Social Networking − What Am I Supposed to Do?

Filed as Features on January 25, 2007 8:00 am

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Okay, it took me until today to figure out that . . .

I’m clueless about Social Networking. I have these communities, and belong to these networks . . . and folks I don’t know keep asking me to link to them, be their contact, become their friend.

I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

Maybe it was the name that confused me. Social Networking hits me as outright redundant. Any way I look at it, or consider my experience, networking is social. Was there a possibility that we were talking about cables and machines? In the 3-D world, we call it networking, despite possible obvious ambiguities. So you might think that Social Networking would be even more social than networking. Well, you might not, but I did.

Maybe I should add some context here. Here’s where I was.

Not long ago, the son of a client asked me how networking online was different from networking in person. My answer was something like this:

In person, networking can be informal or formal. You meet people through friends and colleagues. Relationships form over time. Or you can end up at a “Meet and Greet,” sharing small talk with strangers standing around a table eating cheese. . . . One nice thing about being online is that folks drop by your blog, if they like you they stay. Relationships form over time. If they don’t they, click on, and no one is harmed or hurt by that. It’s efficient. The small talk is gone.

What was I thinking? When someone I don’t know from my Social Network sends me a message, saying “Hi! What are you doing?” that’s email small talk. Isn’t it?

Like I said, I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

I’ve never been good small talk with strangers. I know it’s a way of making contact. But I’m painfully shy and self-conscious about “first conversations.” I don’t have a clue how to find the right conversational note. I’m either too chatty, too brainy, or spouting my latest philosophical discovery too early.

Networking is a “one at time, get to know someone relationship” activity in my world.

Relationship − that’s the operative word for me.

That might be why I find Social Networking sites confusing.

Sorry, I stopped writing for a minute to accept two invitations to two different network communities from two blogging friends I already know. It would be rude not to. Right? They are my friends after all.

At every Social Networking Site, I’ve ended up with a “network” that came to be despite — not because — of me, and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do iwth or for or about each of them.

Darren Rowse wrote about a similar experience. He joined a Social Networking Site and came back later to find he had a whole community.

I’m not really sure what to ‘do’ with my community. I’ve added the MyBlogLog widget to my sidebar (scroll down a bit) – but I’m unsure what else to do.
I know I see a lot of My Blog Log widgets around – but I’m wondering if anyone has any wisdom to share on what they do with their ‘community’.

Is this just an ego thing? A bit of fun? Or is there some point to it all? Forgive me – I’m just wondering a little about what the point is.

After you tell Darren, would you tell me too . . . please?

Are Social Networking sites just to establish contacts? That would explain why they count my friends, track the degrees of their closeness, and mark the size of my network. It would justify why they publish who and how many those there are at every moment. It would also account for the people I don’t know who want to connect to me.

In Social Networking, do the folks with the most contacts at the end win something really big and really cool?

I have these communities, and belong to these networks . . . and folks I don’t know keep asking me to link to them or be their contact.

I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes, but I’m thinking that Social Networking sites look a lot like the “Meet and Greets” of the Internet.

Excuse me, can we meet at the table with the cheese and would you fill me in?

Liz Strauss writes about relationship blogging and other stuff she “gets” at Successful-Blog.

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  1. Liz Strauss at Successful Blog - Social Networking: How’s It Supposed to Work?January 25, 2007 at 9:06 am
  2. By HART (1-800-HART) posted on January 25, 2007 at 11:02 am
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    Well, I can’t tell you how it’s SUPPOSED to work .. but I can show you how HART works it .. HERE .. I hope I win the prize at the end. I’m just using the communities as a LOG of the viewers who visit my BLOGs – for now anyway.

  3. By Liz Strauss posted on January 25, 2007 at 1:26 pm
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    Hi HART!
    Thanks I’ll check out what you do. Beyond keeping a log and finding new blogs/contacts, there doesn’t seem much. I hope you win the prize too. :)

    How do you like the cheese? Nice variety at this table, don’t you think?

  4. By Amrit Hallan posted on January 25, 2007 at 3:22 pm
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    Hi Liz.

    I’m visiting other blogs after a very long time :-). I think in the context of the Internet social networking is about sharing useful information and even doing business together. For instance take LinkedIn. I don’t remember the name of this famous Web 2.0 company, but both the partners met at LinkedIn.

    Yes, needlessly creating “communities” beats me, or may be you get traffic. I mean, when someone adds me, let’s say from MyBlogLog, I get an email notification. Then I click the link and reach the dashboard of the person who has just added me as a contact. There’s a chance I’ll click his or her link. So I think in that sense I think it must be good for some.

  5. By Marti posted on January 25, 2007 at 3:51 pm
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    I joined MyBlogLog and started adding one or two contacts a day…people that I already knew as blogging buddies. Then I would visit who was in their community, and I started finding other interesting people. I think it’s a nice way to find bloggers with similar interests, and almost like a referral system – LOL

    I really like the little message that comes back when someone becomes a friend, saying “It’s good to be loved”. LOL!

