Are You Suffering Social Network Saturation?

Are you on Google+ yet? For freelancers, social networks can be a good way to maintain connections and working friendships, promote our work and that of others, and substantiate our professional philosophies. But I have to admit, the opportunity to join Yet Another Social Network made me want to scream.

I already had accounts on three social networks, which I use to varying degrees, and for different purposes. Initially, my Google+ network seemed to contain people I wasn’t connecting with otherwise, so I joined up. But after a few days, I began to see very little difference between the people I was connecting with there, and those I was in touch with via Twitter and LinkedIn.

I’m not saying the Google+ functionality isn’t great, or the network’s no good. But I am wondering what the point of maintaining accounts on all these different networks is. Are we really reaching different people in different places? Or are we simply reconnecting with the same geeky types (sorry guys!) over and over?

Pruning problems

Four social network accounts is three too many in my books. Those freelancers looking to use social networking as part of their marketing approach may, like me, find themselves wanting to do some pruning.

There are a few factors that can help us work out where to snip — but just as likely, they’ll prevent us from making the most worthwhile cuts:

Features

Each network has slightly different features. Become too attached to the unique features of one network, and you may find it difficult to leave. If you love using Facebook albums, you might find it hard to let go of that feature if none of the other networks you use offer it.

Alternatively, it might be the nature of the network that holds you. I rarely use LinkedIn, but as a purely professional network that brings together work contacts from all walks of business, it’s great. Do I really want to let that exposure go?

People

To me, different networks mean different people. I’d dearly love to forget Facebook forever, but it’s my social social network, where I stay in touch with friends and work contacts who are friends.

Freelancers using social networking for marketing purposes may not be interested in the number of contacts they have on networks, so much as the quality of the contact base they have in each. That can make leaving a network extremely difficult.

The C word

The other factor that keeps a lot of people stuck on particular networks is the C word: commitment. You’ve spent a couple of years on Twitter, you’ve built up a following … and now you’re going to leave them in the lurch as you skip over to Google+? That doesn’t sound like good marketing, does it?

We don’t acknowledge this pressure much — and indeed some may not feel it at all. But more than a few freelancers feel that the time they’ve put into a network is too valuable to just forget about. We may also feel a pressure to be part of whatever the latest social network is.

And so rather than making sensible decisions about where we should best spend our time, we spread ourselves even thinner among the networks.

Time to rationalize?

How many social networks are you on? How much are they helping you build your profile, networks, and freelance business? Which ones do you prefer? And can you prune your social media presence to a manageable level? I’d love to hear how you’re using social networks to support your freelancing.

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  • http://twitter.com/philrobichaud Philippe Robichaud

    Great post! I too often feel overwhelmed by how much time it takes to “engage” with everyone. Then multiply that by the number of networks you’re on and it’s like you’re spending more time talking to people than doing “real” meaningful work.

    I agree, limiting to a couple of platforms and sticking with them is better than trying (probably unsuccessfully) of being on all of them. Myself : i like Twitter and Flickr (since i create art and photos), i have a Facebook account that’s more for friends and family.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffwikarski Jeff Lynn

    I’m all for joining more social networks, but only if they offer something new and improved. Google + is a real let down. It is nothing more than a Facebook clone at this point.

    I am so tired of photos, videos, groups, and boring text blogs. Google could have done something awesome with Google + if they would have integrated Google Voice and allowed members to post voice blogs, comment to voice blogs, and send audio messages to other members. I think Google Voice is the best and most exciting product Google has to offer at this time, but they don’t really know how to use it yet.

  • http://www.drlinux.no/ drlinux

    I use LinkedIn for my professional network, and that’s it. I would not touch Facebook with a long stick (privacy issues), and tbh. I can’t see a point in putting my personal life on any public network. I also have no time for it. Procrastination is a bad enough issue as it is ;)

    That said, another network that is strongly focused on professional relations would be interesting, if it provide something of value not on LinkedIn. Perhaps not a social network like LI/FB, but industry or “experts” forum. I might be tempted to spend some time on that.

  • http://www.fluxappeal.com FluxAppeal

    I only began recently with social media for my business and am already at saturation. I use FB, Twitter and LinkedIn (joined Google+ but haven’t used it yet). So far, I just don’t see my time spent coming back with real connections that might feasibly lead to business. I mean, how many twitters use hootsuite and the like to put their tweets on ‘auto-pilot’, this just isn’t connecting, it’s collecting butterflies. From the face of it, Google+ is very similar to FB and I don’t really want to take the time to sort out how it’s different. I’m pretty intrigued by LinkedIn and feel that maybe this one will be the most worthwhile in terms of actually getting a real ‘voice’ and connecting through groups, etc. Interested in hearing others’ opinions on this.

  • http://bobschecter.com Bob Schecter

    If you are on the Social Media circuit simply to socialize, then odds are you’ll pick the network where your friends gather, and I’m betting that’s facebook since, well, that’s been there hangout (ooops, sorry google) for a while now. However, if you are on the Social Media circuit for business (and that’s not to say you can’t be there for both business and pleasure) then you must go with the flow, because it’s all about exposure anyway. There is no way you can actually know, let alone engage with all of your connections on all of your networks. And it’s likely they really don’t want to engage with you either. But in a world gone mad, top of mind awareness is of paramount importance to a business, any business, any size. If you want your customers to find you out there, you’d better be out there … everywhere.
    “Reach Out To Everyone, And You’re Sure To Touch Someone” – The Networking Fool