Four years ago I was seated with a young, attractive married couple at a bar in New York City. They were both early adapters and therefore big proponents of social media. For over an hour the man tried to explain Twitter to me. I was stumped. I had signed on but I didn’t understand it. I had also signed on to Facebook and LinkedIn, and of the three, the only one I thought was any fun was Facebook.
“That changes once you have three hundred friends,” his wife said.
“Why?” I asked, fascinated. “What happens after you have three hundred friends?”
“You don’t have time for them anymore,” she said. “You don’t care… you can’t read all their posts… you’re maxed out.”
“You think I’ll spend more time on LinkedIn then. Really?”
Now that I am on social media every day—including Sundays and national holidays—I believe that each of us needs to become a social media maven and decide how to use the new media to promote our own goals. Expertise comes only with experimentation.
Everyone using social media is “self-taught.” You can be too.
The more time you spend on social media, the more you’ll understand it, so be wary of so-called social media experts who charge a fortune and promise to turn you into a wizard overnight. You can become as knowledgeable as they are (if not more so) once you apply yourself to the task.
Rome was built one Tweet at a time.
As the old adage says, patience is a virtue. Twitter gives you a chance to befriend new customers, clients and business connections but the process can be slow, even painstaking. That’s because you’ve entered a murky area called “relationship marketing.” All caveats aside, the Twitter medium is most beneficial to those with specific services to sell because no one minds the constant bleat—er—tweet of self-promotion. You’re tweeting to the choir, baby.
Decide Facebook’s role in your life.
With over one billion subscribers, Facebook has become the proverbial elephant in the living room… and the den… and the car. Even late adapters feel as though the beast has grown too large to ignore. But just because it’s big doesn’t mean it has to be unwieldy. You don’t have to friend everyone who asks. You can compartmentalize, if you choose. Set your limits and stick to them.
Life changes after 200 Facebook friends.
Despite what my friend once said about 300 being a limit on Facebook, now that Twitter feeds stream directly into Facebook, everyone posts ad infinitum ad nauseam. Beware of burnout. Eye fatigue is an issue. Facebook is changing the face of friendship. It’s both easier—and means quite a bit less—to be considered someone’s “friend” than it used to. With Facebook, I actually became maxed out after connecting with only 200 friends and no longer read their posts with the avid attention I once did.
You are looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Miraculous stories abound. Two people meet via Facebook, divorce their current spouses, and marry each other instead. Someone finds a job halfway across the planet by networking on LinkedIn. As a professional writer, I don’t have the time for a million acquaintances, but I am always looking for that one-in-a-million business acquaintance.
Curiosity creates more connections.
On LinkedIn, there is an option to have your name appear as “Anonymous” when you view other people’s profiles, but if you choose this route then you can’t tell who’s checked out your profile. You will be able to see only the number of people who have looked you up—a numerical “tease” if ever there was one! I recently changed my account to allow others to see when I had read their profiles and now routinely look up those who look me up, much as I do on Twitter. Instead of considering this behavior “stalkerish” as I once did, I now view it as a professional compliment—and another tool for possibly finding the “needle in a haystack” golden opportunity.
Each form of social media gives you something different.
As of this writing, LinkedIn has pulled ahead of Facebook for me, something I never could have foreseen merely four years ago. Today I have 332 contacts on LinkedIn, 310 friends on Facebook, and 130 fans on Twitter. There was one day a couple of weeks back when I had the identical number of contacts on both Facebook and LinkedIn, but it was just a coincidence, and my LinkedIn account has been growing steadily ever since. That said, Facebook and LinkedIn are in a dead heat in terms of helping my writing career. I have unearthed a couple of tremendous opportunities through both, although I secretly believe that Twitter is where my best opportunity lies and, quite possibly, yours.