The newly announced winner of the Oxford American Dictionary word of 2009 is “unfriend.”
I’ve been thinking about how many of us like to think that we’re highly organized and efficient. When it comes to our social networks there is a lot we can do to make our lives easier, faster, more organized, and more efficient.
I’ve adopted some radical measures to streamline and improve my use of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and my blogs.
1 – Cut the Number of People You Follow/Friend
The temptation when you first start using social networking is to embark on a “following rampage.” You add the sites you read, the bloggers you respect, friends, family, business colleagues, etc. and in return many of the people that follow you also want you reciprocate. This seems like a great idea at first, but you’ll find a tipping point. In my own case, by following close to 2000 people on Twitter alone, social networking has become nothing more than a never-ending deluge of noise. Any useful or informative updates get lost amongst the funny stuff; and even after setting up an aggregator on my desktop I am finding it harder to keep up… and still it’s addicting.
I made the decision to cut back on who I accept/follow/friend – then it was time to “purge.”
Before hitting the unfollow or unfriend option in earnest, I realized it would be a wise idea to set myself some criteria my network:
– Is this person I’m following bringing any real value to me?
– Is this person I’m following tweeting unique information and links?
– Does this person I’m following follow me? And if they do, do they ever communicate with me or retweet what I put out there? (GREAT DECISION MAKER FOR ME)
There are other reasons of your own that you could add, but this is what suited me at the moment.
I realized it would take me many hours to go through everyone using Twitter on its own. Thankfully there are some great tools available to help you. I used Digsby. When you log in to Digsby you automatically get logged into your numerous social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) including your IM’s and emails. At this point you can manage your other sites.
2 – Effectively Manage the Remaining People
Once the purge is complete, the next step is easy. Each application allows you to set up groups, where you can classify the people into distinct groups, such as “friends,” “colleagues,” “business,” etc. In future when you get a new tweet/status update for someone you have allocated to a group it will appear in the appropriate group column. This way you can find and read it with less difficulty. Twitter now also allows you to set up lists as well, so you can group together people in a similar way.
3 – Be Prepared to fall in Love with Social Media All over Again (don’t tell your significant other)
What I’ve described sounds quite drastic. But trust me: if your social networks have become an out of control stream of status updates that you can’t keep up with, it really is your only option: UNFRIEND/UNFOLLOW.
Since I made this choice to cut the number of people I follow down to my comfort level of engagement, I’ve rediscovered my love for social medial.