7 Common Sense Social Networking Tips

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There are positives to social networking but there are negatives too. Always exercise common sense when it comes to which social media sites you are active on and what you post. Not connecting cautiously and posting appropriately can ruin your reputation, so if you want to be a successful blogger think before you act. 

When we join a social network, make our profiles public and accrue followers we are entering a tacit agreement to exchange links to relevant information with them. Selecting which posts to promote and crafting unique snippets and links to relevant information for each social media site is time consuming.

Creating a single post and scheduling it to be automatically posted at a specific time across multiple social networks is quicker and more convenient. But don’t be fooled by convenience.

Being apparently active everywhere by auto-posting the same snippets and links across multiple social media does not mean auto-posting  is an effective social media time management strategy.  It’s an impersonal approach to communication that has the potential to annoy existing followers and provoke them to unfollow.

Where is your target audience found?

Whether you blog to inform, to entertain, to persuade or to provoke controversy,  to have a successful blog you must identify your target audience and let your audience’s interests guide your content strategy. Which social media site(s) does your target audience frequent? Is your audience on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIN, Google Plus, YouTube or on other social media sites? Where can you connect with them?

Select social media sites that suit your content

I recently read and commented on an article focused on discouraging thoughtlessness in social networking re: LinkedIn.  Ben Huberman provides sound advice in Should You Connect Your Blog to Your LinkedIn Profile? so please click through and read what he has to say.

If you don’t want to think twice about anything you write, connecting your blog to LinkedIn might be something to reconsider.

LinkedIn is a professional social network. If you don’t have a professional blog, then it ought to be self evident that becoming a member and setting up so your blog posts are auto-posted to your LinkedIn profile is inappropriate. If you do have professional blog then practice common sense when selecting exactly which articles to promote to LinkedIn followers.

Well, if your blog focuses on your alcohol-drenched travels through South America, chronicles your love life, or is full of vocal (negative) opinions on notable members of your profession, posting to LinkedIn might warrant a second thought. – Ben Huberman

Use your common sense

1.   Be selective about the social media sites you join.

As social networking is aimed at establishing your authority on a given subject and attracting  like-minded followers to your blog,  do select which social media sites to become a member of with care. Choosing to promote your blog on the wrong social media sites ie. sites where your target audience is not active will be an ineffectual waste of time.

2.  Be selective about who you friend and follow.

Be selective about who you accept as a friend or follower on a social network and cautious about sharing any personal, let alone, financial information with them.  Know that having  a large number of friends or followers ie. strangers you do not personally know carries a degree of risk including becoming a target for cyber-criminals.

Phishing emails allegedly sent from social networking sites, but actually encouraging you to visit fraudulent or inappropriate websites are common, and identity thieves might create fake profiles in order to get your information from you.  Before you post any information or images to any social network carefully consider whether it may make you a target for cyber-criminals.

3.  Be self protective and security minded.

Setting your social networking profile to private does not amount to building an impenetrable wall. Anything published online will likely remain online for years to come and may potentially embarrass you or damage your reputation or career or relationships.

Recognize it`s your friends/followers who are the weakest links when it comes to information leaks one either public or private sites and keep your blogging and social networking cool. If you become a blogger under attack then proceed with caution and respond logically rather than emotionally.

Many companies routinely view current or prospective employees’ blogs and social networking pages. Think long and hard before posting any information, comments or images that could compromise your online presence by reflecting badly on you now or in the future.

4.   Be cautious about auto-posting.

Recognize that manually posting unique snippets and links to relevant articles to selected social media sites is more effective than auto-posting is. Auto-posting is impersonal and auto-posts are easily ignored. Unique snippets are attention getting because the unique wording makes them feel more personal.

5.   Do not auto-post the same links and snippets across multiple social media sites.

If you must auto-post then avoid auto-posting the same snippet and link across multiple social media sites periodically throughout the day. We are all drowning in a sea of duplicated content. Respect your followers knowing each one has a breaking point when they will declare, “There it is again. That’s it. Enough is enough!” and click the unfollow link to shed themselves of followers, who annoy them by sharing the same link to the same content over and over, again and again.

6.   Promote only the best and leave the rest.

There’s also a quality factor that has to do with depth of communication that’s being overlooked on social media sites. Multiple studies confirm the majority online are now skim reading blogs and clicking like buttons, rather than reading or thinking about what they read and commenting on it. Not every post you publish may be a high quality post that makes you shine. It`s quality that counts; quantity doesn`t so be selective about what you promote as well as where you promote it.

