Social Media: Welcome to Hotel California

by Staff - Original publish date: March 30, 2012

"This Could be Heaven..."

You may enjoy contributing to communities like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, where you can expand your network, share information, and raise your visibility. Or maybe it’s a love-hate thing -- with the ever-increasing options, the need to keep all your profiles up to date, and all the strangers angling to be your "friend." Brings to mind the line from "Hotel California" by the 70s pop band The Eagles: "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." Not to mention: "We are all just prisoners here of our own device." Make that devices!

Patrice-Anne Rutledge, a communication consultant and author of Teach Yourself LinkedIn in 10 Minutes and several other business and technology books, will share her insights about social media trends.

What's Hot & What's Not

Q: What's hot right now in social media?

A: Social media continues to evolve, and what's hot one day could soon become yesterday's news. Currently, social TV, social sharing, Google+, and the Facebook IPO are among the hot areas of interest in social media.

Q: What's cooled off?

A: One thing I've noticed -- and I think this is a good thing -- is a de-emphasis on social media as a numbers game, replaced by a greater emphasis on true engagement and community.

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome

NA: Many of my clients who are searching for jobs say they find it overwhelming to keep track of the features of major social media sites. Do you have advice to help make it simpler?

PR: With so much happening in the world of social media, it's hard for anyone to keep up with all the changes. It really boils down to focusing on what pays off and not getting distracted by all the different options. With so many choices and new social sites popping up every day, you need to avoid the bright shiny object syndrome and focus on the sites that deliver results.

Also, don’t think that you need a presence on each and every site out there.

The More the Merrier?

NA: How well do you think you should know someone before accepting them into your network on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+?

PR: Each of those major social networks is unique, so the answer to this depends on the site and your reason for participating on it. For example, job seekers will probably want to focus on strategic networking within their own industry and geographic location. If your goal is to attract a large, general audience to your website or business, however, connecting with as many people as possible could be more beneficial.

Watch Your Language

NA: Do you think it's a good idea to use the standard invitation language on each of these platforms (e.g., "I'd like to add you to my professional network" on LinkedIn) or should you write a customized invitation when you want to "friend" someone?

PR: Customized requests generate the best response. On LinkedIn, this is particularly important if you're reaching out to someone you don't know. Although some LinkedIn users are open networkers and connect with anyone and everyone, many others focus on networking with people who share some sort of connection. For example, letting someone know that you're a member of the same professional association, work in the same industry, or attended the same university can open more doors than the default request text.

Is Blogging Still Worth It?

NA: Blogs have been popular for close to a decade. Are they still a good way to build a following? Or is the blogosphere so oversaturated that it doesn't make sense?

PR: Blogging is a bit different from traditional social media in that it enables you to better demonstrate your expertise and develop a reputation as a thought leader in your industry. Keep in mind, however, that blogs have become so ubiquitous that it's definitely much harder to develop an audience today than it was even several years ago. Blogging is clearly an investment in time and isn't the right choice for everyone. A good alternative to publishing your own blog is to contribute guest posts to other blogs or websites.

Recommended Reading

We hope you enjoyed this article about social media. As a bonus, the editorial staff has picked out a few books that might help you. Enjoy:

  • Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead
  • Teach Yourself LinkedIn in 10 Minutes
  • Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs
  • Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself
  • The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search