Pick Appropriate Social Networking

After posting about funneling social networking sites to a single content source, I had several questions arrive that showed how expansive social networking has become.  One person had 12 profiles.  Twelve!  While my suggestion was still to funnel to a single content source, simply updating that many sections could still be a maintenance headache.  Make sure that a profile is worth updating before wasting time on it.

A good way to thin out the workload of social networking sites is evaluating which are appropriate.  Below is a sampling of three of the most common sites and my observations on their best use.

  • Facebook – Facebook is great for cultivating an online contact list.  However, it’s suited for the individual and while they are making strides to incorporate company info, it tends to be an afterthought.  It is almost impossible to have meaningful connections while maintaining a “company” profile which forces an individual within the organization to take ownership of the profile. So while it is a great social environment, any business/marketing use has to be monitored as the lines between personal and professional tend to get blurred.   If they get too blurred there is a distinct risk to reflect negatively on the professional.
  • Linked In – Linked In is designed for the business user.  The contacts are designed to be a professional reference and many tools are available to sync the profile up with professional websites and/or blogs.  It’s set up to promote the professional individual but is easy to incorporate into company profile information.  It tends to be a poor fit for personal social interaction and for some professional organizations it can be too sterile.  If your organization has a social aspect to it, the business focus can send the wrong message.
  • Twitter – Twitter is flexible enough to be used in any way.  Since profiles tend to have less one-on-one interaction, personal contacts can bleed into professional ones.  Since posts are less personal, organization profiles are much more feasible.  It’s really up to the poster to decide what focus they want to take.  It is limited by how much can be input and doesn’t have the expansive features that other sites do.

These are just a small sampling of some of the most popular sites.  There are literally thousands of sites with different topic or industry focuses available. 

Before creating a profile, make sure that the sites focus is a good fit for you or the organization.  If it’s not relevant, don’t waste time setting up a profile that other members likely aren’t interested in. 

Secondarily, monitor the activity on the site.  If no connections are made or no meaningful responses result, then disregard the site.  It’s either proving that it doesn’t have a viable user base or that the user base is apathetic toward your content.  Maintaining a socail network profile takes time and energy, make sure that it’s a good investment with potential for a return. 

Is Your Social Networking Sustainable?

Everyone likes the idea of using social networks to build business or raise awareness of an organization.  However, most people don’t like the time involved in having a presence in the most popular social networks.  I am one of those people!  We all have a lot of things to get done and social networking is rarely our highest priority.  So how can we leverage social networking without sacrificing a lot of time?  Set a sustainable content funnel to maximize content across social networks.

Here is a common business approach to social networking:

  • I’ve heard people can generate business through sites like facebook, twitter, linkedIn, etc.
  • I signed up for all of them and created a profile referencing my website.
  • I try to keep up with content on all the sites.
  • I’m falling behind on checking the sites.
  • I used to have an account on those sites but they don’t generate any business so I quit

The problem with this approach is that it’s too time intensive.  Few people have enough time available to adequately keep updates flowing over multiple social networking sites. For those that have the time or make the time, congratulations, that is the ideal way to handle social networking.  For anyone who struggles to keep entries current, a content funnel can be a life saver.  It provides frequent updates but funnels all sites to a single content source. 

What’s the source?  You’re reading my single source right now, it’s my blog.  All my profiles get updated with new blog posts and direct people here.  So I write my post once, update my profiles and I’m done.  You don’t necessarily need a blog.  Facebook provides ample areas to make posts (either through a blog or on the wall) that people can funnel to.  The only concern here is making sure that your profile is accessible to all, so that people don’t have to bother with befriending you to see content.

So here’s my funneled approach to social networking:

  • Create a single source for frequent content updates (blog, dedicated website section, open social network page)
  • Create a profile for the sites you’d like a profile on
  • Update those pages with links to your single content source when something new appears.
  • Reply to responses from the single content source and/or from the social networking sites.

This model provides most of the benefits of social networking sites without an overwhelming time commitment.