Who are you connecting with on social media sites? Who’s connecting with you? More importantly, why are you connected, and how are you using your presence in social media to advance your career, business, financial and lifestyle objectives? These are the questions we had in mind when we created this new BlackEnterprise.com feature, Social Media Connection. Lots of magazines, web sites, bloggers, etc. share all kinds of lists of who’s who on Twitter and other social media sites. Our goal with Social Media Connection is to go a little deeper. Each week, we’ll profile an entrepreneur, business expert, celebrity or other key influencer in a unique way: breaking down their presence on social media site by site—focusing on their favorites—and getting their insights on how they use that presence to achieve their business goals. Our objective is to give you insights and ideas from the most successful entrepreneurs, professionals and experts engaged in social media, insights you can use to achieve your own goals. To introduce this new feature, which will appear every Thursday, I’ve volunteered, as the editor-in-chief of BlackEnterprise.com, to be the guinea pig.
By far, my favorite social media site is Twitter. (Follow me at www.Twitter.com/AlfredEdmondJr.) I especially love tweeting from my phone. I use Twitter to find story ideas, expert sources and subjects for stories for BlackEnterprise.com, Black Enterprise magazine, and even our television shows, Our World with Black Enterprise and the Black Enterprise Business Report. I also use it to communicate with the speakers and attendees I connect with each year at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference. I’ve learned to feed content from BlackEnterprise.com directly to my profile on Twitter, using the capabilities of other social media sites such as Networked Blogs and StumbleUpon‘s Su.Pr. It’s also cool to see our tweets picked up by other sites, such as MuckRack, which shares the tweets of journalists on Twitter. But what I love best about Twitter is the ability to get insights from and about the audience Black Enterprise exists to serve in real time—and have a ball while doing it. I’m not addicted to Twitter. I can quit any time I want to. (I just don’t want to.)
I got turned on to Facebook by my second oldest daughter, who quit MySpace to join Facebook concurrent with graduating from high school and starting college. I use it in much the same way I use Twitter, sharing BlackEnterprise.com content and networking for business and for fun. It was through Facebook that I learned of Networked Blogs; now more than 10,000 people and counting follow BlackEnterprise.com via the Networked Blogs Facebook app. Facebook often drives you crazy with the changes they make that effect your privacy and control of content you put on your profile. I always tell entrepreneurs and professionals new to and wary of social media to start out with Twitter, because it doesn’t require you to reveal nearly as much about yourself as Facebook is designed to make you do, even if you don’t want to. Here’s the link to my Facebook Friends Page, but don’t be offended if I can’t accept your friend request; there’s a 5,000 friend limit, and when you get close, your only option is to delete some friends to make room for new ones.
To get around the friend limit on my Facebook page, I started a Facebook Fan page. I’m still not comfortable with the idea of having “fans,” but it’s another way for me to connect with people, and fan pages have analytical tools and capabilities that don’t come with friend pages. Fan pages are great for when you want to network with others around a common interest or theme. For example, check out Black Enterprise on Facebook.
MySpace is the first social media site where I established a profile for professional reasons, as an editor at Black Enterprise, as opposed to the social networking activities I pursued as a personal pursuit. At around the same time I created my MySpace page, Black Enterprise also became active on the site, and still maintains a presence. However, once I became active on Twitter and Facebook, my activity on MySpace dropped, and was almost zero for most of 2008 and 2009. I’ve become more active over the past year, thanks to capabilities they’ve added (in obvious response to Twitter and Facebook), but it still falls at a distant third in priority when it comes to meeting my business objectives as an editor at Black Enterprise. However, I will never leave my MySpace friends hanging.
LinkedIn is another social media site that I’ve become far more active on thanks to a growing variety of new apps and capabilities. Once, my public LinkedIn profile was just a tricked-out online resume to me—not that useful given the fact that I’ve had the same employer for more than 20 years. Now, it is a truly useful networking tool, allowing me to do everything from feed posts from BlackEnterprise.com to my profile page to staying in closer contact with great sources of expertise for our web site and magazine. Unlike with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, where I do my best to connect with as many “friends” as possible, I am strict about limiting my LinkedIn connections to people I actually know off-line—colleagues, professional acquaintances, friends and associates that I’ve connected with in the real world, not just via social media. LinkedIn is the social media site that I most want to take better advantage of, but so far, have failed to find time to do so.
I also have a number of profiles on Ning-based social media platforms, although I have to admit, I’ve not found a reason to be very active on any of them thus far. The best of these, at least in terms networking to meet professional objectives is my profile on FolioMedia Pro, Folio: Magazine‘s social and professional networking site for executives, managers and entrepreneurs in the magazine and ePublishing industries. As with LinkedIn, I want to make more of the resources and network of people on this site, but haven’t found the time to do so.
I had to include my profile at BlackPlanet.com in this post, if only for reasons of nostalgia. It was at BlackPlanet that I first became active with social media, way back in 1999—more than a decade ago! (Were we even calling it social media yet?) I check my profile about once a month or so, but despite changes in ownership and efforts to keep up with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, BlackPlanet just doesn’t cut it any more. However, it’s just like my beloved home town of Long Branch, N.J.—I’ll probably never live there again, but I can’t totally give up on it, can’t bring myself to delete my profile, and will always cherish the memories. (I had a ball in the old 30-something and 40-something chat rooms!)
More info to help you use social media to achieve your business goals: