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Saturday, 19 June 2010

Twitter, Facebook, Digg Can You Join Too Many Networks?

Dan Schawbel is the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine and the Personal Branding Blog.
There are literally thousands of social networks on the web right now, but which ones should you join?
Many people have spread out their personal brands on too many networks and are now unable to manage their existence on all of them. As the number of social networks grows (more startups) and shrinks (economic downsizing), we must be smarter about which ones we join and which ones we ignore. Today, we’ll go over a simple method you can use to figure out which social networks to participate in so your brand is visible and easily manageable across the web.
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A social network is only as strong as the amount of people that are a part of it
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Think about it, if a message board has no messages or a blog has no comments, the likelihood that you will be the first to contribute is slim. If there is no one to interact with on a social network, then why join? If people in your location aren’t using it, then it makes no sense to join as well.
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Credibility matters
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So the social network has a million users; that’s great. What if the million users are people with no status and are not more successful than you are? There is no point in being part of something that can’t serve as both a support system and resource for your personal brand. If the people on the network aren’t credible, then you won’t get anything out of it.
To me, LinkedIn is the most credible social network on the planet right now because it contains profiles of Fortune 500 executives and leading entrepreneurs. The average individual salary on LinkedIn is $109,000 and legends like Bill Gates have already setup their profiles there. Then there’s Twitter, which is home to celebrity users such as Britney Spears, Shaquille O’Neal and MC Hammer. Facebook has industry titans such as Michael Dell and MySpace is home to Paris Hilton.
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Ponder relevance
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The largest social networks, with millions of users, are always going to be relevant for you because they target the masses and not a single niche. Any smaller network that you join must be supported by an interest that is relevant to your brand. Aside from the main topic of the social network being of importance to you, the users on that network (credibility) are just as important.
Totspot.com is a social network for mothers and their babies. If you are a single male who attends college, this network certainly isn’t for you. The same goes with MyDogSpace.com, which is targeted at people who have a pet dog. If you don’t have or want a dog, then you best join a different network. Signing up for every social network is a waste of your time and gives you no means to start or hold a conversation with that audience.
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What about PageRank?
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PageRank is extremely important for your personal brand because it allows you to command your Google results. This is great for promotion and protection in the digital world. If you sign-up for social networks that have a high PageRank (see volume), you can block any bad press you may receive over your lifetime.
For instance, if you Google my name, you’ll see my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts in the top 10 results. These are two spaces where there isn’t bad press or content that I don’t want people to view. My friend, Jeremiah Owyang, states that your Google results are your new business card. Your results are a depiction of who you are, so it’s smart to join the networks that best represent your brand, and carry a high PageRank, so people can easily view them and be impressed. Any social network with a PageRank of 6 or higher is satisfactory.
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Some social networks aren’t built to last, especially in this economy
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If you don’t believe a social network will withstand this economy because it’s not funded or because it doesn’t have a business model, then don’t bother. If you join a social network, take the liberty of filling out a profile page and then spend hours building a community, then find out it’s shutting down, you’ve lost all of your hard work. You wouldn’t have enough time to direct others to your other networks before the sites closes.
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Create a social network worksheet
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To further show you how to classify social networks and select the best ones to house your brand on, I used Microsoft Excel to create a spreadsheet. Notice how the “usual suspects” pass all the tests, while some of the niche players do not. This spreadsheet is “personal specific,” meaning that it’s built through my eyes and not yours. Some of these networks are relevant to you, so you should join them to meet people who are similar to you. Does a network have to pass all these tests? I would say as long as it passes at least 3 of them, you may want to join it.
If you want to get more value out of this kind of worksheet, then add a column for “user name” and one for “password,” so you can keep track of where you are and how to access each one.
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First impressions on the web
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As the number of social networks increases, people are tempted to join more and more of them. When this occurs, your personal brand becomes spread too thin. Your ability to constantly update each profile, to ensure it includes the most updated and accurate information, will be unmanageable and unenjoyable.
Also, by joining a social network, you are setting “conversational” expectations, meaning that people should expect you to have a decent level of participation on each one. If you fail to update your profiles and, either build content or network with other users, then it’s a waste for you. The only exception is if the social network has a high PageRank, which you can use as a defense mechanism.
What all of this comes down to is how first impressions on the web have been completely redefined. Each entry point into your personal brand may be different (how people access information about you), so consistency and accuracy becomes extremely important. In this way, limiting your social network participation to only the one’s you’re most suited to communicate on, is highly encouraged.
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Next step: how to manage your social networks
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After selecting and committing to using social networks in your daily routine, it’s time to learn how to properly manage them. When it comes to your profile information, you will have to manually update it over time. A LinkedIn profile, for example, won’t fill itself out on its own. A systematic approach you can use for updating your profiles, could be writing down the ones you’re on and the date when you last updated it. Every time there is a milestone in your life, you should make sure they all reflect that update.
Here are a few tools you can use to update your content on social networking sites. By using these tools, your personal brand will have a consistent message throughout the web.