7.   Be realistic when befriending and following.

Become aware of Dunbar’s Number and do not follow back every person who follows you. Do you really have enough time to create high quality relationships with a never ending number of people? Of course not –  we max out at 150 relationships. At most, most social media friends and followers that aren’t family members or face-to-face friends offline are online acquaintances whom you have never met and probably never will meet.

Yet you will witness numerous articles encouraging you to be active everywhere and to automate your updates. So let`s take a close look at what that advice is based on.

Bloggers use social media to socialize with their friends and to market their ideas, skills, business, or products. We have erroneously built our economies and societies on the unsustainable never-ending growth principle and we are doing the same thing in cyberspace! Clearly what underlies the unsustainable never ending growth model offline and online is greed and it’s rooted in egoism.

Concluding advice

Social networking has been going on since the first two strangers met and became friends. Use the same common sense and courtesy you exercise online as you do offline. Be selective about which social networks to become a member of and who you befriend. Be selective about what you post to each social media site. Be enthusiastic about your subject but not too personal and you will increase your social networking success.

Discussion

Please feel free to share your social networking advice in the comments.

Related posts found in this blog:
How to Become a Better Blogger 5: Your Online Presence
Blogging: Online presence and authenticity

50 thoughts on “7 Common Sense Social Networking Tips

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  4. Great advice as always, timethief. Dunbar’s number makes sense. I follow about that many, but I hear from and respond to about one-third of that. Their posts are worthwhile and many of them have become virtual friends. Responding is time consuming, but I do enjoy the thoughtful, and humorous exchanges.

    BTW, I do post on Facebook and Linked In. My posts, however, are family-friendly and professional. ;-)

  5. Thanks for the great article! Speaking to low-quality posting en-masse, I have been noticing the never-ending deluge of blog articles that count the points they are making. “Top 10 this…”, and “the 9 things you must do…” I know it always sucks me in to reading the article. Lately I am finding now that so many poor articles are using this technique to suck people in to reading their spam/blog that I am now avoiding articles that have counts in them! It’s like watery soup. Don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing your article to this, but just venting a growing observation I’ve been having.

    • Hi Jamie Ray,
      Hooray! You liked my post and did click through to read the references I linked to in it Blogging, Bean Counting and Social Networking. In reality those who have thousands of followers/friends in social networks do not have meaningful personal relationships with the vast majority of them. Dunbar’s number reflects the reality that across the primate order as a whole, there is a general relationship between the size of the brain’s neocortex and the size of the average social group, and this relationship predicts a group size for humans of 150.

  6. I’m not a fan of auto-posting either, as I place a lot of emphasis on the social aspect of social media. We only make true connection through interactivity, so being fed a steady stream of auto-posted content doesn’t thrill me. I can get that kind of one-sided “socializing” anywhere.

    Of all of the social media options, Linked-In is the trickiest one in the mix. I don’t go out of my way to be controversial on my blog, but I sometimes write about topics that I wouldn’t normally discuss in the workplace. When making new business contacts, the focus should remain on business, so I don’t submit my blog posts to Linked-In.

    Being effectively engaged on social media is time-consuming, so I tend to drop off the grid from time to time. When I return there is a small core group of individuals who I try to reconnect with. There’s not enough time in the day to worry about trying to amass a large following, so my network grows very slowly. Maintaining good connections is more doable that way.

    • Hi there Ray,
      Your truth expressed in your first paragraph is also my truth. Sadly, we are all programmed to think that in social networking and in all things never ending growth is something to aspire to. Granted blogging is a popularity driven pursuit for most but I know that kind of thinking, which has become the norm, is ego driven in all cases and money driven in many cases. I think that’s sad.

      To me blogging is a pleasure, not a job. I share what I know and experience in my two blogs but I don’t purport to be an expert and I have no commercial agenda. I think there are many bloggers who are fretting about gaining more followers via social networking in all the wrong places and ways, when their time would be better spent on developing deeper relationships with the followers they have online, or better still, on deepening and/or expanding their offline relationships.

      I typed you a long comment on your latest post but was stupid because I did not copy it before I clicked submit. The content was lost because I included a link to this post 12 Time Management Tips for Top Blogging Performance in it to explain how I have changed my approach to work and to blogging. I followed instructions and clicked the link to remove the link I had left and ended up on a Hostgator forbidden page – AHEM. I clicked the back button and had an empty comment box – arragggh! Oh well …

      What I shared with you was thanks for connecting again and updating us on your writing work ie. thanks for the insight into freelance writing realities that you provided. Without doubt being a freelancer and hustling for work is not easy. I’m grateful that I don’t have to do that as the next contract under a NDA (non disclosure agreement) is automatically provided in my case. My writing is off the radar as the jobs are not ones anyone on the outside can apply for and we cannot discuss them. Technical writing may not be interesting but if you are a good writer it does pay well.

