Entrepreneur - - By Georgina Laidlaw

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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