‘dilute their brand’ but I do think also that it makes sense to direct traffic to where you want it to go, and accounts on a wide variety of social media sites is one way of doing this. I have accounts in many places, but I really narrow that focus for day-to-day networking!
CelticAngel – It is fun to be omnipresent, isn’t it? Think that word sums it up perfectly!
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