Summary: Twitter is relaxed, fun and free. LinkedIn is serious, professional and strictly business. This is the way many perceive these two - should you pay attention?
There might not be the right way to use different social networking sites, but I think there is smart way to use them - using different sites for different purposes. This way you don't have to bore your family with the your everyday work-stuff and your business contacts don't need to be reminded how tasty burger you had for lunch when visiting relatives over the weekend.
Don't use all the social networking sites the same way
Chris Brogan made a post, wondering what LinkedIn was thinking when they linked into Twitter, taking people's tweets and posting them on LinkedIn. Chris made a good point that Twitter is a service where anything goes. "It's the scratch pad, watercooler, the phone" - as Chris said it.
But LinkedIn is not like that. LinkedIn is more "serious". For me, LinkedIn is a way to connect with business contacts, job contacts, etc. I don't want to go "WooHoo, boobs!" there EVER. (I probably don't want to do that in Twitter either, at least very often, but at least the CEOs of the companies I work with don't see it when they check my recommendations).
I left a comment on Chris' post, explaining shortly how I use the different social media sites, connecting them selectively together. I have partly covered this before in my post showing how to connect different social media profiles together, but on that post I didn't really explain how I use the different social networking sites, which I think is the smart way of using these services.
Different social networking site, different use
With so many different social media sites, it is easy to get overwhelmed and lose touch on how to use the sites effectively...
First, you should be where the people you want to connect with are too - Often that means focusing on the biggest social networking sites, using them in a way others are using the site - and to an extent, the way others expect you to use the system too.
This is probably what got Chris writing about LinkedIn and their Twitter integration, suggesting people to stop importing your Twitter feed into LinkedIn indiscriminately. For people using Twitter very differently than LinkedIn, connecting Twitter to LinkedIn is not a good idea, if you're using LinkedIn like most people are - for more "serious" business.
The same goes for Facebook, MySpace and any other social networking site you're using. You use them the way you like, but you should consider the people you are there for too... depending on how are they using the service and why you are connecting there.
Three social networking sites, four different purposes
For me, there are three main social networking sites I use. And I use them in very different way. The main services I use are
Twitter is my main channel of communicating. There I share things I do, links and info I found interesting and think others will like too. On Twitter I can discuss with people and connect with people I otherwise couldn't.
On Twitter, I follow everyone and connect with wide variety of people, because I think that's what Twitter was made for. For me, Twitter is the service where "anything goes".
- links I like
- about things I do
- what I'm thinking
- new blog posts
- photos, videos, etc...
I use Twitter...
- to connect with people
- to promote others
- to engage in quick and easy discussions
Twitter is the fastest way to connect to me.
I post things on Twitter that I wouldn't post to LinkedIn. LinkedIn I use for business and work related things. I connect with people who I've done business with. This makes LinkedIn very different environment for me. I don't post all the links and articles I like there, only the ones that are related the "business and work side" of me.
Also, LinkedIn was not built to get 50 updates a day from you. It just doesn't make sense for me to flood everything I do in there. This keeps the focus on what I like people there to see. And in case someone is interested, I have the links to my other profiles there.
On Facebook, I use personal profile and Facebook page to separate my "private" life from everything else. If you've read my Posterous post about personal Facebook fan page, you know that I have saved Facebook personal profile only for my family and close friends.
I don't accept friend requests from people I don't know and haven't met at some point. For that purpose and to connect with everyone who wants to connect with me, I created my personal Facebook page (check my connect page for the Facebook widget, I moved there to unclutter my sidebar).
There are people who are using Facebook very differently, and they have rendered their personal profile unusable by "becoming friends" with thousands of people. There are people who "connect" with everyone in LinkedIn, not just the ones they have done business with.
I'm not saying it's wrong to use these services like that, but I know that for me, all the services are usable, beneficial and fun - for different reasons. Thus, I can recommend using the different social networkings sites, well, differently and for different aspects of your life.
I use different social networking sites for different purposes.
- Twitter for everything,
- LinkedIn for business,
- Facebook personal profile page to connect with friends and family, and
- Facebook page for blog (business) related things
By using the three services in four different ways, I am able to connect with people from at least 4 different aspects of my life and keep them somewhat separated. Also, I don't get distracted by personal stuff when I'm in the "work mood" and I don't get dragged into doing work when the only thing I want to do is check what my family's been doing lately.
What about you? Are you using the different sites for different purposes?