Following my presentation/panel discussion on social networking the other day, here’s the analysis I gave of what I see as a three-step strategy when getting involved in social networking.
- Visibility: simply being there, registered with Facebook/MySpace/Twitter/Flick/YouTube, is the first step. People can find you. People can contact you. People who might otherwise never have known you existed. Join groups, post to forums and walls, and include as much information as possible on your profile: the more information, the more visible you are, because generally each piece of information (tags, interests, location, favourite books) then becomes a link. Of course, avoid including information that has security implications, such as home address/telephone/name of your dog.
- Connectivity: once you’ve made yourself as visible as possible for people to find you, become proactive in seeking connections. There are two ways you can do this: search, and browse. Searching (as you’d imagine) involves typing key terms into the site’s search box; but browsing is more interesting and potentially more successful: click on links within profiles and pages that are likely to lead to useful contacts – browsing through your ‘friends” friends, for example, is a good way to find potential contacts.
- Tools: this is where it gets complex. Social networking sites have a raft of tools – both internally and externally built – that allow you to do anything from creating a slideshow to asking all your friends a question. Facebook, as well as its own polls, discussions, and groups, has hundreds of plug-in tools (Blog Friends is a particular favourite). They can add an extra dimension to your social networking, and not only provide new ways to find contacts (creating a group, for example, would be an obvious first step), but also to tap into that group knowledge and provide useful services. Subscribing to the social networking service’s own blog is a good way to get to know what’s happening.