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Thriving on Social Media Network Effects

Benefiting from social media network effects requires you to be vigelant about who you are connecting with.

Benefits of Growing Your Social Media Network

In general the more contacts you have, the more you will benefit from social media, or any network for that matter:

  • More opportunities
  • Greater access to expertise, information, news
  • Frequent, valuable feedback
  • Accelerated growth through viral effects
  • Lower cost and better quality attention

There can be downsides of course, mainly in the area of “noise” and time spent maintaining many loose connections.

Your experience of growing your social network connections will be down to your management of it.

Due to the annoyance and productivity problems, many people aim to keep their network contained and high quality.

This is a perfectly good solution, and precisely what I was doing with my FaceBook account. The maintenance impact of the silly side of FaceBook, and other services, meant I retreated to Twitter.

Thing I have discovered is I have a history of trying and abandoning social networks, only to “get” them on my second trial. Each one will succeed or fail based on who you interact with and how. Right now I am giving FaceBook another go, based mostly on experiments I am observing from people like Frank Kern (who up to now I considered to be a total IM guru but behind the social media curve, go figure!).

Maintaining Signal Versus Noise

I have found that Twitter has provided me with a good training on maintaining signal versus noise. The solution is simple – Set a standard and ruthlessly stick to it. If you follow people who pester you with nonsense or tweet about their eating habits, you only have yourself to blame. It’s not Twitters fault, it’s not FaceBook, it is your choice of friends.

When you think about it, you wouldn’t blame a restaurant for your boring dinner conversation, would you?

How to Stop Social Media Taking Over Your Day

  • ONLY SHARE WHAT IS SAFE TO SHARE – Once you connect to people outside your close friends and family you need to restrict the information you place in these networks. If in doubt, keep it to yourself.
  • Observe before following.
  • If people are taking too much of your time, drop them, and do not feel any guilt about it. There are no rules that say you have to follow everyone who follows you!
  • Pick your venues and do not try to be active in all of them.
  • Do not take part in time-wasting activities, such as quizzes and zombie games.
  • Set Social Media time and log off when that time is over.
  • Grow your network selectively and steadily – Learn how much activity you can manage.
  • Use tools where appropriate.

That last one took me a while to figure out. Tools can actually hurt your productivity if they demand too much of your attention. Turn off beeps and popup message alerts, they just take you away from work. In my case using TweetDeck has helped me a great deal (when the thing doesn’t freeze on me) because it puts front and center the most important stuff while keeping less priority stuff accessible.

My Social Network Schedule

Once you have tried out a social network you can discover your own rhythm. You don’t have to live in social media like Chris Brogan or Robert Scoble to benefit from it :)

Right now the main social networks I am involved in are:

  • Conversation – Twitter – Few times a day
  • Bookmarking – Digg and StumbleUpon – Daily
  • Groups/Social – FaceBook – Few times a week
  • Business Contacts – LinkedIn (chris at chrisg dot com) – Weekly
  • Pictures – Flickr – As and when

I find I can spend maximum an hour a day on these quite happily with only a positive impact on my business.

By sticking to this schedule, and the guilt-free policies outlined above, I have found I can maintain a large and growing network quite happily. People send me messages, I mostly reply to them, but not necessarily right away that second. People are aware and not too insulted that I don’t take part in FB games and applications. It’s all good.

As with anything Social Media, take advice (even mine!) as a guide, there are NO RULES. Do what works for you. If people do not like what you do or how, they can un-follow.

Do you have social media tips to share? Agree or disagree with me? Share your thoughts in the comments …

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Comments

  1. Jill Whalen says:

    Great post Chris and really good advice for those overwhelmed by it all.

  2. Jill Whalen says:

    Great post Chris and really good advice for those overwhelmed by it all.

  3. Thanks Chris! Helpful and concise post…As someone who is highly distractable, I’m working hard to find what works for me and it’s so helpful to gather information from others as I work it out. The trick is setting up a system for what WILL work for me…It’s be easier if there weren’t to darn many “shiny” things out there :)

  4. Thanks Chris! Helpful and concise post…As someone who is highly distractable, I’m working hard to find what works for me and it’s so helpful to gather information from others as I work it out. The trick is setting up a system for what WILL work for me…It’s be easier if there weren’t to darn many “shiny” things out there :)

  5. Good advice! Social media can certainly take your mind off your work if you let it, and keeping a more regimented schedule for use of it certainly helps.

