Social Networking Round Table – Part 3

In the first two parts our Social Networking Round Table discussed:social networking

1) Personal consumption of social media – how to manage the reading/viewing/listening to the flood of blogs, tweets, podcasts, videos produced every day.

2) Social networking for organizations – how organizations should choose social networking tools and use them effectively.

Today in part 3 our round table looks at personal use of social networking tools.  We all have multiple circles of relationships – family, friends, work, church, community organizations, hobbies, personal interest groups and more.  Can we connect with everyone in the same place using the same social networking tool(s)?  If not, which tools are best used for which relationships?

Part 3: Social Networking for Individuals

Our panel for this part of the round table includes

Today we’ve got one big, long question…

Let’s talk about differentiating between professional use of social networking and our personal use.  I’ve seen some pastors and business owners that do all their social networking – blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc – for the networking and engaging people in their business.  Their entire online persona is leader of their business or ministry.   On the other hand, say a person owns a restaurant, is a leader in youth ministry, and loves fixing up classic cars.  Seems to me that they can’t talk with restaurant customers, youth ministry people, and classic car people all in the same place without confusing and annoying people, right?  Facebook only allows a person to have account.  So, do you recommend using different networks for different purposes?  Multiple accounts?  Or what?

Matt: Different social networking tools have different purposes and cultures. And over time these change. A few years ago Facebook was for college students and you have to have an email address at a college just to get access. Now anyone can join.

For a person I would recommend having accounts that are just you being online. Trying to have multiple personas is going to be a turn off to many people who discover them. But, it’s ok to have accounts that are private. Many people who are more public facing figures will keep their Facebook friends to just people they know while they let everyone follow them on twitter.

John: Yes, if that is a part of your strategy.  No if it is not.  It is difficult to manage a number of social networks.  Again I have blogged a number of times to choose between two or three and really from a personal perspective, not sure if you can really do more than three adequately without killing yourself especially if you have a full time job and social networking is not necessarily part of your official job description.  Each tool provides a different feature and functionality set that help form and transform the types of engagement.  So the tools themselves might determine the actual use of the application and the use of engagement.  So yes, if it is part of your strategy and works in terms of what you want to do with it. No, if it divides you and gets you off track in terms of your commitments and stuff like that.

Kem: The notion of community, the desire to associate, affiliate, and belong has always appealed to the human condition. Because we relate to smaller institutions and subsets of society much better than we relate to large and remote entities such as Big Business, Big Media, Big Government and Big organized religion–technology has revolutionized the definition of community.

Virtual communities and spontaneous new social structures are popping up in personal and professional spaces. They have the tendency to make inhibitions melt away. This can be good and bad. But, mostly good. In reality, all of this social media is grounded in authentic, real, personal life. Even if you are reading for a specific professional topic, it’s the human interest aspect of the whole person that is interesting…not polished, big business corporate speak only. The personality behind a site is what attracts followers and loyalty.

For example, I’m following a Dominos Pizza franchise owner in a Chicago suburb (I live 90 miles away—it’s not even my community) because I’m learning about how he adds values to his customers and what he’s interested in when he’s not running the business. In addition, I follow a few well-known authors and business owners who offer insights into their area of expertise but also talk about their family and hobbies. It’s the whole picture that keeps me interested and develops a connection. Sometimes multiple accounts may be necessary, but I’m not a fan of that approach unless there is a good reason (I can’t think of one right now).

Drew: I recently looked into my social media mirror and realized I would do it differently if I started over.  In a post, Developing a Personal Social Media Strategy: Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter…who am I? I confronted the different personas I had and came up with the following plan:  I do not post personal things to my blog.  My blog posts almost exclusively deal with my roles as CEO of Monk and as a church planter/pastor at Kaleo Church.  Twitter is similar but I include occasional personal tweets.  On Facebook it is for personal use.  If I could do this over again I would friend only those that I am close with on Facebook but many of the people who are friends with me are people I do not know or have only met briefly.  I continue to post pictures of my friends & family and update my status with things that I imagine are entirely uninteresting to people who aren’t close to me. If people decide to un-friend me because of that I don’t take it personal. If fact, I wish I had early on used LinkedIn for more of the people I know through work.  I would encourage ministry leaders to evaluate these things early prior because it is difficult to change mid-stream if you gather hundreds or thousands of followers on Twitter or Facebook.

Wrap-Up

Thanks to our round table – Matt, John, Kem, and Drew – for sharing your social networking insight with us.

What points stood out to you?

How are you using various social networking tools to connect with the various relational circles in your life?


Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

6 Responses to “Social Networking Round Table – Part 3”

  1. Just to add my $0.02… My thinking on this is much like Drew’s. I’ve found it helpful to have separate accounts for different purposes or relational circles so I can keep the conversations focused on what people want to discuss.

    I use Facebook strictly for connecting with family and friends. I write about ministry/life stuff on my personal blog (http://www.LiveIntentionally.org), and professional/technology stuff on this blog. I’ve got a personal twitter profile (@PaulSteinbrueck), and OurChurch.Com has its own twitter profile @OurChurchDotCom.

  2. I started with MySpace. I never got more than a dozen friends and the sexy ads were not for me. Then I joined Facebook and I have 300 friends. I have added a page for my business which now has about 65 fans. I had a Twitter account and I started a Twitter account for my business which you folks are following… but to be honest… I cannot figure it out or even know why I should have it or what good it might do for my business. It makes me wonder if this is all just a lot of stuff to take up all my time. I started a forum on my web site for drama lovers to get involved in, but no one came to it and I was being spammed by porn and had to shut it down. I have a blog, but no one seems to come and read it either. So, I am not finding how any of this is going to be good for my business.

  3. I agree with Drew, it’s better to think through the strategy of how your different site will be used. I have two different MySpace because of the concern of keeping personal and professional separate. However with my facebook I knew a little better and decided to keep it for friend and family. I discourage professional contacts on that site. It allows for greater authenticity comfort. Twitter is still a work in progress, but I am beginning to see its possibilities and it looks like a good vehicle for professional use.

  4. Warren, it’s a challenge to get the critical mass necessary to form a real community around a blog or forums. I don’t think we’re really there yet with this blog or our forums (http://forums.ourchurch.com)

    IMO, the most important things you can do to increase participation in your blog is read and comment on other blogs in your field. You can learn a lot about how to do a blog well by reading other successful bloggers, and if you post worthwhile comments people will click over to your blog. If the content is good, those people will read, comment, and subscribe (assuming you have an RSS feed for your blog)

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