Dec. 04, 2008

Why Create Yet Another Social Profile?

Some days it seems like an invite to a particular network spreads like wildfire. First you get a smattering of invites for LinkedIn, and then Spock invites spread, and then, out of nowhere, Naymz appears in your inbox, telling you to worry about your personal brand management. It's enough to give anyone social media overload.

Now that we are nearing the end of 2008, has the BusinessWeek projection citing Facebook Fatigue as one of “Ten Likely Events in 2008," in fact come true? A year previously, ZDnet's blogger Steve O'Hear asked on his blog, The Social Web, Could 2007 be the year of social network fatigue? I don't suppose we're really nearing a death march or depletion of social media sign-ins. Then again, the announcement of the shutting down of Pownce, one of the first microblogging sites, seems like a sign of the beginning of the end (or the start of consolidation).

Aggregation to the extreme

There's also a trend of aggregation - collecting and gathering your content contributions whether it's a video, picture, link, or blog entry. Check out Profilactic offering the ability to update 190 social sites at once. One hundred ninety. Their tagline is "preventing an online identity crisis since 2006" which I like better than the name. Come on, was ProfileAddict.com taken? In the How to Manage Your Social Profiles and Create Virtual Business Cards entry on Mashable.com, one of the commenters gives a three step method for managing all your online profiles, starting with Profilactic to create all the accounts, then update those services supported by Ping.fm and Posterous.com, and finally use FriendFeed.com, Lifestream.fm or Yahoo Pipes to aggregate all the data. Whew.

Networking strategically

Let's find some strategies for the time you spend and the activities you do with social media.

In a TechSoup article, Eight Secrets of Effective Online Networking, Beth Kanter gives great guidelines for determining when and where to create that social profile and what to do with that profile once you've created it. Her guidelines for online networking are related to those you'd use in real-life networking. To summarize her secrets:

  • Invest time in your network.
  • For an organization, try an individual profile before setting up a group.
  • Establish a routine, and realize that crossover on different sites means you can target just a few selectively.
  • Recruit others to help with your efforts.
  • Keep it personal and network selectively, avoiding random reach-outs or connections that aren't meaningful.
  • Lastly, her eighth tip is full of good technology ideas for making the most of your time online such as using RSS feeds to fill in content on multiple sources, and mobile technology timesavers.

Protecting your time investment

So if you invest all this time into your social profile and online brand, how can you protect your investment? Is there an open social profile that is portable to different sites? Google rolled out the OpenSocial API over a year ago, partnering with MySpace. Speculators said the move was to take on the Facebook walled garden. From where I sit though, your best protective measure is to export regularly. As a "lazy" user I want my photos and blog entries safe in the cloud but also would love to pick up and leave when necessary.

What do you think? How are you protecting your investment of your time online?

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