Reducing social networking increases productivity?

So I’ve been doing an experiment of sorts. Staying off most social networks, answering requests and status on only those I believe actually bring value. This was not totally planned, but is something I have meant to do for some time, as it’s my opinion that I was spending too much time on social networks.

During this period, I have also been paying attention to my productivity. You know, the real work I do to actually make real money. Of course, it’s not surprising that reducing the time involved in social networking will increase productivity, it is the ratio that seems interesting. I’ve no scientific data that indicates anything, and it doesn’t seem anything more than a one to one relationship to me.

That’s the main reason I’m not very active right now on many social networks. So that begs the question: What social networks do I find valuable right now? That would be Twitter, LinkedIn, and FriendFeed – not in any particular order. These are the networks that I’m finding value, sharing with friends, and meeting business opportunities.

I am, however, curious about other’s experiences. What networks do you find the most valuable right now, and why? Is it the tried & true, or the up & coming?

Connecting People

'The making of- KPN'connecting people' by roel1943 If you’ve been blogging or interacting on social media sites for some time, you’ll know the real reason many people are interesting in social networking. It’s the people of course! The power of social media is in it’s ability to shrink borders, provide publishing & broadcasting platforms, and do so in ways that make it very easy for people to use them.

That’s what I find most interesting about social media, being able to see people meet, plan new things, and build new things. Sure I like to be part of it too, but my goal is to bring people together so they can find the resources, ideas, inspiration or whatever it is that they need. I like seeing people make that next leap, that next step.

Watching it happen with people all over the world is a great thing, but it’s just as fascinating to see it happening on the local level as well. It’s one of the most important aspects of the social web, and one that I believe that is taking parts of it mainstream. I always hesitate to mention “mainstream”, but I see more and more people experimenting, or starting to use some social features on product sites.

It’s great to see that happen, because as our modern neighborhoods have kind of closed in on themselves, becoming safer, more secure, the physical interaction has waned. So it’s great to see people coming back around and getting more interactive online. In doing so, it seems that they really start getting interested in socializing in person as well. So I think it really generates a lot of community building offline as well as online.

Photo credit: roel1943

Why You Should Build Your Audience

'Live Earth 2007, Wembley Stadium' by GlowPlug An interesting component of your online brand is most certainly audience. Without it, there is little point in doing much of anything online other than email, research, and storing information. Audience is what makes the web 2.0 world turn, as we’re all dependent upon the interactivity that audience brings.

Without people to follow, read, and comment on what each of us creates, we would have no measuring stick to compare ourselves to. We would not have a way to gauge improvement in knowledge or abilities. We’d be unable to find out what help others need, or how to learn something new from readers. Audience is a crucial piece to the social web.

As individuals, we shouldn’t be hesitant to grow audience in building our brand, or writing a blog. It’s not an egotistical to want to reach more people, its right in line with human nature to connect with people and socialize. Maintaining your audience is the other half of the equation – the one that give direct feedback of whether or not you’re adding value for them. It’s important to understand the expectations you set for your audience so you can continue to meet those expectations.

For organizations it’s easier in a way since they have long had marketing strategies that target certain demographics (specific audiences) for their product or service. They have been growing and maintaining their target markets for decades in some cases. There is one difference with online audience for organizations though: interactivity. This is not something that is found offline – you don’t see comments on magazine ads for your favorite soda or show company. You will online though, and that is the big challenge for the enterprise as they move into the social media space.

Bringing people to your social web is an important part of the social aspect. It allows for feedback, interaction and growth for all involved. Are you actively growing your audience?

What tips & techniques do you use or suggest for others to help grow their audience? How do you approach readers, followers, and friends on your social web?

Look for my article ‘Audience’ in the upcoming August 2008 issue of Personal Branding Magazine in which I talk about why growing and maintaining audience is important to personal brand.