      In my lost comment I sent you and yours best wishes for a merry and bright holiday season. Now I share that with you here. Merry Christmas!

      • You’re right, when we focus on selling we’re not focusing on the right thing if we want to connect to our readers. I understand the urge to monetize, but when it interferes with writing content that may interest people that’s a problem. I’ve had that happen to me a few times.

        I’m sorry that you had a trouble posting a link with your comment. I try to remember to copy before pressing submit, but sometimes I forget… unfortunately. I allow links in comments, so I don’t know what caused the issue in your case. Hostgator, historically great, has had some problems with down time lately. Perhaps this is another issue that I will have to look to resolve with them.

        I also had a problem with WordPress when preparing my last post. While in edit mode, I click the edit image icon that appears when you hover over an embedded image. The options for editing are all there in the pop up window, but the save button is missing. (I do this to place borders around my images). I’ve spent a good amount of time searching for a solution to this, but have come up empty. If you have encountered this problem and have a solution, please let me know.

        Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  7. Great tips, thank you! A few weeks ago I noticed a change in the way my WordPress auto-publicize posts look on Facebook, I forgot the verbiage they use now–I think it says something like you “have activity on WordPress” when your post goes out….and that doesn’t sound to me like anything I would act on as a reader. I do most of the promoting myself now individually because I have seen a difference in response on personal messages vs. auto-posts. As for LinkedIn, I’m wondering now if I should stop posting there. The funny thing is, I don’t seem to get many views from LinkedIn but my posts seem to be shared on LinkedIn? Not sure what to think about that….anyway, thank you Timethief!

    • Hi Robin,
      I don’t have much time to devote to social networking so I have only Twitter accounts and I don’t use Publicize so I’m not clear about the message you refer to. Trying to create a message that can be used universally for all of the millions of bloggers using the app sounds challenging and I guess that Staff have done the best they can do with it.

      I do most of the promoting myself now individually because I have seen a difference in response on personal messages vs. auto-posts.

      I’ve heard the same feedback from many other experienced bloggers who shifted to manually posting unique snippets to selected social networks.

      What you report about LinkedIn is interesting. You could experiment a bit by not auto-posting to LinkedIn and seeing if those who have shared your posts at LinkedIn continue to share them there or not.

      Best wishes for happy blogging.

    • Hi Gabriela,
      That’s a great rule. I never post or respond to comments when I’m in a negative state of mind. I wait 48 hours and then review the situation before responding to anything negative. It’s by far better better to remain silent than to blurt out something emotional and regret that you did. I do the same thing offline when I’m in a negative state of mind too.

  8. Great read and some very worthwhile tips. I spend most of my time on Facebook so post mostly there but occasionally elsewhere as well. The other thing to remember is that one will never get noticed unless the search engines promote you. So occasionally Google+ as well but have had little or no feed back from there. Funny old game in the end?

    • Hi there,
      Many bloggers focus on promoting primarily via Facebook and are succesful doing so. Others are successful by using Twitter or Pinterest as their primary socia networks. Few have told me that they are sucessful by promoting via Google Plus.The feedback I have received is that Google Plus has the feel of an empty space. I have also received feedback to the same effect that Ben blogged on ie. don’t post non-professional stuff to LinkedIn. Funny yeah … maybe weird is a better term. The bottom line is that determining who your target audience is and posting frequently, but not too frequently, to the social media sites that audience is active on is the most effective approach.

      • Funny never got your reply so came back to check here again and thank you for answering. It seems most strange about Google + as well. As to Linkedln if you are down as a blogger or author cannot see the harm in it although cannot remember the last time I posted there.

    • Hi there,
      I could on and on about how foolish people are when it comes to posting online and the habits they develop but that wouldn’t be helpful. As I became a paralegal first and came online second I knew instinctively to be cautious. What everyone needs to do is think before they post anything on the internet.

      I’m glad that I didn’t decide to create multiple social media accounts so I’m not like a hamster on a treadmill wheel. It’s my position that bloggers who think auto-posting the same thing across multiple social networks, primarily to the very same people, who are their friends and followers on all of those sites, is an effective promotion approach are off base. I think that they have been duped into behaving like automatons. Auto-posting approach is not “social” behavior – it’s mass marketing.

  9. Loved this post. it made me feel better about my choices. I loved your comment ” unsustainable never-ending growth principle”. I hadn’t heard it put so eloquently before but I was looking around at the greedy developers that have their never satisfied eyes everywhere and tried to devour our park a couple of years ago and I thought “when is enough for these people?” I am not on pinterest, not because it isn’t wonderful but because I think it would steal too much time. I have made my images “pinable” though and I am really happy at the type of sites they have ended up on.

