Showing all posts tagged linkedin:

This Is Where We Are, July 2017 Edition

A quick review of the status of the Big Three1 social networks as of right now.

It seems Facebook is testing ads in Messenger now:

Messenger isn’t really a “free time" experience the way Facebook proper is — you use the former with purpose, the latter idly. Advertisements must cater to that, just like anywhere else in the world: you don’t see the same ads on subway walls (where you have to sit and stare) as on billboards (where you have two or three seconds max and your attention is elsewhere).

I always hated Messenger anyway, just out of reflex because they had felt the need to split it off into a separate app. In fact, I kept using Paper until Facebook finally broke it, in no small part because it kept everything together in one app. It also looked good, as opposed to the hot mess of FB’s default apps.

Between that and the “Moments" rubbish junking up the top of every one of the FB apps, I am actively discouraged from using them. At this point I pretty much only open FB if I have a notification from there.

Meanwhile, Twitter is continuing on its slow death spiral. It is finally becoming what it was always described as: a “micro-blogging" platform. People write 100-tweet threads instead of just one blog post, and this is so prevalent that there are tools out there that will go and assemble these threads in one place for ease of reading.

It’s got to the point that I read Twitter (and a ton of blogs via RSS, because I’m old-school that way), but most of my actual interaction these days is via LinkedIn. I even had a post go viral over there - 7000-odd views and more than a hundred likes, at time of writing.

So this is where we are, right now in July 2017: Twitter for ephemeral narcissism, Facebook for interacting with (or avoiding) the same people you deal with day to day, and LinkedIn for actually getting things done.

See you out there.

Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash


  1. I don’t Instagram, I’m too old for Tumblr, and - oh sorry Snapchat, didn’t see you down there

A New Law

I was hanging out on LinkedIn, and I happened to notice a new pop-up, offering to help me boost my professional image with new photo filters.

My professional image may well need all sorts of help, but I do wonder whether this feature was the most productive use of LinkedIn’s R&D time.

Maybe this is the twenty-first century version of Zawinski's Law:

Every social networking app attempts to expand until it has photo filters. Those apps which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can.

(I did not use the filters.)

Finding My Audience

The perennial question when creating #content is where to post it so that it will get maximum traction and build the author’s personal #brand. Back in the dark ages of blogging, when I first started out, the received wisdom was that you needed to post to your own server, with your own domain name, and pretty nearly roll your own CMS to manage the blog - or just hand-code every single entry.

These days, the buzz is all about big platforms like Medium and LinkedIn. Even Coté has given in and moved to the bright lights of Medium. So I decided to try a little experiment and post the same piece on my own blog, on LinkedIn, and on Medium. It’s pretty much exactly the same post in each case, except for minor differences like footnotes and a different header image.

So, what happened?

The results seem pretty conclusive: on my own blog, I got 22 unique users looking at that post. On Medium, I got a whole 6 reads. And on LinkedIn, I got 132 views, 18 likes, and 5 comments - well, 4, because one of those was me responding to someone else.

Pretty conclusive.

In fairness, the subject matter of that post is well aligned to LinkedIn, and perhaps less so to Medium, but the disparity is huge, and very significant - unless LinkedIn is counting something different than Medium and Google Analytics are. I feel I gave each post roughly the same amount of promotion via social media (very little), so it’s more about how each platform presents its content and how users interact with it.

Medium is just too much of a firehose for anyone to be able to engage with everything on the site, and its recommendation engine seems to focus on popularity rather than relevance. It may also be the case that I just haven’t fed it enough metadata, but writing only for people who spend time relentlessly honing their Medium preferences seems like a losing game.

There are other reasons not to write on Medium, too. Remember the old saw: if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product, not the customer. In the case of Medium, writers and their #content are definitely the product.

Of course a similar situation exists with LinkedIn, but the point there is to raise your professional profile, no matter how much some might disagree. What I am doing there is absolutely professional self-promotion, and so my interests and the platform’s are perfectly aligned in a way that is not the case with Medium.

Regardless of the numbers, I’ll be keeping my own blog for posting things that don’t fit with LinkedIn - but anything that I do want to get out there is getting posted natively to LinkedIn from now on, not just linked from there.


Image by sergio_rola via Unsplash

Misunderstanding Tools

The sour taste in my espresso this morning is courtesy of yet another dudebro tech VC, opining about how ties are uncool, maaaaann! and basically nobody should write on LinkedIn.

If you have a tie on in 2015, it probably means you are a salesman in a non-transparent industry and are generally not to be trusted at any cost. When I see a tie on somebody, I get that funny feeling you get right before the dentist. Let’s face it, the people left wearing ties every day are the confidence-men stealing your money. Think insurance, financial services, bad shoes and, of course, car salesmen.

Well now.

