Last night I went out to dinner and drinks with some lady friends and the subject of Twitter came up. My friend Cory was giving me a hard time because I use it as more of a business tool and she uses it to post things like she just ate breakfast. I try to do a combination of both for those who are following me as a friend and those that are following me as Naughty Secretary Club. My friend Erin chimed in and asked “What is Twitter”? I explained that it is like a mini-blog consisting of 140 characters per post and pulled out my Blackberry and tweeted “Jennifer Perkins is at Trudy’s having Mexican Martinis with the ladies”. I explained that everyone who follows me on Twitter could log in and see that update or you can get alerts on your mobile phone. My sister started making wise cracks about the service being a stalkers paradise and the subject was dropped, but it got me to thinking. There are so many variations on social networking how many can one girl join? I just signed up for a new one called My Craftivity yesterday and found out about Craft Stylish today. So many social networking sites so little time. I thought I would give you a brief run down of the few that I belong to and why I belong to them. If you run a small business social networking sites are very much your friend.
MY SPACE – I remember when I was reluctant to make the move from Friendster to My Space. Now with My Space being the number one referrer to Naughty Secretary Club I am sure glad I did. That’s right, more than any web ad, blog reference, links on other sites according to my statistics more people get to Naughty Secretary Club via My Space than any other way. I repost my blog through My Space, make announcements about sales, leave comments for people with pictures from Naughty Secretary Club and communicate with friends and customers. I keep thinking the novelty of My Space will wear off, but it does not seem to be slowing down. The one pitfall for me is that recently My Space has decided that Naughty Secretary Club is a spam/porn site and has started blocking my links. Every link you click through My Space now goes to an intermediate screen that asks if you are sure you want to leave My Space but when you click a link for Naughty Secretary Club through My Space it totally blocks the site and says “you were almost phished”. Obviously there is nothing wrong with my website and My Space’s computers are just freaking out on the word naughty. That is why sometimes my email gets blocked or sent to spam folders. If I knew then what I know now about choosing a website name things might be different. I have emailed My Space about this and no one writes me back so instead I switched all my links to go to www.jenniferperkins.net which then redirects you to Naughty Secretary Club. I also help manage the My Space accounts for Stitch, Craft Lab and the Austin Craft Mafia.
FACEBOOK – I’m not sure I love Face Book as much as My Space, but I felt the need to join anyway. I log into My Space almost everyday but rarely log into Face Book. When I first joined I had fun changing my little header up and telling people what I was doing, but now I have Twitter for that. I also keep reading negative things in the media about Face Book and their advertising practices. I once read an article in The Austin Chronicle that explained the differences between My Space and Face Book as: “Goody Two-shoes from families that emphasize education and going to college – those tend to prefer Facebook – and the various others who don’t fit the “dominant high school popularity paradigm” (e.g., “Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, ‘burnouts,’ ‘alternative kids,’ ‘art fags,’ punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids”) – those favor MySpace.” I guess that explains why I like My Space better, its more like me. I want to be able to customize my layout with background pictures and music. Facebook just seems more sterile though I do like the fun toys like the trip advisor and that I can put my Twitter feed on my profile.
FLICKR – Some people might say Flickr is not a social networking site, but I would say they are wrong. You collect friends, leave comments for people, join groups – sounds like a social networking site to me. I adore Flickr and love perusing through the pictures of my contacts. Unlike My Space where when people ask to be “my friend” I hit select all I am choosey with Flickr because I just want to see pretty pictures. Sometimes, myself included, people post pictures of things they made and it is more like a business tool and other times they post pictures of their night out with friends (thank God you can set pictures to private if you want), family vacations or their last meal. I belong to several jewelry groups that I upload certain pictures to. My latest favorite is the Mastiff group where I upload pictures of my puppy Ella. Flickr has strict rules about using their service too blatantly for self serving reasons and you are not allowed to have the link to your website on each picture only in your profile information. More than anything I use Flickr to host the pictures for my blog and then I can post a link that says Blogged: and has the link to that particular blog post. If you upload pictures of your craft you can submit them to groups and pools for others to see enjoy and possibly check for your store link in your profile and buy.
TWITTER – I’m new to Twitter, but enjoying it thus far. I have started following some friends, crafters and fashionistas and a few have started following me. Unlike my friend Cory I like to see the links from Craft Magazine about turning a MuuMuu into a top more than I like seeing that so and so is hungry. There is such a thing as too much information. I use Twitter to repost links from my blog, fun things I have found on the internet and the occasional bulletin about being out at a bar. While perusing the internet recently I came across a blog by Moose and Bear where she discusses Social Networking and had a link to an article in the Etsy Storque called Tweeting for Dollars about using Twitter as a business tool.
