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The more I started using social networking sites, the more I began feeling disoriented. After a while, I lost count of how many “˜Web 2.0′ services I had signed up with. Multiple login-password combinations or single passwords across multiple sites, photos scattered everywhere, and bookmarks in disarray.

I no longer knew what I had dugg, found delicious or stumbled upon. Keeping track of groups of friends on multiple networks, commenting on their updates, updating my status, responding to email, and pretty soon, I had “˜social networking fatigue‘.

If this sounds familiar, don’t lose heart: these tips may help. If you have not yet dived deep into social waters, these tips can help you stay afloat and in control.

1. Visualize Your Social Map

Use pen and paper or mind mapping services like MindMeister 6 Excellent Brainstorming and Mindmapping Sites 6 Excellent Brainstorming and Mindmapping Sites Read More to better define your social networks or your social map. There are several ways in which you can group and design your lifestream: Capture”“Process”“Share, Discover”“Consume”“Collaborate, Create-Share-Discover-Collect, etc.

Don’t be disheartened because it may be a mess. The process of visualizing it will bring much-needed clarity, and help you identify what you need to change and where.

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2. Define Your Target Audience

For each network where you share data, define your target audience. Who are the target audience of your blog, your photo-sharing account, your Facebook/MySpace account? Whom do you want to interact with on email, IM, Twitter? Do not mix family with friends, or friends with business.

Use multiple accounts in Twitter so that your tweets are relevant to your followers. This also helps you set appropriate privacy settings for that network: I might wish to keep my family Twitter account updates protected, and keep the other one public.

3. Use a Password Manager

When we sign up with a lot of different web services, we are tempted to use the same password across several websites. The problem with using different passwords was remembering all of them. With Password Managers to the rescue, you can now have both security and convenience. Never use the same password for multiple sites.

LastPass

Use a browser-independent desktop application like KeePass Using Keepass to Secure Your Online Accounts Using Keepass to Secure Your Online Accounts Read More , or LastPass Securely Synchronize Your Browser Passwords With LastPass Securely Synchronize Your Browser Passwords With LastPass Read More , which integrates with all the major browsers.

4. Separate Private & Public Photo-Sharing

Use two or more photo-sharing sites for different types of photos. One example: private photos go to Picasa, friendly photos go to Facebook, public images/photos go to Flickr. I find this a safe and convenient approach because all social networking sites keep changing their privacy settings and options regularly. I do not want to risk my private photos being exposed just because some site changed its default options and I was too busy to notice it.

5. Use One Social Bookmarking Site

Social bookmarking helps keep all your bookmarks together, easily search and tag them, and share them with your friends. Do not spread your bookmarks across different sites. Choose Digg, Delicious, Redditt, or any other service you fancy and stick to it.

For example if you use Delicious, get the Delicious for Google Reader script to save bookmarks directly from Google Reader, and digg.licio.us Greasemonkey script to save Digg stories on Delicious. If you’re spread out across different sites, look for export/import options to consolidate.

If you are starting afresh, check out Twine. Twine uses artificial intelligence to automatically tag and sort your bookmarks.

6. Use a Gravatar

Use an avatar that looks good in both 64×64 and 128×128 sizes and save them for reference. Using a gravatar helps you get a consistent avatar across multiple sites. Gravatars also help create a brand identity for your profile, allowing people to instantly recognize you. Not sure how to get a gravatar? It’s simple How To Get a Pic Next to Your Comments on MakeUseOf & Other Blogs How To Get a Pic Next to Your Comments on MakeUseOf & Other Blogs Read More !

7. Use Social Surfing

Do you browse a lot of websites, open separate tabs to social sites, and copy-paste to share interesting stuff with your friends? Or keep several tabs open to check updates in Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed? If you’re using IE or Firefox, get the Yoono Stay Socially Connected Online With Yoono Stay Socially Connected Online With Yoono Read More plugin to make life easier. Yoono also supports popular IM networks. Or if you’re a power social user, try using the Flock browser.

8. Integrate IM, Email, and Social Networking

If you use a browser that doesn’t yet support plugins or are a heavy user of IM, check out the latest version of Digsby 5 Reasons Digsby's A Must-Have IM Client 5 Reasons Digsby's A Must-Have IM Client Read More or Trillian. Both of them support all popular webmail accounts, IM networks, and social networking sites.

9. Use a Consistent Username

For people to easily recognize you, use a common username across all sites. Use specialized sites like Knowem, Namechk, or Usernamecheck to check availability of your preferred username. Maintain consistent brand names across networks using these tools. As individuals, avoid signing up on services you are never going to use.

