Twitter: to follow or not to follow? That is the question.

Like many who use social networking software to engage in conversation, I’d characterise myself as a heavy Twitter-user.  And the more I use Twitter, the more followers I get; it’s the nature of viral communication.  I’m now followed by 1400 + people – small beans compared with some.  Now, I follow some who don’t follow me, but that’s my choice; they have something of value to offer me.  I’m not offended if I follow someone and they don’t follow back … though it’s interesting who in the big-name stakes actually do follow back and, even at times, respond to a message.

As far as those who follow me, perhaps they feel my posts are useful or interesting, maybe even valuable – I’d hope so – but as to what that is, and why many follow me, I’m never going to know. Why? I simply never hear from them again after the auto-email from Twitter arrives telling me that I have a new follower.  I check their details; no bio – no follow for a start. Self-proclaimed experts or sales pitches are immediate blocks or no-follows, but in deciding whether or not to follow a new follower,  there’s one rule that I am pretty much sticking to come what may.

I send out a regular welcome note to all new followers telling them how I use Twitter – this is only fair I think – asking them to send me a @ message to make contact. If I don’t get this, I don’t follow. Period. Few lately are responding, leading me to conclude that they’re not reading their messages, not serious, or not real.

As I generally end my welcome message ‘I’m at the Twitter party for conversation, not the crowd.’

Group or Page: What’s best on Facebook for an arts company?

Google Analytics: SML Pro Blog Traffic Sources...
Image by See-ming Lee ??? SML via Flickr

I’ve been a fan for a long time of the blog/website as the hub of an individual’s or a group’s digital world.  Couple a blog with various outlier social networking applications like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and so on, and you expand your outreach.  Not everyone uses social networking, though with over half a million signing up every day for Facebook, that most ubiquitous of apps, it’s kind of hard to believe. Facebook at the end of 2010 was the leading social network in the world.

Nowadays with the gradual federation of apps and services ‘talking’ to one another, it’s possible to provide a way for just about anyone with access to the web to engage with you, your group, and others who want to get in contact.

If you maintain a blog as your hub, the downside is that you you almost always have to travel outside your hub to access outlier material, though this is getting easier – see my post on using Friendfeed in this way. [UPDATE: Friendfeed sadly is no longer the wunderkind of aggregating services it once was. FYI it was bought out by Facebook]

On most blogs you can set up links or widgets that show your latest status on Facebook, your latest Tweets and those of the people your follow, your photos from Flickr, an RSS feed to keep readers up to date with your posts and so on.

Is there a one-stop for all of this, as well as an app that goes where most of the activity is?  Well, with the imminent demise or at least withering on the vine of the really good Friendfeed, it seems that Facebook has a way.  A current Facebook user can set up a page to leverage his or her ‘business.’  I’ve posted some links below that give you a solid introduction to what these ‘business’ Pages are, and how they differ from Facebook Groups.

Whatever you do, don’t use a Facebook Profile (regular ‘personal’ page) for your group.

You’ll max out at 5,000 friends, and you’re aiming for more than that, right?

Facebook Pages vs Facebook Groups: What’s the Difference?
This comprehensive post from the Mashable folk is really all you need to know to make a decision.

Marketing Your Business on Facebook

Facebook Business: Page or a Group? (video)

Leveraging a Facebook Business Page (video)

Creating a super-mobile conference blog

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

You know the old saying, ‘It never rains, but it pours’? Well, I’ve had one of those weeks … nice and slow for ages and suddenly, a bloggy downpour. At times during the week I found myself flipping backwards and forwards from one blog to another whilst fielding emails, telephone, and Skype calls from clients and collaborators. Oh the idiocy of multitasking! Continue reading “Creating a super-mobile conference blog”

Unsociable playground spats

When I was a primary (elementary) school teacher, one of the jobs I hated most was playground duty.  It meant losing your precious lunch or break ‘downtime’ to wander an always hot and dusty playground, often trailed by kids who liked nothing more than to tell tales on one another.  You had to keep an eye out for a little knot of kids; it almost always signalled a gathering over a new toy being proudly shown off, or just a game being played or a meeting amongst a gang of friends. It could also – and on rare occasions I’m glad to say – be one of those horrible physical kid fights – punching, rolling on the ground, always followed by tears and recriminations. You had to intervene, sort it out, dust them down and send them on their way with stern admonitions. It was also a lesson for me in reading the body language of everyone involved, even the onlookers, who were mostly shocked, teary and very very partisan – everyone had an opinion to accompany the pointing finger,  “S/he started it, miss.” Ah, the days in the old schoolyard!

Sometimes things get a bit rough and tumble in social networks too, and emoticons notwithstanding – you know these 🙂 🙁  – you can’t read the body language of the respondents, so it can be difficult to know who are the trolls or trouble-makers, and who just don’t have the social or linguistic skills needed to put a case.  Last night on Friendfeed – normally a fairly safe haven for robust discussion – a brainstorm session which I’d responded to was ‘interrupted’ shall we say by someone who was trying to put a counter argument. The big kids in the playground didn’t care for his contribution, and so he was ‘blocked’ – bye bye troll.   At this point I left the group and wandered on, glad I wasn’t on playground duty any more, but disappointed at the outcome of the discussion.  Shame though that some big kids still haven’t learned how to play nicely.

Are you networking more and enjoying it less?

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...
Image by luc legay via Flickr

I admit it – I’m now very close to being a social-media junkie. I am intrigued by the potential of this wondrous web thing. Indeed I spend a lot of my life online these days. I’m also curious by nature and reasonably sociable, love a chat – you know? So I suppose it was inevitable that I would play right into the hands of the vast array of social networking applications that are whizzing around out there – do they whiz I wonder, or do they just sit there like shiny objects that beg to be touched and played with? Continue reading “Are you networking more and enjoying it less?”

Blogging and Writing: is there a difference?

An example of a social network diagram.Image via Wikipedia

The social networking merry-go-round continues turning. It’s not all fun and games and party and let’s all wear hats on Seesmic today type stuff … though that’s fun too. There are more than enough engaging conversationalists and provocateurs out there with something to contribute to the hive and to keep us all ticking over, thinking, responding in words, images and sounds.

The other night I responded to Terry Freedman’s video post on Seesmic. He wanted to know how teachers were using Seesmic.  Here’s the thread: Terry’s to me and mine to him with a link to a blog post I’d written a while back.

Terry’s a UK-based writer who’s been commissioned to go beyond the chatter and to do some research on the way we’re communicating on and offline these days. He’s keen to get some responses from users with a point of view to share. Here’s the link with more details.

By the way Terry got back to me via Facebook with this request to pass it on.  This blog post is going to find its way to my FriendFeed, and via that to a whole lot of other social networks and friends of friends … and so the message goes on its merry viral way.

Anyhow please help Terry out or post your response here if you’d like. I’m sure he’ll get it either way.

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