If you are a social marketing professional and haven’t checked out #SMChat on Thursdays, you may be interested in this week’s installment. Chris nicely sums up the preface to this week’s chat with the existential question: what’s it all worth? He includes some helpful self-test questions for practitioners to assess the value of their social channel efforts. Hope to see you on the call!
Here’s Chris’s article…
Most social networks are built without a design. We follow, we like, we get followed, and *POUF* we’re connected to lots and lots of people, some friends and quite a few strangers. Now what? What value can be gained? That of course is the main unsolved riddle of social media for most people. The initial […]
Should you accept a LinkedIn request from a stranger? Some legitimate, real people (but also a few spammers, trolls and competitors) send LinkedIn invitations to complete strangers. I extend the term “stranger” to include belonging to the same LinkedIn Discussion Group but not having had any substantive dialogue or value exchange. Should you link to them? Okay for some, but not for me. Here I discuss the reason, as well as some best-practice advice from experts (see Resources links at end of this article).
The “Start-up of You” Philosophy
My LinkedIn policy tends to follow LinkedIn’s Founders’ “Startup of You” philosophy of linking to:
Allies – Domain experts whom I know well, and who add perspective. This means we’ve met, collaborated and significantly influenced one another’s lives. You usually a current or past customer, partner, supplier, or coworker.
Acquaintances – non-allies with whom I have actively exchanged value in the form of work, knowledge or perspective. Merely belonging to the same LinkedIn group without jointly participating in that group’s dialogue does not qualify.
Colleagues, Collaborators, Clients – anyone with whom I’ve had substantial business experience from which I can discern their ethical behavior.
Okay, Stranger, I’m off my horse now and indeed looking forward to starting or joining a dialogue as a part of getting to know you, especially if we share a LinkedIn Group or two, where the chances are thus quite good. But don’t get me started back on the subject of Trolls. We both know they exist. Heck, if you are sending me – a total stranger – a LinkedIn invitation, aren’t you risking it a bit? I could be that Troll. Of course I’m not; I’m just saying.
The Accidental Invitation?
Some mobile and desktop users accidentally misfire and select the “Invite” button. Unless they know how to retract it, you may end up with an occasional invitation from a stranger. To that I say: forgive, forget, and ignore. If, on the other hand, you are that stranger and you seriously intended to connect with that other person, the easiest way to distinguish yourself from a troll or a nuisance would be for you to customize the greeting message, outlining your thoughts on the value of connecting. Try it!
It’s actually pretty easy to spot a Troll even though the more sophisticated ones create entire fake Company profiles on LinkedIn, complete with fake recommendations and group memberships. Dig a little deeper, though, and you may see telltale “cardboard cutout” signs: no active Group participation, no traceable business listing. Oh, yes, and some of these fake profiles are sending LinkedIn invitations to strangers like you. Why would a Troll go to all the bother? To leverage the trust between you and your network, gain access to your contacts, access and extract your network’s profile data, spam them and, in the process, quite possibly mar your reputation – deservedly so, if you’re that careless.
Other likely indications of Trolls include:
Profile Pic – absent, poor quality, over-posed, provocative
Contact info – none, incomplete, or dodgy
Proofreading – grammar or spelling errors, awkward prose
History – scant or missing info, history breaks, scant detail
Connnections – suspicious, none in common, or unfamiliar mutual ones
Messaging – none, generic or, if custom, CTA with suspicious link
Activity – engagement is scant, low value, or suspicious
Link (and think) like the Pros: legitimate references
Let’s look at how LinkedIn is used today in the corporate world. Recruiters, for example, when searching for talent, increasingly use LinkedIn to find candidates. Researchers and sales pros with legitimate needs use LinkedIn to search among their contacts and extended networks to find knowledgeable references. If you appear in one of those search results, and the recruiter / researcher notices you are LinkedIn to a colleague at their company, or a relevant influential person: Bingo! Instant inferred trust and credibility, as if your reference check is already done and your credibility is established….unless you’re not really acquainted and just pecked the “Accept” button simply to amass more pointless, relatively anonymous Connections.
