3 Steps to make sense of social networks

The main aspect of social networks that really appeal to me is being able to connect with groups of friends/colleagues and stay updated with what they are doing.  Facebook and LinkedIn are two of the social networks I am a part of but I treat them very differently.

facebookI use facebook to keep up with family members, friends and long lost schoolmates. I update my status with things I am doing with the kids, around the house or whatever I want to advertise to the world in a social setting. This was not the case when I first started using Facebook. When I was getting acustomed to Facebook there were a ton of things to do from the Speed Racing and Who has the biggest brain apps, endless movie and TV quizzes and the numerous ways to decorate your Facebook page. All of this just ate up a lot of my time.

After a month of being sucked in, I figured out what would be the most useful aspects for me, cut down my time on Facebook and now feel even much more in touch with the people I connect with.

LinkedInLinkedIn is another network I use to stay in touch with colleagues, see where people are working and track them as they move around to new companies. These contacts I know on a much less personal basis for the most part so I don’t use the status update to advertise what I am doing. I do find LinkedIn very useful in job hunting and hiring becuase it gives you a good idea of a person’s history.

LinkedIn is looking at new ways to encourage more customer interaction with the social network. They introduced an Answers module where you can ask a question and have people within the community answer back. I have not used this to ask a question, but did answer back once. They also added applications that you can integrate to your profile like publishing your WordPress blog to your contacts. This is something I am thinking about but need to look into a little more because I don’t want to send unnecessary information to business contacts.  

I think I have a handle on these two social networks and how I want to use them. I am playing around with twitter and couple of othersto see if they would be useful. So here are my three steps of things to do when joining a social network.

Three Steps in joining a Social Network

  1. Find a social network that appeals to your interests or goals, the more passionate the better. Here is a list of many social networking sites each with it’s own niche.
  2. Connect with friends or others with similar interests. Friends are usually very helpful in learning about how things work. Don’t be afraid to decline requests from people to connect to you if you don’t want to be connected.
  3. Spend a few hours clicking around to see what is available and pick a small set of features to start with. Again, friends are a good resource to listen to.

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