Whether you are a CEO, college freshman, pastor, domestic engineer or anywhere in between, social media is likely an increasingly important communication tool. In the future, social networking will become so integrated with all our communication tools that it will be just another part of our regular processes. Until that time though, we must struggle with a variety of platforms. We have one site for personal use, one professional and still others for jobs, hobbies or specific focus areas. Until we see the tightened integration of social media platforms though, I find that knowing your social media hierarchy and following some basic principles will keep your messages clear, effective and aligned with the right platform.
With so many platforms available to us, we spend too much time updating status messages and too little time interacting. To solve this problem, most tools have enabled integration with other services for status updates. This works well, provided you keep the status flow one-way and know your hierarchy. The image above reflects my own social media hierarchy. Here are the guidelines I followed in creating my own:
1. Twitter Feeds All: To keep it simple, I have Twitter feeding all social networks. Some tools offer the ability to update only sites identified by hashtags in your post (#fb for facebook and #li for linkedin, as an example). However, given the limited characters, I just feed them all and keep my twitter posts more professional.
2. Feed Twitter Selectively: To avoid any loops, I chose not to feed Twitter from other sites, unless the feed is intended to update all sites. For example, I enable Foursquare and my Blog to post to Twitter, because I like to update all sites with with these feeds.
3. Target Your Platforms: With the above exceptions, each platform I leverage has a primary purpose. I use Ning for the Servant Leadership Network (professional), Facebook for friends and family updates (Personal), LinkedIn for business networking (Professional), my blog for Servant Leadership content (professional) and other sites for similarly targeted areas.
One of the benefits of social media is to allow us to be ourselves more in professional settings. In fact, I enjoy that my colleagues can learn more about my personal interests as well – if they so desire. As a result, the intent here is not to say you have to be careful about crossing your messages. However, the more appropriate and focused your message is on each platform, the better I find the reception and resulting influence. Therefore, if you struggle with too many status updates or fear your messages are not as clear or strong as they could be, I suggest setting up your own social media hierarchy.
Question: Do you have a social media hierarchy? How do you leverage each platform?