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On Being Socially Media Awkward

I’m socially media awkward. I never really know how to “update my status.” Facebook wants to know, “What’s on your mind?” Twitter asks, “What are you doing?” and LinkedIn questions, “What are you working on now?” My honest answer to all of them is, “I don’t know, but I’m worried someone might find out.”

I’m worried that I’m going to say something that some people might find funny or insightful, but others would find stupid or offensive. So, I tend to say nothing. I lurk. Or worse, I hit “update” on 140 characters of pure nonsense (take for example a recent tweet: “why haven’t any bed manufacturers ever sold sex to sell beds [I mean that figuratively]?” Seriously, did I just tweet that!?!?!)

To help alleviate or validate my anxiety, I set off on a little experiment. I wanted to see how much “social overlap” (i.e., the percent of overlapping contacts) I have between the three social networks I am engaged in the most: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


This admittedly dorky analysis tells me a few different things:

  1. How few overlapping contacts I have between these three networks—suggesting that I keep my relationships somewhat siloed.
  2. How many more people “follow” me (whom I don’t know) on Twitter than I am “friends” with on Facebook. This makes me question whether I am more likeable in 140 characters on Twitter than I am in photo albums, comments, and quizzes on Facebook.
  3. How few of my “friends” on Facebook either are not on Twitter or are not interested enough in my tweets to follow me.

OK, that didn’t help. I’m now more anxious having done this analysis. But I also don’t think I’m in the minority here. And the data seems to back me up. A Harvard Business School study found that 10% of twitters are responsible for 90% of all tweets. And Forrester recently reported that four out of five online Americans participate in some form of social technology—73% as “spectators.”

So all of these people are in the social web, but most are stuck as the fly, rather than nimble like the spider. How do we, the flies of the social web, break out? How will we adapt to survive or worse, stay still, lose interest and fall out (or be overtaken)? What will get us engaged?

Every brand that’s creating a Facebook group or is tweeting from their social media czar should be asking themselves what all this social media hub-bub means to their customers—and not just to the popular ones, but to the socially media awkward ones as well.

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