07 Apr 2011

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Not being on a social network is like having a company which doesn’t appear in your favourite search engine - it is just a requirement of being online in our era and for a long time I have tried to get to the utopian world of an integrated social experience where everyone was everywhere and my updates, posts, pictures etc… trickled across all social networks, so no matter what you did you could hear what I had to say or was doing etc…

This was a stupid idea and I thought I would share my learning’s about that process.

Problem 1 – He with the most friends wins

With Facebook I feel into the trap of accepting every friend request, loading my address book into it and basically any other “tricks” I could to increase my friend count. This meant that logging on to Facebook was a stream of conscience from people I really didn’t care about and so overtime I moved away from Facebook as the value I took out of it was low.

The solution to this was to create a set of guides for people to be my friends on Facebook. I am not going to cover all of them, I’ll just focus on two of them but I had about 5 or 6 which I use to decide who to keep or accept requests from:

  1. Time span rule – if I have seen you or had more than a Christmas email for 5 years or more, you are out.
  2. Override – I can keep anyone for any reason breaking any other rule Winking smile 

Using my rule set I trimmed from over 300 friends to less than 90 and Facebook is now a daily visit site because I do care about the thoughts of those 90 people.

Summary: Be very selective of who you follow on your social networks.

Problem 2 – The right tool for the the right job

110772_strip_sundayOne of the problems with Facebook friends, is that many of the those people were “frendors” or people who I just saw in the passages at work. Facebook isn’t meant for great communication around work however there is better choices for them:

  • LinkedIn – This is great for business partners, frendors, business contacts and key direct co-workers. This ensures that the value of the conversation is higher because it is more business focused and people do care deeply about their careers on there.
  • Yammer – This is for people I work with, regardless of anything else. This is also great because it is a walled garden so we can have those private conversations that are company/team specific.
  • Twitter – We met at an event, you want to hear from me or want me to hear from you but we don’t care about much else Twitter makes a great place to put people while I evaluate their value and should I try and add them to other networks. Many people start off here and move to the others.

Sure there are a few people who are on more than one network, but those are exceptions to the rule. Most people end up in one place.

Summary: Facebook for friends & family, LinkedIn for your professional career, Yammer for co-workers & Twitter for all else.

Problem 3 – Auto post is not your friend

I personally spend more time in Twitter than any other network, and I eventually had it setup that every tweet went to Facebook & LinkedIn too. The problem is Twitter is really unfiltered and I do post a lot of jokes or half baked ideas which detract from my professional value on LinkedIn or are so technical that my friends & family on Facebook scratched their heads with confusion.

Thankfully this can be fixed: Don’t auto post. LinkedIn supports this with a setting you must enable, Yammer does this by default and for Facebook don’t use the standard Twitter app rather use the Selective Tweets app. All these require you tag a tweet with a special tag, for it to auto post, i.e. Facebook it is #fb, Yammer is #yam & LinkedIn is #li

So if I post something on Twitter and want it on Yammer & LinkedIn I append the tags and it is on all three networks but not on Facebook!

Summary: Post selectively to the right social networks.

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