Social Media Selectiveness

20 Jun
Social Media Roulette

Where are your contacts landing?
Photo by Håkan Dahlström / Edit by rsmithing.
Click for original.

Are social networks a gamble? Do you spin-off your contacts from one to the next?

With each new social network I actively participate in, beyond simply creating an account for, I become more selective with the people I follow. This started with MySpace. Initially, I followed bands and other folks whose profiles seemed vaguely interesting. I made some real friends (still in touch to this day), and as my offline friends got into social networking, I racked up contacts at a steady clip. This was fun until MySpace started to go downhill with spammers and overly customized profiles. But that was fine, because Facebook was ready with open arms as a fresh start.

Facebook Got This Right

Once on Facebook (just after they opened up beyond universities in 2006), I made it a point only to add familiar folks and people I knew in “real life.” What a difference this made! Pretty soon, I was reading status updates on MySpace about how folks were abandoning their profiles there and going to the cleaner, faster, more relevant Facebook. It’s my theory that this “fresh start” element was part of Facebook’s early mass appeal. That they got other things right also helped — photo sharing is what really sold me on embracing Facebook.

The one exception is Twitter, where following can become a free for all. Being selective there is somewhat counter to the experience, because content there moves so fast. I personally tell folks new to Twitter that until they follow about 200 active users, the experience just won’t be that interesting. I also use lists to sort those I’m interested in, some of whom I may or may not follow.

That said, I’ve been selective about my Instagram, LinkedIn, and now Pinterest accounts. As I’ve become familiar with Pinterest, I’ve found the experience at the site more rewarding now that I have a stream of cool and inspiring images coming in– rather than lame pictures from folks I don’t even know (or may actually know, but whose tastes don’t match mine).

So did LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another example of the fresh start approach, at least in my experience. The longer I’m there, the more steadily my colleagues trickle in. And I can truly say I’ve worked with, done business with, or somehow professionally interacted with each contact there. For me, LinkedIn represents quality over quantity rather than a numbers game.

Who’s Next?

My theory is that Pinterest will experience similar adoption, but these are still early days, and the site is more about visual content than social interaction. Only recently have I gotten serious about the site, and it takes some work to find boards to follow that really catch my eye. I think that’s a good thing for now, since it keeps the content I see relevant – not unlike when I signed up for Facebook after ditching MySpace a few social networks ago.

Did you welcome Facebook as a fresh start from MySpace? Do you welcome Pinterest as a fresh start from Instagram, now that Facebook owns Instagram? Do you follow people on different social networks all the same way, or does your criteria change from one to the other? Let us hear from you in the comments!
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4 Responses to “Social Media Selectiveness”

  1. rajbgm June 26, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    Perfect Analysis Smith.. Do you think pinterest will take off other social media.. in opinion, all social media’s are developing plugins through which all r connecting to each other – we might get plugins – but when it comes to rankings – its just like battle on the race grounds – experienced with new technologies always win.. its tuff to beat facebook, we have seen google+ when its launched people spoke more about it, but today if you compare – its facebook who is leading…. it will be a big ask for any new social media’s to compete Facebook.. 🙂

    • rsmithing June 26, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      Hi Raj – Thanks for the kind words! I dont’ think Facebook is going away anytime soon, the way MySpace has nearly faded into oblivion. But I do think that as more specialized networks like Pinterest develop, that users of FB will spend less time there, and will instead spend more time at the networks that are more specialized and nimble. What will be interesting, from the perspective of this post, will be to see if they migrate their contacts as well, since the interaction is such a big part of the social media/networking model. Thanks for commenting!

  2. sremy June 23, 2012 at 4:43 am #

    Very good analysis. I myself don’t use FB, and prefer the more instant and laconic style of Twitter (and I’m rubbish with taking photos). Linkedin is indeed a very effective tool, although random requests to be linked are on the increase. Do you think Pinterest is the next big thing? I can see a lot of photo based sites mushrooming, how long will Facebook be around there, especially when online monetizing through advertising is decreasing with the mobilization of the service?

    • rsmithing June 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

      Thanks for commenting, Sremy – I especially appreciate your perspective! Interesting that you don’t use FB; I’m on there the least of all the aforementioned networks. That’s part of what got me thinking about where things might be headed. I’m not so sure Pinterest is the next big thing, since it’s still early days for the site, and while it does have an app/mobile functionality, that side of things has room for improvement. And you raise a good point about monetizing mobile with FB – many people (and investors) are wondering how that’s going to happen. I could see targeted Instagram posts based on people’s likes or browsing behavior, or maybe a fee-supported, ad-free version once that’s launched. The money’s there for the taking, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out, for certain.

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