Social media is used for a huge variety of daily tasks, but at its most basic function, it is essentially a way for people to connect with one another. You could become friends with somebody on Facebook, follow a friend on Twitter, or check out a business contact on Linkedin. It's all about people. Even though most of the platforms and tools are very simple to understand, there are a number of more advances features, tools and dedicated apps that can help you connect, which is what we are looking at today.
1) Focusing on Connections
2) Making & Maintaining Connections
3) How much can we really find out about someone?
4) Connection Apps
5) Infographic Sources
Focusing On Connections
Social media has revolutionised how we contact and interact with the world. If older mediums like the telephone allowed for long range communication, social media has broken down these barriers, allowing you to connect with anyone from around the world. The landscape has changed and making connections is no longer defined by location. Following and starting conversations with people is easier than ever and starting a friendship with those specialising in your area of expertise is only a tweet or comment away.
It's because of this that social discovery has been given due prominence among certain sites. Use an app or log onto a site and you will be asked if you want to source friends and contacts from your email account, your other social media accounts and if you're using your smartphone, your address book. Discovery is currently the focus for social media and this is reflected on Facebook itself, which introduced subscriptions as a way of bringing together those who may not have mutual friends or reasons to connect personally, making it more similar to Twitter and is currently the basis for Google+'s circles.
This isn't just limited to these social media sites, however. Many apps, services and startups are using the data found here to further refine this process and connect people in different ways and provide new ways to interact with existing connections and uncover users you mightn't have considered before.
Making & Maintaining Connections
Unless, you're very stringent, chances are you don't know everyone that you're following, but would like to communicate with them more. While conversations should always be organic, the good thing is that you can do some preparation first before you start making the effort.
Regularly update & contribute
You want to give people a reason to follow you, and the only way you can do that is to post interesting, relevant content regularly. Nobody going to follow an inconsistent or inactive account so if you're commenting or replying a lot, make sure you don't neglect your own profile.
Choose your platform
Chances are you will only be able to update two different profiles at best so choose what site is the best fit for what you do and stick with it. Do you focus on business? Then use LinkedIn and join groups relevant to your expertise. If you know there's an active community on Twitter, then devote your attention to that. A little bit of research can go a long way.
Identify those you want to connect with
Chances are there are people out there who are regarded as experts in your field, be it on a local, national or international level. Find out who they are and what they usually talk about online. Some might focus only on items relating to their profession, while others may variate and post a mixture of serious and lighthearted topics.
Take part in discussion
If you see something being discussed that you can contribute to, don't dwell on whether your comment will be interesting or not, get into the conversation. You mightn't always get a response, but that's ok as you will get a response, provided you not being spammy.
Know where you will get a response
Ok, so this one is more strategic than organic, but you do want to be noticed For example, a person like Robert Scoble is very popular on Google+ and Facebook and regularly gets numerous comments whenever he posts something, so the chances of him being able to respond to your comment is rather small. Someone who has a more modest following would be more likely to respond. Build up your relationships bit by bit and before you know it, you will be regularly interacting with those who you though were unreachable.
How Much Can We Really Find Out About Someone?
An increasing number of private and public organizations are starting to run background checks on potential candidates, competitors and people already working within their organization. While it isn't every company that does thus there are many who have started dabbling with the new tools and services. Here are some of the tools that can be used for social media background checks.
Who Views Your Facebook Profile
Believe it or not, this is one of the most searched terms on the web as people try to discover who can track their browsing habits on Facebook. Given that many people use Facebook to stalk (not literally) their friends and connections, many are worried that people will be able to see their movements on the social network. Despite hundreds of apps and false scams, there is actually no way at all to see who browses your profile on Facebook. It just isn't possible no matter what you read.
Who Views Your Linkedin Profile
The one social network that does let you see who has been looking at your profile is Linkedin. This allows you to see who is trying to connect with you from a business perspective, who is trying to hire you and lots of other great information. Linkedin has been especially smart though in turning this into a premium feature, which you have to pay for, and many people are now starting to do. You can access it here.
View Profile As
Google+ first introduced this feature last year, but it is now pretty much standard on every single social network if you look for it on your profile. Essentially with some of the privacy settings being so hard to understand, this allows you to see what your profile looks like to others. So trying to hide from your mom or dad on Facebook? Worried about what photos your boss can see? Use the "View profile as" feature to select a connection and see how they see your social media profile. Then adjust privacy settings as desired.
Find Out Who Unfollows You
Nobody ever likes getting unfollowed on Twitter and with hundreds of followers, it can be hard to figure out exactly who is unfollowing you, but thanks to Qwitter, you will be sent an email with the name of the person as soon as they decide to hit that button.
