11 best practices for managing your social network memberships

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Between the WordPress.com hack, the Honda Canada hack and the Playstation hack, I feel like my favorite online identities have been seriously compromised. Nor am I the only one: the recent attack on PBS servers has also created potential identity risks for PBS employees.

So these seemed like a good time to revisit the advice I provided last year on how to manage your social network memberships — a key component of tackling information overload. I’ve added a note recommending the use of keychain managers like 1Password.¬†

I just got off the phone with Betsy Karetnick of Martha Stewart Living Radio, talking about how people can get the most out of social networking. We covered a lot of ground, beginning with one key point: You’ll get the most out of your time online if you are really clear about what you hope to accomplish.

From there we covered a range of practices that can help people stay on top of social media, from social media monitoring with iGoogle to e-mail triage with Gmail filters. Along the way, we covered a bunch of simple practices for staying safe online while getting the most out of your online experience. I’ve rounded up some of the key points we covered, along with a few bonus ideas for managing your social network presences.

  1. Using the same username on every site — or maybe 2, one for personal profiles & one for professional profiles — makes it a lot easier to remember how to login, and to build relationships across sites. Remember that just because you use a different username doesn’t mean you’re anonymous: your boss at Best Buy may still figure out that you’re IHateBestBuy21@yahoo.com.
  2. Be clear about what you are “about” and keep that identity consistent across all sites that you are using for professional purposes.
  3. Keep one “master” contact list on a service like Gmail (best) or Yahoo so that you can find your friends on other networks you join.
  4. Keep separate, high-security passwords for 3 types of accounts: your banking info, your web server (if you have one) and your email.
  5. Don’t use a password based on any guessable information, or based on anything you’d blog about like your birthday or your dog’s name. Twitter had its inside information exposed because someone¬†got access to an employee’s Gmail account by guessing her password in just this way. UPDATE: Avoid the temptation to use the same password on multiple sites by using a password keychain like 1Password.
  6. Don’t friend anyone who asks.
  7. Create different lists of friends on Facebook and Twitter for different purposes, and share different amounts and kinds of information with different people.
  8. Don’t bother un-joining sites. If anything, join ASAP to get your preferred username.
  9. Don’t share any photos or identifying info about your kids (names, school, after-school classes) unless you really have a high level of knowledge about what you are doing online.
  10. Don’t share info about your travel plans if your house is empty.
  11. Don’t let fear keep you from enjoying social networks.

You can find additional tips on coping with social media here, and I hope to share more at SXSW 2011. Please take a moment to vote for my proposal, Sane + Social.

Originally published August 23, 2010.

1 Comment on this site

  1. Ryan Knapp

    6. Don't friend anyone who asks.

    I'm curious as to why you recommend that? How about, don't friend anyone you don't know?

    Also, for kids info, I'd also say spouse as well. They don't need to be a part of everything that you are, especially if they are uncomfortable with it.

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