I was recently tagged in a note on Facebook that was a departure from the typical list of things about myself. Gene Deel, a fellow Dell employee, solicited my input on his note titled “Defying Newton: Simultaneously Managing Relationships in Multiple Social Networks.” It turned out to be rather thought provoking.
Gene’s post was prompted by a post he read on Mashable called “How to Simplify Your Social Media Routine.” My first thought was that I don’t really do anything to manage social networks. Then, I thought, well maybe it’s that I focus on one; but, I wasn’t sure that was totally true because being here is not that area of focus. Then, I thought I’d take a read of the Mashable article you’d linked.
Turns out, I’m thinking along many of the same lines as that writer. I have, as he suggests, determined which social media network gives me the most value – Twitter. It has become integrated into my life and allows me to quickly connect with people with similar interests.
That didn’t happen overnight, however. I’ve been there for more than two years – longer than I’ve been in any other social network. Some of the people I have connected with there are also connected to me in virtual worlds, facebook, friendfeed, etc. So, we do cross paths in multiple ways; but, the majority I met there first.
One of the hardest things I had to learn is another tip from the Mashable article: “Let go of the need to read everything.” It is still sometimes hard to resist the urge to look back at what I might have missed when I’m away from Twitter, but if I don’t, I spiral into a never-ending whirlpool of twitterstreams of which you can never reach the top.
I did disagree with that writer on one thing, however. He said to “limit yourself to high-impact messages to reduce the time you spend communicating.” If I were to do that, I don’t believe I would have expanded my network as much as I have. Some of this may be due to my social network of choice. If you wait for something “quality” to say in Twitter, you will seldom tweet. Most of us don’t believe we have a lot of quality things to say, and would therefore rarely tweet. Those who do have that high of an opinion of themselves are usually just self-promoting and quickly become boring.
The whole thing that makes social networks social is that you share the mundane along with the impactful. Yes, it means we must sift through a lot of chaf to get the grains of good stuff; but, without it you don’t really get to know the people from whom you are learning. Without that information, you can’t congratulate them when their kid gets a part in the school play. Or send your best wishes and sympathies when needed. Or know that they might be interested in a certain blog post you just read. And without that knowledge you need to have about someone in order to give back to them, you simply use them. That’s not the sort of relationship that lasts, or that I want.
But, I’ve digressed from the original question of what other tips I might have for managing social networks. And my best suggestion for that is toolbars and buttons. Many of the different networks have toolbars or buttons you can add to your browser that allow you to easily share. I use the StumbleUpon toolbar, delicious buttons, the TwitThat button, and a Share on Facebook button.
Grabbing those links, I notice that most of them are Firefox add-ons, so maybe the real Swiss Army knife of social media management tools is Firefox!
[image from Phillip Torrone via Creative Commons License]