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Cause of the nature of what I do for a living I've been on most of the popular social networking sites since almost day one. If for no other reason then I just needed to know how they worked cause clients would ask about them all the time. But with that said, I have to admit to a large extent I found them next to useless.

Well that has started to change. And as I see more and more people here talking about using them, I thought I might take some time and convey a few things I've learned that might be helpful.

The main reason I found them useless was they were yet another online time drain. The industry I work in can change almost daily so I get news via RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds in Outlook. About 125 feeds right now about web design, interactive marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, and just marketing in general.

Those help me stay abreast of what is happening in the industry, give me ideas for articles to write for my professional site/blog, and most important of all new ideas to pitch clients. They take a lot of time to go through. I view that time (and we all only have so much time) as better spent then going through Tweets on Twitter, Facebook posts, or growing my network on LinkedIn.

Well my opinion on that has changed almost 24/7 in the last year as I've set-up and management Corporate Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for my clients. They can actually be pretty darn effective.

Now I could talk for countless pages and hours on end about how you'd go about using each social networking site from a business point-of-view. But that isn't the point of this Diary. Instead I want to offer up a few very simple suggestions on how you can make these sites work for you, not against you as a total time drain.

I am going to keep this simple stupid. Three simple suggestions. Three things that are very easy to do and take almost no effort on your part.

The first, which might make sense is don't follow folks on Twitter or "Friend" people on Facebook that post non-stop or stuff that isn't of interest to you. I mean I wanted to follow Markos on Twitter, but my gosh the guy just Tweets way too much :).

I also "Defriended" (is that even a word?) a lot of friends and family members on Facebook cause I got sick of hearing them ask me to visit their farm or help them play Mafia Wars. With both sites I found that maybe like 10% of the people I followed accounted for like 75% of the information coming through. That just makes no sense and made the sites almost useless for me.

The second, and maybe the most important suggestion, is take a few hours and find people in your industry that are experts. People you respect. Follow them. I find these folks attend the best conferences, are reading the next "hot" book before anybody else knows about it, trying out a new application I'd never heard of, and just are in the know (for lack of a better phrase).

Once you've done these two things you need to go to a third party application (they are all free). The interfaces for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn just suck. They don't let you sort and organization information in an effective manner.

I use Yoono. It has a plug-in for Firefox and a desktop application that allows you to get Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger (and many others) all in one application/interface. It is one of those things you have to experience to really get it. But it will drastically change how you use each system. Cause not only does it unify all the services in one place, you can also post to each network from it, and set-up saved searches and create lists to find exactly what you are interested in faster.

Another application is Seesmic. The interface is "prettier" and easy to use then Yoono, but I find it has less features.

I hope some of this information was helpful to regular users of these Social Networking sites or people that have been thinking about using them but have not started. I just can't stress how implementing these three simple things changed these sites from something I would consider totally useless, to a wealth of information almost overnight.

Originally posted to webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:42 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:42:41 AM PDT

    •  If You Have Any Questions I Might Have Some (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ssmt, danmitch

      semi-intelligent responses.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:43:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I probably should learn more web design stuff (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        webranding

        I'm pretty good with HTML/CSS and keeping content up to date, but I need to learn PHP at some point.  I got a good PHP book to learn from (just need to sit down to study, which is hard with this nice spring weather).

        If I were to get two or three more books to learn from, do you have recommendations? And what particular area of web design?

        •  Well I Am Looking At Maybe 20 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ssmt

          Books on HTML/CSS and web design in general. I personally have found that things change so fast I just find it all online.

          About 85% of the web work/sites I do is through a CMS like Wordpress or Drupal. Mainly cause with something like WordPress the WYSIWYG interface is such that my clients can add their own content. I call it "taking ownership of their site." Plus will all the plug-ins it integrates with sites like Twitter and Facebook. So a new blog post they write on their site is posted automatically to Facebook and Tweeted out. I can that "repurposing" content.

          Now with that said I hack apart any template I use for WordPress or use one of the grid systems, so I only barely do any PHP. I use these guides here.

          "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

          by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:57:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  CMS (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            webranding

            I've been thinking about Joomla/Drupal.  I've installed it as a test onto my own site (not for the site, but just to fiddle), but haven't really tinkered with the nuts and bolts so much.

            The reason I say books is that I always do better if there's a book opened on my desk, rather than learning off the other screen.  I think I get easily distracted if the browser is open :D

            •  Well I Am With You On Books Vs. Browser (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ssmt

              I have my primary computer then an older computer with a dual monitor set-up I use as a media server. One of the monitors is inches to the left of what I am working on how. I just PDF any help document I have and put it on the other computer and use it that way.

