Social Media and Weak Ties

In our last post we took a look at weak ties and the value that they offer. In this post we will investigate how social media can assist us in maintaining our weak ties.

How does social media help someone maintain their weak ties?

In 2009 and 2010 I interned at Purdue University and due to my buoyant personality (yes I’m blowing my own horn), I was able to develop a number of friendships and make a few acquaintances in my time there. Ordinarily one may consider such relationships ephemeral in nature, seeing that many of these students came from different parts of the country and the world and would eventually return after their internship. Lets’ be honest, having known these individuals for 2 short months, naturally one does not expect me to expend much time and energy maintaining such short relationships. Eventually many of these relationships died out.

Now let us analyze this situation and see how I could have benefited from these relationships. Here we have a number of students from different backgrounds, disciplines and social circles who could have all been of great value to me in the long run. Through continual contact with these individuals, many opportunities could have been made available that would not otherwise been known through my immediate circle of friends. By connecting with these individuals outside my intimate circle, I could have been privy to employment opportunities and other valuable information from these groups that would be of tremendous value to me. However in my naivety I failed to maximize on the opportunity.

How could have a good knowledge of social media benefited me?

Let’s examine Facebook’s affordances in maintaining weak ties. Facebook and social media make maintaining those otherwise ephemeral relationships easy. Through Facebook I could maintain weak ties with those individuals, ever so often sending them birthday greetings or quickly browsing their profiles to see their currently activities. I could also send them a tweet through Twitter. The many forms of social media allow me to maintain relationships with these individuals without much hassle or effort. The benefit of these weak ties is that when employment opportunities are available within their own circles I am made aware of them also. Isn’t that a great return for such a small investment on a relationship?

To be fair, this coin spins in both directions, meaning that I could be the weak tie that someone else benefit’s from. I don’t want my readers thinking that all I’m concerned about is profiting on my weak ties.

Isn’t it time that you use social media to maintain your weak ties and expand your opportunities?


One response to “Social Media and Weak Ties

  1. Facebook is often described as a strong tie network, whereas Twitter is more of a weak tie network. I just read a comment this week that said, “Facebook is for people you went to high school with; Twitter is for people you wished you went to high school with.”

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