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
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 …