I have a lot of issues with social networking.
1) I am basically anti social.
2) I read the book "1984" and HATED it. I thought it was probably one of the best and most important books ever written but hated it because it seemed possible.
3) I saw the movie "Minority Report". Pretty much the same deal as the Orwell book.
4) If I wanted to take over the world I probably wouldn't try to employ the tactics in 1984 or Minority Report via the government - no, I think I would create a cool social networking service and get everyone so addicted to it that they would voluntarily - happily, even - tell me everything I could ever want to know about them.
5) I am a middle aged person with a brain that processes change slowly. Which means that every time a social networking tool - or anything on my computer, for that fact - changes its format, it takes me weeks - nay, maybe even months - to figure the thing out all over again. By which time, it has changed again - possibly more than once - and I am, once more, hopelessly out of the loop.
Which is a fancy way of saying almost none of the social networking tools make any sense to me.
Which is a subtle way of admitting that I am an not all that bright.
But I have had to come to grips with all of the above because, as a freelance artist, musician, and writer I have accepted how necessary social networking is to get the word out about whatever I am doing so that more people who are interested in my work can find it.
And people who are not interested in my work can become interested in it.
And, to be fair, I want to know what other people are doing creatively as well and help them spread the word about what they are doing.
But one problem I see with social media overall is that platforms originally designed just to connect people and facilitate their personal relationships are trying to evolve into marketing tools. And, while I can see the success of these sites on the relationship front, I'm not seeing their value as much in marketing. They don't seem to help you find your audience as much as they help you find other people looking for an audience. I'm still waiting for the social networking equivalent of a publisher or record company.
That said, here are the social media tools I have tried and a little rundown of how well I feel they have worked.
So far I have embraced twitter, google+, stumbleupon and, to a tiny degree, facebook.
Twitter is my favorite place to find news and creative work by other people. I feel as though it is a little like a cross between a newspaper, where I get to read interesting things, and a CB radio, where I can have conversations with multiple people at once. While I am not very adept at using it to share photos or videos, I love how easy it is to use overall. The format is simple and I am meeting cool people I might not meet otherwise.
Also, now that I have tweetdeck, I catch a lot more in the stream while I am working at other things on my computer. And, because the tweets are so short, they let me keep my main focus on my work.
As a tool to drive traffic to my websites twitter is only semi effective. I do not yet have enough followers to get the message to as many people as I would like. But it does have an impact. And, thanks to the practice of retweeting, I see all kinds of things I would not find just through the people I regularly follow and people who don't follow me can still "happen upon" me.
There is a lot I do not understand about stumbleupon when it comes to following other people or interacting with them in any way. But as a tool to drive traffic to my websites it wins over twitter and facebook hands down. Any post that I share via stumbleupon tends to yield 10 to 50 times the page views of the other two.
I'm afraid I really don't like facebook for much of anything. Because of this, I do not have my own facebook page and simply have pages for my sites that are linked to my husband's account.
Beyond all the Orwellian stuff I've mentioned before is the fact that I primarily wish to use social networking to connect to people who are in my life currently and not to folks who are part of my past. But I don't want to be rude to the people from my past by not accepting their friend requests. And I don't want to accept friend requests in name only and then set up my account so that I never have to bother with those people. I feel as though that would be equally rude. So I just don't go there.
Plus, I find most of the actual template of facebook to be bewildering. I just can't seem to get the hang of how the site works. Especially since the powers that be at facebook seem to change something every week.
However, I cannot completely discount facebook as a tool to drive traffic to my sites. It tends to be roughly as effective as twitter for me.
I have only just joined this network and am still feeling my way around it. So far I find many aspects of it to be easier to use than facebook and I really like the idea of the different circles. It was easy to join. And it was easy for me to set up pages for my different sites.
My difficulties have come with finding other people on it. First of all - I can't simply access my twitter followers and transfer them over. Secondly, Not very many people seem to be using it yet. For this reason, I don't think it's going to be very useful as a traffic generator for a while. But I'm hoping to use it to meet some new people who like the things I like and hoping to have a more personal experience with some of my twitter followers than I have on twitter.
I also cannot figure out how to talk to anyone directly without using chat. I do think the facebook and twitter systems are much easier for just sending little messages to people who don't happen to be online at the same time you are. But then it could be that, once again, there is a perfectly good system there and I just am not seeing it because I'm so challenged at this sort of thing.
Another problem with google+ is that it isn't on any of my sharing buttons for my blogs. Which means I have to tweet something first and then use that tweet as a link. Which is time consuming. (I am sure there is a better way to do this but I don't yet know what it is. Feel free to enlighten me in the comments section.)
I mainly joined google+ as an alternative to facebook and thereby have avoided facebook for probably another 6 months. We'll see if it winds up being worth it.
Overall, I'm going to do my best with these tools and hope the benefits out weight the drawbacks.
And perhaps I'll even emerge from my cave a little and be less anti-social.
Which is probably the point.