Can We Go Overboard with Social Networking?
How Connected Can One Be?
How Much Social Networking is Too Much?
I sell resources and workbooks to educators online. That means my web sites for doing so need to be found. The standard advice is that social networking is one way to publicize my sites and help them get found by Google and other search engines. So, I joined Facebook, where I have a personal page and a page for my business, Barb's People Builders, where I notify interested people about new products and specials. Next came Twitter, where my user name is, of course, "barbsbooks." I had already started a blog for my business, Of Cabbages and Kings: Random Thoughts of an Internet Bookseller, and I thought that would pretty well take care of the blogging part of social networking. So much for social networking. Or so I thought.
That much social networking seemed manageable. I concentrated on my main selling web sites, updating with new products and price changes. I posted to my blog, and tweeted the links of new posts. At the beginning I only had a personal Facebook page, so I didn't use it for business, and just kept up with real world friends. Then things seemed to start snowballing. I was getting Facebook friend requests from booksellers whose names I did not recognize from the bookselling discussion lists on which I participated. Many people lurk, and since I posted often back in those days, they knew me, but I didn't really know them. I knew they were booksellers because we had mutual friends who were booksellers.
I had at first determined I would only accept friend requests from people I actually "knew," whether in the real or virtual worlds. I was not into just collecting friends to see how many I could gather. It was the booksellers who changed that. Some I "knew" pretty well, since I had worked with them in our booksellers cooperative, tomfolio.com. I had no problem accepting them as friends. But then when the friend requests came from the other booksellers I did not know, the situation got stickier, because they knew me and I didn't want to hurt their feelings. I still have some of these in friend request limbo. On Twitter, I didn't care who followed me. Anyone was welcome, but I didn't always follow back unless I had a good reason to. As far as I was concerned, my social networking was adequate. I concentrated on my web site and keeping my customers happy, and I posted a new blog about every week.
Some of My Social Networks
I Expand My Network
One day on Twitter I started getting tweets about a site called Squidoo. Sounded kind of strange and unbusiness-like to me, so I didn't pay too much attention to it. Then one day, due to a chance online encounter with a lensmaster, I decided to sign up. I started to write lenses under the name BarbRad. This introduced me to online writing, and I thrived in the Squidoo ocean, but it also took away from the time I spent on my main business. I also had added a personal blog on my garden, but I only worked on it during gardening season.
Then I joined the RocketMoms, "the smartest women on the web," a group of Squidoo lensmasters who were networking together to learn to build better lenses so they could earn more. (RocketMoms was dropped by Squidoo in 2011 and replaced with RocketSquids, which I never was part of.) RocketMoms had their own networking groups on Ning, and I joined several of them. It was in discussions on these Ning groups that I learned about Zazzle, another great creative outlet with the potential of increasing my on-line income with my photographs. So I opened a Zazzle store and used Squidoo lenses to publicize it and sell products I and others had made. Though the RocketMoms I also found out about Qondio (now dead) and HubPages, other writing sites I decided to join. My network got bigger, since the writing sites are also networks that make others more aware of your online presence.
As the participation in all these sites started to grow, I heard about Gather, a sort of combination writing and social network, and I joined that. Gather was so enjoyable that I spent way too much time there. I did earn a few pennies for my work , but it distracted me from my other work. Then Gather became unusable, was sold, and the part of it where we had our content is gone.
Of course when Pinterest came online I had to join. It's a great place to promote one's work, as long as it has a picture attached. I have trouble keeping up with it, but it's one site I'm glad I joined and it's fun when I have time for it.
A real-world friend I saw at a reunion told me she won't join Facebook because she is a security expert and that Facebook has very lax security, She told me she used LinkedIn, so I joined that. It caters to business networking. I admit that so far I haven't spent much time there. My connections there are often the same ones I have on two or more other networks.
In 2012 I found out about Tumblr, and started five blogs there. I like Tumbler for some kinds of posts . I just don't often get around to posting. It's a bit like Pinterest in that you reblog and comment on what others have blogged. I don't much like the mechanics of posting. I now have seven blogs there under two different accounts
Then Zurker, another new social network started so I joined that. (It lasted only a little over a year.) Lastly, I just joined XeeMe, the ultimate social network where you can keep all your social profiles in one place and just link to that. On XeeMe I discovered all kinds of other social networks such as Quora and Scoop.It. Quora is a giant forum for discussion and networking with many people you don't know and some that you do. Scoop.It, like Pinterest and Tumblr, is a curating site where you create "scoops" on different topics. Some people use it for promoting their work on other sites.
If you join XeeMe, you will, no doubt, discover a lot of new social networks you never knew about before. I don't use it too much for networking because it seems to be dominated by marketing and social media gurus. I am not one of those. I use it so that with one link I can send someone to all my sites, pages, and profiles. I no longer worry about raising my score there.
In February, 2013 I joined Bubblews. I have written my review of that here on HubPages, Where Does Bubblews Fit in a Writer's World. It combines social networking with writing to earn. It used to be quite profitable and pretty much replaced Facebook except for keeping in touch with real world family and friends who don't do much else online. Now many of us have moved to Persona Paper for our social blogging, since right now Bubblews seems not to be paying anyone much. Person Paper earnings are slow, but at least people are paid what they have earned.
Recently two more new social networks have emerged, each of which wants to replace Facebook and each of which shares its ad revenues with active members for views on their content. I have been very happy with tsu, which requires an invitation to join. I have shared my experience and an invitation in my blog post Should You Join Tsu? I spend more time there now than I do on Facebook and I've met a lot of new people worth knowing. Links posted there bring me more traffic than those I post on Facebook, except maybe from groups.
