How To Decide Who To Friend on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter
this is not a picture related to boobs
What follows is my method of deciding who to friend on the three major social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Your method may differ; I get that. It’ll come off a bit pompous; I get that too.
Facebook for me is personal. I friend people on Facebook using the following criteria (at least one of these must be true):
You are a close friend
You are someone I’ve met a number of times (associate) who I would enjoy having numerous, long conversations with (hint: concepts vs. current events)
You are someone I know of and have interacted with only a little, but you’re someone I’d enjoy having numerous, long conversations with
Who’s Not On This List
High school friends who I have nothing in common with
Celebrities of any sort who I have nothing in common with
People I know well but who don’t have anything in common with me (see long conversations)
Anyone who I wouldn’t trust to have a key to my house
Basically, the criteria is trustworthy people, who share interests with me, who I can enjoy long conversations with about things I find interesting. This matters because this is where I post personal stuff, like thinking of changing jobs, thinking of moving, rants about stupid people, religious and political humor, etc. It’s for close people only.
This results in me having around 100 friends, which is trimmed down from over three times that amount. Clean out your list; life is too short to miss important stuff from those you care about because it’s been squelched by those you don’t.
LinkedIn for me is professional. No surprise there. I friend people on LinkedIn based on the following criteria (at least one of these must be true):
I’ve worked with you directly in the past, and the experience was positive
I’ve dealt with you in the past, and the experience was positive
I know your name, and know you’d be a valuable professional contact
Who’s Not On This List
People I’ve worked with, or dealt with, who I didn’t have a positive experience with (could be negative, or even just neutral)
Random people who send me invites
The goal here is to have a list of valuable contacts, not a list of people I’ve met or seen…ever…while in a work environment. That’s not useful to me.
Also, the upside of keeping your list properly groomed like this is that it’s not a problem to post things like Tripit updates because you’re not worried about someone on the list robbing you while you’re away. If you have that problem on LinkedIn then you’re doing it wrong.
Twitter for me is public. It’s a realtime stream of events from the public-facing personas of various entities. Friends, companies, whatever. I have simple criteria for who I follow on Twitter (at least one of these must be true):
You’re a friend
You’re an associate who posts interesting content
You’re a company I enjoy hearing about
You’re a personality I enjoy hearing from
Who’s Not On This List
Boring people (yes, there is a different between entertaining mundane and just mundane)
People who tweet about the fact that they’re tweeting, i.e. they’re so into social media that they aren’t actually using the mediums to talk about life, but rather to talk about talking about it
Twitter is an information source. I follow people in two main groups: 1) those who are close to me (see the Facebook section), and 2) those who contribute input that I find either useful or entertaining.
From Public to Private, But Not the Other Way Around
So let’s summarize here: Facebook is private, LinkedIn is professional, and Twitter is public. Let’s capture that differently by saying you post things to Facebook that you can only tell your friends or family over dinner. You post things to LinkedIn that you wouldn’t mind on a resume, and you post things to Twitter that you wouldn’t mind being brought up…anywhere. Ever.
This illuminates an interesting model for cross-posting, which is the practice of sending content from one social network to another. The general rule I recommend is that you allow content to go from more public to more private, but not the other way around. So I send my Twitter content to Facebook, but I’d never send my Facebook content to Twitter. LinkedIn sits in the middle, so it could receive from Twitter but not from Facebook, while Facebook could pull from both of the others.
Your attention is the most precious of commodities. Adjust your networks accordingly, and don’t be afraid to be exclusive. ::