As promised, here are some recommendations for getting started in social media.
You certainly don’t have to take my word for it. You could spend days, literally, letting search engines put you in touch with other bloggers who have written good things on this topic. (See what Zemanta found below for starters.) So begin here, or do your own research. Just do it! And please share your recommendations and links to good primers in the comments here.
Chuck Peters recently pointed to an excellent primer on Twitter, and @bldngnerd, a local Twitterer from North Liberty, recently posted this video how-to for TweetDeck, a good tool for managing and filtering your Twitter stream.
I won’t go into detail with Facebook, which is intuitive to use and great for personal stuff. Sign up, have fun, but don’t be stupid. If you’re friending your boss, don’t join groups like “You look better the more I drink” or throw a Bahama Mama at him/her. There are lots of sophomoric Facebook applications mixed in among the cool stuff, such as Goodreads, so be choosy.
LinkedIn is good for professional connections. LinkedIn will connect with SlideShare (a site for uploading and sharing slide presentations), so you can share/show-off your work on a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn also can be used to request and obtain introductions to professionals you don’t know but would like to. Comfort level with that will vary among individuals. I for one won’t introduce someone I don’t know well to someone I do without the latter’s consent. Some people use it as a digital resume. Recruiters and headhunters have been known to use LinkedIn to find and make initial contact with potential employees.
FriendFeed is one example of an aggregator tool. You follow people you know or who share your interests. FriendFeed will then track your and your friends’ activities on many social networks. If you use iGoogle for your home page, there is a FriendFeed widget that puts these updates in front of you, so you don’t have to work hard to use it. In that widget you can rate and comment on friends’ postings. FriendFeed is not by any means a universally adopted tool, but I like it for its integration with Facebook. It will push my tweets, delicious links and notices of blog postings to my Facebook page, which extends my reach for sharing information.
An excellent aggregator for links is delicious. Find a Web page you want to keep and share? Bookmark it and tag it through delicious. People who subscribe to you on delicious can see your links (FriendFeed also will track your delicious bookmarks), and you have a handy reference tool for links that is searchable by tags that are relevant to you. I really like it for keeping up with what Chuck Peters is reading. :)
If you choose to really get into the social media thing, consider ping.fm, which is a broadcast tool. I don’t use this one, but Chuck does, which might be recommendation enough for some folks. You update once at ping, and it pushes that out to all the social networks you desire.
I suggest Google Reader for aggregating blogs you want to follow. Simply subscribe by copying the blog URL into Google Reader. It will track new posts for you, and you have the option of reading them at Reader or click through to the blog. You can “share” items with friends on Google Reader, and FriendFeed will even note what you’ve shared.
Whew. That’s a lot to start. Don’t be intimidated. It’s doable, and I’m glad to help.
Remember: Share what you know, too. Add your favorites here, and if I get enough, I’ll post a complete list at a later time.
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