A friend asked me why I am active on the social networks, like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. So here's what I came up with. Thanks, Eleanor, for the idea!
10. Social networks are fun.
It's enjoyable to find out what friends and colleagues are doing. In the last few days, I've seen announcements that friends are getting married and have gotten jobs. I would have found out about these things anyway, but it was fun to be among the first to know.
9. I need to keep up with the latest trends.
The web is changing very quickly, and my clients often ask me what's happening. So it makes sense to experiment with the various social sites, even if some of them turn out to be less than useful.
8. Some social networks help me connect with the under-30s
Many of my younger friends don't use email much, if at all. So connecting with that generation is why I originally joined Facebook, before it has grown explosively in the last few months. (Of course, now that us old folks have discovered it, the kids will go elsewhere, I'm sure.)
7. Social network tools allow me to respond quickly
My web development company has always been able to update sites quickly, and we have the conent-management tools to let our clients do the same. But it's very easy to post to social networks. That can be a two-edged sword, but quick and careful responses are almost always a good thing.
6. I can target different audiences
Each social network has a different personality and a different audience. Since I know who my connections are, I can tailior what I say accordingly. I do use tools like Ping.fm that allow me to post to many places at once, but I use such tools sparingly.
5. I can connect to groups with common interests
Places like Facebook Groups, Ning and Biznik allow me to create and participate in networks for people with common interestes. It looks like Facebook is having a huge impact on the political process. I am less impressed so far with Biznik, aimed at small business owners, as well as the "walled garden" social networks offered by many alumni organizations.
4. It's an efficient use of my time and budget
A friend warned me when I joined Twitter that it could be a major time-waster. I havn't found that to be so, because I've found a system for managing electronic communications that works well for me. In fact, I feel that since joining the social networks, I've gotten more results per marketing hour spent. And I haven't felt the need to pay for the "premium" (paid) membership levels offered by some networks.
3. I can reconnect with people
In today's economy, we're all looking for value, and we'd like to work with people we know and trust. I've reconnected through social networks with folks I'd lost touch with, and some have become customers. Others are, well, just good friends...but that's great, too!
2. It's the next generation of networking
Business networking groups -- chambers of commerce, community groups, service clubs, and the like -- have been around for a long time. I still participate in these, since they do one thing that the web-based social networks don't do very well: introduce me to new contacts. But that is changing. LinkedIn in particular has an excellent system for referrals and introductions. I'm lucky, of course, in that I can do business anywhere.
1. Social networks keep my name visible
Just being a member of social networks is not enough: I need to be active, so that my name comes up. Thus I change my status, write notes, and answer questions, whenever I feel that I have something useful to add. People don't need a new or updated website all that often, but when they do, I hope they'll think of me.