Different social networks for different purposes

By Kristopher A. Nelson
in August 2009

400 words / 2 min.
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Different social networks serve different purposes. Keep them straight, but always remember that what you post online could end up anywhere and post accordingly.

Note: this post is from 2009. Evaluate with care and in light of later events.

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Image via CrunchBase

Soren Gordhamer at Mashable has a good reminder of the differing purposes and uses of social networks — in this case, Facebook vs. Twitter:

There is growing body of people who actively use more than one social network, and do so with quite different purposes. Though on the surface many social networks seem similar, to use them skillfully it helps to better understand the different roles they can play in one’s online activity.

via When Do You Use Twitter Versus Facebook?

A quick summary:

  • Twitter for connecting with someone you don’t know.
  • Twitter for breaking news.
  • Discovery and new learning on Twitter.
  • Facebook for local news and events.
  • Facebook for connecting with someone you know.
  • Looking for help on an issue? Soren prefers Facebook.

The Mashable tips are useful, although leave off other social networks, particularly Linkedin. Nonetheless, they are useful tips. Here are my additions:

  • Linkedin for professional networking, as long as I’ve interacted with the person previously.
  • Facebook for personal networking — and professional contacts I would consider closer than acquantances
  • Twitter for broad-based networking with those I may or may not have met, but want to keep up with
  • Friendfeed as a supplement to Twitter

The more you mix professional and personal contacts, the more careful you need to be with your posts. So while I do add professional contacts to Facebook on occasion, I always remember they may see my status updates, and post accordingly — but remembering, too, that Facebook is personal in tone, while Linkedin is professional. (Twitter is somewhere in the middle). And I always use Facebook groups to segregate types of connections.

Finally, I always try to remember that, regardless of segregation, any of my online posts could be read by anyone. So I make sure to moderate my postings, just in case.