Last night, I was playing around with the cool new website, socialmedian, when I came across a post about the dangers of random friending. This story got me to thinking about how I choose my friends on my various social networks. After giving some thought to it, I thought it would make for an interesting blog post, so here it goes.
How do you decide who to friend on social networks? Do you have have different rules for friending for the different social networks? Personally, I have different rules for friending depending on the social network and what the use of the social network is. For example, with only a couple of exceptions, if I friend somebody on a site such as Facebook, which I find to be a more personal social network as that is where I keep much of my contact information and various other things, it is because I personally know you or have had contact with you at some point. This differs greatly from other networks that I am apart of. On Twitter, I would say I am about as picky about the people I follow, but its based on different criteria. When it comes to Twitter, I have two main criteria for me to follow you. First, I will likely only follow you if you tweet about things that I find interesting or helpful. Links to things showing me how I can do better with things such as blogging, podcast or others is probably the best way to have me follow you. Second, you can’t tweet too much. I don’t like it when people tweet excessively (20+ times a day). If you are using your tweets to send great links and information, I usually overlook this, but I don’t want my twitter stream to be flooded by a single person. While I love Twitter, I don’t want to spend all day staying up with my feeds because one or more of my twitter friends insist on Twittering until their fingers fall off. Different yet again, is how I use FriendFeed. If I friend somebody on FriendFeed, it is solely based on the content the produce and share. If I like what you are posting, I will follow you to make my FriendFeed use more valuable. It is kind of the fire hose approach, but I find its the best way to keep from missing out on great content.
One of the great things about social networking is that you can use the networks however you please. It can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family as well as a great promotional tool. However you use your networks, I think the idea still remains that you are judged by the company you keep. When I introduce somebody to a network such as Twitter, I will be showing them my profile and I want them to see that I can get value from Twitter by following people that are intelligent and willing to pass along information that I find helpful or informative in some way. Being able to give myself a valuable experience based upon the people I friend on social networks is great, but it is also a great way to get new people on the service because they can see how such a service can provide value.
For many people, social networks can be about having great conversations. I rarely use my social networks in such a manner, but that is based on some personal preferences that I might discuss at a later time, but it centers around having the option to respond but not feeling obligated to respond to what somebody has to say. For people who use social networks for conversation, friending people largely becomes about who is an interesting person to have a conversation with. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much use for people that can’t hold up their end of the conversation. I’m not looking to have ‘yes men’ as friends (my ego isn’t that big), but I do like to conversate with somebody who has an opinion about something and can support their position intelligently. This is part of how I choose guests for my podcasts as well.
No matter how you choose to use the multitude of social networks, you likely have an opinion as to what makes a good social networking friend and how your choose your social networking friends. How do you choose your social networking friends? Do you take a cautious approach and friend only a few, or do you friend everybody and cut back on the people you don’t think fit well with how you want to use a particular socail network? Tell me how you handle freinding on social networks in the comments!