Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lines Blurring Between Social Networks? Let Them!

Have you noticed how many social media tools are available?
As adoption of social medial continues to explode by personal users and business users, the lines are beginning to blur among them. Well known social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn are now being used in the same sentence as Twitter, Flickr and DIGG. Isn't Twitter a micro-blogging tool? Isn't Flickr a photo content sharing tool? Isn't DIGG a content sharing tool? What about YouTube? Is YouTube a social networking site?
The wonderful thing about social media is that the user communities are defining them. I will offer some offline comparisons to consider as you ponder this situation.
If you belong to a health club, you joined it (presumably) to exercise. On the surface, that is the purpose of a health club (or gym). If you belong to a business organization such as a chamber or local business club, each of these organizations has a defined charter.
When you join any of these organizations the premise of your membership is to participate in their charter. Each of these organizations mentioned offer networking value. And, each is made up of communities of like minded people. Sound familiar so far in comparison to social media?
Even if you joined any of the above for pure networking, you have to play by their rules. You can't go to your gym and hand out fliers and a business card in street clothes. You'll annoy so many patrons you'll get kicked out by some muscle-bound patrons.
I have developed some very good relationships at my health club that carry into my personal and professional life. I can say the same for a local non-profit business organization I belong to (TBTF).
In both cases, my intent has been sincere. I go to my health club to workout. I go to TBTF functions to get involved, give of my time and talents and meet smart people in peer groups (communities). Because both of these examples are local to me, I occasionally overlap. I sometimes see people at my health club that belong to TBTF and vice versa.
The same can be said of social networking, even though the local geographic aspect is not a factor. I know people in Facebook whom I also know in Linkedin and Twitter, and vice versa.
So, I ask why use Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter? Is each one so unique that I should spend valuable time maintaining each one? I submit there are benefits to maintaining different platforms, as long as they are different. Each one offers unique features and opportunities to interact with different communities.
Since my profession is Internet marketing, in particular search engine optimization (SEO), another benefit to maintaining several profiles is the ability to spread content I produce. Such exposure can result in my content being shared among my networked communities which can result in quality links back to my website. Some content exposure can be incidental and some can be intentional.
It's very apparent to me that socializing, networking and relationship building in online platforms help to build SEO value through the propagation of content and organic link building.
If the lines are indeed blurring among the social media platforms, I say "let them." The more content I can produce and proliferate, the better!


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