GOOD READS – As a woman with a book coming out later this summer it made sense for me to sign up for Good Reads. Like all other social networking sites you add friends and leave comments with the difference being you review books. I have found Good Reads to be a great place to post links back to my blog where I have done a book review. For example within Good Reads I added Bead Simple to my list and then in my review I put a link back to the blog post where I wrote about the book. People can read my review and I am also driving traffic to my blog – it’s a two for one special.
Del.icio.us – So far I only have one friend in my network, Karly, but that is fine by me because she has stellar taste. Karly and I are both addicted to trend spotting, wall paper, fashion and more so it works out fine. Del.icio.us is basically a public display of your internet favorites. I have a widget installed in my internet tool bar so that when I am reading an article or on a website I click the little button that says “Tag” and it adds it to my Del.icio.us account. From here I can do things like write an explanation of why I tagged the site and add search tags to the post so that other people on Del.icio.us can find the post. Once the link is added not only Karly but others can follow me on Del.icio.us and see what kinds of links I am saving. Have you noticed the little image at the bottom of each of my blog posts that says “Book Mark”? Click it and it pulls up all kinds of options for sharing that particular post. You can save this very blog post to your Del.icio.us account, Twitter about it, post it to your Face Book or My Space account and about a bazillion other options. Special shout out to Rachel over at Average Jane Crafter for hooking me up with that, I can’t imagine life without it and now I find blogs missing that a bit archaic.
LINKEDIN – LinkedIn is like My Space or Face Book for the working world. This is another website where I don’t just arbitrarily accept friend requests all my friends are professional contacts. If I were looking for a job I would really beef up my LinkedIn account because it is a great way to network and meet people in your industry. You can leave recommendations about people to help build up their references and people do the same for you. It is similar to an online resume. I have noticed a lot of the people on LinkedIn are not your average Social Networking people. I have contacts that are head honchos at Networks, work for huge companies and power players in the crafty world as contacts.
STYLEHIVE – Sometimes I love Stylehive and other times I find their site a bit clunky. Whenever you find a piece of clothing, pair of shoes or amazing bauble you are supposed to add it to your hive. From there people can follow you and see what you have added and they can click on it and add it to their hive. It’s a social networking site built around fashion and shopping which I like and think could be super useful as a business tool. When people have added pieces of jewelry from Naughty Secretary Club to their hives I can definitely feel it in my sales.
MA.GNOLIA – I signed up for Ma.gnolia several months ago after reading an article about it on Etsy where you could join groups with like minded crafters. I have to say it is one of those websites where I was interested for about 1 day and never went back. Does anyone use Ma.gnolia? Do ya dig it?
IQONS – I signed up for IQONS last year as a tool to help promote not only Naughty Secretary Club but Stitch. The site was getting quite a bit of buzz at the time and being hailed as My Space for people in the fashion industry. My interest in the site was fleeting and I found the site to be not all that sophisticated and slow. I must admit I have not logged in for several months, ok maybe more like a year. It had such potential, I just don’t think it caught on.
TECHNORATI – I have a Technorati account but I am not going to lie to you I am a little bit confused as to what it does. I log in and can see where people have mentioned my blog and that some people are more of an “authority” than others, but I’m not sure what I am supposed to do. I’m actually not even sure this is a social networking site. It is one of things where I signed up and thought to myself I will sit down and learn this site at a later date and that later date has never come. Any advice on this one? Is it just like Del.icio.us where you collect links? It seems to have something to do with blogs. I want to learn!
STUMBLEUPON – Apparently at some point I signed up for an account through StumbleUpon but much like Technorati I am not exactly sure what the site does or what I am supposed to do on this site. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
That is a dozen different social networking sites I belong to. No wonder my friends say they never see me, I am too busy playing with my cyber friends. I didn’t even mention things like blogs, yahoo groups, The Switchboards, Craftster – the list goes on and on. When even my mom is quizzing me about Twitter and contemplating starting a blog you know the cyber social networking phenomena is huge. I’d love to hear what social networking sites you belong to and why. Do they help your business or did you join to find old friends? Have I left any out that are worth looking into? What are your faves and why? More importantly be sure to find me and add me as a friend!
*UPDATE* I just read this article by Vanessa over at The Storque about her adventures at Craft Congress and about half way down is a summary of what she learned in the Blog Her workshop about Social Networking. Lot’s of different sites and amazing tips from Debra Roby.