Social network fatigue
By Nick Pearce, Teaching Fellow at the Foundation Centre, Durham University.
There is little doubt that social networks can be useful for sharing information, gossip and online resources. Despite the dominance of Facebook there are a range of alternatives out there, each with a unique selling point and target market. In January I carried out an audit of my social network presence and counted seven different networks, and since then I’ve added a Pinterest account which I’m using in my teaching. Is it really necessary to have so many different profiles? What are the challenges in keeping up with them all?
Each of my profiles connects to different sets of people (although there is some overlap). Whilst my Facebook friends are starting to migrate over to Twitter, they are probably not all that interested in my quite geeky tweets. My mainly professional and academic network on Twitter isn’t going to be all that interested in my various weddings, stag parties and birthdays. I’m still wondering why I am on LinkedIn and Google+, and my Academia.edu profile is only useful because it tells me when people Google my name and click through to my academia.edu profile (and tells me the search terms used!). It is also a way of disseminating my papers, although I’ve not yet built up a particularly large network.
A network is only as useful as the people in it, so my academia.edu and LinkedIn profiles aren’t really fulfilling any useful networking function for me. I should probably just close them, but it takes so little effort to maintain these profiles that I may as well keep them functioning for now. I use mail rules pretty extensively to move all the different update emails from my main inbox and this helps a lot with the influx of emails that so many profiles generate.
At the moment the profiles I check daily are Twitter and Facebook but who is to say which networks will be dominant in the future? Google + is still a sleeping giant in my opinion and there are, no doubt, new networks being developed that could blow away the current competition.
I don’t think it’s necessary to have a profile on every social media network. I’m interested in social networks, I write about them, get funding to look into them, and use them to help recruit students, so I’m bound to be connected to loads. For anybody facing social network fatigue I would say that you should focus on going where your peers are, work at building up a useful network and be open to change. Each social network exists simply to facilitate communication between peers and the public - ultimately this is what academics have been doing for centuries.
Posted by Simon Hettrick on Monday 15 October 2012.