The web is so social. It’s a great place to connect both personally and professionally.
But not everything needs to be shared with everyone. I prefer to shape my interactions so they are relevant to the context of my relationships. Do you?
For example I have a number of friends who don’t really know (or care) what I do professionally and I’m not interested in pitching my services to them. I have a number of professional contacts who don’t really know (or care) what I do in my personal life and I’m not interested in describing for them what I ate for lunch or what I do in my spare time. It doesn’t matter to me if they find out, but I’m not the kind of person who just lets it all hang out online for everyone to see.
If you’d like to separate your personal and professional life, this idea might be useful for you. Create a chart that maps the geography of your social presence, and identifies the borders between what you’re willing to share with everyone and what you’d prefer to share with a select few.
YOUR SOCIAL PRESENCE MAP
Here’s how to create a social presence map. We start with a simple chart (pictured below) that measures two axes: On one axis, the spectrum of your personal and professional life, and on the other axis, the spectrum of shallow and deep interaction.
This is the “geography” that represents who you are and how you connect with people.
The personal and professional spectrum is pretty obvious – it’s who you are at work and at play.
The shallow and deep spectrum is the depth of your interaction within a specific network. If you’re firing off two or three word statuses (“I’m hungry”, “I’m reading a book”) and not really connecting and engaging people then your use of that network is shallow. But if you’re providing rich content, valuable insight, and enjoying ongoing conversations then your use of that network is deep.
You will be plotting the locations of each network within this geography, as if they were countries on a rectangular continent.
STEP 1: ADD SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR MAP
First, you need to figure out how you use your various social networks. List every social network you use, regardless of what you use it for and whether or not you are a power user or a sporadic user. Then add them to the map according to the most accurate location on the two axes.
I’ll use my own life as an example. I have a small handful of social networks I use: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and this blog, AaronHoos.com. So, I will add those to the map, spreading them out according to the two spectrums in the map.
You can see that I’ve placed my social networks at the approximate locations of where they are in the geography of my social interaction.
This exercise can be helpful for you to think about what content you want to post in each network and how you want to interact with the people in each network.
I also find this a helpful way to help me think about how I want to use my social media channels for my sales funnel. For example I note that my usage of Twitter is pretty shallow and somewhere between personal and professional. But if my sales funnel included Twitter as a vital component, I might want to think about deepening my relationships on Twitter and maybe moving my use of that social network slightly more toward the professional side of the chart.
So this social presence map acts as a sort-of analysis of your current position as well as a way to strategize your business’ evolution.
The first step is figuring out where these social networks are in our geography of interaction. We can go a step further…
STEP 2: ADD BORDERS TO YOUR MAP
Next, it’s time to think about how much of your life you want to share with everyone. Some people (myself included) prefer to keep their public life and private life separate. It’s not that I’m unwilling to be myself around my clients, but I also want to cultivate and maintain a professional presence when I’m working and I can relax a bit when I’m not working. If I go out with friends for sushi, I don’t mind sharing that information with my other friends on Facebook, but my clients don’t need to know (and likely don’t care).
So we next add boundaries on the map to show how accessible each network is. Solid lines mean that it’s a private network that requires permission to enter. Dotted lines mean that anyone can enter, view, and participate in that social network.
And you’ll also note the size of the boundaries and the overlap, which help to define the scope of how you use a particular network.
I’ve added boundaries to my social presence map, below:
So, here’s how to read my map: I use Facebook and Foursquare exclusively for my personal network. (In fact, I only use Foursquare because it pushes info to Facebook). They are kept private.
I used LinkedIn for professional relationships and it is open so that anyone can see it. Admittedly (and this is something I’d like to improve), it’s a very shallow network for me right now.
AaronHoos.com is part of my professional social presence, and it’s my deepest network (in terms of audience and subject matter). It’s open for everyone to see.
In the middle is Twitter, which is pretty shallow (although less so than LinkedIn because I do interact with my Twitter network). You’ll also notice that it straddles my personal and professional presences and what I share in Twitter overlaps slightly with what I share in my blog, on LinkedIn, and even a little on Facebook.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Now it’s your turn to create your social presence map. Follow the steps in this blog post to determine what the geography is of your social interactions.
But don’t stop there! Use your social presence map as a strategic tool to help you understand what you want to share with each network and where you want to improve. And if you’re ever unsure about where to post something, look to your social presence map as a guide.
Be sure to revisit your social presence map from time to time to see if it’s changed and if there are strategic purposes to evolving how you use some of your networks.
And while we’re on the subject of social networks, I would love connect with you on Twitter and LinkedIn (invites accepted).