    * Note – I nearly left your site when the subscription popup appeared. I can’t stand those things.

  6. Good advice! Social media can certainly take your mind off your work if you let it, and keeping a more regimented schedule for use of it certainly helps.

    * Note – I nearly left your site when the subscription popup appeared. I can’t stand those things.

  7. @Jill – Thanks Jill, overwhelm is easy to achieve on these networks, the amount of information we have to contend with is huge

    @zaellen – Oh yeah, I know the 0oooh shiny effect very well :)

    @The Burnman – That popup will be gone very soon, I am experimenting and crunching numbers so that I can take it down and replace it with something less annoying but as effective with stats to back it up :)

  8. @Jill – Thanks Jill, overwhelm is easy to achieve on these networks, the amount of information we have to contend with is huge

    @zaellen – Oh yeah, I know the 0oooh shiny effect very well :)

    @The Burnman – That popup will be gone very soon, I am experimenting and crunching numbers so that I can take it down and replace it with something less annoying but as effective with stats to back it up :)

  9. I was thinking just today that 1 hour of networking / social media per day, if practiced efficiently and consistently, can help you get massive results. Good to know I’m headed in the right direction.

  10. Thanks, Chris. Love the 8 tips here. Why I feel like I need permission to set some limits in this arena is beyond me, but heh…in a sense you’ve just given it to me so I will just head right out and continue to set the social media networking boundaries with major guilt relief:)

  11. I was thinking just today that 1 hour of networking / social media per day, if practiced efficiently and consistently, can help you get massive results. Good to know I’m headed in the right direction.

  12. Thanks, Chris. Love the 8 tips here. Why I feel like I need permission to set some limits in this arena is beyond me, but heh…in a sense you’ve just given it to me so I will just head right out and continue to set the social media networking boundaries with major guilt relief:)

  13. Chris,

    Great post. It’s interesting to see how the social networks are evolving both as a business and personal media–and especially where the two intercept. I’ve found the biggest challenge to be deciding which networking sites to keep as purely social (i.e. only add *real* friends and post personal info) vs. those that are for business use (i.e. add anyone who requests it and keep an eye on how much personal information such as birthday, location, when you’re out-of-town, etc). It will be interesting to see how the safety factor of social networking for business purposes evolves over the next few years.

    Thanks for the interesting and concise post!

    Jeff

  14. Chris,

    Great post. It’s interesting to see how the social networks are evolving both as a business and personal media–and especially where the two intercept. I’ve found the biggest challenge to be deciding which networking sites to keep as purely social (i.e. only add *real* friends and post personal info) vs. those that are for business use (i.e. add anyone who requests it and keep an eye on how much personal information such as birthday, location, when you’re out-of-town, etc). It will be interesting to see how the safety factor of social networking for business purposes evolves over the next few years.

    Thanks for the interesting and concise post!

    Jeff

  15. I echo above — great post, Chris … on growing your network selectively, regarding Twitter, I’ve found it useful to be aware of where the people i’m following are — their time zone. If a lot of them are a few hours ahead/behind, it can add to the time spent going through tweets, and/or missing out on some interesting conversations.

  16. I echo above — great post, Chris … on growing your network selectively, regarding Twitter, I’ve found it useful to be aware of where the people i’m following are — their time zone. If a lot of them are a few hours ahead/behind, it can add to the time spent going through tweets, and/or missing out on some interesting conversations.

  17. Sound advice Chris – I like the emphasis on doing what works for you, coupled with guilt free networking :-)

  18. Sound advice Chris – I like the emphasis on doing what works for you, coupled with guilt free networking :-)

  19. An hour a day is the social media play! :)

    I probably spend a little more than that, and a disproportionate amount of that time is spent on Twitter. But I think of it as investing in that which gives the best returns. That’s how I decide my strategy: is it profitable? And by profitable, I mean beyond money.

  20. An hour a day is the social media play! :)

    I probably spend a little more than that, and a disproportionate amount of that time is spent on Twitter. But I think of it as investing in that which gives the best returns. That’s how I decide my strategy: is it profitable? And by profitable, I mean beyond money.

