This post really isn’t meant as a commentary on the past, present and future value of social media properties, although the title may indicate that. If anything, what I am trying to do may even be a bit selfish – I’d like to explain my use of social media properties and figure out if other people, particularly businesspeople, are experiencing the same trend that I am experiencing.
Let’s address the current kings of social media: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Before anyone gets all riled up, I recognize that each of the properties above is very, very different – different audiences, different usage and different business models. That being said, I happen to use all three and many folks I do business with do as well, hence the whole thought process that lead me to this post.
Let’s start with LinkedIn , the property I started using first. LinkedIn is a business networking property, plain and simple. Most people to use it to connect with other professionals. Perhaps some use it for personal (non-business) purposes, but I certainly don’t. Here’s my history with LinkedIn:
- Started using it sometime in 2003.
- Used it initially to connect with other professionals and expand my business network.
- When I reached a certain comfort level – call it 100 contacts or so – I began using it as a prospecting and lead generation tool for my business.
- On the flip side, also used it to find providers/vendors for my business, so it worked both ways for me.
- Used LinkedIn Answers in a limited manner to answer questions “in my wheelhouse” and also to ask questions to my network.
- At some point between 2007 – present, it feels as if the world discovered LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn began to feel overcrowded, became far less useful for me, and now I pay very little attention other than a daily login to make sure I am not missing something important.
Let’s move on to Facebook . Facebook represents the opposite of LinkedIn for me. I use it almost exclusively for social/personal purposes, although I suppose there are tangential business benefits. I don’t mean to indicate that there aren’t substantial direct business benefits – there absolutely are for those who are smart about reaching their target audiences without ruining the Facebook experience. Here’s my history with Facebook:
- Started using it sometime in 2008, maybe late 2007.
- Used it initially to just connect with old friends and colleagues.
- When I reached a certain comfort level – call it 3 months in – I actually posted an occasional status update and photos.
- At some point in late 2008/early 2009, the world seemed to discover Facebook.
- Facebook began to feel overcrowded, became far less entertaining and useful for me, and while I do log in frequently, I am far more focused on how my clients can use Facebook than how I can use it for personal purposes.
That brings us to Twitter , the social media darling of 2009. Twitter is a micro blogging platform that allows individuals and organizations to send quick status updates or messages to that individual or organization’s “followers”. I use Twitter almost exclusively for business purposes (check out my Twitter profile if you’d like), although some of my “tweets” have nothing to do with business. Here’s my history with Twitter:
- Started using it in early 2009, but didn’t really embrace it until about a month ago.
- I use it to track individuals and companies with whom I have a business relationship, or in some cases individuals or businesses that provide material that I find useful.
- Call it the Oprah effect , or maybe the Ashton Kutcher effect, but it seems like the world discovered Twitter over the past couple of months.
That’s where my story ends on Twitter. Twitter hasn’t felt overcrowded to me yet. Twitter is still very useful for me from a business standpoint, even if I only consider the benefit of being exposed to valuable content from people I trust. I still like the format of Twitter, as it allows to me decide who I want to follow and then also quickly scan and place a value on the content that is being shared.
This whole analysis begs the questions:
- Will Twitter go in the LinkedIn/Facebook direction and simply become less useful over time?
- Will I become disinterested in Twitter due to overcrowding or general boredom?
- More importantly, are there others out there that have experienced the same Linked In/Facebook trend as I have, and if so how do you feel about Twitter?
- If Twitter is the social media darling of 2009, what’s next? On a daily basis I hear about the “next big thing” in social media, but nothing has really entered my radar as more than a blip.
Generally speaking, we hear about social media from those that have a vested interest in a social media property’s success, because the organization they represent sells something associated with that social media property. Rarely do we hear from folks that are completely unbiased in this category. If you’ve experienced unprecedented business successes using these social media properties, and have an opinion on the relative merits of each property, by all means give me a shout and I will publish your thoughts.