Spreading the Social Butter

A couple months ago, Seth Godin wrote a blog post about critical mass, and how it applies to social networking. There was this particular paragraph that resonated with me:

“If you have a presence on twitter, squidoo, blogs, facebook, myspace, linkedin and 20 other sites, the chances of finding critical mass at any of them is close to zero. But if you dominate, if you’re the goto person, the king of your hill, magical things happen. One follower in each of twenty places is worthless. Twenty connected followers in one place is a tribe. It’s the foundation for building something that matters.”

With every new social network that crops up on the Internet, there comes yet another opportunity to register your name (or pseudonym) and go hunting for your ‘friends’. Yet another user interface to master. One more platform to learn. Subtly different netiquette from the other sites. Is it really worth it?

Joining a new network just to connect to the same friends you already have is pointless, and spreading your followers across different sites is equally futile. Either you’re sharing your message repeatedly to the same people again and again, or you’re having to log on to many different sites just reach each individual. On top of all this, you have regular blog, email and instant messenger as well?

This is why you should concentrate on just a few networks, and take the time learn how they work, and how to master them. Pick one of the networks you already use, and really get to know it. This could be a forum, a bookmarking site, a community on Ning, or something else. Even your local pub. Make friends with those that share you interests, and build relationships. Participate and contribute. If it doesn’t work out, or it’s too much work, go find a different one.

Top of the list for me is Twitter (after Squidoo and the forum of course). I’ve integrated it into my desktop, so that it is always there – keeping me continuously up-to-date with everything people are saying, and allowing me to join in their conversations. I’m now connected with people from all over the world and Twitter has subsequently become my primary source of world news. There are some great tools out there that extend the functionality too.

I do have accounts on many other social sites, but I don’t spend as much time on them. I also reserve some networks for certain purposes, for example my FaceBook profile is almost exclusively limited to family and old school/university friends, and I only use my YouTube account to keep track of my favourite videos.

I try to resist signing up with new social networks – there’s simply too many to keep track of. I do like to hang out in a little chat room though…

Where does your social butter spread to?

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