So it shouldn't be too surprising that there is cross pollination in the Social Networks. Actually, what is surprising is that in general the networks are quite distinct. I know there are technically loads of these networks out there, most specialising in sharing knowledge in vertical markets, but there's two big ones (Facebook and Twitter, for those who haven't noticed) and one pretender (Google+ which may or may not usurp one or both).
It's clear what Facebook's purpose is - it harvests data about individuals and pushes advertisements at the users while they sit there providing the data for resale. As a way of thanking them, it gives a lot of people an opportunity to share thoughts, links, photos and meaningless facts with each other.
Twitter's purpose is not as clear - sure it also allows people to share thoughts, links, photos and meaningless facts with each other - as long as you keep the message ridiculously short (given today's technical economy). It doesn't cost to get on it, to use it and hard as I stare at it, I can't see any obvious advertisements. OK, in my ever expanding list of tweets I notice a small number of sponsored links that don't seem to make a huge amount of sense to me - clearly not too tightly targeted I would suggest, although as I tend to read tweets from a small number of the many I receive perhaps I'm just missing the point.
But one aspect of Twitter that has been very useful is the retweet - the button that let's you share a tweet that has made you laugh, cry or drop your mobile phone in shock. In fact, for those of us using Twitter to promote our books, music or whatever business we're in, the retweet is like music to our ears. To get your link retweeted by just one person automatically puts your pitch in front of a new set of potential customers. When a Tweet is retweeted again and again - goes viral - then that is the Holy Grail of Social Networking.
Well, you may or may not have noticed it, but you can do much the same thing on Facebook now. They've slipped it in quietly, so you may have over-looked it, but there's an option to Share a posting. This could be very powerful, given the more graphic nature of Facebook compared to Twitter. Tweets are, essentially, a few words and maybe a link and you have to decide from your evaluation of those few words if you want to risk wasting your time opening the link, which is almost invariably compressed so you can't fathom a clue about it's content. With FB you can see what the posting is about and when you share it, so can the guys and gals on your network.
And this is the power of the share. Because even those of us who don't spend out lives sharing every last detail about what we've seen or done with the world have quite unique FB contact lists. I have a lot of the same names on my FB account as my wife has, but she has many more that I don't and as I use my FB account as a drop in for strangers curious about my writing and blogging, I have a lot of different names as well.
This isn't as tightly targeted as the Google+ circles I mentioned in my last blog posting - that seems to be the absolutely right idea however it doesn't have the penetration that Facebook has, at least, not yet. So the downside is that we may find FB postings about people we don't know, would never know, don't want to know, creeping in our FB feeds. But let's face it, there's a lot of clutter there already and if you don't want to look at the stranger's posting, why not look at the adverts instead?
However, Facebook already allows users to compartment their contacts into lists - I'm not sure how many people use them as I haven't seen an advantage to using them apart from perhaps providing FB with more usable data to sell up until now, but now with the Share button it does appear to allow us to choose who we inflict the item on.
So, why not give the Facebook Share button a try out? Go on, share this on Facebook.
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