The other day, I was chatting on Facebook with a friend who lives in Mexico City and he asked me to get WhatsApp. I’ve learned through my Dad and his friends, who also reside in different parts of Mexico, that it’s their preferred method to share jokes, pictures and staying connected with each other. It took me a little while to be convinced to download yet another app, and try to use another messaging platform, but I thought I’d give it a try.
This got me thinking about all the different platforms there are to connect with people and why we gravitate towards certain ones and ignore the others. To be honest, I follow the crowd. I was on MySpace until someone told me it was dated and that I had to join Facebook. When I was looking for a job, everyone told me to get on LinkedIn. Looking for a restaurant, Google will show you a Yelp review and rating based on other users. Google and Hotmail have their own circles for sharing too. Even online music is shared with people you know, once you’re logged in.
The point I’m trying to make is that social media is everywhere and can become menacing to manage. I did a quick search on Wikipedia for a list of social networks and was amazed at how many there are. Even after filtering it down so that the “list is not exhaustive, and is limited to notable, well-known sites”, they still list around 200 networks. What’s next, an App to manage your social Apps? I found a few (Twitter Feed, Gravatar/OpenID, Ping.fm, FriendFeed) and I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I get overwhelmed with the number of social networks I have access to, and try to limit the number of sources I actually use. Keeping all my different profiles up to date and contributing to online chats can take up a lot of time. It is easier than ever to connect with the friends, family and even complete strangers, but with so many sources, what’s the best one out there and worth spending time on?
From a business perspective, it’s even more important to balance financial objectives with social network coverage. Where are your customers? How do they expect to be spoken to through this medium? Although there is no price of entry, the time and effort it takes to create content that people actually want to consume doesn’t come free. Setting clear realistic targets and reassessing often is key to navigating such an expansive set of options.
How many social networks do you belong to, and how many do you actually use?