Is there an Amex and MasterCard of Social Networking?
I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
In her post last week about social networking overload, MSNBC.com columnist Eve Tahmincioglu evokes the Brady Bunch episode where high school freshman Marcia Brady joins too many clubs and gets overwhelmed. Instead of the Brady Bunch, I thought of the Groucho quote above when I was pinged by a former co-worker, Tim Scannell, a couple weeks ago on Plaxo Pulse. "You're just joining Plaxo? Where have you been?" This message followed within days of a funny Plaxo Pulse invitation from consultant and blogger John Patrick, with this message: "Hi, Lois, I see you joined Plaxo. Connect if you want. Not sure it really does anything for either of us, but what the heck. John."
I laughed out loud at John's message and, of course, connected with him. I also nodded in silent agreement as I did so. Tim's message prompted me to get defensive, explaining in a reply that I had been on the edges of Plaxo for years and accepted people's address and job title changes and complying with their requests for my updates. Recently, however, with the move to Plaxo Pulse, I got an invitation from a former colleague that seemed to require that I sign on before I could do the polite thing and connect with the person. Ever since I did that, I have been receiving messages from people who think I just joined. And then Tim thought I was late to the party. I hate to be late for anything! [Note to Plaxo: why do I have to click on the "you have a message" URL twice each time to get to the actual message? First time always lands me on the intro/aren't we wonderful page.]
Eve's blog post lays out the dilemma nicely -- how many social networking sites and services can you really manage? How many do you really need? Chris Shipley told me she finds FriendFeed helpful and I admit I am checking it out, but I'm leery to get too involved with another one. At one point I signed up for Gather, but quickly found that the posts were very long and like discussion boards and I simply didn't have the time to participate properly. (For the same reason I have not taken up golf -- I don't have the time to do it right.) And one of my former work colleagues sent me an invitation (twice now) to join Naymz, another group which describes itself as a reputation network. I tried to figure out a way to politely decline without causing offense, like I nicely decline additional store credit cards and loyalty programs I don't have time to track. I have this fear that if I made one false move, I'd be signed up and getting pinged by yet another group of people -- or the same people on this new network.
I agree with Eve that LinkedIn seems like a good one for career research -- either hiring or getting hired. Facebook is a fun way to stay in touch with friends and colleagues. I've used it occasionally for business purposes. But one of my friends said it has helped him build an audience for his writing, as he can quickly notify many people who like him and like his work that he has a new offering.
I think we need to figure out which are the American Express and MasterCards of the social networking sites. I'm willing to carry two cards and a couple store cards, maybe, but if I need a second virtual wallet to track my sites, I'm probably not going to do any of the social networking there justice.
By the way, I would bet Groucho would be on Facebook, but his updates would be private.