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How Much Social Media is Too Much?

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This isn’t a whinge or a rant. I’m not going to lie and say that my popularity is a burden. It’s not. I doubt I even qualify as a bottom-feeder. Nevertheless, I do wonder when I can stop being social.

I have always balanced the line between being an ultra-early adopter and a refusenik. A series of techies as boyfriends meant that I have been aware of startup programs and trends before they become popular. Some have crashed and burned. Others have become web phenomenons.

Now, on my own, with a blog and my career, I have come to live most of my life on the web. Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Flickr, Bebo, YouTube, Twitter. I have a presence on them all. To try and separate the professional from the personal, I do have different accounts, and I try to avoid an excess of “coss-pollination.” So far this strategy has been successful.

The difficulty is not so much in signing up for new services, or even keeping my profiles updated and relevant. The fact is that these services are supposed to be interactive, and – at least in my opinion – that means not only providing content, but also contributing to the content of others, whether that be by commenting on other blogs, asking and answering questions, or even just rating videos that I watch.

Having a comprehensive web presence can become a full-time job. I blame my chronic procrastination on the fact that when I settle down to any online task, there is always something to distract me if I decide to “prioritise” social media tasks ahead of anything else.

At present, I have 8 principal email addresses, attached to at least 60 different accounts on social media websites. And those are just the ones I check on a regular basis! I check all of them, every day, each time I log on. Less than five of those are currently critical to my livelihood, though I do have plans.

The problem is, to build up my web presence for any future projects, I will need to immerse myself further into social networks. How far is too far? Is there a Web 2.0 point of no return? How much attention can an individual give to a disparate set of accounts anyway?

Bigger websites and blogs employ people to monitor their social media initiatives. I know of one very popular site that has a comment moderator, a chief Twitter technician, and a Facebook operative. For startups and one-person projects, however, this is not necessarily a realistic option. For us minnows, finding the line between interactivity and madness is still very much a shot in the dark.

[Image by Gary Hayes]

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