There’s something to be said about images, pins, and browsing behaviour in a social media world. Our minds our visual. We know that. Photos represented a huge chunk of Facebook’s attention platform. That is why they bought Instragram.
We’re saying less and less in the form of tweets and read less online compared to the long-form print media articles that won prizes for journalistic excellence. Not sure where this is all headed but more and more folks are talking about “restlessness” and for the need to “unplug”. Read this article.
- Pinterest drives more than window shopping (pcworld.com)
- The Story Behind Pinterest’s Soaring Popularity (sysomos.com)
- STUDY: Pinterest Tops Facebook In Shopping Engagement (allfacebook.com)
I tweet. You follow. You tweet. I follow. The world is happy.
Here are some things I’ve noticed with my own social interaction:
Social Media SIX months ago:
But I really like Twitter a lot now for the engagement and real-time curation of information by like-minded individuals.
There’s something more human about it compared to an RSS Reader workflow model.
- 5 Ways Marketers Can Use Quora (grasshopper.com)
- 26 Social Media Marketing Hidden Treasures You Never Knew Existed (hubspot.com)
FACEBOOK. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re in your face.
- They had a messy IPO
- They constantly change the user experience to the chagrin of many
- Their mobile strategy has been shockingly disappointing given the obvious that a huge chunk of their base only interfaces with the platform via mobile device
- They ad targeting algorithm is delivering strange target results
- As of this past week, multiple colleagues in my Facebook network experienced an UNEXPECTED rise in friends.
I want to first focus on the value and nature of connections before moving into the latest hiccup in social media network land.
The Power of Connections — The Philosophy
Just two weeks ago, I opted to tighten up my Facebook network (tidy up, so to speak) on the basis of connection (friend/family, current/past coworkers, industry colleague, long-tail contact, and passive/non-active based on their profile). The end result was that I found the “loose connection” around industry affiliation (mobile/tech/digital) did not generate useful engagement. In fact, this labourious review netted some surprising details:
- A great number of my “friends” were hardly engaging in their profiles (no activity)
- A shocking number had long since deleted their Facebook account but still apparently appeared as a “connection” (friend) through my profile on Facebook.
The most engagement on Facebook (minus some token veterans of mobile/tech that I consider close friends) really rested on the shoulders of my closest friends. This isn’t surprising really. However, the real connectors or rainmakers of tech (I consider myself one) do engage the most and as a result, I have a healthy bunch of social friends that I’d consider rainmakers/connectors, thereby driving social engagement.
The LinkedIn Effect — Painful
Of late though, there has been a rise in something I called the “LinkedIn Effect” where unknown individuals from distant locations are trying to connect with me on Facebook because I know one individual. Sorry, but no cigar. That doesn’t qualify for “friend status”. Oddly, some confuse FB as a networking tool which I have never considered it to be. But the far-off friend requests keep coming from one individual’s social network. Not cool.
ON LinkedIn, these connection requests have become a terrible problem as they fall into three camps:
- Unrelated industry professional, 2nd or 3rd generation connection
- Spam account (appears new, has no meat to profile, no photo)
- 3rd generation connection request, unrelated industry professional
Sadly, they all come with the compelling, “Hi Alex, I’d like to connect you to my professional network” response. I end up ignoring these requests. For a while, the intensity of these requests was quite high before things eventually died down. LinkedIn really was built on the premise of trust-based connections. People knowing people to drive business development opportunities. It’s no surprise that some of my colleagues have experienced the drastic post-add scenario where this unknown connection then asked to be introduced to one of your connections.
Do you really think this is really going to work? :-)
At one point, as co-founder of MobileMonday Toronto, Jim and I were getting many requests to connect with folks in the Toronto mobile industry via LinkedIn. So we did. As a non-profit in 2005, we didn’t have a robust community platform. There wasn’t a twitter platform that year (and when it arrived in 2006, it didn’t have user scale) and we used Yahoo! Groups mailing lists to drive communications. Also, LinkedIn’s Groups was very restricted and not easy to use or manage until they re-launched the module. So, in the absence of business cards (since we were too busy running the events vs networking! :-)), a LinkedIn connection made sense to use the email functionality.
The goal was really to source talent and stakeholders easily for event-related networking, collaboration and business development. Did these connections work out — that is, the ones we knew little about? Nope. Missing in all of this “connection” business is the personal connection. Obvious. Certainly, some folks could be in the industry but for us to be in a position to refer them or drive opportunities, our comfort levels certainly go up when we know the individual. In most cases, we had to pre-screen the individual with a call or meeting to get a feel for individual, the idea or business before any action was done. Time-consuming and defeats the real purpose of LinkedIn.
The Challenge of Large Ecosystems Like Facebook or LinkedIn
As these large platform ecosystems evolve, problems begin to arise. The recent hack with LinkedIn passwords only exacerbated the mistrust factor and shaky relationship individuals have with their digital/social presence and privacy on these services.
This week, I reported on Facebook if anyone in my network had noticed a surprising rise in “friends” on their profile. After bringing my down from 750+ to 390, I noticed mid-week that I had 413 friends. Odd. I never accepted requests and never received them. Then I saw another colleague in my network report the same experience and then another and then when I repeated the incident in another status update, two other friends reported having 500 new friends and some as a high as 1000.
Herein lies the problem. There hasn’t been any media talk around this…ANYWHERE. I did a Google search and the only thing that came up with the question (image above) was posted by another user a week ago which has gone unanswered by Facebook or the community. Definitely, unfortunate that no response has been provided by THE social network.
In our digital age, we’re dealing with more complexity (not simplicity) with profiles, profile management, password management, and interaction touch-points (connections). The fact that so many users in my closer Facebook network experienced the same problem only indicates that the problem is much wider and needs investigation and resolution. I don’t like the idea of have close to 23 unexpected friends connected to me? How do you feel when you hold a house party and your friends bring friends of friends to the party?
Facebook. Your focus on growth and constant product development is starting to show some serious cracks. You haven’t had a good month or two and you’ve probably included something into the code-base that you don’t want there. Or it’s simply a business rule that needs a change.
Well, it seems someone else is reporting about this. Specifically, Josh Wolford at WebProNews. Apparently, Facebook is including Deactivated Facebook Accounts in our friend count totals. Something which I theorized above (to my surprise) and which is now validated by this article and Facebook.