how do you do social?

Ever wondered how much overlap there is between your social networks or contact groups?

I always find it amazing that when I hit the “find people to follow or find your friends on X” button and add my email address such a relatively small number of users comes up.  Yet with fairly healthy numbers on each of the services I use, why is there so little overlap between the services?

Having received lots of “follows” on Twitter recently from friends on other networks, I started to examine how and why I use each service.

Here’s what I discovered (apart from the fact I need to pay a babysitter and get out more often and have a MASSIVE sort out to get all my contacts in one place at some point, perhaps when my daughter leaves home):

  1. I am currently active in several email or social network apps/services (such as FriendFeed, Delicious, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail, Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Huddle, wordpress, Yammer, Photobucket, Google Reader, Technorati, Slideshare, MS outlook)
  2. Email aside, I began using many of these services in 2004/2005 – the oldest are MS Outlook, Photobucket and GMAIL and the newest is FriendFeed.
  3. When I compare the friends I have on each service, only approx. 15-20% are shared across social networks, the remainder is distinct to an individual network.
  4. Only approx. 40% of my social network friends are represented in my email contacts.
  5. The exception is FriendFeed that has no distinct friends – all are shared with other networks.
  6. Facebook has the highest amount of family and close personal friends.
  7. LinkedIn has the highest percentage of colleagues and ex-colleagues and the highest percentage of overlap with my email contact book.
  8. Twitter has the highest percentage of people I have never met IRL but feeds into the largest number of other apps (blog, email, IM, delicious for example)
  9. The order in which I tend to use to strike up meetings IRL are Facebook/Facebook messaging or Twitter/Twitter DM->Email ->IM-> RL -> Phone
  10. I use Twitter DM almost as often as email/phone to set up / confirm RL meetings nowadays (work related, not personal).
  11. Connecting with people you don’t know varies in both etiquette and ease.  The easiest network to contact or connect with people on are Twitter, FriendFeed and blog networks.  I find LinkedIn slightly less easy in terms of approaching people you don’t already know.  For me the big no-no is Facebook in terms of approaching strangers you’d like to contact – I feel it is a personal network and I don’t accept invites there from people I don’t know and wouldn’t expect others to either.
  12. With IM,email and mobile numbers, my rule of thumb is if you put them on your blog, it is fine to use them…providing it is relevant.
  13. Very few of mky closest friends and family are on Twitter but the majority are on Facebook
  14. In terms of the monetary value/benefits outside of the community and conversation loveliness of these services:-
  • I’ve found work via LinkedIn
  • I’ve saved recruitment costs by using LinkedIn and twitter
  • I’ve been approached for new business leads via Twitter
  • I’ve had press coverage because of the blog
  • As a remote worker, Huddle saves me money on conference /long distance calls as does IM
  • Email is by far the biggest time (and therefore money) drain

How do you do social?


  1. Pingback: how do you do social?
  2. Peter Hay · March 23, 2009

    In terms of the assessments you ran you can only really comment on the direct relationship between social media and result whereas things like Twitter might have indirectly allowed for relationships to develop which have had other sorts of impact. (eg. Following journo = press coverage, simple to map. Individual following you who retweets your tweet and is followed by journo = press coverage, more complicated to map.)

    What I think I have learned from social media is that the surface testing which can be done, with time and hard work, gives us a great idea of what effect the digital world can have and how far it can reach. But what about what lies below the surface, those further reaching analytics which are harder to test? How far can a tweet really go and what is the reach potential for the continuous linking of our networks? (Considering the various overlap as well.)

    I think it’s about harnessing this potential to reach people but learning to understand how to target it.

  3. Ged Carroll · March 23, 2009

    – I have a slew of home email accounts which I use for different purposes and all go into
    – I use Adium as my IM client and have about six different IM services aggregated inside it. Each service is to my social network what a layer of soil would be to an archeologist
    – Skype
    – A MySpace account that I’ve abandoned
    – Facebook which I keep alive by pumping content in from elsewhere rather than interacting through Facebook itself
    – Hi5
    – Friendster
    – Bebo
    – Flickr
    – My own hosted WordPress blog
    – Twitter
    – Plurk
    – delicious
    – Jaiku
    – Friendfeed

    I use to update a lot of them

  4. Ged Carroll · March 23, 2009

    I use LinkedIn and Plaxo Pulse to keep my contacts up to date and its handy for business stuff.

    Upcoming & Meetup for geekier real-world stuff

    Apple Knowledgebase forums to geek out of trouble

  5. Ged Carroll · March 23, 2009

    Continued: Dopplr, Google Latitude and goodrec for travel

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