To gain the full benefit from Social Networking sites you need to be an active participant. In general adding contacts, commenting on their blogs, favoring those you like and messaging are necessary to make your membership worthwhile. If you join multiple such sites, time constraints mean that you have to spread yourself too thinly and you cannot give each of them the attention required. Many times I find the same people are joining the same sites that I am a member of. One face may appear four times in my sidebar widgets (MyBlogLog, Bumpzee, SpicyPage, Blog Catalog). It is a good reminder for me to catch up with some of the people behind the images, but then I have to decide which is the best site to visit to contact them through.
I took a little time out to think about this and did some research on where my visitors were being referred from and which sites my main contributors belonged to. When I first registered with these sites I keenly joined up with many groups, accepted all friend requests, trying to keep up with my increasingly bulging email inbox.
I am now going to be much more selective. I will join social networking site groups/communities only after I have worked out if I share common interest with other members so that I can contribute to the group. I am now turning down requests to join groups if I don't think them worthwhile for me or if I think the time involved means I cannot contribute. I have stopped bookmarking on multiple bookmarking only sites.
I will concentrate more on keeping in contact with current contacts, realizing that more close contacts have developed because of other close contacts rather than from the networking sites. Apart from this I feel bad about taking longer than I should to respond to these friends. For me social networking is not all about gaining readers it is a form of socializing and a way of gaining friends too.
Specifically these are sites I am going to pay the most attention to:
- For the kind of site where favoring individual posts is the main aim I am going to favor Stumbleupon.
- If a blog has a Digg button and I enjoy an article, I will continue digging. I will Digg friends who request one.
- I have become more involved with Ning lately due to the Blogging to Fame Fans site but have started refusing invitations to join other groups.
- I am considering mainly concentrating only on MyBlogLog rather than multiple such sites. I will continue following only the Bumpzee groups that are of the most interest.
- Del.icio.us is to be my favored bookmarking site.
- I will continue to use Pownce to see if that takes off among my blogging friends as it promises to be a good direct way of communicating if I don't have direct email contact or if I want to send a message to a few contacts at once. I find it hard to keep up with a conversation if part of it takes place on Facebook, part on MyBlogLog, part by email....
- I will continue with Facebook as I also have non blogging friends and family on there.
- After success with gaining members and new friends on Blogging to Fame Fans I am going to think more about creating my own topic specific Social Networking sites.
Here are some posts that may help you with the decision.
- Picking Two Social Networks - Reddit and StumbleUpon - A Small Office Australia blog post whose author has declared a 'Minimalist Month', is dumping social networking sites and concentrating on Stumbleupon and Reddit. (Oh dear I have not paid much attention to Reddit at all, maybe I should. Maybe I should also stick to my own minimalist resolve!). The post also has links to useful pages on these two applications.
- DoshDosh has some useful hints on making the most of social networking participation - Social MediaEvangelism: How to Turn Visitors into Supporters of your Website and Are Social Bookmarking Buttons Useless. DoshDosh has many valuable articles even if it is not your aim to make money online.
- 30 Largest Bookmarking Sites - July 2007
- Four memediggers compared: Digg, Reddit, Meneame and Hugg from the Social Software Blog (now to being run by The Download Squad in their Social Software category Take care reading this blog if you are a compulsive 'joiner' as it will provide you with logs of sites to join!)
If you know of any useful articles with advice on which Social Networking sites are the most useful please let me know and I will feature them in this blog - with a mention of you in thanks of course.
Hearing of your own experiences would be wonderful too.
I will be continuing this series with posts on time saving, useful tools and being organized.