Social Networking Madness

As you may have noticed, Twitter is the online phenomenon of the year. Usage is growing very quickly, and as a consequence I’m seeing a lot of “how to” articles explaining what you need to do in order to get rick quick by tweeting. The last one I read contained this piece of advice:

Try to have a balance between people you follow and people that follow you. If 1,000 people follow you and you only follow 10 folks, you will be seen as selfish and snob. If 10 people follow you and you follow 1,000, you will be seen as a spammer.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Really, no. I’m following 30+ people at the moment and already it is starting to seem a bit much at times. Twitter is full of one-to-one conversations. Many of the people following me are folks I have never heard of. I don’t want to be obliged to wade through all of their chatter to find things of interest to be just to avoid being seen as snobby.

I already have a bunch of people I have “friended” on LiveJournal that I don’t know and whose posts I generally skim past because of that loaded word “friend”. I suspect that hundreds of the people I am “friends” with on Facebook are people I don’t know, or have met in passing at a convention, or who once read Emerald City. With Facebook this doesn’t matter much, but with LJ I’d like to reduce the length of my FList to make it easier to read, but I’m reluctant to do so because people take “unfriending”, and even refusing to reciprocate friending to be a serious insult. I had hoped that Twitter would be better. At least it avoided the F word.

And what about those who use it to keep up with celebrities, or for entertainment? I have a sneaking suspicion that people who are celebrities, even minor ones like SF writers, actually want to be followed, and really don’t care much if the people following them don’t have many followers. Twitter could certainly do with some better tools for finding out if people are trying to talk to you when you don’t follow them, but that should be easily solved.

So this is basically a plea for a bit of social networking sanity. Most people have to work for a living. Sometimes that work involves using social networking sites to reach your audience. Such people will inevitably have more followers than followed, have more people wanting to be their friend than they can possibly actually be friends with. Let’s be realistic about that, OK?

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9 Responses to Social Networking Madness

  1. Mulluane says:

    I made the same mistake when I first started using Twitter. Thought I needed to keep up with every tweet made by every person I followed. That was until I read a good piece of advice. Think of Twitter as a fast moving river, jump in when you want, get out when you are done, do not try to keep up with every drop.

    Thanks to a neat little Firefox addon, twitter sits quietly in a sidebar, I glance at it when I’m not busy, jump into conversations if they interest me, forget about the rest. I do check my replies occasionally. I’ve seen things I’ve said replied to 24 hours after I tweeted them, but aside from that, I do not even try to check on every tweet anymore.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Mulluane:

    And that Firefox addon would be…

  3. You pinpoint why I avoid all of these things. Mostly it boils down to how much of your precious time you want to spend following updates or using something which turns into nagware with persistent requests to add friends or accept or reject something. Facebook (and MySpace) make sense for people who don’t already have an online presence; I have my own site which currently runs to over 450 pages of content, as well as a customised blog which is added to every day. Maintaining that lot is pretty full time already, especially when I code everything myself. The last thing I need is even more web labour.

  4. Cheryl says:

    John:

    Entirely understood. You are a creative person and I want you to have time to create.

    I, however, and a creature of teh intrawebs. Much of my usefulness to people like you depends upon my ability to reach out to people and get them to listen when I tell them how cool you (or other people whose work I admire) are. Hence social networking is a necessary and often useful tool.

  5. Mulluane says:

    It is Twitkit (but you figured that out). But I’d love to hear how you like twhirl once you test drive it.

  6. V says:

    I’ll be following what you say about Twitter tools…I may have to apply it to the convention.

    Yeah, I prefer not to “friend” people I don’t know, but I also am trying to treat Facebook like an adjunct to my LinkedIn account.

    I also get stuck with the loadedness of LJ “friend”ing and don’t like it much, but resist the temptation to cull my list which I really don’t want to seen balloon any further.

    That said, in my case, please don’t bother to have friended me at least just to avoid offense. I can put a track on you instead 9as I have on two other folks at least, removed two more because the quantity was bogging me down), I was just lazy. I admit there are some folks I skim too, although they’re ones I actually know from a way back but never see and thus don’t have the heart to unfriend.

    Mostly it boils down to how much of your precious time you want to spend following updates or using something which turns into nagware with persistent requests to add friends or accept or reject something

    This is why I don’t like these tools that much too (although you may or may not have seen a screenful from me about it already, it occurs to me suddenly).

    I admit there are a number online content providers who I prefer to read by feed. I never thought of LJ as a means of dissemination–don’t see the point really, when you can just set up a feed. LJ’s a different sort of tool than Facebook or MySpace, let alone Twitter.

    The folks I want to follow on LJ but prefer that they don’t see my entries I just track, getting alerts.

    Having a few folks I don’t know well yet on my flist has made me think harder before posting, which isn’t an entirely bad thing but has taken some getting used to, and I don’t want that account attached to Anticipation stuff or my real name very much if at all.

    I use LJ because I want to, Facebook and Twitter because I have to…I’m not a professional, though, yet anyway, never leave out yet.

    There are plenty of writers I know of who are followed by more folks than they follow on whatever client.

    That’s the nature of being a node or a celebrity or whatever one might call it.

    my suggestion? If LJ is too ticklish, you could set up a feed on LJ instead and point folks at that, and have a separate account for reading folks’ journals.

    I know at least two people (one of them my husband) who just have LJ accounts to read other people and have never posted.

  7. V says:

    argh, I wish I could edit posts here the way I can on GS’s blog…and note that I not saying I don’t want for you to be on my flist, I’m fine with you seeing what I post. Worried I may have given offense with how I said that. And we’ve actually interacted more than at some random convention. (I know, I owe you some work at the moment as well. Anyway.

  8. DrJon says:

    @Mulluane thanks for the Extension heads-up. I’ve not really been using Twitter since they broke their IM feed: I don’t need another bloody page open, I need a way of integrating my Twitter feed into the way I do things.

    @Cheryl I hope the rubbish I post on LJ doesn’t annoy you ;}P>
    I try not to friend people I don’t know, because I do post private stuff about my life flocked on occasion.

  9. Cheryl says:

    V:

    Are you on LJ? How would I know if you don’t use your real name?

    If LJ is too ticklish, you could set up a feed on LJ instead and point folks at that, and have a separate account for reading folks’ journals.

    No, really bad idea. Then people comment on it and wonder why you don’t reply. With Emerald City it was even worse because someone else set up a feed and I didn’t have a clue it existed. I really dislike LJ, but I know I have to be there because not being there is even worse.

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