If you’re anything like me, you’re deeply interested in social computing and join pretty much every social network you can snag an invitation for – even if only to check out features and functionality. At the end of the day even with all these memberships, I probably use less than 10 social computing applications with any regularity. Problem is, even with this relatively small number of frequently used applications, I struggle to keep them all coordinated.
In terms of social coordination, there are two core issues:
- keeping your profile current and the same on each network
- making sure that a contact on one network is matched on other networks
I’ve come up with a few coping strategies to deal with social network coordination. They apply equally to both the problems noted above. Let’s take a look at them.
Before you get started, you need to identify the social applications at the center of your online universe. For me, it’s LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as they’re the places I connect most frequently with my online colleagues and friends. It’s these sites that need to be most up to date. Beyond that, Upcoming, ma.gnolia and del.icio.us feature fairly often and there are occasional others like Last.FM and Flickr.
First, and probably easiest, is parallel replication. Taking this approach, you make sure that any change you feel compelled to make to your profile, or any contact you add is replicated on each of the social computing networks you use regularly. While this can be time consuming, it’s pretty effective, and you rarely forget the apps you use regularly.
In the case of an update to my profile, I start at LinkedIn and then make sure any equivalent information on Facebook and Twitter is also updated. I’ll also update any other site I have time to do. When I add a new contact on LinkedIn, I make sure the same contact is added on Facebook and Twitter, provided they have profiles. If they have profiles on other networks I use, I’ll probably add those as well.
Second, periodic coordination. This approach involves a regular trek through the contacts or profile details you have on your most used social networks and conducting a big-bang update of other sites where the information is less up to date. This method can be nasty, especially where you use one or two networks regularly and others less so.
This approach doesn’t differ all that much from #1, except that you only keep your critical social networks up to date – say your top two – and update others on a regular basis, say once every couple of weeks. The flaw with this approach is the chance that you miss something when updating and your networks end up out of sync.
Third, use another tool to keep track of who’s who and where. I use this strategy in tandem with strategy #1. For me, it’s using the notes, URLs and phone number features of OS X’s Address Book to record the accounts my contacts have on various social computing sites. Any address/contacts application is likely to just as good for this purpose. This is a pretty useful way of keeping track, and it tends to be very focussed on the people you connect with regularly.
I’ve seen other folks use something like a spreadsheet, which works, but strikes me as not terribly efficient.
Last, the ½ strategy. Purge. Mercilessly.
The social computing world is messy and overloaded, and that’s what’s likely to happen to you if you try to keep up with every social network/app you create an account on. About every four weeks, I take a look at my accounts and consider deleting my profile from the sites I don’t use. I can usually find one or two I haven’t used in about eight weeks. That is when I delete the account – I can always get a new one if I really need to.
How do you deal with social coordination overload?