Photo credit: GlowPlug

Enterprise workers don’t have the bandwidth for social media

'Ben Considered Working from his new Balloon Cube' by ShadowStorm In past posts on the topic, I’ve often wondered when the average worker would “get” blogging. I have to admit that I finally “got it” recently, but from a different perspective. While working with larger firms, I’ve again had the chance to observe the average office worker. In doing so, “it” occurred to me while explaining how social media adds value to an organization that many folks just don’t have the bandwidth to participate.

It’s not that they wouldn’t want to, rather, it’s that the modern organization is so optimized on searching for productivity gains that there is little room to add back the socialization tools to the mix. To do so without finding the reasons for using more employees’ time doesn’t add value to the organization. Many existing efforts to engage the employee meet with mediocre results because people don’t have interest in helping their employer know more about them.

Another aspect of social media in the enterprise is buy-in. There simply is a certain demographic that will be averse to participating. The reasons for this can be nearly anything, but usually comes back to the fact that many people can’t grasp the value of participating. They may exhibit this perspective in many other aspects of their life as well by not joining community groups or friends in other activities.

So, for those organizations that are trying to leverage the knowledge of their employees, the challenge is to find the channel that they will respond to. It’s more than that however, because just like working to connect with consumers, the business needs to connect with their staff. They need to eliminate the gap between business and employee by being themselves. Executives & veeps need to show their personalities, not their “game face” that they use for business. The employees know about that all too well, they need to see that the business is made up of real people.

Social Media in general has this issue – that people aren’t willing to invest the time, or don’t see any value in participating. It’s not unique to this new way of engaging people. Similar challenges faced radio and television at one time as well, newfangled things that they were. These new community building tools & techniques are still in their infancy and will be a large part of the infrastructure of the new economy that is developing as we speak – the trends in the market prove that out every day.

Photo credit: ShadowStorm

50 Uses for Twitter

twitter Awhile back, I’d started a list of "101 Uses for Twitter", but never seemed to get past 27 for some reason.  Of course, it had been last autumn since I brainstormed on it.  While I don’t think that I personally could come up with 101 uses, I’m sure there are many more than that.

So I thought about this again for awhile this morning and did think of 50 uses that I’ve seen or participated in.  So here is a list of 50 uses for Twitter, I’m thinking of more as I write this, so maybe there is a chance at that "101" post sometime.

  1. Keep in touch with my Twitter peeps friends
  2. General news item links
  3. News & links on my industry or area of interest
  4. Fast answers to quick questions
  5. Professional networking
  6. Links to nearly everything
  7. Marketing
  8. Personal branding
  9. Corporate & product branding
  10. Haiku’s
  11. Making friends
  12. Feel "plugged into the web and it’s various personalities"
  13. Replacement for instant messaging applications
  14. Chat tool
  15. Promotional tool for my blog
  16. Providing new reading opportunities
  17. Fun stuff!
  18. Meeting new, interesting people to communicate with
  19. Collecting links
  20. Finding sites related to social networking
  21. "To listen in on my contacts rants"
  22. A web worker "water cooler"
  23. Micro-blogging
  24. A personal "techmeme"
  25. Lightweight text broadcasting tool
  26. Easy way to annoy your spouse
  27. Promotional tool for my brand
  28. Ranting
  29. Idea generator
  30. No-cost non-profit announcement system
  31. Bring a sense of community to your home office
  32. Tracking status of friends
  33. Status message generator for other social networks
  34. Frustration generator (at least when it is down)
  35. Thought publisher
  36. Promotional tool for my organization
  37. Following public discussions
  38. Travel guide
  39. Controlled discussion between friends
  40. Uncontrolled discussion between friends with viewers
  41. List generator
  42. Meeting agenda generator
  43. Coffee shop locator
  44. People search
  45. Promotional tool for my company
  46. Product reviews
  47. Trip planner
  48. Backchannel for events
  49. Feedback generator
  50. Authentication mechanism

So what are you uses for Twitter?  I’m sure I didn’t capture them all, so add your ideas and things you use Twitter for below.

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