I was blogrolling (finally) and catching up on the list when I was reminded by Jimbo of something I’d been meaning to rant about.
Jimbo was ranting on the do’s/don’ts of when to use grindr in social situations. This sort of got me on the general mistakes most folks make when joining/using social sites in general. Whether it be the hatchet-job of HTML and over-embedding on mySpace,1 the constant barrage of friend/game requests on Facebook, and/or the minutia of irrelevant updates on Twitter, it can quickly become unmanageable if you don’t start out with some ground rules.
Being someone who has been online since before the existence of AOL, let me take a moment to edify you on my hard-earned skills. lol With a few simple guidelines you can keep your online social interactions under control, enjoyable, and even useful.
When joining social sites like FB, MS, Twitter, etc, you should first decide on your purpose.2 Are you joining to reconnect with friends/family, make new friends, be a social butterfly, and/or just ‘connect’ in general.
- Take the time to fill out your profile. You don’t have to necessarily reveal personal/private information but if your goal is to meet people then it makes sense to provide goals, interests, hobbies, etc. If you are gonna create multiple profiles, instead of constantly retyping everything, just create a master word or text file that you can copy and paste from. You also don’t have to list every minutia of your interests. Stick to things you are really passionate or interested in. You can always add more later.
- Be sincere and honest. People often sniff out a fake PDQ. Sure your responses might be less but they will be legit. And lets face it, if your goal is to actually meet people, they’ll eventually find out you lied.
- Use an up-to-date picture of yourself. It’s the freakin’ millennium already. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone not to have an up-to-date pic in this day when practically everything has a camera attached to it. I don’t care what you looked like 10 years ago or when you were 12. Its ok to have those type of pics but not as your main profile pic. Its misleading and you’ll end up alienating people. And if you are so discreet, you can’t have a face shot, then maybe you shouldn’t be online?3
- Actually take the time to reply or interact. Again, if the goal is to be social, it won’t happen all by itself. Depending on the site, you don’t necessarily have to reply to everyone but the point here is to make an effort to interact.
- Add any/every one who sends you a friend/follow request. If you do, you’ll soon find your profile becomes bloated and pointless. And there is nothing that says once you add someone you can’t remove them later.
- For adding media/links, don’t over do it. Less is definitely more in this instance. If you constantly fill your stream with drivel, people will get bored or overwhelmed and move on. Its ok to post things you really like but I don’t wanna know about every single song/movie/clip/article that you purchase/download/find from the web. And for the love of toast, for profiles like myspace, make sure the “auto-play” feature for your embedded content is turned off!
- Hide all of your data/info and then wonder why no one friends/follows you. This is a biggie folks. Especially on sites like Twitter and FB, if I can’t see anything about you not only will I not add you, I’ll probably go one step further and block you. Demanding a lot and offering nothing in return rarely works. FB allows you a fine control of what is viewable or not. Twitter is a bit trickier as it only allows full view or nothing. The trick is to accept the request but then review the person’s feed/stream. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t interest you, simply unfollow and/or block. You’re done.
- Add mean, disparaging, hateful, or otherwise negative statements. No one likes a whining negative-Nancy. Nothing turns me off to a person’s profile faster than negative comments.
- Log on and never log-off. That might work for chat services where you can set yourself to away or available but for most profiles, its just annoying trying to interact with someone who turns out not to be there but logged on.
See, that wasn’t so hard was it? lol Here are just a few more tips that might save you some grief.
Don’t join every site just because you can. Pick and choose the sites you really like and dump the rest.
If you are worried about privacy or work-related issues, don’t use your real name online. I’ve always used my nickname and to this day, I can’t find a single reference to my real name online. This is especially important if you are using profiles for work and ‘play’.
With the latter in mind, keep your work/play profiles separate. You can create multiple accounts for each and/or filter your contacts based on interest.
Ok, that’s it. Now go forth and be social!