Recently, I’ve been trying to sort out my social media universe (insert joke here). Anyway, the last time I really thought about this stuff (maybe a year ago?), there a few and options, and now the bad news is that there are endless options. What I’m really talking about is managing multiple services and identities, and figuring out which service does what the best and how it all comes together. I’ve come to a some conclusions for myself on how all of these pieces fit together, and it might be helpful for others to see one persons’ approach. The first one to figure out is the two big ones, and how they should or should not interact. Basically, I’m getting tired of seeing status updates posted twice in FB because people have their accounts linked, and I’ve stopped it, but for more reasons that just the annoyance factor. I think I’m violating some kind of twitter etiquette by blogging about it – which is what Fast Company said Scoble said, but the post they link to on Scobelizer doesn’t actually say that… but really, I couldn’t care less, but you know there are rules, I guess.
The first real issue I had to resolve for myself was to understand the relationship of these two services for me, and how to change my social networking behavior to match an optimal usage of each. What I discovered (after 2 weeks in a sensory deprivation tank) is that Facebook = Fun, Twitter = Work. That’s really an oversimplification, but its accurate. Ultimately, it boils down to the nature of how each network is built, and the fact that I’ve been on Facebook much longer. The reality is that I like to use Facebook mostly socially to engage with (and joke around with) my friends. Some of the things I say and do on Facebook I wouldn’t necessarily want broadcast to the world, which is what Twitter does best, IMO.
For me, Facebook is (or at least I’d like it to be) for friends, sharing links photos and videos, and frankly, for joking around. I have discovered that my Twitter profile is, in a way, much more important for me as a public communication tool and identity. Anyone can see my Twitter account and follow me (spammers aside), and I like it that way. As an internet professional, I must maintain a discipline (much as I must on my blog) to not divulge or say anything that would be harmful to the company I am working for (and as a result myself), but also, as an internet professional, I believe its imperative for me to share information and be an active and integral part of the internet. I would guess that more people will see a Tweet from me before they ever see my blog, my LinkedIn profile, or my Facebook profile. For me, Twitter is about acquiring knowledge, promoting what I do, and sharing ideas. Those are some big concepts for 140 characters or less, but it seems to be the best platform. I think a lot of other people agree with me, and I see a lot of posts out there that share the same idea, like this one from Cogblog:
“Because Twitter is for sharing information with the world and Facebook is for interacting with friends, Facebook has an inherent virality that Twitter does not have in their current model. “
I know there are a lot of twitter fanatics out there who are adamant that it shouldn’t be used primarily a “broadcast” tool very actively and dynamically, as is expressed in this post on Twittip. For the record, they are right in that Twitter is a much more compelling service if used as two-way communication, and I’m starting to actually figure this out… the “Lists” feature and the now intergrated Retweeting are going a long way to make the communication aspect more compelling.
I came to the conclusion that Twitter is really good at being a big part of and promoting my blog. Using http://Twitterfeed.com, I pull in items I have “shared” from in Google Reader, and now I have a very clean and flexible way of sharing articles via Twitter. Then, with the Twitter Tools WordPress plug-in (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-tools/) I can auto-generate a blog post whose contents are a weekly digest of my Tweets Example: http://timjmitchell.com/2009/11/20/twitter-weekly-updates-for-2009-11-20/. This solves another problem… I have decoupled Facebook from Twitter, since I hated having to hit both networks with the same post. Once a week, I simply share my digest blog post on Facebook – – there is still integration, but its much lighter weight, and it promotes my blog and Twitter account in a much better way. I also display my Tweets directly in one of the side panels of my blog, I have a large “origami bird” follow icon always present, and every post has a “Tweet This” button provided by the “Tweet This” WordPress plug-in (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tweet-this/). Twitter is now the primary way in which I promote my blog or communicate with other bloggers. I often forget to set up proper Trackbacks, and Pingbacks are becoming too un-trusted and associated with SPAM. Twitter is natural for not only promoting a post, but also for directly commenting or indirectly commenting via your own blog posts via @replies #tags, or even direct messages. I also simply cross-post to my Tumblr blog from WordPress, and again, I allow my entire Twitter stream to appear on my Tumblr profile… this is a no-effort way to promote my blog and Twitter profile to another online community.