How do we use Social Networking?

Over the last few months I’ve started to use the popular social and professional networking sites quite a bit – I’m a member of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – which seems quite enough to be going on with.

However, I’ve found I use them in different ways, and I thought it might be fun to do a quick bit of analysis (well, OK, adding up and dividing) to see if the way I think I use them is the way I actually use them, based on the kind of people I am connected to.

Facebook

My own instinctive view is that I use this to relax with friends and colleagues (current and former), rather than for professional networking or serious marketing.

Let’s have a look at my friends stats.

Current and former work colleagues: 41%
Freelance and professional networking contacts: 18%
School and college friends: 18%
Family: 3%
Friends or acquaintances that don’t fall into the above categories: 20%

So that seems to tally – if you assume colleagues are (in general!) friends, then that’s almost 80% of my contacts who are friends, rather than professional contacts.

LinkedIn

I don’t spend a lot of time on LinkedIn – I joined when I knew that I wanted to move jobs, and decided that a little networking was in order. Plus, it’s an easy way for recruitment agencies to search for you and tell at a glance if they want to talk to you. I do, however, still keep my profile up to date, and check the groups from time to time to see if there are any interesting discussions.

Let’s check my connection stats.

Current and former work colleagues: 51%
Freelance and professional networking contacts: 35%
School and college friends: 4%
Family: 1%
Friends or acquaintances that don’t fall into the above categories: 9%

So that bears out my instinctive view to a degree (the second category is much higher and the final three are lower) – though perhaps not as much as I would have expected.

Twitter

Well, Twitter is a little different, let’s face it. Relationships on Twitter are (by default) one-way, meaning that just because you follow someone, they aren’t necessarily following you, and vice-versa. So the chances are that the reasons we post tweets are different from the reasons we follow people.

Granted, some people protect their Twitter feed so that you have to ask to follow them, but not many people enact this setting, I suspect because they realise it works against the whole purpose of Twitter.

My perception is that I post on Twitter to promote ZigPress (project announcements, site launches, blog posts) and to share the odd web development nugget because I think people might find it useful.

However, I follow people mainly because they post links to useful technical articles, or because they entertain me.

I don’t think stats are very meaningful if you use Twitter in this way (as a promotional tool). Clearly I’m hoping that word about my ZigPress tweets will go around and more people will follow, increasing exposure for the ZigPress brand. However this has nothing to do with the people I choose to follow, and indeed I have no control over who follows me (apart from blocking the odd obvious spammer).

Closing Thoughts

Looking back at my post, I think I have probably earned a BSc(Hons) in the Bleedin’ Obvious: that our likelihood of accepting (or seeking out) connections in the two big networks are determined by how we use those networks, and not necessarily by how we know people in “real life”.

The other interesting thing would of course be to calculate overlap (contacts that I have who are connected to me on both networks). I don’t have the time to go through one by one, but gut feeling tells me that my overlap is about 50% (if I make a list of all contacts from both networks, around half of them are connected to me in both).

Do you find that you use Facebook and LinkedIn differently? Can you see anything in my stats that I missed? Can you think of any other interesting things to do with the figures? Comment below.

14 Comments

  1. For myself, I use facebook mostly for personal life and linked in for career. I never mix both of them. Because I don’t really like my personal activity will be known by working partner.

  2. I prefer twitter to facebook, it gives you more freedom. You can always “subscribe” for useful development/design information and things that you love, like for example receive tweets from you favorite photographer and know where his next exhibition is

  3. To me, facebook is purely social and personal. That means laid back, friends and family, never business. For more polished professional purposes, LinkedIn and Twitter are great for me.

  4. I think you’re right. It’s not so much of which of our friends or acquaintances or associates belong in which category but how we use these platforms. Personally I prefer Facebook and Twitter. Not so much a fan of LinkedIn. I use Facebook for photos and Twitter just for updates.

  5. I use my Facebook and Twitter account all of the time. How do you like Linkedin? Have you found you use it more as the time has gone on? How does it compare for you to the other two?

  6. I use facebook for friends & family, and linkedin for work, I make a point of trying not to friend work mates in facebook, as I want to keep the distinction.

  7. I also use Facebook and Twitter most of the time, while I even don’t have any Linkedin. Facebook, for me is just for pure pleasure, where you could connect to your friends and family, but most especially to plave the games in it. While, twitter is just a tool to express your feelings and comments, and even say some messages to your favorite celebrities.

  8. Personally I use facebook for only personal contacts, but we also publish a Disney World guidebook and the author uses facebook extensively to connect with Disney fans.

    LinkedIn is a great resource for business. I’ve made many excellent connections there, which has been great for my business oriented video production company. We’ve also made use of the LinkedIn group feature to create a Disney community. I’m a big fan of LinkedIn and Facebook, but I just don’t get the purpose of twitter. I must be missing something. If anyone can tell me how to use it for my video production company or my publishing business, I’d like to know. So far I haven’t seen anything that really clicks for my particular businesses.

  9. I used to use Facebook to promote my business, but started getting “Friend” requests a lot. After a while, I was getting insignificant postings on my page – “how was your breakfast,” “I went out last night and got blasted!” WHO CARES!
    I finally deleted all my so called friends and account!
    I am not to keen on providing a lot of my personal stuff on these social sites. In my opinion, they don’t work for me. I guess, you can call me “old fashioned!”

  10. Very interesting analysis. I use Facebook and Twitter to promote my business. But, I have made separate accounts for both, one for my personal use and the other for business use. I love the social networks but sometimes I feel you do have to keep the personal comments and the work comments separated. I say to those not yet engaged with them, they are a resource, it’s your choice to use it or not. If done right, it can be a priceless tool.

  11. I had to switch my facebook personal profile to a business page because I had too many people who were de-friending me because they didn’t want to hear about my business. I wasn’t too calous yet they just didn’t want to hear about golf in their feeds. Now, it works better. One for biz, one for personal.

  12. Linked in is useless for me, I use facebook only for the “coolness” factor to show that I am “popular” lol I totally under use twitter but don’t fully understand it!

  13. I use linked in, facebook and twitter. It depends on what cause. Facebook is more social for me, to keep in touch with friends in family. The other linked in and twitter are more business.

  14. Another great article. I completely agree with you. From my own experience, Social media is the (only) most important way to promote a website now. I understand website content is the key, however, without effective way to promote the website. The outcome might be way far from your expectation.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful article.