The newest network I'm aware of is 3Tags. It's so new I haven't made up my mind about it enough to review it yet. Some tsu members prefer 3Tags, but I'm not one of them. It may get better as they are constantly making improvements. I'm not quitting, but I'm not devoting much time to it yet. If you want to join and check it out for yourself, I'd love it if you'd use my invitation link.
We Are All So Interconnected
How Many Social Networks Do You Use?
Excluding the writing sites Squidoo, HubPages, Wizzley, Qondio and such, how many social networks have you joined?
Do Writing Sites Count as Social Networks?
I think writing sties and blogs can count. To be successful on them you need to be social. You not only need to respond to comments, but should also visit the commenter's work and comment on it if you can. In the past couple of years as I added more sites, I fell down on this part of the job here at HubPages and on my blogs. I am currently trying to rectify that
As discussions with friends on writing sites continued, the names of other sites started to pop up -- Wizzley, Zujava, and Webnuggetz. Wizzley is a writing site that is like a cross between the best of Squidoo and HubPages. Zujava is much like Squidoo, but under different ownership. Webnuggetz offers more freedom to affiliate sellers than the other sites, and is also run by former Squidoo members. Recently I also returned to Seekyt, which I had joined years ago, but never posted on. I just joined Wikinut on the advice of friends. I still have a wait and see attitude about both as far as earnings go, but of the two, Wikinut is more motivating and somewhat easier to use. I now have three articles on each of them.
Each day new sites come and go. There are several new ones I haven't mentioned here and some of those already appear to be in trouble. I've decided to wait on joining any more unless I see that there is a real star among them and the site has been around for at least three months. I believe it's far better to have a primary social network, a primary social blogging site, and a primary writing home. Once you have established those networks with enough posts and enough friends so that you feel at home, it's time to start adding more if you think you need them. For me, tsu is my primary networking site, Persona Paper my primary social blogging site, and HubPages is still my primary writing home. I find when I concentrate on these sites first, a little branching out won't hurt me.
What To Do About Social Media Burnout
When Should You Quit Adding More Social Networks?
The main reason most people use social networking sites, besides keeping up with real world friends they don't often get to see, is to promote their businesses or their writing by getting the word out about new writing, new products, changes in the company, etc. The idea is that the more people who know about you, the better the chance your work will be read, your products will be bought, your sites will be visited. For me, that is the important thing -- expanding the number of new people who become aware of you and your activities.
It would seem, then, that if people in one network, such as Facebook (including the many writing site and writers' groups) already know about every new piece of writing you publish, that would be sufficient. Let's take as a given that all your Facebook friends and Twitter Followers won't see everything you post on those sites. Then maybe they will see something you post on another network or two they follow. But when is the point of no further value reached in the number of networks that the same 20 to 50 people all belong to?
Let's say I write a new hub. I post it to Twitter, Google+ and to Facebook writing groups. I might put a link to it in one or more of my blogs. I post some links to tsu and 3tags. Some might even get posted to articles on other writing sites that permit it. Yet a reader only needs to click once to see the blog, hub, or article. If I post my link, that same group will also see my link multiple times in different places. Would all of them be necessary? Or is it overkill? I have friends that post the same link in several different Facebook and / or Google+ groups, even though most people in those groups also belong to the others. Somehow that seems to be over the top.
So when do you need to join a new social network? It would seem wise to do so if you can expect to reach a different group of people. Although some writers I know are on both Facebook and Tsu , There are many more people outside my usual writing network on tsu, and posting links to things they are interested in there usually brings me more traffic than posting on Facebook. I have yet to see how 3tags will turn out. So far mostly the same people I see on tsu are there.
To know the potential of a social network you just about have to join and try it out for a month or two as an active participant. By potential, I don't mean how much you earn from it directly from views. You need to see if any of your potential audience you don't already see somewhere else is using that network. If so, it might be worth building a presence there. Sites like Quora are for building name recognition in a field of interest where you'd like to be considered an authority. They are also good places to seek information on a variety of topics.
Another quality of a site to evaluate is the amount of time your post is there to see. In Twitter and on Facebook it's almost ephemeral. If you are only one of 200 or more active connections, your post may only be visible for a minute or two to whomever is watching at the time. On Facebook, not all of your friends even will get it in their feeds. Google+ is a bit better at making you visible. Tsu is better yet because hashtags will help find posts of interest you may have missed. Notifications keep sending people back to posts on which where has been any interaction with you. Facebook groups give you more exposure because they are smaller and you have a lot in common with those in them.
On Quora, basically a site where people post questions for others to answer, topics stay open a long time. Your posted answer can stay up for years. I have answers that are still posted and viewable since 2013. It has a huge audience and is searchable by topic. If people like your question or answer they can share it to social media. You can also write blog posts there. You could also spend all day there and not get another thing done. It's good for research, but they don't pay you for your participation in cash as tsu does, and there's no way to monetize blogs posts you write there that I can see. If you know a lot about certain subjects, Quora may be a site you could utilize well. You can post links to articles as answers to questions.
Have You Reached Burnout Yet?
When Do You Reach Social Networking Burnout?
I'm beginning to think I've bitten off more social networking than I can keep up with. I'm so busy social networking I rarely have time to write -- if I keep up with it. The more places I have to post links to my writing, the less time I have to build my business and actually write. How about you? Do you think it's better to join lots of social networks hoping it will really expand your circle of people who see your work or find out about your business? Is it the back links from all those sites which make joining every possible site worthwhile? Or does all the promotion through social networking keep you from producing more quality work?
Which social networks have you found most useful to promote your writing or your other business ventures? Which have been more trouble than they are worth? Knowing what you do now, would you handle your online social networking differently if you were starting over today? I'm hoping you will use the comments section to discuss this, since I suspect I'm not the only one with this dilemma. Maybe we can learn from each other how to arrange or rearrange our social networking priorities.