I'm not too fond of rules, so here are the guidelines that help me navigate my favourite social networks (with particular reference to contact with students):
- Facebook. It's great for entertainment and for friendships, but it's not my first choice network for business or education. I'll accept friends requests from students and others I know, but never ask students to 'friend' me for fear or blurring the boundaries between work and play.
- Twitter. Unlike with Facebook, the default setting is public. My public role is as the editor of a PR magazine (@behindthespin), and I'll follow people of interest in this sphere, and follow you back if you're a PR student, practitioner or academic. I do occasionally unfollow people, usually when the noise gets too loud. Like most on Twitter, I'm still surprisingly pleased by @ mentions, so this is a good way to gain my attention when time is short.
- LinkedIn. I follow people I know – and will write recommendations if I know you well enough and have something positive to say. I also join groups and display my blog posts and tweets on my LinkedIn profile – but I don't go looking for activity on this network and very rarely request connections.
- Blogs. I do still have a blogroll and sporadically try to maintain it, though I will probably note your blog posts through RSS or a link on Twitter rather than by old-fashioned surfing. My list of PR student blogs needs some tending as so many start and give up, and the better ones soon graduate and belong on another list. Please alert me to your PR blog and I'll subscribe first before adding you to my blogroll later at my discretion. My blog is personal and uncommercial and I won't respond to requests for reciprocal links or sponsorship deals.
- Behind the Spin: I'm pleased when people offer to write for the magazine, but it's best to check the About page for our forward features rather than ask me to spell it out in an email. I also value original content (please don't publish an article on your blog and then submit it to me as an afterthought). I welcome press releases (I enjoyed writing that) – and will sometimes use them on the news page.
- PROpenMic. I like this specialist network and will try to comment on student blog posts I find interesting. I will accept friend requests out of courtesy, though I've never found out what friendship implies or bestows on this Ning network.