Idealpeople Blog: Social Networking Overload

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Social Networking Overload

Everyone's talking about Social Networking, Web 2.0, Mashups, AJAX, Final Convergence and Commoditization. Is this a real renaissance or are we back to the infamously buzzword-inventing days of the slightly pre-dot-com era?

Social Networking is the latest, greatest on-line trend. The general view is that sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and the rest of them are must haves for communicating, organising your life, keeping in touch, making new friends, and - maybe even - getting hired. If the millions of avid Social Networkers are right, if you're not on there, then you're so utterly uncool and behind with the times, so incapable of adapting to new techniques, and so far out of date that you might as well not be here at all.

However, this general concensus isn't necessarily backed up by expert opinion. Enjoy some quotes:

It's a fad like hotpants and bellbottoms, Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft
"Social media" is a functional advance pimped out as a revolution, Michael Hirschorn, Journalist,
Nobody is as clever as everybody, Alan Moore (Author of "Communities Dominate Brands" - which you can buy here)
Reflects completely and widely the kind of "freedom" in interaction and appearance that today's kids look for, "The Doc"
If used right a great way to be hired but be careful what you share and with whom, Idealpeople

The upsurge in the popularity and use of Social Networks has led to literally hundreds of of new sites being launched. To those who are avid Social Networking users, the general temptation is to sign up, sign up, sign up. After all, the last thing any keen Social Networker wants is to miss out on the early stages of the new major site. Not being signed up and not having the most connections could lead to missed opportunities, couldn't it?

This is called Social Networking Fatigue or Social Networking Overload.

A truly modern phenomenon, Social Networking Fatigue refers to the principal cause: An excess of time spent on networks in purposeful, or casual browsing activity on 'Social Networks'. This erosion of your precious time is worrying.

The principal effects/symptoms include neglecting those you love and the other important people in your real, non-work life, and neglecting time you owe yourself for non-work activities - whatever turns you on. Paranoia about the corporations to whom your details are visible might set in. Information overload in the form of excessive 'request to connect' type invitations can feel overwhelming and lead to classic anxiety symptoms, which is the pre-cursor to stress. Stress just isn't cuddly and fun.

You see, being part of a Social Network isn't as easy as signing up. Whilst you may only need an e-mail address to do so, the effort that goes into being part of a Social Network is huge - the constant barrage of invitations or friend requests, the array of questions and messages....any person without significant time on their hands is going to seriously struggle to be a "proper" part of a Social Network community - particularly if they are trying to manage six or seven discrete "networks".

Social Networking Overload is becoming quite common. We ran some searches to find out how it feels to be a sufferer, and here's some random but genuine quotes: "Yet another Social Networking Invite. Kill Me Now". "I've got it in a way I can't even explain". "948 friends added on Facebook... Two Hours....Can I have my Two Hours back now?" "How many networks can one person join?"

Some say the answer, or 'cure' to all this stress is 'Social Network Aggregation'. Imagine a Dashboard or Browser, where you could manage all your social and business networking activity without having to cross connect. Apparently there are a few apps out there which claim to have this problem wrapped up already.

However, whilst we wait for this to become mainstream, here's our tips on effective Social Networking, followed by our current point-of-view in terms of which are the best tools for getting you noticed by recruiters.

How to prevent information overload with Social Networks

But it's the latest thing....
Avoid 'Leading Edge' syndromes. Don't think that you need to be on every latest and greatest community roll-call of membership just because it's new. Resist the temptation when you get your next "invite" by asking yourself honestly: "Have I got time in my life for another time-sucking social network?"

Due Diligence for Privacy
How much do you really want a corporation, web enterprise, or any other business to know about you, and your personal information, even down to your current employer, job title, location, email id, drinking habits, sexual preferences.... Would you broadcast this information in an auditorium of strangers? Be wary: it's a jungle out there. Don't forget the importance of trust in supposedly trustworthy networks.

Be Picky
Take advice from existing users of networks on what value they have had out of it, and choose the network or networks that work best for you. Try and stick to just one or two, and pay attention to working on building and keeping your valuable connections in one or two places.

The key to avoiding social networking from messing with your life is to count carefully the hours whittled away in endless well of the internet, and especially inside social media. Your social life away from the keyboard should matter more than your social life online.

Which Social Networks will be helpful in my Jobsearch?

MySpace - the original "you must be on there" Social Networking site. To be honest, it's the least of all to be able to help you in your job search, primarily due its focus on your personal life rather than your professional. Your MySpace page is more likely to put them off hiring you.

Facebook - the current "you must be on there" site. Often touted as a tool for recruiters and for getting spotted, and rumours have recently linked it to a partnerhsip with a online jobsite. To be honest, we don't get it. You can't search on anything other than name, all profiles are private until you're's actually of very little use to a recruiter from a candidate-sourcing or headhunting point-of-view.

LinkedIn - the best tool by far for conducting a private, discrete jobsearch and for "getting noticed" by recruiters and employers. Because of it's reliance on a CV-like profile and the fact that it's searching is good (i.e. profiles can be and mostly are public), it works for us as a brilliant recruiting tool.

Ecademy - similar in approach to LinkedIn, and similar audience, although less well-known and a lot less used by recruiters

Viadeo - up-and-coming, and has a unique slant, although at the moment the majority of users are in France. We heard on the grapevine that Viadeo is going for it in a big way in the UK at the moment - but it will take an awful lot to convince recruiters that it's better or equivalent to LinkedIn - particularly given the amount of time some have put into establishing and growing their LinkedIn networks.

Quechup: Do not, under any circumstances, sign up to this. It's a spam engine built on a Social Network. And we're not joking.

No comments: