Connections, Followers and Friends... Oh My!


I’ve been studying and thinking about social media.  I began studying social media for purely business reasons in early 2008.  I was wondering how Facebook got its start, what Twitter can do to make money and why no one is using MySpace anymore.  I read several books, nosed around the net and jumped onto several sites.  Today, I use social media a lot and it has become woven into my everyday and workday life.   

Essentially, there are three sites I use and each serves a different purpose. 

I’ve been on LinkedIn for several years and it has become the place for my “real world” work connections.  I have 427 connections and can honestly tell you I have personally met almost every single one.  I typically don’t accept requests from people don’t know.  It has been a valuable tool to connect others for business reasons.  I manage my network by trying to be helpful with networking requests and frequently contact people through LinkedIn.  I like it, for what it is.  Some of the recent app additions (Wordpress, TripIt, Amazon Reading List…) are quite useful.  LinkedIn succeeds because you can manage your network by both contributing to and benefitting from your connections.

I joined Facebook in early ’08 because it seemed to be the thing to do.  My daughters have been on it for years, along with MySpace.  As a parent, I have always disliked MySpace. It was way to easy to hack protected profiles and kids were prone to put stupid information (ie. home phone numbers) on the site.  While they have cleaned up their act from a security standpoint there is no doubt they are losing ground to Facebook. 

I was surprisingly impressed with the Facebook community and tools.  The first issue I had was who to be “friends” with.  My daughter initially wanted nothing to do with me in “her world”.  Most of my real friends my age could care less about Facebook.  I found a few and began connecting.  I now have 74 friends (including my daughter!).  These are all people I actually know and consider a real world friend.  I try and keep Facebook “friends” separate from LinkedIn “connections”.  I am much more transparent with Facebook friends and feel comfortable letting them into my world. When a business associate requests becoming my “friend” on Facebook, I connect with them on LinkedIn, thereby keeping my worlds from colliding! 

One other Facebook note, I have learned once you add someone as a “friend” on Facebook, this becomes an emotional attachment.  I once “defaced” someone from my list and inadvertently offended someone.  I invented a new term, “reface” and added her back.  I then sent this in to Urban Dictionary.  You might find it handy one day!  (WSJ article on this topic)

Twitter has become my favorite social media outlet over the past nine months.  I like Twitter because it is kind of a “stream of consciousness”.  I recently told someone I view it as a creative outlet, a place for me to make pithy, smart aleck comments!  I post about my travels, news items, random observations and relevant news for my industry.  I enjoy following people who post about news or interesting information and observations.  I have 289 “followers” and am following 288 (seems like a nice balance to me!).  I try and post a few times a day and recognize that everything I post will forever be archived by the search engines.  My Twitter feeds into my Facebook status updates, a feature I like.  While I certainly know many of my “followers”, there are many more I do not.  It has been a way to have brief conversations with others not usually accessible to me.  It’s funny, I feel a responsibility to my “followers” to entertain and inform!  One told me once, “Don’t let us down”… it is an overwhelming responsibility!

Overall, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are now part of my digital life.  Jump on in, the water is fine!  :)