If you are linked in to a bunch of strangers who either don’t know you or can’t remember you, imagine what that recruiter or researcher must think about the veracity of the rest of your LinkedIn profile – or your ability to discern, cultivate allies, and align resources. Do you want to be seen as trustworthy, honest and accurate in your communications? Well, then, don’t damage your credibility by linking to people you don’t know and, incidentally, dilute that critical Social Currency known as Trust by co-mingling untrustworthy strangers into your network of trusted associates.
We CAN-SPAM compliant marketers know better. Relationships, trust and respect are hard-won and sacrosanct. You get what you give. Of course, if you don’t discriminate on LinkedIn between strangers and trusted relationships, then by all means, link away. Just don’t expect me to reciprocate until after we have established a mutual, credible dialogue. Until then, keep smiling.
How to meaningfully connect
If you are legitimately able to find a meaningful mutual opportunity to connect, exchange ideas, and enhance one another’s resources, then say so. Ask that question in a brief message with your Connection Request.
Your message might include: how you might already know one another (conversation, meeting); what knowledge or domain expertise you have in common; and a compelling reason to connect in order to extend the dialogue, such as a targeted question, an offer to assist, or other compelling reason to follow up.
Note: your spammy sales pitch obviously does not fit here. Nether is your lame statement that you have Connections or Groupa in common. Think: Is there an opportunity for a mutually beneficial conversation that doesn’t involve a sale?
Over to you
What are your criteria for sending and accepting LinkedIn connection requests? Do they enhance or dilute the value of your LinkedIn network? Love to hear your stories.
In a recent visit with a class of college seniors, I was asked rather pointedly: are there any jobs in Social Media? Pondering this question, I had to answer it from two perspectives: the marketing agency, and the business organization.
First, the Agency Perspective
This is the far easier perspective. There are indeed roles that focus largely on social media. Marketing Agency clients who are either resource-strained or lack native expertise often outsource some aspects of social media communications to agencies whose mastery of branding, marketing communications, audience analytics, CRM, user experience design and social listening across various social channels and technical platforms can help the client achieve their audience goals.
Now, the Corporate Perspective
This one is by far more nuanced, but the answer is still a qualified yes. While there may not be corporate social media “jobs” per se, social media can help you perform just about any role better – whether or not your role is marketing intern. Consider the following aspects of work life and the importance of social media savvy for each aspect – no matter what profession or set of duties you are considering.
The Producer’s Role (your “product”)
Just about every job requires you to produce a measurable output. That could be a product, a result, a process step, a calculation, a recommendation, a report, etc. As a producer, you need to master certain skills such as content development to effectively communicate your process and results. It is useful to develop a “voice” within your team, company, and industry. Having an authentic, trusted, competent voice builds support for your ideas and for communicating results.
Social media channels can help you build and amplify your voice when you publish your ideas. A blog, wiki or website, a SlideShare-hosted PowerPoint presentation, a .pdf, or perhaps even a short video illustrating your message – all are useful avenues for publishing your (non-proprietary) works. Learning how to produce your content, including compelling visuals, is a good start. Knowing how to tag your content so it is searchable and visible online is now a baseline skill. Having grown up online, dear graduate, you probably know the importance of tagging and you consider it a natural part of projecting your content and your voice.
The Analyst’s Role (your “antenna”)
Often your job requires you to analyze information, interpret it in light of your organization’s needs and priorities, and present your interpretation in a way that is sensitive to your audience’s culture and your impact on their behavior. Learning to monitor social media channels within your industry, profession and business community can help you develop your “antenna” – a sensitivity to audience needs, requirements and trends – that can then help you better communicate your analyses and interpretations, raise awareness, enlist support, stimulate action and lead change.
Time spent on social media channels can also help you make sense of information, intelligently filter it, separate signal from noise and draw better-informed conclusions about the relative value of other voices and sources you encounter online.
The Designer’s Role (your “voice”)
Designers need to balance multiple roles, such as upward accountability for results as well as lateral, cross-organizational collaboration. Use of social media technologies helps you perform these functions better. Even simple schedule, project, chat, survey and other collaboration tools help you improve the quality and timeliness of your contribution to results. Enterprise software tools may often include intra-organizational social features, such as chat and wiki.
