LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – How they differ and what it means to you!

Social media dilemma

Social media dilemma

I was first introduced to the world of social media through Google’s Orkut (which no longer exists today). Over the course of the next few years, Facebook slowly but steadily started taking over social media. I was late to jump onto the Facebook bandwagon. I eventually created a profile a week before my undergrad orientation as a means to connect with freshmen.

As I read through my Facebook posts today, I can almost see my maturity grow over the years. From ridiculously long comments to embarrassing photos (some of which I had to delete) it is a treat to walk down that memory lane. It reminds me of the good old times as a clueless naive – almost annoying freshman.

As I progressed through college, I took a business class as part of my minor (Engineering and Management) and one of my class assignments was to create a LinkedIn Profile and add everyone from the class to start building my network. I wore my a formal suit, clicked a good picture and created my account. I did not see a lot of value and frankly did not update my profile for the next year or so. It was time to look for summer internships and a lot of companies asked us to apply on LinkedIn or directly on their website. That is when I felt there was a need to update my profile and to keep it current. The value of LinkedIn in my eyes only grew from then on.

It was not until very recently (about a year back) that I actually jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon. Again my path was similar to what I did with my LinkedIn profile. I tweeted once in two weeks and only had a handful of followers for the first couple of weeks. I started expressing more on twitter about various products and companies as time passed and today I tweet at least once a day.

Now you may wonder like I did – why maintain 3 profiles in all these social media platforms and how does it help you? How much and what should you share? I am a very private person and social media makes me nervous. It took me a while to figure and understand each of the 3 major platforms. Although they might look similar on the surface, each is its own beast and one size DOES NOT fit all.

 To help you understand this better I have expressed it using a typical analytical method – Venn Diagrams! The size of the circles represents the relative size of your connections in each of the 3 social media platforms if you follow the below methodology.

Social media Venn Diagram

Social media Venn Diagram

I would say use your personal page on Facebook to keep in touch with people who you do not interact with everyday but still care about. It could be your 8th grade music teacher to your distant cousin. Add only people you know – it is about quality not quantity. You do not want to have a creep as your connection on Facebook – your most personal social media platform! If you are like me (a private person) – create separate groups with different share settings so you don’t share your embarrassing photos with your grandmother. Post about major life events but not about what you eat for breakfast everyday – you do not want people to remove you from their newsfeed.

Use LinkedIn purely as a professional network. When I say professional it does not mean you don’t have your friends as connections – you can, as long as they are professionals :). They do not have to be in your field or industry. It is said that your strongest links are often from your weakest connections (in terms of common interests). As a rule of thumb, add only those people who you are comfortable introducing to your future employer and posts that you are comfortable letting a future employer read.

Social media map

Social media map

Finally, use Twitter to connect with the masses. Especially if you are passionate about a specific cause or industry – use Twitter to channel that energy to find a common voice and connect with people who share your passion. When it comes to followers, follow people who follow those you respect in your profession, industry or cause. For example if you have a passion for reinventing existing products that have been around for years, I would follow those people who follow ‘IDEO – The world’s largest design and innovation consulting firm’ and other influencers in that field.

Use Twitter to create something bigger than yourself! Also use it to understand trends – it is one of the best ways to learn about all the high traction events happening in the world. And trust me – it is super critical to know what is going on in the world around you!

Leave your thoughts and comments on how you manage your social media presence and any tips you may have. We can all learn from each other!


Swathi Jay

Tech Blogger, Georgia Tech Engineer, Microsoft Program Manager

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