  21. Chris

    Hey bro, what’s with the pop-up? That’s annoying my friend, I all ready receive updates to your site. :) Yeah, find what works for you but try not to waste time when you could be writing fresh content. At times, we all get carried away. Stick to the plan, if you have one or batch process your social networking times. Time yourself is needed. Thanks for sharing! :)

    -Mig

  22. Chris

    Hey bro, what’s with the pop-up? That’s annoying my friend, I all ready receive updates to your site. :) Yeah, find what works for you but try not to waste time when you could be writing fresh content. At times, we all get carried away. Stick to the plan, if you have one or batch process your social networking times. Time yourself is needed. Thanks for sharing! :)

    -Mig

  23. @Ahmed – Yup, but it is not just a time factor, it is also where and how you apply that time. For example my tweets today about twit or fit were likely not that productive ;)

    @Erica – I think any social situation has a potential for guilt for some of us, we have to realize when it isn’t warranted and I think most of the twitterquette comes down to “treat others …” :)

    @Jeff – It’s always evolving so we need to keep sucking and seeing I think :)

    @DoreenatDMS – Time zones, yeah they can help or hinder :) I find myself constantly chasing the clock seeing as I have clients spread from Aus/Nz to Hawaii :)

    @Joanna – Yup, we just need to be aware of what the results are that we are aiming for, or is it just social? :)

    @Michael – Totally, and I think simply learning is a good enough pay off. My network of contacts makes me feel like the dumbest person in the room, which is EXACTLY how I want to feel :)

    @Miguel – Don’t worry, the popup is going, just was waiting on an answer from Aweber about something :)

  24. @Ahmed – Yup, but it is not just a time factor, it is also where and how you apply that time. For example my tweets today about twit or fit were likely not that productive ;)

    @Erica – I think any social situation has a potential for guilt for some of us, we have to realize when it isn’t warranted and I think most of the twitterquette comes down to “treat others …” :)

    @Jeff – It’s always evolving so we need to keep sucking and seeing I think :)

    @DoreenatDMS – Time zones, yeah they can help or hinder :) I find myself constantly chasing the clock seeing as I have clients spread from Aus/Nz to Hawaii :)

    @Joanna – Yup, we just need to be aware of what the results are that we are aiming for, or is it just social? :)

    @Michael – Totally, and I think simply learning is a good enough pay off. My network of contacts makes me feel like the dumbest person in the room, which is EXACTLY how I want to feel :)

    @Miguel – Don’t worry, the popup is going, just was waiting on an answer from Aweber about something :)

  25. Hi Chris

    How true, you certainly need a ‘plan of attack’ when it comes to social media. I use FriendFeed now and it is great because you can put all your social media in one place(even RSS feeds)and know exactly what is coming through.
    Here’s to living life to the fullest
    Anne

  26. Hi Chris

    How true, you certainly need a ‘plan of attack’ when it comes to social media. I use FriendFeed now and it is great because you can put all your social media in one place(even RSS feeds)and know exactly what is coming through.
    Here’s to living life to the fullest
    Anne

  27. Damn you Chris, if people know how to manage their time on the social sites then they might get time to look after their business sites. This could have a negative impact on me. That’s just not fair (evil grin).

    Actually even just checking your time table it still looks like you could lose a fair chunk of time maybe up to a full day a week.

  28. Damn you Chris, if people know how to manage their time on the social sites then they might get time to look after their business sites. This could have a negative impact on me. That’s just not fair (evil grin).

    Actually even just checking your time table it still looks like you could lose a fair chunk of time maybe up to a full day a week.

  29. Chris,

    This article was right on time for me. I was getting ready to start a conversation on the Authority Blogging forum about how to use Twitter.

    Lot’s of spam and folks just promoting their “thing” without any effort to establish a personal connection.

    I’ve just started clicking “unfollow” and other tactics.

  30. Chris,

    This article was right on time for me. I was getting ready to start a conversation on the Authority Blogging forum about how to use Twitter.

    Lot’s of spam and folks just promoting their “thing” without any effort to establish a personal connection.

    I’ve just started clicking “unfollow” and other tactics.

  31. I like the suggestions you made in regards to how to separate the signal from the noise. It is sooo easy to lose track of time when you use something like Twitter. That’s why I only turn on my Tweetdeck 2 – 3 times a day to catch up on things. Same thing with the other social networks I use. Use and abuse them with the alloted time you have and then do something else.

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur
    Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/GeekEntrepreneu

  32. I like the suggestions you made in regards to how to separate the signal from the noise. It is sooo easy to lose track of time when you use something like Twitter. That’s why I only turn on my Tweetdeck 2 – 3 times a day to catch up on things. Same thing with the other social networks I use. Use and abuse them with the alloted time you have and then do something else.

