I am Christina on Facebook and Thom on LinkedIn. For now.
Let me explain.
Christina Milanowski believes you should connect to people on social media who you recognize on the street or if you remember why you’re connected in the first place.
Thom Singer has a different philosophy. His online connections include anyone he met for coffee, a meal, or a beer. But he also has digital equivalents, such as people he talked to on the phone or chatted with on Twitter.
I think back to a post I wrote about mathematical sociology and the importance of strong and weak ties when determining whether to friend or not friend. Strong ties are people who live, work, and play with you. Weak ties are acquaintances. Absent ties are people who you nod to.
On Facebook, I identify with Christina. I have over 450 mutual “friends” and I remember when I met (nearly) all of them. They are mostly strong ties. The new normal is quickly reminding me that Facebook is not only a social network but it helps to make our planet smaller and closer.
On LinkedIn, I identify with Thom. I have nearly 1,900 “connections” but most of them are weak (or, gasp!, absent) ties, connected merely because of shared geography or industry. Now that I am career shifting into education, I don’t necessarily need to be connected to people just because we once held the same job title. It doesn’t matter how many messages I write to say hello, for if they don’t know who I am, they’ll never help me to get ahead.
Here’s where I’m at: I’m increasing the number of friends on Facebook to be not only strong ties but also weak ties; and decreasing the number of connections on LinkedIn to be mostly strong ties.
Regardless of the platform, strong and weak ties should be obvious by name alone. When I scroll through the list of friends and connections, I can quickly remember the point of contact. If I need to click further to see who the person is or where the person works, then that person is definitely an absent tie.
As I create friend lists on Facebook and unfollow people on LinkedIn, I’m shifting my Tom and Christina online personas. I created my Facebook account in 2005 and started on LinkedIn in 2007, and I’ve switched things around so many times I lost count. This time, however, seems more natural.