Monday, December 28, 2009

Social Networking and Brand Management

People who have known me for some time in real life or on the Internet know that I'm resistant to hop on the bandwagon whenever a new social networking fad hits. In fact, my wife has consistently harassed me by saying that I'll be the last human being to join Facebook. She and everyone else does not understand that I already spend far too much time reading the news (and the local newspapers hate me for it); posting on my favorite gaming website (www.teamwarfare.com); playing games; recording music; etc. I have no more free time in that I don't know what to do with myself, so anything new has to be added to the waiting list, prioritized, etc. Facebook would simply suck away so much time that all of the things I want to do now would suffer as a result.

So when I joined Twitter last week, it was equivalent to the Second Coming of Christ (my apologies if people consider that heresy) in terms of the surprise that people had when they saw me tweeting of all people. After all, Twitter is probably just as much a time hog as Facebook.

The difference between the two is in the value of the site. I could just as easily claim that LinkedIn is a time hog when you consider the time I would spend answering questions, sending messages to my network, etc. But any activity on LinkedIn is considered an investment since it yields a benefit for my career. Can the same be said of Twitter?

Absolutely. Recall the two part blog (part 1 and part 2) where I talked about things that could be done to ensure that you get the maximum benefit out of a professional networking site. In part 2, I specifically discussed how I use LinkedIn to ensure that my value as a professional is proselytized to the maximum amount possible. Twitter is an extension of these efforts since LinkedIn now has direct links to Twitter.

The difference between LinkedIn and Twitter is in how you use each site. Telling you what you already know, Twitter is great for publishing short statements about anything you want. Given the integration that many websites now have with Twitter, it's very easy to share an article on a relevant topic with your followers. Links to the article are frequently shortened (using a site like Ping.fm, Bit.ly, etc.) giving you as many characters as possible to put a short message.

Frequently, sites put a message (similar to the article's headline) there. But this is an opportunity for you to increase your value in the eyes of those that follow you. Accept the headline? No way. Put your own spin on things, and if you can provoke some thought before they click on that link then you will be perceived as having value in their eyes.

(A secondary benefit, more for someone who is going senile like I am, is that when you are ready to write your blog entry for the next week then you have a week's worth of things that you found interesting documented in your list of tweets over the prior 7 days. I definitely plan on taking advantage of this in the future. But I digress...)

So if you haven't yet embraced Twitter, "there's gold in them thar hills." And if you want to hear my thoughts on relevant topics, feel free to follow me @foolomon.

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