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur
    Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/GeekEntrepreneu

  33. Great post Chris. I have severely cut down the amount of social networking I do the past few months and it has really freed me up to accomplish a lot more. I am starting to err on the side of “anti-social” when it comes to social networking and in many ways I find it freeing. However, I do think it is important for building traffic and business, so I am still working to find the right balance.

  34. Great post Chris. I have severely cut down the amount of social networking I do the past few months and it has really freed me up to accomplish a lot more. I am starting to err on the side of “anti-social” when it comes to social networking and in many ways I find it freeing. However, I do think it is important for building traffic and business, so I am still working to find the right balance.

  35. The bottom line, I think, is whether the results you seek from your social networking are forthcoming. One drawback of restricting interactivity in terms of content and peer group may be that, although time spent in social networking gives one the feeling that one is using it as a great marketing tool, the end result may belie that idea.

    A social network like Twitter is, in my opinion, ideal for going heavy on the social and light on the network – one can then filter off new acquaintances to other networks as appropriate.

    LinkedIn is where one might suggest potential colleagues/partners/clients join one. Facebook might be the place to invite potential social friends; MySpace used for leisure-time acquaintances related to a hobby or particular passion such as sport and so on. People who are giving out buying signals would be steered towards ones own website/blog or physical premises.

    Apart from obvious spammers, I follow everyone who follows me on Twitter and unfollow only those who have unfollwed me and are not interesting to me when I read their tweets. I follow about 100 people who have never followed me because I find them interesting for one reason or another.

    I follow you, for example, Chris, although you don’t follow me and nor would I expect you to. I have noticed that it is very easy for people to become too obviously intent on promoting who they are, or what they are selling, on Twitter and am under the impression that this stance backfires on many of them.

    To me, Twitter is like a large informal cocktail party – one goes hoping to hand out a few business cards but knowing that one must be sociable for anyone to take an interest in what is printed on that card. There is no point in spending money on printing only to have your cards dropped into the nearest wastebin… It is impossible to judge a book by its cover or a potentially profitable relationship by first impressions on a social network, in my opinion.

    In the short time I have been on Twitter I have made sales to the last people I thought would buy and failed to make a single sale to those whom I had flagged in my mind as likely clients…

  36. The bottom line, I think, is whether the results you seek from your social networking are forthcoming. One drawback of restricting interactivity in terms of content and peer group may be that, although time spent in social networking gives one the feeling that one is using it as a great marketing tool, the end result may belie that idea.

    A social network like Twitter is, in my opinion, ideal for going heavy on the social and light on the network – one can then filter off new acquaintances to other networks as appropriate.

    LinkedIn is where one might suggest potential colleagues/partners/clients join one. Facebook might be the place to invite potential social friends; MySpace used for leisure-time acquaintances related to a hobby or particular passion such as sport and so on. People who are giving out buying signals would be steered towards ones own website/blog or physical premises.

    Apart from obvious spammers, I follow everyone who follows me on Twitter and unfollow only those who have unfollwed me and are not interesting to me when I read their tweets. I follow about 100 people who have never followed me because I find them interesting for one reason or another.

    I follow you, for example, Chris, although you don’t follow me and nor would I expect you to. I have noticed that it is very easy for people to become too obviously intent on promoting who they are, or what they are selling, on Twitter and am under the impression that this stance backfires on many of them.

    To me, Twitter is like a large informal cocktail party – one goes hoping to hand out a few business cards but knowing that one must be sociable for anyone to take an interest in what is printed on that card. There is no point in spending money on printing only to have your cards dropped into the nearest wastebin… It is impossible to judge a book by its cover or a potentially profitable relationship by first impressions on a social network, in my opinion.

    In the short time I have been on Twitter I have made sales to the last people I thought would buy and failed to make a single sale to those whom I had flagged in my mind as likely clients…

  37. Good practical advice. I have been wondering about using both Delicious and StumbleUpon. I’m a big fan of Delicious, but have the impression that the social side of StumbleUpon is much better developped. Any thoughts on balancing the two? Do you use Delicious? Can StumbleUpon be turned into an effective personal bookmarking tool as well as a social network? I don’t know if I have the time to manage both…

  38. Good practical advice. I have been wondering about using both Delicious and StumbleUpon. I’m a big fan of Delicious, but have the impression that the social side of StumbleUpon is much better developped. Any thoughts on balancing the two? Do you use Delicious? Can StumbleUpon be turned into an effective personal bookmarking tool as well as a social network? I don’t know if I have the time to manage both…

  39. Good advice Chris.
    I use Twitter to feed through and update my Facebook status so I need spend less time there. I only visit about once a week now.

