4 Steps To Decide What Social Network To Join

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.

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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.

2973684461_8ecfb1dd10_zChart 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..

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

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Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

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Don’t Add To My WorkLoad!

I have been thinking a great deal about how I live (aka: how I spend my time), and to be honest, I think I could use my time more wisely.  My goal is to use social media as a tool to replace work that I am already doing, not to add to my work load. I keep hearing that I need to work smarter, not harder.  Coming up with that equation is … a lot of work.

arg-fish-storyI read an interesting article by Clay Shirky, called “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus,” on WorldChanging, about the use of leisure time. He calls it ‘Social Surplus.’ Social surplus is “time we have when we are not doing paid work, our so called ‘leisure time.”  He says that years ago (20th Century), we spent time engaged in ‘consuming prepackaged media,’ like film and TV, and that now (21st Century) we devote our time to ‘producing and sharing.’ in addition to consuming.   Therefore, he defines the use of social media as a leisure activity.

accountantHe is part right, because most of the blogging and browsing and tweeting that I am doing is during my leisure time (my personal time).  I am doing a lot of business work in my ‘social surplus‘ time.  I am working harder and longer hours then ever before.  This had made me realize that I need to switch some of how I look at things, and some of how I work, because he is also wrong, not all of my social media use is personal, and therefore, not all ‘social surplus.’  For example, reading news is part work, part leisure;  IBM email, is all work; Twitter, is 90% work; Facebook, is 100% leisure; this blog, is work, but DogDaz.com blog is leisure.  It is clear that the lines between work and leisure (professional /personal), at least on the internet, have blurred with the advent of social media.  It is not about finding clear lines between the two, but about how I learn to work differently in another medium.  Luis Suarez is a perfect example,  He is the IBMer that gave up email and communicates only through social media for all his projects and communications.  I don’t sense that he is trying to figure out where his professional tweets end and his personal tweets begin (if you know what I mean).  Trying to keep the two worlds separate is a waste of time and energy.

Let’s look at what I might do differently to make this swap:

  • Instead of buying and reading newspapers, I am going to get my news headlines on my Twitter feed and Facebook (ie: BBC, CNN, NPR, local news).  I still like the Sunday paper though, so I am keeping that (or I won’t have anything to use when repotting plants).  If I want more than the headline, I can click on the link in the news feed.
  • I stopped randomly playing around on the internet to see what was out there a long time ago, because I think it was a big time waster for me.  Occasionally I still do like to nose around for entertainment and good books but I will be setting my timer to ensure I don’t get lost for hours (sometime I forget to go to bed).
  • I have not given up reading books or watching TV, but I have always limited TV to shows that I have recorded.  I need to be more choosy on the books, I guess, because my pile gets bigger and bigger.
  • When I have a business question and I need lots of input, maybe I can Tweet it, verses calling or Instant Messaging a million people?  That would really save time.  I really need to start leveraging the community of experts out there better.
  • $545E5FB844589F58I need to stop feeling guilty about using social media during work time.  This is a hold over for me probably because I have worked virtually for so many years and had to make sure I limited my use of the www outside of work to after hours. (I may be showing my age but who remembers the BOSS screen on the early computers?)  Those days are gone.  As long as I am using social media to do a better job, I think that it is something that is part of my job, and therefore, it is not ‘social surplus,’ but ‘SOCIAL NECESSITY’ (my term).

What are some ways you can think of incorporating social media into your routine by replacing something you already do in a different medium?   

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Know Thy Self First

Finding the words to define one’s expertise is hard. There are now several pages in my notebook* filled with one or two-word descriptions of things that I believe that I am good at and things that I am an expert in.  After I wrote down all these words, I then took time to think about what I meant by each of them.  I call this deep thinking.

daily_planner_writing_md_wht(*About the Notebook: I told you to get a good notebook, right?  You really need to be writing this stuff down. I’m using a really nice bound journal but you could just steal one from your kid’s school supply stash.  Believe me, you need to have something to write all your Attitude Adjustment Activities in. Stop reading and go get paper and pen now!)

Building your personal brand is a mix of several things and expertise is a big part of it.  Until you know what you are good at, it is really hard to communicate it to others.  And the communication part is what social branding is all about.  You need to ask yourself:  What is it I am known for?  If I ask a colleague or acquaintance, what would they say I am an expert in?  Would they know my distinct point of view on a subject? (And a future thought: Is that what I want to be known for?)

Attitude Adjustment Homework #1:  On at least one sheet of paper, write down the answer to the question “I am ______________”

I am ….a change agent; innovator; caring; mentor; mother; teacher; project manager; driven…..  you get the idea.

Attitude Adjustment Homework #2:  Take some of your words and make a WORD CLOUD (its fun and helps you to visualize).  You can make your cloud at http://www.wordle.net/create.

Here is my word cloud:

wordle expertis

I wanted to understand what ‘expertise’ meant, so I researched it on the internet, but I was not happy with any of the definitions that I found.  The definition I like the best is actually one of ‘competencies,’ and it came from IBM‘s internal encyclopedia called ‘Bluepedia:’

“Competencies are comprised of a balanced and coherent mixture of know-how (skills), know-what (knowledge), know-why (relevant experience) and individual attitude.”

Let’s break that down: (1) know HOW, (2) know WHAT, (3) know WHY, and (4) ATTITUDE.  If you have those four elements of competency then you can definitely consider yourself an expert in an area.  That works for me.

Attitude Adjustment Homework #3: Check in with other people to see if they agree with your cloud of expertise and if they would add or delete anything.

animationfinalKeep up the good attitude.  See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)