Given that I am sitting here writing post number 15 for The Engagement Series, you might have a few assumptions about how I manage my Social Media presence. There are a few givens. For example, there are millions of people on Facebook and Twitter and in the blogosphere, and even the squishiest of the squishy can’t engage and be friends with everyone. Second of all, as we discussed a couple of days ago, one must always be ready for the growth potential of an online community. It may even be likely that I actually believe that engaging with people online is pretty important.
So, with all of that mushed together, you probably would go to Vegas and bet on the fact that I have lots of Twitter lists and Facebook filters that help me keep everyone organized. As the subject of this post might preview, you would lose that bet in a landslide.
My case, by way of a story from long ago, but from this same galaxy
Once upon a time, a bunch of my friends were spatting with each other. This was actually a pretty common state of affairs, but that’s a different story. Anyway, one day I decided I was going to throw a party, and it just so happened that I wanted to invite a bunch of these feuding friends over. I figured their friendship with me was far more important than their feuds with each other (oh the glory of being a 20-something). So, I sent out an email. The next day, I got an angry email back. “I can’t believe you put my name right after so and so’s name. Don’t you know I hate them!?”
This event made me aware that people are highly cognizant of how you categorize them. Now, that was just an email, and one might argue that that particular friend may have been a bit high-strung (I’m certainly not going to say that). However, when it comes to things like Twitter lists and Facebook filters, this is the kind of reaction that I keep front of mind.
Just in case you think I’m making this up, I will tell you that I have created two lists during my year on Twitter. Just two. And out of those two, I got a reaction from a person who said, “Oh man, so I’m not on that list, huh? What’d I do wrong?” For me, and for the kind of engagement I prefer, it seems easier to just innocently ignore rather than create lists where people will always feel left out.
The Three Big Monsters
OK, still not convinced. Fair enough. There are three big monsters that come up and growl at me when I think about lists and filters. Here they are.
1. That whole “public”/”people talking” thing: OK, so we’re talking about engaging on social networking sites, so there are two things that you can take for granted. One, there are probably tons and tons of people you don’t know who can see what lists you’ve created on Twitter. Two, people tend to be eager to point out situations where they “belong” and someone else doesn’t. What does that mean?
– If you create a Twitter list called “My best buds” and someone who thought they were your best bud doesn’t appear on there, you’re likely to hear about it
– If you send information or an invite just to certain people on Facebook, it is almost certain that someone will mention it to a person who was not included in your filter. That person will either simmer and wait for a chance to “get you back,” or they will invoke the really comfortable conversation that starts, “So, I hear you’re…”
2. You will ALWAYS miss someone, without fail: In my case, the person I left off my list was actually someone I fully intended to include. But as sure as the weather is going to be completely unpredictable in Northeast Ohio tomorrow (and that’s a pretty good bet) you will sit down to make a list and you will forget someone. They will pop up and tweet at you just as soon as you finish your list, too, and you will be filled with pangs of guilt. Seriously! These things happen!
3. Once you start a list or a filter or a special group, you have to maintain it: Part of my issue with lists is that unless you use automated lists, you have to keep up with who you’re adding every time you meet someone new. For me, this just got to be too tedious. The idea of constantly going through and adding to a list, or maybe creating sub-lists once that list got too big, just did not seem like the best way I could spend my time.
So how do I keep up with people?
Just because I don’t shrink my online world with lists and filters, don’t think I don’t have some sort of method to my madness. Here are some of the ways that I make sure I keep up with people I like.
1. On Twitter, I live on my replies page. It’s the first place I go when I sign in. People who are talking to me are priority 1. This is a bit harder to do on Facebook, but the general principle still works. In the blogosphere, I prioritize getting to as many comments as I can first.
2. I actually send out shout-outs to people I haven’t talked to in awhile. Yep, I go to them. Because I like them and I want to talk to them.
3. I visit peoples’ profiles or Facebook pages and see what they’re up to, because I can’t count on my Facebook or Twitter stream to feed me everything (sadly).
4. I jump into chats where I see a lot of familiar faces and talk to people that way, too.
Remember, too, that you met the people you want to keep in touch with because you saw them pop by in your Twitter stream or your Facebook stream. If you keep yourself fenced off in list or filter land, your chances of meeting new people drop significantly. When it comes to engagement, that’s a major problem.
So what do you think? Am I dead-wrong? Or do you do things kind of like I do? What are the pros and cons?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This is post 15 in The Engagement Series. If you want to make sure you don’t miss a post, hey, that’s what that subscribe button is for!
1st Image by Jason Morrison. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/creationc
2nd Image by Jean Scheijen. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/vierdrie