Crowdsourcing your ideas invites a broad array of new ideas and inputs, and helps validate a concrete course of action. Since it is widely accepted that at any given point in time the smartest people on any subject probably do not work with you or for you, consider crowdsourcing! Invite others’ input, learn to mediate and moderate among various idea directions, and you can achieve far better results, and possibly even avoid costly mistakes.
The Dispatcher’s Role (your “audience”)
Sending information is a standard function in most jobs. Social media tools give you practice at building an audience, understanding communications and cultural dynamics, and packaging your communications in ways that build a receptive audience clarify understanding.
The Leader’s Role (your “compass”)
The effective leader shepherds activity toward productive outcomes. Building omni-directional communication skills within channels, and cultivating a multi-channel audience, helps the organization leader communicate more effectively, support collaboration and achieve communication goals.
Over to You
So, dear Graduate, think not just about a social media job; think about how social media helps you do just about any job better. Can you think of a way it has worked, or could work, for you? What tools are you finding effective? I deliberately didn’t name many here. Love to hear your comments!
Forget B2B. Forget B2C. Embrace E2E: Everyone to Everyone. Business and consumers alike are voting with their wallets and making mobile, tablet and personal 2-in-1 devices the “first screen” – relegating laptops, desktop PCs and wall-mounted flat screen TVs to “second screen” status. They are messaging one another. And they are talking about you. Are you listening? Hello?
A few organizations have adopted the playbook to address this shift. It seems, however, that most are not even thinking about the user-centric, user-generated, user-driven, mobile-first, E2E experience. That makes it a huge opportunity, if you set your mind to it.
Aaron Shapiro, blogging for the Harvard Business Review, cited the “Software Layer” as an area of focus for optimizing this E2E User experience, no matter what business you are in. I have incorporated some of his thoughts into the following 20-page storybook. It’s a quick read (lots of pictures), and it outlines a framework for how Users interact with your Business through a Software Layer. Enjoy!
I hope you find it useful in framing your thoughts on how to compete and excel.
Suffice to say, the race is on, and competing is not optional.
Make this the year you embrace the Software Layer of your business to drive User engagement, new opportunity, and new levels of success.
How is your organization adapting to the “Everyone to Everyone” world? Love to hear your stories.
The bloom is off. Aside from FB’s business results, such as their abysmal financials and their ads’ anemic, low-end response rates, there are some basic usability issues I have found. Neither I, nor my post-teen children, nor the new teeners, can figure out why these issues persist and, frankly, we can do without them. Maybe some of these things can be fixed within the platform, but many of the issues are user/behavior based.
1. Zero Privacy – Bill Joy said it over 20 years ago: you have zero privacy, get over it. What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube. If you don’t want people to know something, don’t say it, don’t video it, don’t post it, don’t comment.
2. Snooping Parents – at any age, there are just certain things you don’t even tell the fam.
3. Peer Pressure – How many times lately have you clicked the Like button based on guilt, pity, sarcasm, or some promise of reward? What, then, is the value of a “like”, once we’ve polluted the Likestream with insincerity?
4. Tasteless junk – sometimes I just don’t want to know about others’ nasty habits. And not everyone has the same sense of humor. Xenophobia runs rampant. Look it up.
5. Career suicide – Hiring and prescreening include Facebook reviews. ‘Nuf said.
6. Filter failure – This is arguably an umbrella issue in that it touches upon some of the other #fails listed here. And, yet, it is separate: You can’t selectively filter your friends’ feeds. Not everything in your friend feeds is relevant or even interesting, and it can’t be filtered to show only what’s interesting to you.
7. Plummeting cool factor – All of the above factors feed a sense of disillusionment. Or is it just me?
8. Alternatives – Tumbler, Instagram and Twitter are just as capable of perfoming the essentials. Tomorrow: who knows?
I’ve only listed 8. I’m sure there are a couple more. Chime in!