- Tubemogul: If you like web video and want to see your videos appear on many social networking sites at the touch of your mouse, then Tubemogul will be a very helpful tool. After submitting a video using this service, your video will load on MySpace, YouTube, AOL Video, Blip.tv, and more.

- Twitter Feed: Ever wonder why many blogs are broadcasted on Twitter automatically? By using Twitter Feed, you are able to syndicate your blog entries through Twitter, without having to manually tweet each post.

- Gravatar/OpenID: Your picture and name are the two most important brand assets you have on the web. Instead of uploading different pictures of yourself to various websites, Gravatar/OpenID will take your web presence and make it consistent wherever you go.

- Ping.fm: How would you like to update your status once and have all your social networking sites respond? Ping.fm allows you to submit a status update and have it appear on around 30 social networking sites, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and Dellicious, within seconds!

- FriendFeed: This service has gotten extremely popular, especially when Twitter had a lot of downtime months ago. All you need to do is submit your social networking accounts and it will stream them into one feed that people can subscribe to or that you can push out to Facebook and other networks. Another tactic you may try is to use create your own FriendFeed widget, which you can embed on social networks, your blog or website. People will get a better sense of everything you’re doing using FriendFeed and it will save you time from re-creating the same content.

Managing your social network profiles will become increasingly tedious, unless you take the proper steps to only join ones that will further your personal brand and use social tools to alleviate the process. Updating your profiles is extremely important, especially at a time of economic recession, when hiring managers are looking for the best talent. You wouldn’t want to look less experienced than you actually are, would you?

9 comments:

David Blair said...

This guy is really pushing FriendFeed - it features in each post!
http://thetwittermaster.com

pointsofhype said...

I've been spending a lot of time recently connecting social media and blogs to max out my posts.

So far, amplify, friendfeed, and posterous have a lot of cross connected reach.

pointsofhype said...

by the way, love the name of this blogger blog

Ted Peterson-Best Party Magic said...

Great advise...I focus on the big 3...Facebook, Twitter and Youtube...Luckily I discovered alot of the resource site, Tubemogul and Pingfm early on to help manage it all...

Gary said...

Hi Mili and Paul!
Great blog, but I would say with a title like
'passiveincomemyass' it's a little more difficult to take it seriously (because, in my HUMBLE opinion, the title sounds like a bit of a 'piss-take') ;0) Don't you think? (I would consider renaming this domain if you want to ramp up your visitor-numbers, perhaps?) But then again, you know I am no expert in these matters! Just telling you my thoughts on this, really. It isn't until you actually decide to VISIT this blog, (in spite of its silly title) that you can see it's good enough to be able to take it seriously!

Mili and Paul said...

Dear Gary, thank you very much for the feedback, we are actually doing a bit of "piss-take" of course, as many people want to believe that making passive income could be actually easy or there is a miracle button to actually make money.
THERE ISN'T, making Money offline or online is not difficult but it is hard work at the beginning and still hard work to have your own business, just like any business, it is not difficult to succeed if you put the work and the minset plus makes it easier to copy someone, have a Mentor or Coach, but there is no miracle button or system to make passive income without working very hard at the beginning, ones you have a business running, then you can sit and enjoy.

Mili

Gail Fay said...

So true, Mili. It takes dedication and hard work to set up any business. Focus is imperative. It is too easy to get distracted by every "next big thing" that drops into your inbox.

When starting out online, most people get sucked in and spend far too much and can't decide which path (business model) to take and focus on.

Social media is the way the world is heading, so everyone MUST get into that sooner or later. Start with social media marketing and build relationships with people who will potentially become prospects and hopefully customers.

Online is no different to offine in that regard. Customer relations is paramount in order to succeed offline, so why should it be any diffent online? People are people, not just email addresses! If you can provide people with what they are looking for and help them, they will come back for more.

Focus + effort + gain trust = success

Gail Fay

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