In my last blog, I mentioned the three main reasons people use social media:
1. For personal networking
2. For content gathering and research
3. To market
We’re starting with the first one, personal use. This article was difficult to write, because I had to think of what would help the average user NOT interested in becoming a guru? So this is NOT an end-all be-all article, but rather some things that are sometimes overlooked to make it a more enjoyable experience.
In the realm of social media, there are SO MANY choices that it can be overwhelming. And, because there are so many, there are niche sites that may offer far more of what you’re looking for, depending on your interests and goals.
To give you an example of what is available, take a look at Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism. This prism shows you all the social media resources available, categorized by what you might want to accomplish. I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty overwhelming, but you DO have choice!
Anyway, we all know that the 800 lbs. gorilla is Facebook. While I do not intend to mention all existing networks, the ones I do wish to point out are:
1. Facebook (Of course.)
2. YourSphere (This is a children-centric network by Mary Kay Hoal, who’s an advocate for children’s online safety. I just wanted to give it a mention, as it’s well done for kids.)
3. Google+ (The new member on the block that is quickly outpacing everyone.)
I will touch on Google+ shortly, but first I wanted to point out some features of Facebook that many may overlook.
In Facebook, you have two distinct channels: the News Feed and your Profile. The News Feed, which is known as the Homepage, is where you get all your dynamic feeds from anyone who is connected to you. Because everyone connected to you can post (and they do—often), what can happen is that when you post something or are looking for something someone else posted, it can quickly disappear when you refresh the screen.
That’s where the “notification” feature comes in (which is the globe icon at the top, next to “messages” and “friends”). When in doubt, click on “notifications” to see what you may have missed and quickly jump to it.
While what others post in “News Feed” does not transfer over to your profile page, known affectionately as “The Wall” (with some few exceptions like tags), anything YOU post does. This way when someone clicks on your profile and are taken to your Wall, they will be able to see YOUR content, versus everyone else’s. So if you’re looking for it after you posted it, go to your Wall.
Notes versus Posting: If you’re sharing a small post of less than 500 characters (not words—and this includes spaces), and are not particular about control of the layout, using the “share” field is quick and convenient. However, if you are like me and you like to post complete thoughts backed by some commentary and photos, you will want to use the “notes” feature on your Wall. With the “notes” feature, you can post a long message, complete with multiple pictures arranged how you wish and not be subject to the 500 character limitation. The flexibility is refreshing!
As I will touch on my last article in this series, social media marketing, Google+ will be a must have network. Why? The +1 button and Google profile (to establish content authorship) will be part of what Google will use in ranking web pages for SEO (search engine optimization). But, with what they are putting together, people will want to use it anyway!
The features I like are:
3. Filtering your stream
Sparks: Are you passionate about any given topic like sports, politics, art, music, a specific singer or group? Sparks is sort of a macro RSS (real simple syndication) feed. You choose the topic and Google will bring the top stories it finds for that topic directly to you.
Circles: I found the circles to be a very refreshing way to organize your contacts. It’s really simple; you just create a circle (based on a circle of influence) and just drag people into it. You can put people into several circles if you choose. Besides the simplicity of organizing your contacts, it allows you to send messages only to the groups you choose.
So if you have a “church” circle, “friends” circle, “family” circle, etc, and you want to send information to, let’s say, just your “family” and “friends,” you can. Simply. No more having to put everything out there for prying eyes to see. While I know that Facebook gives one the ability to create groups and message the group only, it pales in comparison to the ease and flexibility that Google+ offers.
Filtering Your Stream: This has GOT to be my absolute favorite feature! Instead of dealing with so much STUFF that may be irrelevant, to get to the information you REALLY want, Google+ allows you to simply click on the circle of interest and only the stream of posts made by those in that circle show up.
If you use social media professionally and personally, this feature is great to allow you to concentrate on one topic at a time, eliminating noise that may distract you. When you’re done, you can choose the fun circle that is loaded with noise and have at it!
I hope you found these simple tips and pointers helpful. I know that I was frustrated until I learned about “notes” in Facebook. It only took me 2 years!
In my next article, I will touch on how to use social media as an information resource for business, educational and personal research. Why settle for what some algorithm with no reasoning capability decided was what you wanted. Get information that was mined by actual readers with like interests, who found a specific article helpful and informative and decided to share that information. After all, it’s SOCIAL media, so let’s get some real human interaction. See you next week!