Oh the holidays are here and I now know exactly what is going on in my hometown thanks to Facebook. Well, maybe not exactly, but a good deal thanks to what I can get from my network via their status, invites, picture uploads and mocku-groups, at least for my home town Gaylord, MI. For my Georgia readers Gaylord is a good deal like Helen with skiing. Yup the things and people you find when you actively engage your network – apparently your past is central to that, at least on Facebook.
What are you looking for in a network? Do you actually participate? Do you just watch?
No matter what you do, Social networks continue to proliferate and continue to make it just a little harder to manage from my perspective regardless of the value they are providing. I find that I can really only manage 2 networks and only do that sorta well, nevertheless I have a bunch of ID’s all over the place to make sure I keep my Spatially ID on most platforms. Can’t have someone brand jack/squat on spatially.
For these other “land grab” networks, I participate mainly thanks to syndication tools for about another 6, but it really isn’t active participation more of an echo of other conversations. I occasionally log on to the other networks to only to find out that I have effectively lost conversations, conversations which appeared to be fairly interesting, if I was able to keep up on it. I even find that my two primary networks, Facebook and Twitter have stranded conversations as well. So if you make a connection, ask a question and don’t follow up with the responses how does that impact your personal brand?
I wrote a little bit about this frustration a while back, but it continues to be a point of concern, as I push statuses and content which effectively ping out and are left lost when it comes to follow up. So I’ve deployed some new tools to see if I can be just a little more responsive – Twinkle and Tweetlater.
The Right tool for the Right Job!
I’m sorta all tool out, tools I use, tools I test and tools I ultimately abandon, but I still keep trying to find the right application for a given micro-function or management function. I’ve used several different iPhone interfaces for Twitter and Twinkle is perhaps the best iPhone client out there and has a geospatial feature which allows me to meet folks while I travel or at least better engage locals for places to eat and things to do. What if marketers could leverage this for promotions?
Local promotions or interaction aren’t a far flung option with this tool, but it would require active use. I recently used Twinkle recently to find a very small hole in the wall which I never would have found without the folks on my Twinkle/Twitter network. Small important point – this cool restaurant recommendation was in my hometown of Roswell, GA – I’ve lived here 4 years and the place was not findable on Urban Spoon. The power of a geographic based network.
The challenge with Twinkle is I think I’m creating yet ANOTHER network – arrgghh! Will this be another place I strand conversations? Probably not, since it will be my main mobile interace. The fact that I am creating a new network is ok, since it is location based – not just twitter. To that end, I’ll deal with it since it is a great app and one I will actually communicate with, at least when I have my phone, which is like always, but I wish data portability was here in earnest – after all it is my data.
My key networks are Facebook and Twitter and twitter is my main interface for updates, so finding the right tools are important for me.
Tweetlater has become a great tool to acknowledge folks which add me with a welcome message and a direct default message which allows them to find my blog and thanks them for the add. This is a good thing, I think as I would NEVER acknowledge adds and only catch up say 2 times a month with reciprocal adds. The other feature I use on Tweetlater is the keyword feature, I don’t use the public Welcome message any longer because it just pollutes Facebook stream. It wouldn’t if it started with the @ symbol, since those are demoted to not be statuses, but that’s not how it works and typically not how humans speak. I will say that I am getting behind the eight ball on deleted direct messages, not on the Brogan scale, but behind.
I may turn it back on, I just don’t know yet…
A Value Network
Clearly there is value to a person or brand being present online, but it requires that you engage. Lost folks, friends and even randoms are part of your network and provide you access and knowledge that you just don’t have alone – the wisdom of crowds indeed. To that end, I continue to proactively manage my Twitter network and random into 10 or 15 folks a week as I try to change up the twitter stream a little every week, some folks I know just keeping adding – not sure how that works. I would like to highlight 1 of the randoms I personally added in the last week was @debraseifert – her tweets were protected, which always adds a little interest for me – so I added her on sheer luck. Her follow up response was super interesting to my add and shows that she is fairly particular in her network usage:
So it appears that Debra actively tends to her network a bit more than most, but it’s her network right? So I’m not sure how long I’ll be conversing with Debra based on the type of tweet I put out there, but I will say she has some very interesting content which is shared with her network. I clearly glad I randomed into her on twitter, so that’s one of the clear bonuses you find sometimes. Luck appears to play a part in at least some of this network thing, but so does what each person is looking for in their network. @BarbaraNixon recently decided that my conversations weren’t that quality or could have been lost responses regardless – your network has a choice and will continue to change.
There are two more adds this week which require a little acknowledgment, first is @Twitter_Tips, always a little suspect of such user names, but her auto-tweet was entertaining and interesting, she provided me links to some Twitter jokes on her blog and the photo below, which was listed as her favorite twitter pic – very cool item to share, so I also added her as @SarahJL, which appears to be her personal account – Two cool adds thanks to Tweetlater, one manual and the other automated.
The other apparent Tweetlater, SocialToo or other automated tool user I wanted to highlight was the one below which immediately got an unfollow since I don’t thing advertsing FREE stuff for online riches is very credible, below is automated response to my automated DM via Tweetlater:
Who’s are these?
Social networks aren’t just good for getting input, keeping in touch, finding lost folks and generally goofing around at work, they also improve productivity and generally save time. I recently had to pack a bunch of gear in my van, so I actually had to move stuff around. During the reswizzle of the van, I found a stack of live music that wasn’t mine. I literally had no idea who’s it could have been since a bunch of people stopped by the tailgate from other cities so it could be any of 15 or 20 folks – some that I had phone numbers for, some I didn’t. I definitely didn’t have all their emails either, so I used Twitter.
I put a snippet online and within the day the shows were claimed, as show below. I invested less than 10 seconds, found the owner and got to interact with a couple of folks along the way, not just folks who could have left them, but folks which couldn’t have possibly left them.
(identity protected, but only enough for those that don’t know claire strowd)
Found things to do
The use of Tweetlater and the auto welcome message which was published to my facebook status was the catalyst for a long time friend to invite me to lunch on Friday when he was in town. Of course his response was completely out of context, but it was just the needed ping for him to engage. My travel goofed that up so I went and caught up with him in Columbus, GA with Dave and a bunch of Nuns. It’s been almost 2 years since we caught up in person, so it was a very useful tool since it continues to ping my networks. I was also able to get an update on the good things he and the organization he works for, the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Those crazy Nuns in Adrian continue to amaze me with the good things they do, as does Chris.
The more my network grows, the more it seems to deliver increased value and interesting iterations which enrich my life. In somewhat of a counter intuitive fashion the larger the network gets the more it provides streamlined communications and develops key relationships. No matter how many networks you use the value is ultimately determined by how you use it. If you listen, learn and engage you just might find more than you thought. I think I’ll keep doing this whole social media thing, since with FB’s offer of $500M for Twitter it has to be staying around.
Aside – did you notice a couple of forced brand references? Well, that’s because I’ve been added to frickin alltop @ http://branding.alltop.com, towards the bottom. YEAH. So apparently what was a brand piece a month, needs to be 60% of my writing. I’m ok with that. I’ll do a formal notice shortly, but this is clearly something to be thankful for.