  40. Good advice Chris.
    I use Twitter to feed through and update my Facebook status so I need spend less time there. I only visit about once a week now.

  41. Excellent guidance for folks who get to that point and ask, “How am I suppose to use all this stuff?” Thanks Chris.

  42. Excellent guidance for folks who get to that point and ask, “How am I suppose to use all this stuff?” Thanks Chris.

  43. I’m afraid I am going through a bad patch with the social networks at the moment, and haven’t really contributed in a while; I think the spammers are getting to me, which means I will have to do a clear out. It’s so easy to get lax about your contact info and before you know it your inbox is overflowing with junk. That being said I have come across some absolute gems of information.
    Back to work!
    I will probably start again in the New Year.
    Thanks’ for all your readers’ feedback

  44. I’m afraid I am going through a bad patch with the social networks at the moment, and haven’t really contributed in a while; I think the spammers are getting to me, which means I will have to do a clear out. It’s so easy to get lax about your contact info and before you know it your inbox is overflowing with junk. That being said I have come across some absolute gems of information.
    Back to work!
    I will probably start again in the New Year.
    Thanks’ for all your readers’ feedback

  45. I’m intrigued by your idea of having a social media schedule

  46. I’m intrigued by your idea of having a social media schedule

  47. Chris –

    Great Post. Using Social Networking is a huge key to building your business and growing your networks. I believe it can be overwhelming for some and that is why your schedule is great.

    Thanks
    Stefanie

  48. Chris –

    Great Post. Using Social Networking is a huge key to building your business and growing your networks. I believe it can be overwhelming for some and that is why your schedule is great.

    Thanks
    Stefanie

  49. Sadly / Happily I spend WAY MORE time then that in SM. It really can suck you in. I’m going to try and limit it not to say 1 hour a day but 15 minute intervals throughout the day so I can see what’s up.

    SM is a tool like any other. It’s easy to become obsessed with a tool and over use it.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  50. Sadly / Happily I spend WAY MORE time then that in SM. It really can suck you in. I’m going to try and limit it not to say 1 hour a day but 15 minute intervals throughout the day so I can see what’s up.

    SM is a tool like any other. It’s easy to become obsessed with a tool and over use it.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  51. Great article Chris! Thanks for making it so clear and so simple!

  52. Great article Chris! Thanks for making it so clear and so simple!

  53. Chris,

    Wow, I am just getting into this whole social networking world; blogging, twittering etc. and this is what I was trying to figure out. How to manage it, enjoy it, and not get overwhelmed. Thanks a million.

    Ed

  54. Chris,

    Wow, I am just getting into this whole social networking world; blogging, twittering etc. and this is what I was trying to figure out. How to manage it, enjoy it, and not get overwhelmed. Thanks a million.

    Ed

  55. Though they are downsides in social media its better to maintain so that we can improve the business..you need to take when it comes to developing the best social media strategy is to create a comprehensive social media plan.

  56. Though they are downsides in social media its better to maintain so that we can improve the business..you need to take when it comes to developing the best social media strategy is to create a comprehensive social media plan.

  57. It’s funny, I can’t understand people who spend all day on FB or their rivals. I log on, read my messages, see if anyone has been suggested as a friend, accept or reject friend requests, then leave. But I am loving Twitter. I even added it as an app on my phone because it is kind of a free, quick and easy way to fire off a mini blog post. Plus it lets my blog readers know what I am up to in my time away from work (the theme of my blog).

  58. It’s funny, I can’t understand people who spend all day on FB or their rivals. I log on, read my messages, see if anyone has been suggested as a friend, accept or reject friend requests, then leave. But I am loving Twitter. I even added it as an app on my phone because it is kind of a free, quick and easy way to fire off a mini blog post. Plus it lets my blog readers know what I am up to in my time away from work (the theme of my blog).

  59. Yes! you’re right. Social media like forums or community online groups can certainly take your concentration to your work if you let it anyway.

  60. Yes! you’re right. Social media like forums or community online groups can certainly take your concentration to your work if you let it anyway.