A few months ago I set up a FormSpring account-as a trial of the technology and also to get a feel for what can be done with it, and what the possibilities are for use in a commercial setting.
The reality of it is, FormSpring is kind of a nice thing, but I am not completely sure where it fits in the broader eco-system of social networks. But I have left the links up on this blog and in a few other places, after-all if you are a reader of this blog you know its my belief this is really about conversation,a nd FormSpring drives conversation if nothing else.
Last night, I got an interesting question (in full disclosure from an old friend of mine) about etiquette on social networks. The link to my FromSpring is above, so if you are interested in the question and the answer you can dig in…
As I thought about the answer, I realized there is a significant pattern, at least for me with the way I manage my social networks and yes, perhaps there is an etiquette, at least self-imposed.
On Facebook I tend to accept all friend requests. This is a bit of a throwback for me to the days when I was evaluating games and widgets on Facebook and I needed people to spam. I figured, why not, they are spamming me anyway. I also use lists on Facebook, so I have a folder of people I do not now (I call them “not sure”) and also set up a limited profile view–so you can’t see pictures or background info about me. This way, I can share pictures of my girls with real friends via Facebook and not have to worry about weird internet things.
On Twitter, I am far more open. I will follow back just about anyone who follows me. The rule for me there is it has to be a real person, I will not follow back Twitter-bots, and also if your account ends up spamming my Twitter with feed/RSS driven posts, I just unfollow you. Not a big deal. I manage the flow using lists in Tweetdeck, so I can filter out most of the garbage, and get a good look at the information most useful to me.
When it comes to the location-based networks, you know FourSquare, Gowalla etc, I am far more rigid. The only people I follow or will allow to follow me are the people I know personally–and I would want to “run into” at some point. This is something I have tried to flush out at lot, and it is an evolving policy. This is truly the one where I actively go in and unfollow and block people–and to me its a safety issue.
So, that’s my etiquette for all of this. As I told my friend on FormSpring, there really are no rules. Its your network and you need to be comfortable with what you are sharing and with whom you are sharing it.
As a wise man who has spent years in traditional media has said more than once–if you don’t want to see it on the cover on the NY Times, don’t put it into writing anywhere–that anywhere includes your social networks.