I am on record as not only a tie wearer, but also a tie apologist. To quote myself once again:

In fact, suits & ties are actually the ultimate nerd apparel. You have to put some effort into shopping, sure, and they tend to cost a bit more than a random vendor T-shirt and ancient combats, but the advantage is that you can thereafter completely forget about wondering what to wear. You can get dressed in the dark and be sure that the results will be perfectly presentable. If you want you can go to a little bit more effort and inject some personality into the process, but the great thing is that you don’t have to. By wearing a suit & tie, you lead people to pay attention to what you say and do, not to what you are wearing. And isn’t that the whole point?

This mindset of “distrust anyone dressed like a grown-up" is just one more symptom of the Revenge of the Nerds chauvinism that is rife in the tech industry. The nerds complain about being victimised by the jocks, but it’s not the victimisation itself that they object to, it’s just being on the receiving end of it. “They mocked me for dressing differently from them, but now I mock them for dressing differently from me! Haha, I win!"

No, no you don’t win. You just look like an overgrown, entitled man-child. Grown-ups wear ties as a sign of respect to one another. If some sleaze balls wear suits & ties, that is because they are trying to fake that respect - but just because something is faked, does not mean that it’s not aping something real.

If I visit a customer or a prospect, I am a guest, and I dress and act appropriately. I’m not more “genuine" or “passionate" if I show up in jeans, sneakers and a Zuckerberg-approved hoodie. If I’m doing it right, my passion and competence will show regardless of what I wear. Today, wearing a hoodie to work is not transgressive or cool - it’s just imitating a more successful person. And let’s not even pretend that your hoodie doesn’t get judged for materials, cut, brand, etc., as much or more than suits ever were.

Basically, he is wilfully misunderstanding what people use LinkedIn for and why they would want to write there. Yes, it’s an advertising tool - that’s what we are all there for! LinkedIn is buttoned-down, professional me - although I like to think that I still put some personality in there. Twitter is where I let it all hang out, and talk about what I am up to at work right beside books, music, and whatever has got the Internet in a bunch lately.

Amusingly, Dudebro VC's piece ends up being an example of exactly the sort of writing he decries, since it’s a listicle:

1) LinkedIn has become a giant branded entertainment platform for selling us crappy fake expertise.

2) Crappy writing

3) No real authentic sentiment

4) LinkedIn notifications are predatory

The real kicker is at the end, though, where he says that it’s perfectly okay for him to write a listicle, because it’s not on LinkedIn, plus he got paid for it and doesn’t care about how many times it gets viewed.

Firstly, this is insultingly disingenuous. Writing this sort of flamebait, custom-designed to go viral and provoke reactions1 and then making a big show of turning away and not watching the ensuing furore is a cheap trick - but one that is perfectly in line with the rest of the piece.

Secondly, this is pretty transparently elitist. He's attempting to pull up the ladder behind him, mocking anyone who has not achieved his supposed level of clout in the industry. What he is saying with this piece is, if you’re a big shot, you can wear a hoodie to work and be paid for your opinions. If you have to dress professionally and are still having to work hard to get your opinions out there, you’re a loser.

Just in case you thought Martin Schkreli - he of the 5000% drug price increases and one-off Wu-Tang Clan albums - was an outlier: now you know that he is not. There are plenty of utter tools in VC.


I also took special pleasure in cross-posting this piece to LinkedIn Pulse, just to make my point one more time.


Image by Olu Eletu via Unsplash


  1. Such as this one - hi! Congratulations, it worked! 

The social net

I was interviewed a little while ago about how I used social media at work. I had been meaning to expand upon that post for a while, and today I finally got around to it.

I use social media a lot, because I live in a small city in northern Italy, so it would otherwise be impractical to try to keep up to date on what is going on elsewhere in my industry, let alone trying to join in that conversation. The thing is, there are many different media and different ways to use them. Here is how I do it.

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Networks

Twitter

Find me on Twitter: @dwellington

Twitter is undoubtedly the power tool of social media. It’s good for talking shop, but also for just messing around. You can have conversations or flamewars, get help, get support, or be told to get lost. However, Twitter also has a fairly steep learning curve for first-time users. When you get started, you have an empty feed, and the initial suggestions of people to follow are unlikely to be helpful.

My suggestion is to find people you know in real life or from other media, and follow them. As you see what they post and who they interact with, you will branch out and start following others - and probably unfollowing some of your early follows. Don’t be shy about joining in conversations, either. Twitter is inherently public. However, don’t necessarily expect everyone to answer your @-mentions, especially at the beginning.

The value of Twitter builds slowly over time, and in proportion to the effort you put into it. As you prune the list of accounts you follow, watch hashtags, and build yourself lists, interesting content will start coming to you. If you have sufficient presence, people may also start bringing things to your attention proactively.

LinkedIn

Find me on LinkedIn

Many people consider LinkedIn as the online equivalent of a CV, updated only for major promotions or job changes. In actual fact there is a lot more to the service than that. You have the opportunity to build yourself a public track record of engagement on particular topics, which can be much more valuable and differentiating than simply having had a certain job title for a period of time. Share content that is relevant to your area, whether you wrote it yourself or found it online. The engagement from your network of contacts (likes, re-shares and comments) will tell you whether you are hitting the mark or not.

