What's the best way to use social media effectively?
January 30, 2014 9:16 AM   Subscribe

How can I best use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. to meet and keep in touch with people?

For years now, the phone and email have served me well when it comes to keeping in touch with immediate family and close friends. Recent events in my life have made it clear that it's time to expand my (currently tiny) circle - get to know extended family members more, meet people with similar interests and hobbies (and hopefully, as a result, get more involved in hobbies), meet more people in my field (career networking).

Due to my current circumstances, I can't really do that in my local community. In fact, I'm currently looking for a job across the country. So, there's Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ (and Google Hangouts), Twitter, Metafilter (of course!), Skype, Whatsapp, Goodreads, and so on. Not to mention email.

What's the best strategy for:
(1) keeping in touch with people I know in a meaningful way (especially difficult with family members I don't have a lot in common with)?
(2) finding and getting to know people with similar interests (in terms of career or hobbies)?
(3) doing both of the above without it becoming a full-time job?

Do you know anyone who does these well? How do they strike the right balance between quality (of interactions) and quantity (of the people they interact with)? To be clear, I've been on Facebook/LinkedIn for years and on Twitter/Google+ for a year or so. I just haven't been able to figure out how to use them well. It seems to be a common problem (at least among the people I've talked to), but someone out there must be using social media well.
posted by larkin123 to Human Relations (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's actually really easy once you start using them as connectivity is they key element as it's really tough to use many of those in a bubble. You just have to make sure you participate. I strongly suggest Facebook as a great starting point. Start an account, start adding your friends, and then just start participating. And by participating I mean sharing photos and updates, commenting on their photos, asking them questions, clicking "like", etc. Don't go overboard obviously, see how much other people are doing and then jump in. You might even find it addictive and fun. I never feel like keeping in touch is a full time job using social media, but it also helps if you aren't a passive user. You must be active.

I find that Facebook is an excellent way to keep in touch with people, and 90% of my friends are active users (although many of my friends are becoming less active lately).

Is this something you've never done before?

Another good one to try if your phone can support it is Instagram. That's the BIGGEST form of social media amongst my friends right now. All friend circles vary, but Instagram is a biggie (if your friends and family use it).

A good one for meeting strangers with similar interests is Meetup.com. I haven't personally used it yet, but I have friends that have had great results with it!
posted by christiehawk at 10:35 AM on January 30, 2014

Best answer: Comment on their posts. It's weird but it makes them feel like you've been there with them, even though you haven't.

But don't just start out of nowhere. That's creepy! Instead, the next time you see them, say "oh how was that new puppy? I saw the pictures on facebook. So cute!" that establishes a connection. Then you can comment, "like" things etc.

And I totally use facebook as my third place, and refer to it when I see people in person "yeah I heard you went on vacation, how was it?" this really helps keep in touch.

You can also post stuff to them (using that > arrow thing) that you think they'd like. Stuff about their pets, kids or obvious interests (star trek, sewing, whatever) is a nice way of showing you've thought about them.

Meeting new people - either find your own third space, or go to meetup. The thing with meetup is that you have to CONSISTENTLY go to a group for like 6 months before they become friends. I went to a monthly book club for a year and half and met a lot of good people. But they didn't start to become friends until at least six months in, if not more.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:45 AM on January 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for your responses. I guess I'll focus on Facebook first.

I've never heard the term "third space", but that's exactly what I'm looking for from social media. Especially since online I can find people who are like me, rather than just people who happen to live near me.
posted by larkin123 at 3:42 PM on January 30, 2014

Wait, halt, reverse. Facebook is great for keeping in touch with people you already know, but absolutely terrible for meeting new people without at least interacting slightly in person first. Actually, that is true of all of the sites you listed, the majority of people there will be annoyed if a stranger tries to contact them.

If you want to meet new people, you're better off using more focused forums, blogs, etc. Since you have a hobby already, that should be a lot easier (and if you were specific about your hobby or work interests, I bet people could offer suggestions). But basically, search for "your hobby forum" or "your hobby forum place you're moving to" and look for forums with general chat section. Glance around to see that the forum is actually active, comment in some current thread, and come back tomorrow. Rinse, repeat.
posted by anaelith at 6:10 AM on February 3, 2014

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