              IMHO Drupal and Joomla are a catch 22. Far more powerful then WordPress at the core. I mean they come out of the box doing just about anything you want.

              But cause WordPress is far more popular they have free plug-ins that can do anything Drupal/Joomla does. However they are another learning curve.

              "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

              by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:10:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Join The Well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ssmt

      For your second suggestion, I suggest the Well,  well.com , as the most interesting place on the Internet to find intelligent conversations about politics, technology, societal change, all kinds of news, etc.

      The Well was started by Stewart Brand and others as an offshoot of the Whole Earth Catalog, and it retains an in-depth quirkiness of the original. The quality conversations I find there I can't find anywhere else.

      I dislike Facebook and wouldn't get an account there; Twitter I find very valuable and check it three or four times a day (Markos and Kagrox are must-reads for me). Twitter's a good way to shoot messages to friends and family, but of course I use it mainly as a way to get pointed to worthwhile URLs.

      But if you want thoughtful cutting-edge conversations with authors, tech people, and scientists, join the Well. My 16 years there have been rich.

      •  I've Got A Few Books On The Well (0+ / 0-)

        via Howard Rheingold. I will openly admit I thought it was a "walled" off closed/paid community. I'll have to check it out!

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:32:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Facebook for bands (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, James Robinson

    I've been running a facebook page for a few bands over the past year.  It's supplanted myspace as the social networking site, partly because myspace reminds me too much of geocities circa 1998.  For announcing shirts for sale, new music, or tour dates, Facebook certainly gets the best response from the fans, who also like feeling they're communicating with the bands.

    As far as friends/family using those dumb farmville apps, I just hide that app feed rather than the friend or family member.  

    •  You Learn Something New Everyday (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ssmt

      I hate to admit how many hours I've spend learning Facebook. I had no clue you could "hide" an application feed. None. Thanks for that.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:49:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Facebook doesn't make it easy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        webranding, Govinda

        They seem to constantly figure out ways so people have to see all the ads, make their information more public, and make it friendly for the corporations who advertise there.  

        Ultimately, if something better and more user privacy friendly comes along, facebook may go the way of Friendster and myspace.  The only thing holding back an exodus is lack of a better social network and the amount of time invested building one's facebook existence.

    •  I still go to MySpace to listen to music (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini

      though.  I absolutely am not signed up on either Facebook or MySpace, so this is about learning a couple of things about a band and sampling their music.  Do they have streaming on Facebook?  Because MySpace Music is a rich trove of music, despite all its flaws.  It is absolutely free, and one would be surprised how many albums one can listen to for no charge.  Of course, they are bleeding money like crazy, so that fun may come to an end soon . . .

      Not everyone wants to "talk" to their favorite band.  Sometimes we just want to hear their music, read a bio, see where they are touring, and see if they have a new album coming out.

      Just curious what your take is on it all.

      •  Most Of The Work I Do Are For (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ssmt, beachmom

        business-to-business companies. But did some work for a band and MySpace is maybe like a factor of 10 superior to Facebook for music. You can get music/videos on Facebook, but it is kind of a work around and not nearly as functional as MySpace.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:02:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Where myspace failed (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          beachmom, webranding

          Their spam/privacy settings essentially don't work.  I set the band's message settings to not accept invitations from others, but that setting does not work and the myspace inbox is chock full of hundreds of unwanted invites, rendering that unusable.  I've contacted myspace to fix it, and although they "reset" it, within days it's cluttered again with event invitations.

          So except for uploading songs, I find myspace absolutely useless now.

          •  Thanks for that perspective. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ssmt

            MySpace Music is really an asset there, but the rest of it is junk.  Of course News Corp. bought it and really have made the situation worse.  They should be floated and allowed to fix the place on their own.  However, I have heard they are bleeding staffers like crazy, and that morale there is extremely low.

      •  Myspace for music (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        webranding

        That's pretty much the only useful thing left, although it's just as easy to set up a youtube channel and put up a few videos there as well.  A lot of Nomeansno's fans make their own videos for the band, which is kinda neat.  

        Facebook has a streaming music option, but the interface seemed lame when I played with it last.  

