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Ten tips for happy social networking…

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
14 October 2007

As we will be heading to New York this week for the SMX Social event, I thought I would share my Top 10 tips for having a happy social networking life. There are all sorts of articles in the news at the moment with scare stories of social networking gone wrong, but what sort of things should you be careful of when living your life online?

  1. If you are going for a job interview, make sure you haven’t got an embarassing profile picture. The first thing any self respecting prospective employer will do when they get your CV is put your name in to every social network they can find. So long as you have your profile set to private you should be alright, but remember that your profile image still comes up in search results – so that picture of you mooning on your holiday in Ibiza is probably not the best choice…
  2. Explore the extended features of your social network. For instance, If you use Facebook on your mobile, you will be able to phone any of your friends who have posted their phone number on their profile! Save time and effort remembering numbers with that handy feature.
  3. If you are having a party, don’t publicise it unless it’s an open invite! As this young lad and his father found out, telling the world that you’re having a party is just asking for trouble.
  4. Don’t accept people as friends that you don’t know. We’re always being told that identity theft is rife at the moment, and the amount of information you give on your profile would be a goldmine for some criminals! So don’t just accept any old random person as a friend.
  5. Know the difference between public and private. If you’re happy for everybody to read your conversation with a friend, chat on their profile/wall. Otherwise, save it for a private message.
  6. If you receive a group e-mail, reply to the person who sent it – not the thread. This one is a classic e-mail clanger – the old "reply to all" vs "reply to sender" conundrum. Unfortunately, it’s been amplified with sites like Facebook – the ability to send e-mails to a group of people is brilliant, but when they all start replying (even if you have deleted the original e-mail), tempers can be frayed.
  7. Don’t publicise when you are going on holiday, especially if you’re part of a big network – an empty house is great for criminals! Lots of people don’t realise that the default option is for everyone in your network to see your whole profile – fine if you network is a small school, not so good if it’s the London network, with almost 1.5 million members.
  8. Watch out for rubbish applications – unpopular applications will often stop working when their makers get bored. Even worse are the applications that force you to send an invite to every one of your friends before you can even see what it does. The best (or should that be worst?) example I saw of this recently was the "Millionaire" application on Facebook. Sounded great, turned out to be rubbish.
  9. If your are a celebrity, watch out! Hugh Grant was recently caught out when he crashed the house party of a group of young girls – half of whom posted the mobile-phone-taken photos of the event to their Facebook profile…
  10. Most importantly… have fun! Social networks are becoming amazingly clever and addictive – don’t let them take over your life, but have fun with them, after all, that’s what they’re for.
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