When I was growing up, my father had a workshop filled with tools of all kinds. He had a table saw, drill press, several power sanders, dozens of wrenches, clamps and other woodworking tools. Each one was kept hanging on a special hook on a pegboard wall.
Everything had its place.
Since beginning this blog, I’ve started used several other social networks and social media tools to communicate with different groups of people in my life. Some channels are for co-workers, some for reporters I work with, some are for Sprint’s customers and yet others are just for my close friends and family.
What I’ve been trying to figure out and keep straight is what tool to use when.
After some thinking, like my dad’s workshop, I’ve decided every tool has its place:
This blog is where I talk about public relations, internal communications and marketing. Recently, I’ve strayed from that and mixed in some posts which are about Sprint and the wireless industry (but not in the context of the PR or marketing in the wireless business.) Going forward, I expect to use my Posterous site for posts like that.
I’m using You Tube to provide video content to both sites. (I love my Flip Cam!)
Plancast is the tool I am using to keep track of interesting tech gatherings and the people who make them interesting. As the audience for Plancast grows, I expect my purpose for it will change.
Foursquare continues to intrigue me. I think once more businesses recognize its potential to create a loyal and local customer base, it will take off. For now, it’s winning out over Gowalla, namely because I use a BlackBerry and Gowalla, inexplicably hasn’t launched a BlackBerry app yet. I use both as a way to learn about new restaurants and bars and other interesting places. Note to Foursquare and Gowalla users: I don’t consider the baggage claim at your local airport an interesting place.
Linked In continues to be the best way for me to keep up with my co-workers and people I once worked with. (A note about Linked In: I only add people to my network who I’ve worked with closely or know well. If you use Linked In differently, please don’t be offended when I opt not to add you to my network.)
And yes, I use Facebook, but really as a way to stay in touch with close friends and family. If you want to treat your Facebook page like Twitter, go for it — but for me, it’s a much more personal tool. (I continue to be surprised to get Facebook friend requests from Twitter people I’ve never met in person.)
One rule I have about Facebook which I recommend: don’t friend anyone from work. Period. Inevitably if you friend that one friend on your team who you know you’ll stay in touch with long after you’re no longer working together, you end up getting friend requests from that guy in accounting you really don’t know or worse, that woman in sales you really don’t like. Rather than risk hurt feelings with people I work with, I don’t friend anyone I work with. When people leave the company or when I change employers, that’s a good time to add them to Facebook.
Another Facebook rule I started during the 2008 elections — don’t use Facebook to engage your friends about politics or religion. I have a friend of 20 years who was vehemently supporting several candidates I disagreed with over some religious issues. When I expressed a different opinion than his, he unfriended me.
(That’s what prompted me to start two other blogs — one on politics and the other on faith. Neither are associated with my name, but they are my places on the web to say what I really think about issues that are uniquely personal for most people.)
Twitter is the thread I use to stitch all of this together. It also continues to be the best source for interesting information that I wouldn’t likely uncover on my own. With the addition of Twitter lists, I’ve been unfollowing people I don’t have regular conversations with and adding them to the various lists I keep. (That’s helping me better manage the Twitter fire hydrant.) For me, the people I follow at any given moment are the people I am having a conversation with — they are not necessarily the folks I like or agree with.
I am sure there are others who use these channels to communicate differently. But that’s the point of all of this, isn’t it? What works for you, won’t necessarily work for me and vice versa.
Speaking of what works, what is working for you?