Social networking has become a huge part of our lives, so much so that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to escape them whether we’re online or not!
Many people use social networks for both personal and professional reasons and I wanted to share with you a little insight into how I use them.
I was quite late to join Facebook and was pretty much coerced into doing so by my friends in 2007! However, despite my initial reluctance I joined and was soon hooked.
Although the early hype and excitement has long since dissipated, as a marketer I am conscious of Facebook’s power and potential and I still use it myself primarily for personal use, although recently a lot more to read and share content for professional reasons, too.
How I use Facebook
- To see what my friends (and friends of friends) are getting up to (admit it, we all like to be a bit nosey sometimes!)
- Share selected photos. I don’t put all my photos on Facebook, just a few that I feel my friends might appreciate
- Send direct messages. I’ve found a lot of my friends prefer to DM within Facebook instead of using traditional email
- Subscribe to RSS feeds (pubic posts) of prominent people within the marketing, social media and business communities
- I ‘Like’ the brand pages of the companies I, well, like! The good ones (e.g. Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Starbucks) are fun, informative and offer much more than just a re-hash of their company news, blogs and Twitter updates
- I syndicate my blog posts. Although my Facebook ‘audience’ isn’t my main target, I syndicate some of my posts here anyway whenever I think it’s appropriate to do so (I rarely share technical posts as I know this may leave some of my friends baffled)
Although I knew about Twitter since its launch in 2006, I didn’t join until February 2009. Like many, I was a little confused as to how I could get the most out of it. But after an awkward start I soon got into a rhythm and it’s now my number one social network (for now anyway).
I use Twitter primarily for professional reasons but I do like to read and share other content, too. I believe it’s important to have a good balance.
How I use Twitter
- I use Twitter like a mini RSS feed to monitor and read updates as they appear in my timeline. I like to see what’s happening in business and marketing NOW and Twitter’s great for real-time updates
- I use lists to group my followers into manageable streams, for example ‘Social media essentials‘, ‘Marketing‘ and ‘Technology‘
- TweetDeck and HootSuite are brilliant dashboards for managing my various streams. I tend to use TweetDeck on my iMac and MacBook Pro and the Hootsuite app on my iPhone
- Twitter is great for syndicating my blog posts and I get the best return in terms of reading and sharing when I’ve posted a link to my blog on Twitter
- Hash tags are a very handy way of identifying either my posts or someone else’s with a particular trend or topic
LinkedIn is the world’s pre-eminent social network for business and professional networking and just like with Facebook and Twitter I was relatively late to the party.
How I use LinkedIn
- I’ve completed my profile and ensured it is up-to-date with what I’m up to professionally. As with my CV, I include information on my role within a company along with my responsibilities and achievements
- I never share unprofessional content and links on LinkedIn (e.g. sports news, celebrity gossip, random facts etc). I believe it’s important to use LinkedIn as it should – as a professional social network
- I do not connect my Twitter account to LinkedIn and only ever syndicate my tweets on LinkedIn when it’s appropriate to do so
- I try to connect not only with people I know but also people I don’t know but would like to network with, for example marketers, managers and directors from within the marketing and social media industries
- I have joined a number of groups around subjects I am interested in and asked and answered questions. It’s important to participate
- I syndicate my blog posts on LinkedIn through the update field but I have also installed apps that integrate my blog and Slideshare account within my LinkedIn profile
Unlike with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I was a very early adopter of Google+, joining only days after its launch in July this year. It’s fascinating being a part of a social network as grows and develops but the main reason I have joined Google+ is because of it’s potential.
For me, Google+ sits somewhere between Facebook and Twitter although I see it (at the moment at least) as a long-form version of Twitter. None of my non-marketing/ business/ tech friends are on Google+ yet so I use Facebook to network with them and Google+ to network with the geeks!
How I use Google+
- As I mentioned above, I tend to use Google+ as an extension of my Twitter feed. I’ll often post similar updates to both Twitter and Google+ but the advantage of Google+ is that I can add a little extra commentary to augment the post
- I therefore use Google+ to share longer, more detailed updates. Depending on how it develops, I may one day post orginal blog posts into Google+ itself rather than linking out to my website
- I use Circles to group different people depending on what they post about most. Circles allow me to streamline my news stream
- As with all the other main social networks, I syndicate my blog posts on Google+ in an attempt to get more coverage and traffic to my blog
Other social networks
Whilst I mainly use the four social networks mentioned above, I also use a number of others, notably Instagram, Foursquare and Slideshare. And I also have accounts on YouTube, Flickr and MySpace, too, as well as Delicious, Digg, Reddit and Stumbleupon to bookmark and find new content.
I try to have a presence in the spaces where I feel I can add and receive the most value. Some social networks may fall away in time and others may become more popular. In my opinion the key is to stick around, get involved and become a valuable member of the communities.
Which social networks are you on? And how do you use them?