I am not a very social guy in real life. Regular readers can tell this through some of my posts. I don't like malls. I choose the booth at restaurants because those tables in the center make me feel like I'm on stage. And I don't make small talk unless I have to. In fact, I don't talk that much at all except when I've been drinking.
But the Internet is different. There is a large variety of people here. People that I would talk to if I met them face to face. People whose interests and goals are the same as mine. Our city recently turned down the option for internet classrooms because they didn't feel enough people were connected to the internet here. And from looking around, I would have to say the city was right. This is the land of mullets, pick ups, and 80's music. So the internet is also a refuge for my sanity.
At first, I thought the mess of social networks out there was impossible to navigate. Do I go with Stumbleupon, Digg and Reddit? Do I choose the top ten? And how do I remember all of these places?
My first social network was Stumbleupon. I somehow made it to the top stumblers list without even trying. This was before the days they put nofollow tags on everything and before they were written about in print magazines. I didn't do the forums much. All I really did was stumble and PM. I unleashed my bookmark file. Eventually I met my wife through SU and then I stopped visiting there so much. I had other things to do.
But I have recently got back into the social aspect of the internet. And I discovered you don't have to pick the big networks. Just start with two or three that suit you. I have signed up for so many. In fact, I try to log in at every one I find. Chances are I signed up in the past and totally forgot about it.
I am really active at MyBlogLog and am betting that Cre8buzz is going to be a hit. You don't have to be MySpace any more. New networks are starting up daily and there seems to be enough people to go around. I see it as the Walmart effect. Walmart can come in and take a big part of the market, but some people have distinct tastes that Walmart just doesn't cater to. My kids have taste. They don't like the taste of the lead paint on Chinese made toys. So for toys, we go elsewhere.
I had to get my Walmart dig in, but the truth is, as a company takes a bigger market share, the more generic they have to become. They start appealing to lower common denominators. Less and less niche products are put on the shelve. Make way for the niche stores.
I think there are parallels online. I have stopped worried about being a top guy at a top site. I just want to contribute at whatever sites I happen to be in. And you know what, I get more out of it. If I get hits from SU or Digg, I never get comments. I get my site slowing down for a few hours. I get numbers that look good at Alexa but that's about all. After all, am I out to fake things here but be real.
So hey, my few little networks I will focus on for now and as more time becomes available I will branch out.
I like finding people I know mixed in the various networks. It helps when they use the same avatar everywhere. I friend them or join their groups when I see them. And this is what I mean by synergy. This whole long post to get to the point. Leverage the use of your social networks by using the same avatar and by hunting down people you know from other networks. It works. And spend enough time in each to actually do something. If you don't have enough time, drop a network or two. And just go with what seems natural.
Let the big guys tackle the big networks. I am here to be real, not generic.