Your online social networks are probably a total mess. A scroll down your friends list in Facebook is mostly likely a game of “who’s that again?” The trouble is that these social networks don’t seem like they are going to die anytime soon, and their usefulness is diluted by a lack of purpose.
The solution is to determine a mission for each social network, and stick with it. Here’s how I’ve structured my social networking:
I’ve been on Facebook since it was fairly young; it came to the University at Buffalo early. Over the years I accumulated a few hundred friends. Many of the people on the list were friends of friends and acquaintances.
Now I only use Facebook for actual friends:
- People I interact with
- Significant others of my friends
- Friends from prior eras of life
If I don’t actually know you, you and I aren’t friends in life or on Facebook.
It’s a business networking tool, and it becomes more useful as you add more connections.
I use it to maintain business contacts. If we’ve met professionally and exchanged business cards, I’m hunting you down on LinkedIn.
I use it to learn new things, share, and converse with people I know, and people I don’t.
Anyone can follow me, so long as you aren’t a spammer (I smote spammers on principal).
I’ll follow you if you are funny or interesting, double points if you’re both.
It may seem like a funny idea, but defining my objective for each social networking site helped me get more value out of them.
When I go on Facebook, I see the status updates of people I know and care about.
When I login to LinkedIn I know that each connection is professional.
Twitter is my outlet for quick thoughts, and interesting finds. When I scroll through my incoming feed it’s entertaining because I’m only following interesting tweeters.