This year old start up provides reports on everything that people do on the internet and on their social media profiles, including searching mostly public information.
Fixing the biggest lie on the internet - "I have read and agree to the Terms" - Terms of Service Didn't Read (TOS;DR) is a new project putting together terms and conditions of all third-party services and highlighting just how they use your data and what conditions they impose when you use the service. The site highlights where services go right and where they fail, so it's worth checking to see just how much of your information is exposed and what it's used for.
If you're having problems finding new contacts, there are a host of apps out there that will solve that problem. From business to personal to everything else in-between, you will find an app that will suit your requirements. Here's a brief taster of the type of apps you can find out there.
Cost: Free, $12 for Pro version
As well as letting you manage your Twitter followers, and schedule tweets to be posted at optimal times, ManageFlitter also lets you find people to follow on the site. You can filter people by location, by keyword, and find those who have either mentioned or retweeted you in recent times. The only problem is that this is only available through the pro version which you will have to pay for the privilege of using it.
WeFollow is effectively a giant directory of Twitter users rounded up in the one place. Breaking it down by most influential and by most followers, you can find dozens of new users to follow through keywords, so typing in 'social media marketing' will give you more specific results than just technology. You can add yourself to the list and give yourself specific tags so that other Twitter users can find you.
For: iOS, Android
Cost: Free (iOS)/$1.49 (Android)
Sonar gives an immediate social media background check on everyone in your immediate vicinity by compiling data from Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you recognise someone (but can't quite place the face) or just like the look of somebody at a bar or function, Sonar will give you a headstart and some potential ice breakers through mining their social media activity. This is a seemingly catch-all method of making connections, even if it definitely veers in stalker territory, but hey, that's your risk to take.
Highlight is quite a passive, ambient app that works away as you go about your day. Highlight will monitor the people around you, bringing social media information about them to your phone. This app will also notify you when friends of yours are nearby and generally help you make and renew social connections. Highlight makes it easier to turn mutual friends and interesting passers-by into actual friends, again, at your own risk.
Xobni Smartr Contacts
For: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Gmail, Outlook
Smartr Contacts is an address book app that takes all your contacts from your social media profiles and groups them together into the one place. With a nice interface and a handy tutorial to get up to speed (while the app is fetching contact info), Smartr Contacts's effort is more versatile than iOS' native phone book, and automatically updates when it detects phone numbers and email addresses. You have to set up an account at Xobni.com (the group who created the app), but once that's done, you're free to update your contact list.
Situationist brings an element of compliance to the whole "looking up hot strangers" shebang, allowing you to create a profile and upload a profile picture for fellow Situationist users and strangers to view. Users also list a few quirky ice-breakers in their Situationist profile, such as "hug me for exactly 5 seconds" or "Compliment me on my haircut". The app is moderated to keep it from getting too seedy and is supposed to add "an unpredictable thrill to everyday life," according to the app's creators, who are inspired by the Marxist avant-garde, of course. As a result it is not available on the iPhone App store, revolution!
Continuing the whole personal connection theme (that's how we're phrasing it), LikeBright aims to connect friends with friends through the power of Facebook. All of your Facebook friends' connections are on display and if there's someone you would like to meet, you can let them know. To try and not make it creepy, those who are selected by users are told that someone is interested, but you won't be shown. Instead, it gives them a list of people to choose from and if they choose your profile, you can then arrange the details from there.
For: iOS, Android
In addition to connecting you with surrounding strangers on Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Twitter, Ban.jo also uses Gowalla and Instagram. Much like the above applications, it will alert you when friends are nearby so you can make plans, but a helpful map feature is included, allowing you to chart exactly where friends are, etc. Realistically, Ban.jo is more focused on your current friends and allows your to surf their social media profiles while also viewing the map feature in a split-screen format. It is a helpful way of translating social media into the real world that is cleanly presented and easy to navigate.
By using the Glassdoor app for Facebook, you can scan your friend list for basic professional information. If a friend or acquaintance of yours works at a company, Glassdoor will tell you via one of its company pages - Facebook friends who are working or have worked there will be listed on such a page. Glassdoor bases itself on the belief that who you know is more important than what you know when it comes to finding a job.
The database is filled with reviews and salary information to give you the inside scoop on your favoured companies, and anonymity is said to be guaranteed, so you can be honest as possible when evaluating your own salary or employer. By using Glassdoor's Inside Connections, you can leverage your address book to further your career ambitions.