    I’m so happy to have you in my circle of friends!

  6. By Taylor posted on January 25, 2007 at 4:59 pm
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    We have a social network/blog publishing tool which does both!

  7. By taorist posted on January 25, 2007 at 5:12 pm
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    Networking, for me, is so much more business-like than anything else–I prefer calling it socializing and semi-fraternizing with fellow would-be writers anonymously.

  8. By Liz Strauss posted on January 25, 2007 at 7:04 pm
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    Hi Amrit,
    I know that some business must take place on Linked In, but I suspect that you must have to be in the PowerUsers group and quite outside of the mainstream of the social group itself.
    I don’t know any regular people who have benefitted beyond an occasional introduction from their membership in Linked in. I read the digests to two forums –granted I don’t participate in them. But the time involved to participate would greater than I spend with some of my clients.

  9. By Liz Strauss posted on January 25, 2007 at 7:05 pm
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    Hi Marti!
    I like myBlogLog a LOT. I like because it’s easy to see both blog and blogger together and to see who like this blog and blogger. But I don’t see real relationships being nurtured. I see introductions at best.

    Would you pass the cheese dip, plesae? :)

  10. By Liz Strauss posted on January 25, 2007 at 7:06 pm
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    Hi Taylor!
    I’m sure what you mean by “both.”

  11. By Liz Strauss posted on January 25, 2007 at 7:08 pm
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    Hi Taorist!
    I’ve been missing your smiling face! I think you’ve got a great approach. So I suspect that you have a preference for a site like LinkedIn or none at all over something like MyBlogLog or StumbleUpon?

  12. By Ajay posted on January 26, 2007 at 4:31 am
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    While the “community” isn’t all that much, MyBlogLog for one has ensured me lots of visitors that would normally not have landed out here.

  13. By Eric Marcoullier posted on January 26, 2007 at 5:56 am
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    Liz — while I wouldn’t mind seeing great relationships forged at MyBlogLog, that’s not really our strategy. We want to make it easier for you to forge great relationships with (and between) your users at YOUR site. We’re just trying to make those who are interested a little more visible so that they can find each other. Afterwards, we’re happy to step out of the way. Cheers!

  14. By Dave C. posted on January 26, 2007 at 7:28 am
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    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one wondering what to do with MyBlogLog now that I’m enrolled. I ask myself that same question each time I go there. What I do notice is that when I do go there, my numbers go up a little bit more. So I’ve been testing this theory by watching the numbers right after I visit, a few hours later and then a day later. It’s hard to qualify exact numbers, but my vists do rise after I’m on that site.

  15. By Liz Strauss posted on January 26, 2007 at 3:08 pm
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    Hi Ajay!
    I enjoy the features of MyBlogLog, especially the part where you can see the blogger and the blog together, as well as folks who support the blog. It’s the most “community centered” in that way — I know who my friends are reading. :)

  16. By Liz Strauss posted on January 26, 2007 at 3:10 pm
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    Hi Eric!
    Thank you so much for the explanation. That makes so much more sense to me. I really do like MyBlogLog, especially the search function and the visual aspect of everything.

    Plus I get to see your picture every day! :)

  17. By Liz Strauss posted on January 26, 2007 at 3:11 pm
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    Hi Dave C.
    That would make sense that your numbers would go up — people can see that you’ve been around and want to know who you are. Now you’ve got me curious about the same thing. :)

  18. By mr.denali posted on January 28, 2007 at 2:34 pm
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    I think the reason the numbers go up is because of the widgets. Assume this—>

    Lets say you visit 20 peoples community, and that community has a widget on the owners website (www.mywebsite.com) of the recent visitors to the site from the mybloglog community. Now let”s say that widget is on the homepage of each blog. And let us assume a visitor # of 1,000 per blog, that would be 20,000 people that would see your happy face as visiting the same blog that they are. But of course, those 20,000 are not all going to visit your blog as well. Lets use the Rule of 1 here. In simple terms, 1% of those 20,000 people will visit your blog, or, 200 people.

    The same theory can apply to all Social Networking/Bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us, furl, etc. Of course you know we can add members to our network, thus adding more (what I like to call sidetraffic) to your website/blog. Why is it sidetraffic? Because the main goal or purpose of the website is not to get traffic to your site. It is simply a feature in a profile, and if users decide to visit your website, then it is just fluff on an already awesome service.

    These Social Networking sites can truely be optimized. For example, if you upload a video on Youtube (of your own content) you can then Digg it, add it to del.icio.us, Furl it, Reddit, Farkit. Then it becomes even easier to find with Technorati, Blogsearch, Sphere, Weblogs, etc.

    To Liz:

    I don’t think it is a matter of people wanting to know who you are. Since we have to assume that the general population does not care about the creator of the content. I think it is a matter of curiosity. It could range from what your avatar is, to brand-awareness. For example, if you have a picture as an avatar that someone has seen, and says to them self “What the heck is that?”. They might click. We have to remember to, we are not only bloggers/webmasters/content owners/producers. We are also the face behind a brand name.

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