Online social networks are growing at exponential rates and they each have a position and value in our personal and business lives.  Often that position is one that we establish.  We establish our goals for these networks and determine how we use them.

Naturally the big dog in networks is Facebook.  Do you have a personal page or a business page, or both? I have both a personal page that is strictly for family and a few close friends and a business page where I share information about my company, our activities and engage with fans and followers.

If a business associates wants to connect with me on my personal site, I just send them an invite from my business page instead. This keeps my private and business life separate.   When I get invites from people to connect with my business site I am pretty open to connect with most folks.  I will occasionally look at how many “friends” they already have and ask “does it make sense to connect with them?”   I also monitor the content they post on my wall or in groups.  If their posts are crude, contain foul language, or have a “spammy feel” going up every half hour, I usually unfriend them.  Remember you are known by the company you keep, and do you really want to be seen as endorsing crude behavior?

If you are building a business page on Facebook, here is a good place to start.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php?ref_type=sitefooter

LinkedIn is a good networking site, but again like Facebook many people on the site just have the goal of racking up a gazillion people in their network.  You may want to consider being selective with who you connect with on LinkedIn.  I believe there should be a mutual benefit or the potential for a mutual benefit for those in my network.  Anyone who asks to connect with me, where I have no prior relationship, I respond and ask them to call me so we can talk about our goals and how we might help each other.  Rarely does anyone ever call.  They want to connect with me; they just don’t want to talk to me!

I also go through my connections as I work on various projects and contact a few folks asking for some of their time to get their thoughts on my strategy and to see what’s new in their world.  If they don’t respond within a week, I delete them from my connections.  What good are they in my network, if they don’t want to network?

I also go through my connections on a regular basis and if someone left the industry, or moved into a different position where the value proposition has changed; I may choose to delete them from my connections.  I try and stay about 500 connections as any more than that is of no real value to me or them.  Think about how many friends you have in “real life,” I’ll bet it’s not more than 20 or 30 tops.  How can you possibly have a network of any value with more than 1000 connections?

There are other issues with LinkedIn too.  A few months back an executive I know with a special finance company passed away.  His LinkedIn page was active for months after his passing. When I sent LinkedIn a copy of his obituary showing his name and company, they refused to take down his page unless I could tell them his exact email address that he used when he set up the account.  That seems to set the bar pretty high to update an account status.

I encourage you to think about how and why you use these networks.  Very often quality is better than quantity.  If that wasn’t true we wouldn’t have any cars selling for more than $20,000.

 

Mark Dubis is President of The Dubis Group and formerly the editor of Digital Dealer magazine. He works with companies to build online marketing strategies which include the use of WordPress websites, email campaigns and other social media channels.  He can be reached at 216-712-6712.

This article originally appeared in the AutoUSA April 2012 Newsletter