Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Social Networking for Novices

Somewhere on one of my earlier marketing plans, I had a goal (or a strategy or a tactic — can’t remember which) of getting my name out there in cyberspace through social networking. I had help with the marketing plan but absolutely no clue what I was getting into with social networking. “Well, you know,” my marketing guru explained. "It’s sites like FaceBook and MySpace and Yahoo 360.” I really didn’t know, but I think I nodded anyway.

So, off I went to all these strange sites, where I filled out forms and invented passwords and created long, detailed, personal profiles. One the early ones I found was Gather, which was fun. I met a lot of nice people and posted book reviews and photos. I loved Gather until the powers that be changed it completely. I never figured out why they would take something that worked and break it; maybe it was part of their business plan.

MySpace was still pretty much for kids, so I skipped it. I did sign up for FaceBook, but never really got the hang of writing on people’s walls. On Yahoo 360, I started a blog, which is now languishing, since I have “The Writing Life” on my own website. Someone invited me to join LinkedIn, which I have found to be one of the best sites for making professional contacts. And. lately, I have learned to Twitter.

For my generation, I would have to say, Twittering is as strange and mysterious as text messaging in undecipherable code. It has its own version of Twitter terminology, which I printed out, and LOL (laughed out loud), it was so goofy.

Try translating this:
UR Tweet wos GR8, but I wld rather do V2V w/ U. RU up 4 that? If so, I’ll ttyl. FYI, 2nite is good 4me. TIA, BL

For the uninitiated, it means:
Your tweet (short, 140 character instant message or mini-blog post) was great, but I would rather do voice-to-voice (talk on the phone) with you. Are you up for that? If so, I’ll talk to you later. For your information, tonight is good for me. Thanks in advance, Bobbi Linkemer

People “follow” me, and I follow them on Twitter. It gets a little overwhelming, especially when I can’t remember exactly who they are or why I started following them in the first place. Their little messages — some of which are stream-of-consciousness accounts of every move they make — pop up on my TwitterDeck (downloads the tweets into different categories), always with links to someone else’s Twitter page/site/whatever.

In addition to just plain Twitter, there are TwitterPacks (a Wiki that lists Twitter members by category, geography, etc.); TwitterFeed.com (connects my blogs to Twitter and tweets them automatically); Twellow.com (where you find people to follow); myvidoop.com (where I signed up for TwitterFeed); TwitterBuzz (quick tips for business tweets); Tweeple (people who tweet, or is it twitter, from LinkedIn); and tinyurl.com (which I haven’t figured out yet).

I know I could easily make social networking (especially Twittering) my life’s work if I don’t get a handle on it immediately. I know that because it would appear that others are making it theirs. I can picture them, staring bleary-eyed into their computers, cell phones, Blackberries, and other tiny screens, texting, twittering, e-mailing, and slowly going blind and bonkers. It’s not a pretty picture.