10. Track Your Comments

Ever leave a comment on some blog or site and never visit it again? You may be disgruntling those who respond to your comment with a question. Get control of your comments across blogs, sites, and social networks, with comment tracking systems 3 Commenting Systems & 3 Apps to Track Comments 3 Commenting Systems & 3 Apps to Track Comments Read More like BackType.

In Part 2, we will look at tips for more seasoned social networking aficionados. Were these helpful for a start? Are there any aspects of social networking you need help on? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Brian Solis, єvαиdяσ иαรciмєитσ

  1. Tyler
    August 18, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Really great stuff! I'll try it out. Thanks for the info!

  2. Utpal Vaishnav
    August 7, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Great Compilation.

    Apart from all others, I like the below:

    - Use of social bookmarking site
    - Consistent username

    Cheers!
    Utpal

  3. Anant Shrivastava
    July 18, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I suppose that alnik was trying to refer to your post only.... and this looks more like a promotion for his site then a genuine comment.... I would refrain from adding such comments to my blog.....

  4. Mahendra Palsule
    July 18, 2009 at 6:17 am

    @alnik: See #7 :)

  5. alnik
    July 18, 2009 at 5:00 am

    If you’re a power social user, try using the Flock browser.

  6. Fruitfulvine2
    July 17, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Very helpful. I've been wondering how to keep on top of my comments and my social networks. I'll be checking out the links you mentioned. Thanks a lot for sharing this advice. Have a great weekend!

  7. audrey
    July 14, 2009 at 3:58 am

    Nice list and advice. Will have to try them out.

  8. 1fastbullet
    July 12, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    I don't WANT an on line social life. I already have a real one.

  9. Technogati
    July 10, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Thanks to share this article.

  10. Miguel Wickert
    July 9, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Well done, how about that? Never heard of BackType before? Nice share.

    -Mig

  11. Sam Van Eman
    July 9, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Very helpful. I'm going to check out backtype.

  12. Dave Hale
    July 9, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Social networking is a key "ingredient" to a business. Although it just recently become popular from the past 5 years or so, it has definitely changed the way business run things now.

    Keep the good info coming.

    Chris Moniz
    VP Marketing, Internet Marketing Professor
    drdavehaleonline.com

  13. Todd Pringle
    July 8, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks for the Yoono mention Mahendra!

  14. Mahendra Palsule
    July 8, 2009 at 7:05 am

    @Sergio: Millions of people use some of these services already, without being addicted. However, using them in an unstructured, unorganized way not only leads to manual micro-management and an ineffective online social profile, but also can give rise to security risks. These tips are just suggested ways to have a strong online social presence while remaining organized, not addicted.

    @Glenn: Only after using comment-tracking services did I realize how many comments I was leaving all over the web and completely forgetting them!

    @MsJosay, @Mark, @Jane: Thank you!

  15. Jane Bozarth
    July 8, 2009 at 6:09 am

    Really good sugestions, Mahendra. More people should pay attention to having a consistent brand across sites--otherwise we can't find them! And I don't see additction here, but I do see a need for consolidation of sites/apps/functions in the future. I imagine in 3 years we will have narrowed it all down to a few products, all probably doing things we haven't even imagined yet. Cheers!

  16. Adam Green
    July 8, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Great list, but I'd also add the need to manager Google Alerts more effectively. Too many people treat them as just a stream of search results that can be looked at every once in a while. If you collect your Google Alerts with a real management tool, like a free account at alertrank.com, you can start finding patterns that will guide your future social media efforts. For example, which bloggers agree with you most often? Maybe you can contact them to write a guest post on their blog? Who disagrees with you the most? You can try and set up an online debate that can generate some real interest. Alerts are too valuable to just read in your email program and then throw away.

  17. MsJosay
    July 8, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Awesome article, I look forward to part II. Love the Yoono mention, great plugin for managing and keeping on top of multiple social networks.

  18. Anant Shrivastava
    July 7, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    too good to be true a lot of these sites i was unaware off and was using other manual process for these things.

    Thanks for pointing out....

  19. Mark
    July 7, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Thanks for highlighting some useful services.

  20. Glenn Friesen
    July 7, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    10. Track Your Comments.

    Great recommendation. Tracking comments this way instead of Google Alerts / Notification via e-mail sounds far more productive. I'll test it out!

  21. Sergio
    July 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    If you've gotten to the point where you actually NEED to do this, it's time to take a step back and unplug your computer.

    You might have an unhealthy addiction to the internet.

    I'm not joking.

    • MsJosay
      July 8, 2009 at 12:23 am

      It might not always be an unhealthy addiction, remember lots of people make money (and a living) doing this stuff and we all know when you're talking about money you want to be as organized and on top of your income as possible.

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