Does anyone else feel overwhelmed with the number of social networks?! I primarily use Facebook. I sometimes use Myspace and Linkedin. I try to use GovLoop. I’m being forced to use a “social” network at work which is not one of those listed previously.
I often wonder about the days when my grandparents were kids. The social network was your town and the only writing on the wall was figurative. I’m not going to say those were better days, but sometimes there is something beautiful in simplicity.
Yet I’m a big advocate for using technology to make our lives easier. It is just too bad we can’t agree on a few social networking sites instead of 50,000 available currently. So maybe we can just choose Facebook, GovLoop, and LinkedIn?
I just gave a talk in Tacoma on Saturday about how I think there’s a lot of static as well as good dialogue.
Two quick thoughts though: first, we were bound to have lots of social networks until we settle down to a couple that most people use. It’s like watching genetic variation and evolution. The purchase of FriendFeed is an example of how a social network might be assimilated or transmogrify.
Second, bear in mind, the social network of your town has multiple portals too. I can go to several local coffeeships and find different crowds, as well as a town hall, a school, a library, etc… where I can find different groupings of people. I hope isolated social networks like ning – well, like govloop here – continue because they allow for specialization.
At the end of the day, though, government is going to want to plug in where most people are, and it’s probably undetermined where that will be. I assume Facebook … but who knows?
I think you should only use as many social networks as you *need.* For me, each of the networks you listed serves a different purpose. Facebook is mostly social, with a little bit of business-social (Social Media Club, AFCEA, etc.) thrown in. LinkedIn is where I keep my business contacts and work history–sort of like an online resume and reference database. GovLoop is about ideas/best practices in Government, and getting to know more people in the Government community exclusively. Before I joined GovLoop I thought I was social-networked out. Then I joined and started interacting and found the value in it for me. Because it has value it was easy enough to add into my social media regiment. I don’t know how many more social networks I want to belong to–that will depend on what need they fill, I guess.
I agree that Facebook will probably win the battle. I had no idea that there are so many available. We’re looking to use one (probably Facebook or Twitter – or both) to send out emergency alerts and traffic information. I see a lot of cities attempting to do just that, but it’s still in it’s infancy. Govloop has been and continues to be an extremely valuable resource. I’ve noticed that here we have citizens totally devoted to Facebook who hate Twitter and vice versa.
The reason there are multiple networks are the different offerings by each and their functions. I agree with Meagen in the different purposes. In addition to Facebook, Twitter and GovLoop, I also use LiveJournal. I use LiveJournal to post my blogs. It is commentable, so in that way it is interactive, and there is a network of friends on it, but it is primarily for my long, article posts, both personal and professional. Facebook is a networking tool for me – I use it to connect to people – both from my deep past and new friends I’ve made. I use it to keep up with what everyone is doing – usually this is personal. I use LinkedIn and GovLoop for my more professional doings. Although I haven’t cultivated LinkedIn as well as I would like, but I’m slowly building it to my needs. Twitter is more for putting things on “blast.” I use this to broadcast personal news (not so much) and professional, government, agency and in-the-news updates I find interesting.
Twitter is more of an announcement tool – although you can “reply” or “mention” another twitterer, it isn’t as active as other tools like Facebook. It’s great to use to keep up to date with news that pertains to you – for example, most of the accounts I follow are Forest Service National Forests or Ranger Districts – posting their local news (right now – that’s fires). I do have it set for updating directly to my Facebook, so I don’t have to update in two locations.
Eventually, we may end up using just one system, but that system will need to serve all our needs.
You have to find what works for you. But whatever networks you use, you should try to do maintenance on it and participate, otherwise if won’t serve any purpose whether for fun or networking and connecting. If you only like 1 or 2, just stick to those.
Like I have discussed before, I was bombarded at first with everything that was available. It was wonderful! So many groups with so many interests! I was busy trying to keep up with everyone. I had a website for everything; diet, astronomy, facebook, linkedIn, Eblog, etc, etc. But, as with any new toys, I settled down with my favorites. I now have Facebook, linkedIN, My own personal website, and now GOVLoop. I also occasionally look in DAU / ATL websites, but not all the time. There are just so many out there, and there are only a few hours a day to use these websites.
You mentioned the normal town gahterings. Well, you would not just jump into a group just because they hang out at the coffee shop. I volunteer alot. But, every group is not for me. I am sure my grandparents did not jump from church to church. They went to one church their whole lives, then the same people went to gatherings together, and those same people probably volunteered for the same causes. It was not really different groups. It was the same people who did different things together. So, look at social networking the same way. Most of the same people I know from school, work, and church, are the same people I find on FaceBook, LinkedIN, and here on GovLoop.
So, to make a long point longer, 😉 Before I join anything now, I do the same thing I would in real life. I really look for the content of the website to see if it is something which I am interested in. Just like I would not join a snow boarding website. It is not that I don’t like snow boarding, but it is not something I would follow everyday. I now only follow the websites that really interests me for the long term. In fact, I almost did not join GovLoop. I wanted to really look at it carefully, and I did. I read for a few days. I followed a few discussions, and then I joined. So, the same principles that applied to your grandparents apply to us…just in a modern way.