Today’s Digital Attitude Adjustment is focusing on building connections: connections to other humans via the internet. Social connections are the currency by which you build your social reputation and ultimately, your digital eminence. Out here in cyberspace, communication takes place in the form of written words, pictures, and videos. These are your digital footprints, the path to you.
Building your online reputation all boils down to connecting with others.
No others = No reputation = No eminence.
What that means is you need to join and participate in at least one social network.
A common question I get asked is “What social network should I join?” and “Which social network would be right for me?” I know it can be confusing so here are some thoughts to help guide you.
Chart Credit Laurel Papworth and Gary Hayes
* INVOLVE – listen to, live the social web, understand it, this cannot be faked
* CREATE – make relevant content for communities of interest
* DISCUSS – no conversation around it, then the content may as well not exist
* PROMOTE – actively, respectfully, promote the content with the networks
* MEASURE – monitor, iteratively develop and respond or be damned!
1. Figure out who you want to connect with. (If you are a business, who is your audience?)
Ask what social media venues others in your organization or profession are using? Different venues are good for different connections. The leaders are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube. They serve different purposes for different people, but, if I was starting today, I would join Facebook for personal and LinkedIn for business. Twitter is really good too, but not everyone was born to Tweet.
I think my personal history kind of parallels the growth of social media, so here is a little flash back.
I started my journey into social networks back in the 1970’s with Usernets and Bulletin Board Services (BBS). They allowed me to chat with others through online forums. The conversations were not interactive, like we have today, but they were revolutionary for the time.
In the 1980’s I moved to online services, CompuServe, Prodigy, and then America On Line (AOL). At that time I also was starting to use Internet Relay Chat (IRC & IRQ)) services which developed into Instant Messaging.
Then in 1997 I discovered a service called “Six Degrees.” This was the first site that I can remember that actually let me have a profile.
I think it took several years (or maybe I was busy working and raising a family) but about 2005 I joined a new venture called MySpace (it was big for it’s time, but I would not bother with it today);
In 2006, I moved to Facebook (where I still play with my family and friends everyday, sharing status updates and pictures);
I joined Twitter when it was an egg (2007 or 08), but I am only just starting to Tweet on a daily basis (and watch all the knowledge that flashes by every moment of every minute of every hour – thanks to my new very social friend at Kenexa (an IBM company), Bruce Kneuer, Social Media Manager).
I have been a member of LinkedIn since 2009, but , like many people, I thought it was only for job hunting, which is not true anymore, so I am using it much more (a shout out to Social IBMer Ben Martin, who has some great blog posts to help you use LinkedIn).
I started my pet blog,DogDaz, on Tumblr in 2010, but moved it to DogDaz on WordPress in 2011, which is a better platform for it. I still do Tumblr but only go on to reblog the great pictures that people post.
I ‘pin’ sometimes on Pinterest, but mostly I watch what my kids have on their boards.
I belong to several groups in LinkedIn, as well as other communities of practice I belong to, but am getting ready to pare down because I have to many.
I am also active within my company, IBM, on our internal social space called Connections.
This of course is separate from all the email spaces that I use for the blogs, personal, and business (AOL, gmail, and Lotus Notes). Oh Yeah, I do have a Google+ account but have not had the time to research it’s value for me yet.
I tell you all this because, different venues serve different purposes. Now you are probably really confused, so read step 2 below.
2. Do your research and experiment.
I joined different networks over the years, but only one at a time. This way I could observe and listen for a while to see how the network worked, what was being discussed, and where I might want to put my few precious comments. If you do your homework in Step 1 above (What are other people you know using? What is your professional organization or business group communicating on?), you may get your answer quickly. Like I said, the winners today usually are LinkedIn and Twitter if you want business like connections.
3. Set goals and manage your time.
Social media can suck up all your time if you let it, so be clear about why you are using it and how much time you have to devote to the activity every day. A timer really does work, so get one! Twitter and Facebook demand more time to be active on than LinkedIn or Pinterest. Be real with yourself about the time you will have to devote to the medium.
4. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
You really have to prioritize what you are doing. You do not need to be on every social network, and you do not have to use them every day. It is better to be on only one social network and have good participation, then to be overwhelmed and not participate at all.
The only way you build your social reputation is by connecting through social networks. If you are not connected, you need to remedy that right now! Without virtual connections, you basically are talking to yourself. Sharing information without connecting is meaningless.
YOUR ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT HOMEWORK: GET CONNECTED
For a great exercise in connectivity and human relationship building check out “Leading With Intention,” a blog by Vicki Flaherty, a fellow IBMer..
Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.
(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)
6 thoughts on “4 Steps To Decide What Social Network To Join”
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Great advice, Lorian! Personally, I’ve reached a point where I need to spend some time on #3 and #4 in your list. I want to be engaged and enjoy my experience digital. If I have too many things going on, I feel stretched and I’m not fully present anywhere. Wish me luck! (And, thanks for mentioning Leading With Intention!)
You are very welcome. It is hard with all the ‘pulls’ on us these days to keep focused on only the few important ones. Think about the top 3 places where you can do the most good, one of them being your blogging.
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