Social Networking Etiquette

As social networking sites continue to proliferate and self-propagate across the web, millions of users are becoming increasingly aware of the ramifications of information overload. Subscriptions to RSS feeds, e-mail groups, live updates of blog postings, and other network collaboration tools can easily fill up the inbox to the thousand-email mark. Most network sites today offer ways to organize and disseminate the information, with e-mail services such as Gmail offering search and sort functions to make the process easier. Still, social networking to the extreme is clearly on the rise with the increased exchange of personal e-mails for contact information, and the consequences of just too much information when spam, junk mail, and blog receipts reach seemingly epic proportions.

The consumer shifts on social networking sites are evident at the most basic level; how and when do people make the decision to sign up for an automatic feed, versus just going straight to the site to research a particular topic? The rules are open to the masses, and the pool of information continues to get bigger and bigger. Blogs are becoming a core resource for news on a variety of topics. Today’s largest subject aggregators are picking up both media-driven articles from the Associated Press, along with general consumer blogs, critics, and postings that have similar tags and keywords.

‘Critical mass’ as many speculators predict, is reaching its glory for a variety of networking sites such as MySpace and Friendster. As readers swarm to specific portals for each niche subject, readership can grow to monstrous proportions seemingly overnight. Overcoming an information dump isn’t difficult with some simple social networking etiquette strategies: it’s the web’s process of elimination. How does a user get the most accurate, relevant, credible, and worthy-of – attention information in the shortest time possible?

Invites to sites such as, and other leadership-based sites are one end of the spectrum. These sites offer information by invitation-only; sign up as a user, and you will be informed of new postings, with updates sent to you when your most-needed tags appear and articles are available. In order to become a member, you need to be invited by the leader; after that, other members can invite you to additional sub-networks, which in turn can result in more networking possibilities. You’ll have to use your best judgment on the value you are actually receiving from additional invites; too many, and you’ll lose the gist of the subject and topic fairly quickly.

Uploading address books and sharing contact lists with other users may not always be in your best interest. This side of the spectrum focuses heavily on socializing and casual conversation, exchange of pictures, and other media. Although it will get your information out onto the social networking boards around the world, you do have to be careful what tags and meta-tags are of utmost relevance to your subscriptions. Information overload is imminent without a little strategic planning.

Share your personal e-mail address wisely. Many sites are sharing valuable e-mail data with third parties, especially those that network with other social networking sites. To avoid inbox-mayhem, exercise some discretion; set up three to four different e-mail addresses by subject, to coordinate your receiving options more effectively.

Research junk mail filters: not all networking sites make attempts to eliminate junk e-mail subscriptions, spam, and other non-site related information that gets loaded frequently onto the site. Find out which e-mail services can offer you junk e-mail filters most accurately.

Start your research at a credible portal. Google, Yahoo!, and other search engines that function as aggregators of news can help with the often-taxing task of just sorting all the news you need by topic, relevance, and hit meters., Furl, and Del.ici.ous take it to the next level by incorporating user ratings, readings for the day, and top hits; nevertheless, many people continue to sign up for a ‘feed’ to get the information direct to the inbox.

These are just some tips to make the most of your social networking experience without the headache of excessive information that leads nowhere. When you have an efficient system in place, it becomes easier and more productive to search, find, and retrieve exactly the information you want, when you want it! If you’re looking to build just a basic network of contacts, using discretion with the boundaries of the networking site is in your best interest to avoid spam-related users and ineffective contacts.

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