      •  Most Of The Work I Do Is For (0+ / 0-)

        business-to-business companies. But did some work for a band and MySpace is maybe like a factor of 10 superior to Facebook for music. You can get music/videos on Facebook, but it is kind of a work around and not nearly as functional as MySpace.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:03:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I actually like Twitter "lists" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssmt, webranding

    Honestly, I like following a lot of people on Twitter, and don't mind if I don't read everything.  I view it as taking a pulse on news.  If there IS a topic that I really want to read it all, or cut to the chase, I create a smaller list.  I agree with you that those who tweet too much can waste time, although I don't think Markos overdoes it.  Also, sometimes someone will live tweet a conference, so for that day, there are going to be a lot of tweets from them.

    I've tried it both ways, as to following less people or following more people, and find I am a "hoarder" and don't like unfollowing people, and would rather use the lists to pare down the number of tweets.

    To be clear, I use Twitter for my interests, like news, politics, tech, etc.  I absolutely do not use it for personal friends kind of connections (and I still refuse to use Facebook).  I think that is what the telephone and e-mail is for.  Call me old fashioned, but that is how I view it.

    •  No I Am With You (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ssmt, beachmom

      In grad school I studied "trend watching." And this was in 1991-1992 before all these tools. There is NO doubt if I wanted to do something like that today Twitter would be where I'd go.

      RSS feeds for me is like "crack" and I get way, way too much information there that I just can't handle following folks that might Tweet a few dozens or even 50 times a day. IMHO you get just a couple of people like that you follow and it makes the service almost unuseable to me.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:06:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I look at Facebook... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssmt, beachmom, webranding, mnguy66

    ...and I think, "how in the fuck can people waste their lives like this?"

    "Here's the book on Alan Greenspan: He thinks what everybody else thinks, but one fiscal quarter later." -- James Grant

    by dov12348 on Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:57:05 AM PDT

    •  And then pressure you to waste your lives (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ssmt, dov12348, mnguy66

      with them.

      Meanwhile, I swear these friends don't pick up the phone and call that much anymore.  I think Facebook may lessen friendships, not help.

      •  Yes and no (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        beachmom, dov12348

        Since I moved to Canada after getting married, most of my family and friends are rather far flung, so Facebook has been the best possible way to keep in touch.

        Moreover, I found a friend & former roommate who I hadn't heard from in 15 years.  Last time I saw her she had a bad drug problem but finding her healthy and with her life together was the best facebook moment ever.  Now we're rebuilding our friendship, albeit from afar.  

        But yes, it also kinda messes with more immediate friendships because you suddenly realize you have little to talk about in person because you already posted your daily news in your status updates.

        PS: I have hated the phone long before social networks ever were dreamed up :D

        •  Somehow I was able to get in touch with... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ssmt, mnguy66

          ...all the old friends I wanted to through Google, address and phone listings, other friends and e-mail, for example.

          It's like the people who send dozens of jokes a day to a hundred people?  Don't they have a frickin' life at all?  And in this day and age, shouldn't many be out, say looking for a job or training for a new career? Or just learning something.

          "Here's the book on Alan Greenspan: He thinks what everybody else thinks, but one fiscal quarter later." -- James Grant

          by dov12348 on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:19:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think Kerry kind of agrees with you (0+ / 0-)

    He is on Twitter, but today has tweeted several times due to the roll out of his climate bill.  But the latest tweet, I think he is basically apologizing for so many tweets:

    Twitter can be tiring, but up on Grist w/ more detailed look at APA. http://bit.ly/...

    Not sure he is saying HE is getting tired of it, or is saying that he is probably tiring other people.  But it may just be a baby boomer perspective on the service.

    •  See I Intended This Diary For A Different (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ssmt, Govinda

      audience. Not a person I am talking with in the comments about PHP and CMS. Or a person that uses it for a band. Nor you. I wanted people that were kind of "scared" of something "new." These services can be easy to manage. They can be a wealth of information. But I've worked around technology my entire adult life and I often find most folks are clueless. Clueless not cause they are not smart, but cause nobody took the time to help them a little.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:17:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bingo! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        webranding

        Computers aren't scary.  No one drives a car without learning a few basics: how to fill the gastank, change a tire, check the oil levels.  Computers are the same way, whether it's knowing how to install RAM (literally a snap) or learning how to use a new service online.

        But just like dad might have taught you a bit about cars, it's good to have that hand to hold to get started.

      •  Well, I am scared of Facebook. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ssmt, webranding

        I don't like the idea of using my real name on the internet.  And every other week, one reads about FB taking away more privacy.  Now I'm not so naive not to know that anonymous is not always safe either.  But putting one's name out there is for a regular person the equivalent of deciding to run for President.  A person has to decide what they want public and what they want to be private.  Because it seems FB is not to be trusted to protect your privacy.

