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… More »

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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.

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Posted by News Monkey