How To Effectively Use Social Networks To Your Advantage

Facebook has about 800 million users. Twitter has 100 Million. Google Plus has 40 Million. What do these number tell you? They tell you many things and these are some of them:

1. Users of social networks are increasing in number. More people are signing up.

2. More people are engaging into a somewhat form of online communication via social networks.

3. Social networks are the preferred form of engagement online (versus email, chat rooms, etc.)

4. Social networks are not slowing down in terms of activity.

5. We spend some of our time interacting with people on our social network on daily basis.

6. The world’s population is about 7 Billion. That means 1 out of 9 people is on Facebook.

I’ve been reflecting upon my usage of social networks – how does it impact my daily activity in terms of my personal productivity.

The amount of time we spend on these social networks are inversely proportional to the time productivity requires from us to accomplish our tasks at work, home, and wherever human-to-human interaction is required. The same is true on all online activities that are not producing values.

Does that mean we need to avoid using social networks? No. For most of us, cutting off social networks would mean disconnecting from a lot people who are of value to us personally or to our business.

As our productivity rate is inversely proportional to the total time we spend on the social networks (and other non-productive online activities), we need to cut down the amount of time we are on these social networks.

But we cannot dismiss these social networks as mere noise. They can have benefits also. We all have our own stories on how we benefited from them in one way or another.

The key is maximizing our social network usage. The effective way of social networking is not about spending more time on the networks. These are some of the ways we can maximize our use of social networks:

Go Vertical Instead Of Horizontal

Cultivate the relationships you already have. Find more ways on how to improve interaction with fewer “friends”. Identify the benefits on both sides – the “what you can give” and “what you can receive” factors. Disconnect if you cannot identify any benefits at all. Benefits can be abstract (i.e. “friendship”) or concrete (i.e. “business lead”).

Do Not Follow Based On Personality Status Alone

We follow or subscribe to personalities because we want their updates. We like reading their stuff. In other words, we find benefits in what we read from them. Take a look at the picture below and tell me what’s wrong with it. This is a screen capture from the Kindle Most Followed user.Timothy C. Ferriss (or Tim Ferriss) is a popular personality. He didn’t have this much followers when I first checked. He continues to get Kindle followers and I don’t understand why! He hasn’t posted a single highlight or note.

HowNotToFollow How To Effectively Use Social Networks To Your Advantage

Create Your Personal Benefit Gauge

Using an online tool I started unfollowing people who have not posted any tweets in the last 6 months. That’s just too long for me. That’s just a personal metrics for me. No deep logical explanation. I am looking for same tool for my other social network account. In Facebook, if all I am reading is your game updates or Multi-Level Marketing ads, chances are you’re on my Do-Not-Follow list.

To sum up, using social networks is not bad per se. You just have to find ways and means to make them work for you. Identify the advantages and disadvantages.

Start from the benefits you’re getting from using them. If you don’t carefully measure the values you’re getting and don’t actually reap these benefits to your advantage, then they may negatively impact your productivity.


Post feature photo courtesy of flick user Anirudh Koul

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