HAL 9000 “I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.”

As I get closer and closer to my 2001st tweet on Twitter, I wanted to pause for some quiet reflection on my personal odyssey in social media – but then I decided to blog about it instead.

The Dawn of OCDQ

Except for LinkedIn, my epic drama of social media adventure and exploration started with my OCDQ blog.

In my Data Quality Pro article Blogging about Data Quality, I explained why I started this blog and discussed some of my thoughts on blogging. Most importantly, I explained that I am neither a blogging expert nor a social media expert.

But now that I have been blogging and using social media for over six months, I feel more comfortable sharing my thoughts and personal experiences with social media without worrying about sounding like too much of an idiot (no promises, of course).

LinkedIn

My social media odyssey began in 2007 when I created my account on LinkedIn, which I admit, I initially viewed as just an online resume. I put little effort into my profile, only made a few connections, and only joined a few groups.

Last year (motivated by the economic recession), I started using LinkedIn more extensively. I updated my profile with a complete job history, asked my colleagues for recommendations, expanded my network with more connections, and joined more groups. I also used LinkedIn applications (e.g. Reading List by Amazon and Blog Link) to further enhance my profile.

My favorite feature is the LinkedIn Groups, which not only provide an excellent opportunity to connect with other users, but also provide Discussions, News (including support for RSS feeds), and Job Postings.

By no means a comprehensive list, here are some LinkedIn Groups that you may be interested in:

For more information about LinkedIn features and benefits, check out the following posts on the LinkedIn Blog:

Twitter

Shortly after launching my blog in March 2009, I created my Twitter account to help promote my blog content. In blogging, content is king, but marketing is queen. LinkedIn (via group news feeds) is my leading source of blog visitors from social media, but Twitter isn't far behind. 

However, as Michele Goetz of Brain Vibe explained in her blog post Is Twitter an Effective Direct Marketing Tool?, Twitter has a click-through rate equivalent to direct mail. Citing research from Pear Analytics, a “useful” tweet was found to have a shelf life of about one hour with about a 1% click-through rate on links.

In his blog post Is Twitter Killing Blogging?, Ajay Ohri of Decision Stats examined whether Twitter was a complement or a substitute for blogging. I created a Data Quality on Twitter page on my blog in order to illustrate what I have found to be the complementary nature of tweeting and blogging. 

My ten blog posts receiving the most tweets (tracked using the Retweet Button from TweetMeme):

  1. The Nine Circles of Data Quality Hell 13 Tweets
  2. Adventures in Data Profiling (Part 1) 13 Tweets
  3. Fantasy League Data Quality 12 Tweets
  4. Not So Strange Case of Dr. Technology and Mr. Business 12 Tweets 
  5. The Fragility of Knowledge 11 Tweets
  6. The General Theory of Data Quality 9 Tweets
  7. The Very True Fear of False Positives8 Tweets
  8. Data Governance and Data Quality 8 Tweets
  9. Adventures in Data Profiling (Part 3)8 Tweets
  10. Data Quality: The Reality Show? 7 Tweets

Most of my social networking is done using Twitter (with LinkedIn being a close second). I have also found Twitter to be great for doing research, which I complement with RSS subscriptions to blogs.

To connect with other Twitter users interested in data quality:

To search Twitter for data quality content:

If you are new to Twitter, then I would recommend reading the following blog posts:

Facebook

I also created my Facebook account shortly after launching my blog. Although I almost exclusively use social media for professional purposes, I do use Facebook as a way to stay connected with family and friends. 

I created a page for my blog to separate my professional and personal aspects of Facebook without the need to manage multiple accounts. Additionally, this allows you to become a “fan” of my blog without requiring you to also become my “friend.”

A quick note on Facebook games, polls, and trivia: I do not play them. With my obsessive-compulsive personality, I have to ignore them. Therefore, please don't be offended if for example, I have ignored your invitation to play Mafia Wars.

By no means a comprehensive list, here are some Facebook Pages or Groups that you may be interested in:

Additional Social Media Websites

Although LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are my primary social media websites, I also have accounts on three of the most popular social bookmarking websites: Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious.

Social bookmarking can be a great promotional tool that can help blog content go viral. However, niche content is almost impossible to get to go viral. Data quality is not just a niche – if technology blogging was a Matryoshka (a.k.a. Russian nested) doll, then data quality would be the last, innermost doll. 

This doesn't mean that data quality isn't an important subject – it just means that you will not see a blog post about data quality hitting the front pages of mainstream social bookmarking websites anytime soon. Dylan Jones of Data Quality Pro created DQVote, which is a social bookmarking website dedicated to sharing data quality community content.

I also have an account on FriendFeed, which is an aggregator that can consolidate content from other social media websites, blogs or anything providing a RSS feed. My blog posts and my updates from other social media websites (except for Facebook) are automatically aggregated. On Facebook, my personal page displays my FriendFeed content.

Social Media Tools and Services

Social media tools and services that I personally use (listed in no particular order):

  • Flock The Social Web Browser Powered by Mozilla
  • TweetDeck Connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and more
  • Digsby – Digsby = Instant Messaging (IM) + E-mail + Social Networks
  • Ping.fm – Update all of your social networks at once
  • HootSuite – The professional Twitter client
  • Twitterfeed – Feed your blog to Twitter
  • Google FeedBurner – Provide an e-mail subscription to your blog
  • TweetMeme – Add a Retweet Button to your blog
  • Squarespace Blog Platform – The secret behind exceptional websites

Social Media Strategy

As Darren Rowse of ProBlogger explained in his blog post How I use Social Media in My Blogging, Chris Brogan developed a social media strategy using the metaphor of a Home Base with Outposts.

“A home base,” explains Rowse, “is a place online that you own.” For example, your home base could be your blog or your company's website.  “Outposts,” continues Rowse, “are places that you have an online presence out in other parts of the web that you might not own.” For example, your outposts could be your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.

According to Rowse, your Outposts will make your Home Base stronger by providing:

“Relationships, ideas, traffic, resources, partnerships, community and much more.”

Social Karma

An effective social media strategy is essential for both companies and individual professionals.  Using social media can help promote you, your expertise, your company and your products and services.

However, too many companies and individuals have a selfish social media strategy.

You should not use social media exclusively for self-promotion.  You should view social media as Social Karma.

If you can focus on helping others when you use social media, then you will get much more back than just a blog reader, a LinkedIn connection, a Twitter follower, a Facebook friend, or even a potential customer.

Yes, I use social media to promote myself and my blog content. However, more than anything else, I use social media to listen, to learn, and to help others when I can.

Please Share Your Social Media Odyssey

As always, I am interested in hearing from you. What have been your personal experiences with social media?


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