        I'm anonymous on Twitter.  So far, they have allowed me to stay.  I use it largely as a feed.

        •  See I Take A Different Approach (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ssmt

          then yourself. But your concerns are valid. My screen name here is the URL of my professional site. Ain't hard to figure out exactly who I am. But with that said it is my choice to do it that way. You should have an equal choice not to share that information.

          "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

          by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:26:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  People are getting fired because of (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            webranding

            things they have posted on Facebook.  For example, a teacher was fired because there is an innocuous photo of her at an outdoor cafe in Europe with a glass of wine on the table (she is clearly not drunk) from a Georgia school.  I just don't get that.  I don't get why she was fired.  And that is why I don't trust FB or even myself.  Something that seems innocuous to oneself is a SCANDAL to another person.  That is why I compare it to a presidential campaign.  Everything is fair game, even stuff that is no big deal.

            I'm at home with my kids now.  But eventually, I will be looking for work again which is in finance/accounting.  I feel like the internet can be used against people for things that once were 100% private, like one's political viewpoint.

            •  Well Yes I've Seen That (0+ / 0-)

              Just a little story. I went to a bar in my small rural town the other night. Not something I normally do. Much less by myself. I started talking to this lady. Maybe 25. I'm 40.

              We hit if off. The fact I mentioned the author Gunter Grass and she knew he wrote the Tin Drum was staggering for me. We exchanged numbers. Along with her phone number she gave me her Facebook URL.

              Wow. It showed high school kids doing beer bongs. All kinds of stuff. I was thinking to myself, are these folks crazy?

              Now with that said you search my screen name here and you get my business site. You also get some stuff I've written here. Of course that might not be smart. But to be honest I don't care.

              First I think it helps to temper what I say. I'd say nothing here I wouldn't say to your face. And if a client doesn't want to do business with me cause I am a liberal and I write about it, well so be it. But most of my clients are not in fact liberals. They could care less. I do good work and give then good advice. That a liberal might be offering that up, well my experience is they could care less.

              "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

              by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:39:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Facebook has been getting a lot of bad publicity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssmt

    lately. There seems to be a trend towards deactivating and deleting accounts due to privacy issues and apps getting info FB isn't up front about.
    What's your take on that?

    "If the time is not ripe, we have to ripen the time." In Honor of Dr. Dorothy Height

    by Oke on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:17:08 AM PDT

    •  Facebook is veering towards the shark (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Curt Matlock, webranding, Govinda

      I utterly hate that every so often I have to go reset all my privacy settings back to where I want them.  I know they're trying to make money, but they must figure out how to do it and respect my privacy.

      The latest thing allowing third party sites to have access to your info has really soured a lot of people.  

      They deserve the bad publicity because they need to occasionally remember their users are the only reason they exist, not the advertisers.

    •  It Is A Huge Issue. Not One I Worry About (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ssmt, greengemini, Govinda

      but a lot of folks do. To be blunt Facebook makes it pretty hard, close to impossible unless you are a geek, to manage your privacy settings. That is a problem. IMHO they should default you to the most secure and safe settings and make the user change it to share more and more information.

      They do the exact opposite. That is wrong.

      Now what they are doing, and I am dumbing this down a little cause I am not an expert on this, but they are starting to share information with other sites. Lets say you talk about movies a lot on Facebook. When you visit a movie site, that might be a partner with Facebook, they will share info you posted on Facebook so the site can  present you info customized to you.

      Sure there is a benefit for the user in doing that. But they are not being very upfront about it.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:22:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I signed up for twitter (0+ / 0-)

    but never used it. How can I find out what my name and password are?

    Tough times don't last. Tough people do. Richard Trumka, 4/29/10

    by hold tight on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:35:40 AM PDT

    •  Go To The Site And When You Attempt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hold tight

      to log-in there will be a link to recover your password and screen name. Click that and enter your email and they'll resend it to you.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:40:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Much bad press about social sites for (0+ / 0-)

    enabling bullying or how dangerous they can be to your job or hiring prospects. Lots of really bad press about Craig's List and the danger of robberies from ads or the immorality of sex ads. And of course all accounts are published in the newspapers and magazines bleeding ad business and on cable TV outlets owned by the corporations flailing against net neutrality.

    Lighting one candle in the darkness gets less attention than lighting one stick of dynamite.

    by OHdog on Wed May 12, 2010 at 11:10:57 AM PDT

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