You came in to work this morning and answered emails, tweets, voicemails, messages, updates, check-ins, texts, questions, phone calls, pins, shout-outs, uploads, appointments, posts, and shares. You get the point. But are you really connecting with anyone? Would it be more effective to spend that time with someone at a coffee shop or connecting with coworkers in the lunch room? Social Media has made it easy to attach yourself to people; but is there any value in these interactions? Are you a Broadcaster or a Networker? Broadcasters are people who simply send information out; networkers are those who actually interact and communicate on an individual or group basis with their connections. Ask yourself which achieves your goal.
I’m a big supporter of social media both personally and professionally, but it only works if you know why you are there, have a plan, and are honest with yourself and your connections about why you are there. With this in mind, how many connections can you really manage?
Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Google+: These 5 organizations occupy 90% of the Social Media landscape. How many are you registered with? How many connections do you have if you add them up? Think about this list:
- Facebook – 100 friends
- Twitter – 150 followers
- LinkedIn – 300 connections
If you take these and factor a 30% overlap, you are still left with over 385 unique connections. Manageable, but you see people with 12,000 followers, 500+ connections (which can mean 800, 1000 or more) and 300 friends. How does one have a relationship with that many people? How deep is their relationship with them? What do they know about them? Do they know where they live, their phone number, or their hair colour?
Social Media is still a new experiment and no one really knows where it is going. It is an international phenomenon due to the advent of the World Wide Web. Prior to the internet, Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist from England, theorized there was a limit to the size of a social group based on the size of a creature’s neo-cortex. When applied to humans he arrived at a number, 150 individuals, which was coined “Dunbar’s Number”, the theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain a stable social relationship. In 2011, Goncalves, Perra & Vespignani (random scientists) applied this to Twitter. Their findings confirmed this theory: users can entertain only a maximum of 200 stable relationships. A company called Path is using this number to build their social media network, limiting the number of connections one can have. If you have 150 connections, you must lose 1 to add 1.
Keeping your contacts between 100 and 200 may seem impossible. Unfriending on FB is still frowned upon in spite of the best efforts of Jimmy Kimmel (the “Unfriend Day”). People randomly follow you on Twitter & try to connect via LinkedIn.
Well, what is a person to do? Managing your connections appropriately means having a social media plan and sticking to it. This will determine where you will focus your time and who your connections should be.
Here are 7 tips on managing social media:
- Don’t join everything.
- Drop people who have dormant accounts. (Don’t follow someone on twitter who hasn’t tweeted in 6 months)
- Figure out what you want from social media. (Are you broadcaster or a networker?)
- Fix the amount of time spent and stick to it. (e.g. an hour a day and no more)
- Cross-pollinate your social media sites and manage multiple accounts with one action using social media dashboards such as HootSuite (e.g. your tweets get posted on your FB Wall).
- Have a content plan. (What information would your audience want to hear – add value, not what you had for lunch)
- Review the ROI of your social media foot print every 2-3 months.
The number of connections you want to maintain, be it 100 or 1000, depends on what social media plans you develop and the type of social user you wish to be.