Social Media Connection Criteria

At the top of my blog, I have links to my Twitter, Facebook (fan page), LinkedIn and Klout – ostensibly so my readers can learn more about me. The truth is that it’s also a semi-veiled exercise in vanity. The more people who choose to connect me with, the more important I am…right?

But a couple of weeks ago, a real-life encounter with a woman I knew through Twitter made me realize that not everyone thinks the same way I do. “Hey – are you @_______?” I asked (I’ll keep her identity anonymous because she’s one of those smart, passionate people who makes her living as a “Social Media Expert”).

“Yes,” she replied, at first struggling to place me. “Oh you must be that guy who keeps Tweeting at me.”

That guy who keeps Tweeting at you? Isn’t that the point of social media…to make virtual connections and convert them into tangible relationships? Why was my extroverted digital identity being greeted by a look and tone that (I can only imagine) are usually saved for stalkers? Isn’t this how we’re supposed to connect in our increasingly digital 21st century world?

After a few chops were busted, the woman and I buried the hatchet and have since started a friendship in the real world (we’re also connected on Facebook, LinkedIn and through reciprocal follows on Twitter).

Another anecdote: in describing the importance of social networking to a colleague who carries an “old school salesman” approach, I told him that LinkedIn is increasingly replacing the “business card culture.” No one likes trading and collecting business cards anymore; people – especially those under 40 – are more likely to connect with a fresh contact on LinkedIn than store a 2 x 3.5 inch piece of paper in something as old-fashioned as a Rolodex.

My colleague was horrified. Not only does he still insist on handing out and collecting business cards, but he explained that he is loath to connect with anyone on LinkedIn with whom he does not have a REAL relationship. Rather than use the social networking tool as a virtual means to collect and manage real life contacts, he filters out his “connections” to include only those people he actually knows…and knows well.

I suppose our two approaches can be broken down to something as simple as the difference between “leads” and “customers,” but since I’m not in sales, the conversation further reinforced that I have a very different idea of what a social network “connection” really means.

For simplicity’s sake, here are my criteria for deciding on who to friend, like, connect with and/or follow:

  • Facebook – have we met in real life? Do we have a social circle with even a modest overlap? If we went to high school together, would I intentionally make eye contact if I saw you on the street today?
  • Twitter – do you have anything interesting to say and/or share?
  • LinkedIn – have we worked together, either for the same employer or on a common project? Have we talked about working together? Did we swap business cards as more than just a courteous formality, but as a means to ensure we could stay in touch?

To me, that’s common sense…but not everyone has to agree. Does anyone else subscribe to specific criteria before determining whom they should friend, follow and/or connect? What are your social media criteria, and how do you get the most out of social networking…without picking up a virtual restraining order?

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2 thoughts on “Social Media Connection Criteria

  1. Pingback: How and Why to Personalize your LinkedIn Invitations | MatthewSm1th

  2. Pingback: The Social Media Chutzpah Hit List | matthewsm1th.com

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