LinkedIn also lets you follow companies so that you keep up to date with what is going on at your prospects or competitors. The Pulse tool will give you a good idea of what’s hot right now across your network.

Google+

Find me on Google+

Google+ is an odd case. You can’t ignore it because it’s Google and so it’s searchable everywhere and what-not, but at least for me, there is little value there. Visually-oriented people seem to like it, so if that’s you, go nuts. For me, I find the text snippets to be exactly the wrong size for browsing, and the community is a bit lacking. However, especially if you blog, you will want to share your posts via G+ purely for the SEO value.

App.net

Find me on App.net: @dwelling

App.net was supposed to be the hip alternative to Twitter once Twitter was over-run by civilians. Initially it was only available for pay, which definitely gave it a clique-y atmosphere. Eventually it opened up a free tier, which I signed up for, but I have to admit I find its value extremely limited. If they decide to close down my free access, I won’t pay to be able to stay on.


To me, Foursquare and Facebook are exclusively for personal stuff, but I’m listing them for completeness.

Foursquare

Foursquare is a location-based social network which allows users to check in to locations. I use it mainly as an aide-memoire, so that when someone asks me several months later “what was the name of that cool café in Istanbul?", I can just scroll back in my check-in history and find out. I also use it to keep track of tips people give me, saving recommendations to the built-in to-do list.

Facebook

Facebook is private, for friends only - so no link. I’m in enterprise software, so my work content is not in the least relevant on Facebook. I use it to keep in touch with distant friends, and that’s pretty much it. If you’re doing something consumer-oriented, your mileage may vary.


Tools

Buffer

Buffer is a useful little tool that lets you share posts to a variety of social networks at once. I use it to cross-post, typically to Twitter and App.net, plus one of LinkedIn or Facebook. I generally have short sessions of social media use in between other tasks, so Buffer lets me distribute shares over time instead of having a spurt of activity followed by silence. Buffer also lets you schedule your posts for specific times, so you can target posts for times when e.g. people will be awake in Silicon Valley, or whichever time zone is relevant.

Newsle

Find me on Newsle

Newsle lets you follow people and get an alert whenever they’re in the news. It’s a good idea to follow prominent executives, founders, VCs, and the like to keep up with what is going on in the industry. You just set it and forget it; Newsle will e-mail you when there’s a match, and only then.

Evernote

Evernote is a fantastic cloud-based note-taking tool. If that doesn’t seem useful, you have a much less complicated life than me, for which I envy you. I use Evernote all the time and across all my devices. It lets me take notes immediately, it tags them automatically with locations and such, and lets me search past notes for context. It lets me set actions and reminders for follow-up directly in the note. It syncs to the cloud so the quick note I dash off on my phone can be edited at leisure using a proper keyboard on my MacBook Air and then reviewed on my iPad on the flight home. Sign up for a free account with the link above and we both get extra space.

As well as its main apps, available on any platform you care to name, Evernote also has a slew of related services which sync with its notebook and tag structure. Skitch is a drawing app for quick sketches which also lets you annotate PDFs. Hello is a business card scanner: take a picture of the business card with your iPhone, and it OCRs it and searches LinkedIn for matches. You can also enter notes for the conversation and be reminded of it in the future. The Web Clipper is a browser add-on that lets you send clips or entire web pages straight to Evernote. Finally, Postach.io is a blogging service which links to an Evernote notebook. To create a post, simply create a note, edit it as normal, using Markdown if you want to get fancy, and then tag it with “published".

Basic usage is free, but premium gets you all sorts of extra features which are well worth while. Put simply, Evernote is my go-to platform to organise my life.

Newsblur

Newsblur is the RSS reader I settled upon when Google Reader went away, taking with it the various services it underpinned. It gives you 64 sites for free, but I paid for the upgrade to get more sites, full-text posts, and other services.

Instapaper

Instapaper lets you save web pages for offline reading without formatting. That’s all it does, but it does it very well. Someone sends you an article that looks interesting but you don’t have time to read it right now? Forward it to Instapaper, and next time you’re in a queue or in the lift or whatever you can read the article on your phone. If you don’t finish it, you can pick it up from the same point on your iPad at home.

It can also be worth while to forward pages to Instapaper that have a reader-unfriendly presentation, since it strips out all extraneous formatting.

Nowadays Instapaper also supports video, further extending its usefulness to me.

Flipboard

In line with what I said earlier about interesting content coming to you, Flipboard is a magazine that is dynamically assembled for you on your iPad based on your interests. Give it your Twitter and LinkedIn feeds, add some specific sites that interest you, and let it do its magic. After a bit of training, it’s pretty much guaranteed to have several interesting reads for you every time you open the app.


I hope this will be helpful for someone. Ping me on any of the networks mentioned above if you want to continue the conversation.


Image by Chris Sardegna via Unsplash