I bet you’ve seen posts on Facebook or other platforms from friends recently who are un-friending, disconnecting, or purging their networks. This is partly because of politics, people are already exhausted and the real campaigning hasn’t even started.
But it’s more than that. Social media is slowly becoming more social. That initial urge to have more “friends” than anyone else is fading as we realize the consequences of connecting for the sake of numbers and perceived influence. The longer you use social networks the more your patience for inane babble and irrelevant or even insulting conversations shrinks. The more you want to focus on the relationships and conversations that matter to you.
But, but, I need the numbers to be an influencer!
No. No you don’t. An influencer has influence, but if nobody is listening or responding to you, your social capital is worthless.
Social capital only works if people are listening
When we connect with everyone we think will be remotely interested in what we have to say we are diluting our social capital, meaning our value to the network we have created. As people thin their networks we are going to see a rise in R EAL influences, where individuals who consistently add value crop up in multiple networks because they are truly influencers.
What brands need to learn about influence
Some brands are still thinking in old-school marketing terms of how many eyeballs they can reach. They have yet to learn a more engaged network has more actual value than a large but amorphous one.
How to start your social media purge
Take a look at some of your social networks and give a little thought to who you want to be connected to. What value do you have for them? What value do they have to you? What are your goals for this network? On Facebook for example, the larger your network the more likely you are to miss information from people you are interested in. They fall off your network and Facebook delivers the people you respond to rather than your preferred connections.
You could just leave your humongous network and set up filters and lists to sort out the people you want to engage with. That’s certainly an option, cleaning up your network can be a lot of work. Robert Scoble uses a combination of lists and unfriending to get better quality engagement.
Connection request filtering
I take this on a platform by platform basis. On Twitter, I do a monthly block of spammy accounts that follow me. It really matters much less who is following you here than who you follow, so I regularly review the Tweets in my stream and unfollow people who I don’t want to be connected to for whatever reason. I never auto follow. That is a recipe for spam. I unfollow almost anyone who auto-direct messages me and so I have a fairly clean message folder. That allows me to respond to people who have authentic reasons to DM.
On Facebook and Linkedin I look at every profile before I connect. Sometimes I’ll connect if they seem OK, and unfriend or block them the second they send me spam or inappropriate invitations. Why? If a friend sees a connection with this person I am virtually vouching for them. For example, if I see a friend request and they are connected to several of my friends my first reflex is they are probably OK. Experience, however, has taught me differently. I’ve gotten requests from people who collect connections in a particular interest area to build their influence but were spammers. If your network trusts you and then connect because you’re connected that violates that trust and reflects on you. Twisted eh?
Have you purged your networks lately? How’d that work out for you?