By John Parks

People are spending more and more time on social network sites. This can be fun and help you stay in touch with friends and family members. On the other hand, it can also be distracting and even overwhelming if you do not use your time wisely. Let’s look at some ways to use social media in a beneficial way.

Decide Where to Focus Your Energies

There are more and more social networking sites. While the larger ones are still Facebook and Twitter, there is also Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus and many others. Some are for everyone, while others are more specialized. LinkedIn, for example, is a social site specifically aimed at businesses. DeviantArt, on the other hand is for artists and people who buy art.

It is likely that as social media gets more popular that we will see even more new sites popping up. What this means is that you have to decide where to focus your time. Otherwise, you can get too scattered and not really get the most out of your social networking time.

Every social site wants you to invite your friends from other places (email contacts, friends from other communities, etc.) to join you on their site. Before you do this, however, you might ask yourself if this is really necessary? Do you really need to be in touch with the same 100 people on 5 different sites? At some point, it becomes redundant and even confusing.

For this reason, I like to limit myself to using a handy of social sites and no more.

Choose Your Friends and Contacts Wisely

It’s tempting to want to have as many Facebook friends and Twitter followers as possible. There is a certain status in this, and it shows everyone how popular you are. It can be more enjoyable, however, to focus on quality rather than quantity when choosing the contacts you maintain online.

There are disadvantages to having a huge number of friends on these sites. It’s harder to keep track of all the status updates, messages and new requests. Most of these, if you are honest about it, are probably quite trivial. As your circle widens, a lot of what you read will turn out to be borderline spam, as some people use these sites primarily to promote their own businesses.

For this reason, you should think before answering contact requests from people you do not know. This is especially true if you do not have any friends in common and if there’s not much information on the person’s profile. If you stick with people you are truly connected with, you’ll be able to maintain more control over your social networking time.

Get Offline Every Now and Then!

Finally, remember to balance your online socializing with face-to-face encounters, as well as some downtime when you are just taking care of yourself. The Internet and all of your devices can take up all of your waking hours if you’re not careful.

Online social communities can enrich your life in many ways if you use them in a conscious and balanced way but face-to-face interaction is more fulfilling.

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