Let me tell you, if you get involved with this social networking, don't think you're going to have friends and followers pouring in if you just sit there and watch the computer screen. Social networking requires a reach back into any kind of manners class your mom made you attend. Or maybe that was just my mom, pushing me to learn which fork to use at Manners Class one Saturday at the Stouffer's hotel in downtown Cleveland, back when there were Stouffer hotels :sniff:.
What my mom is a stickler about, however, are thank you notes. After each birthday party, the next day started with: "Did you write your thank you notes?" And who wants to hear that while they are still eating left over birthday cake? Same thing with Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, my Nana usually comes over to spend it with us, and brings bags of presents that she received from friends. Regardless if she liked them or not (usually it's a guaranteed "not" as she wonders why on earth someone would get her a chunky silver bracelet with onyx set in it, which I happily unburdened her from), she is more stressed about who gave her which present, and writes everything down immediately on a pad of paper that she brings from home.
The art of the thank you note. From a recommendation to a job, to a birthday wish on Facebook. Notes to people are usually always appreciated. I was quite bad at sending thank you notes. I may have failed to send my aunt a thank you note 3 years in a row. And then I noticed that I might not have gotten presents as frequently on my birthday, or at Christmas. I clued into this in college, and went on the offense by sending her Christmas cards (as a college student, just something non-family), or just made sure not to forget sending her a note when she did send something. What resulted was increased communication and presents to each other, and overall, a closer relationship.
This is not a ploy to get presents. This is an understanding of what acknowledgment of someone's effort can yield - both for you and the giver or well wisher. Each social network - Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, MySpace, Ladies Who Launch - has its own conversation style. For example, Facebook lets you know when it's a friend's birthday. You can sit idly by, making a mental note of the special day, or you can write on that person's Wall and wish them happy birthday. Or the reverse - your friends notice its your birthday, and send you well wishes, cards, virtual balloons and cakes. You can take it all in, feeling good, or you can go the extra mile and thank them on their Wall with a personal little note. As a birthday wisher, I am always happy to get some form of a "thank you!' from a friend, as I know we have thought of each other, and that's the whole point.
Are there times when you can thank too much? Perhaps. One Stumbler at StumbleUpon wrote a post encouraging website owners to thank random Stumblers who had bookmarked a page on their website (I can't find the link at the moment). I thought this a nice thought and good social strategy, but many Stumblers commented negatively on her blog and gave her a thumbs down in StumbleUpon, stating that they do get thanked, are overwhelmed with the notes, and hate it - with a passion! Yikes. Maybe those people should adjust their settings in StumbleUpon so that Stumble emails don't make it all the way to their gmail or yahoo accounts, and everything can be contained.
Before I digress any further, just know, that in order for social networking to work (ie make new friends, promote website pages, products, blog posts, other people's sales, etc.), you've got to participate and reciprocate. It's just the polite thing to do, and it will be remembered and appreciated.