    • It’s always good to ear that someone else shares your POV. The never-ending unsustainable growth model is exactly what our economies and societies are built on and that thinking is destroying the planet, our societies and our relationships. Don’t get me started on developers because I was a political activist prior to starting to blog. I assume most bloggers have a high enough IQ to recognize that never-ending growth is neither desirable nor sustainable. Obviously, the auto-posting and bean counting behaviors as well as the bribery with gifts and coupons for following behavior we witness being encouraged is founded on the same faulty model.

      I think if we treasure every comment by responding to it as soon as we can and if we express appreciation to our followers for their interest in our blogs our readership will grow. If one does not have a commercial blog then bean counting and obsessing over stats is a way to squelch any enjoyment you get from blogging because it’s the opposite of being personal and building meaningful relationships. Auto-posting, paid campaigns for followers and bean counting means you have objectified your friends/followers.

      • I am lucky I found you at just the right time. You have assisted me not only with practical web page design issues but also with navigating my way through the ethical issues. I love that my blog is “ad free”.
        Fair Dinkum some webpages are so pumped with gyrating ads, I can hardly see the original content and I leave feeling slightly violated somehow. Your opinions and the succinct way you express them are really interesting and have me thinking on them as I go about my day. It comes down to what we want as individuals for our web pages and it is easy to get on the “sell” “sell” “sell” bandwagon. What is getting sold though and who is getting the money! :)

    • Hi Marie,
      Some of us are introverts who are instinctively self-protective. We introverts are the minority. The majority are extroverts, who share freely and who take the risks of doing so. What’s important to me is reaching those who are new to blogging so they think before they type.

      • I never stopped to think and realize that the majority of people are extroverts. So true! It is for this reason social media sites are popular and successful. It is easy for me to not give too much information due to my introvert nature.

  10. Very useful, and part of the reason why when I started my blog, I chose a pseudonym, as my photography has nothing to do with my professional work, and I thought it best to keep identities separated.

  11. Brilliant post. I got caught in that “emotive post” habit in the beginning several years ago and had to create stubs to “technically” rewrite over 500 posts to get it out of Google’s clutches and MY mind..

    I’ve wondered why there are some who don’t seem to realize that no matter who or where online(and off), we should always be mindful of who our friends are.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, as always.

    • I’m sorry that happened to you. Emotive posts can do you right in. Worse still are emotive responses to comments and when the two become a cycle that leads to a downward spiral. It’s always important to be self protective and it’s likewise important to be true to our self, as The Bard said, but it’s a balancing act. We cannot simply swipe the screen and erase what we have typed and we need to keep that in mind.

  12. Good reminder on when not to use LinkedIn. Frankly, I disagree with posting one’s whole resume to one’s LinkedIn professional circles. What for? Better to summarize generally where one has worked. Then others can ask for details later.

    I got off LinkedIn, when all sorts of mysterious people outside of my professional group wanted to be invited in. Just a waste of time. That’s just my experience.

    • Hi Jean,
      I don’t suppose you will be surprised when I I agree with you. Full resumes don’t belong on LinkedIn. It’s a brief summary that’s all a profile page is designed for. Details CSV upon request. I think the invitations from mysterious people is quite common as what people do is synch their email contacts with their accounts.

  13. Thank you, timethief. I have learned so much about better blogging from your one cool site posts.

    Since I sometimes write about awareness and connection pieces, but at other times write reflective or childhood memory short essays and stories, I’ve often wondered if I should write at two separate blogs.

    But the thought of maintaining two blogs is too much for me. I think that whatever I write about (diverse as it may sometimes seem) helps me to experience more awareness and make more meaningful connections.

    All of my posts are linked to two social media sites, and now I’m wondering if I should go back to linking to them manually each time I post.

    Smiles!

    • Hi there,
      It’s so good to have positive feedback. Thanks for sharing yours. What I have offered is food for thought and I’ll leave the decisions to you. Best wishes always.

  14. It’s interesting to see you mention our inability to maintain more than 150 relationships. I had always wondered how folks could be effective in SO many social media platforms. I suppose now, they simply aren’t. Great advice, as usual!

    Blogging from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • Hi Kathy,
      Dunbar’s number is a reality check. I feel vindicated because I cannot maintain more than 20 close relationships offline and I don’t expect that I can exceed that online. However, not all of our friends are close all of the time so the degree of closeness and the numbers of friends fluctuate somewhat but they don’t exceed 150.

  15. All good points. One of my additional rules is “never to put anything online that you’ll regret saying later” whether it’s a tweet, blog post, Facebook post or anything else.

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