Friday, July 25, 2008

Managing social media and multiple personalities

Problogger's 'social media love-in' has me thinking once again about what exactly I'm doing with all this social media stuff. I have a Twitter account, and I'm on, StumbleUpon and Facebook but I'm not very active on any of them. This is partly because I don't know very many other people who are actively using any of these sites, other than a couple who use Facebook a lot (among my friends, I'm definitely an early adopter). I also worry about what a huge time suck it could become if I actually started spending time finding new people to interact with. But mostly, I think it's that I'm simply not sure how to use these sites effectively to engage with people. That is, I just don't really get it - how does sharing my bookmarks or 160-character blurbs lead to real connection? In contrast, one of the things I love about blogging is that I feel like I can have conversations with people.

Still, I went ahead and added my info to Problogger's love-in*, figuring that maybe if I got to know more people who are on these sites, I could figure out what the appeal is and how to use social media more effectively. At the very least, I figured maybe I could get people to visit my blogs, which I feed through Twitter. But that raised a separate issue for me that I've been struggling with: how to manage my different 'identities'. I have two blogs, this one (obviously) and another that is closely related to my job as an economics professor, where I blog about teaching and economics. When I comment on other peoples' blogs, I usually identify myself with whichever blog fits the context. There isn't much overlap in the audiences for the two blogs and I actually have them set up under two different usernames, because I don't necessarily want my students to be reading my personal blog (I don't think it's a huge issue if they find it, I just don't really want to make it particularly obvious or easy for them).

But on my social media accounts, everything is jumbled together. My Twitter followers see my feeds from both blogs, my Facebook profile (which is the one account where I actually connect with my 'real world' friends) has a bunch of stuff that I don't necessarily want random other people seeing, and my Del.ici.ous account has all my bookmarks. Maybe it isn't that big an issue because people will use tags to find what they want and/or just skip over all the stuff that they find irrevelant. But does anyone else try to keep various aspects of their lives separate, even if those different aspects are all out in the Web somewhere? Any advice for a social media newbie?

* by the way, I don't make money off my blogging, I just really like reading Problogger for ideas about being a better blogger in general.


thePuck said...

Nice post! It really approaches the concerns related to social media as a business strategy.
I have found it helps to devise a marketing plan for your social media marketing and then implement it the same as any other business practice. This is what I (and many other people who utilize social media marketing and networking)do. I don't want to spam you so I won't post the link, but I wrote a post on my blog thePuckWrites recently on how to streamline the social media process. If you are interested you can easily do a search.

Jenn said...

Thanks Puck - your post (at is really useful, though I'm still a bit overwhelmed by it all. I think I'm going to get more comfortable with Twitter and maybe Stumble before branching out more. It's amazing how addicting it is!

Ryan said...

I added a ton of connections to my Twitter, Plurk and Digg through the Love-In and it's been a blast getting to know so many people. Bloggers are the best if you are thirsting for comments/interaction, because they know what it's like!

I don't even have the issue of being a teacher and still am maintaining some boundaries: Twitter/Plurk/Digg are for my blogging & networking; LinkedIn is for career networking & resume; MySpace & Facebook are for more intimate friends & family.