Sunday, May 22, 2011

When LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter Fail

I used to be a social media evangelist because I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now that most people realize social media is here to stay and they need to figure it out, I spend my time working with those people to achieve their goals. Today, I am going to write about how each of the big three have failed me so that you can be aware of some of the pitfalls to look out for.

First, it was LinkedIn, because LinkedIn was the first platform I used for professional social networking. When you sign up, it asks you to upload your address book from hotmail, gmail, outlook, etc. I followed the instructions and uploaded what must of been thousands of contacts. Unfortunately, I had many e-mail addresses in that database of people who didn't know me. LinkedIn sent them automatic invitations to connect with me and then LinkedIn asks them if they actually know me. If they say they do not know you, you get marked as a spammer. After a certain number of people marked me as a spammer, LinkedIn would not let me send anymore invitations. I had to contact their customer service to get it straightened out. The take-away here is not to suggest you should not upload your e-mail address book. Instead, you should use the feature that lets you upload the contacts and then manually check which ones you want to send invitations to.

Facebook has not failed me in any specific way. The thing to watch out for is that they are constantly changing. Many of you are relying on your privacy settings to keep your personal and professional contacts separate. I would suggest that you should not put so much faith in Facebook to make this happen. Facebook wants you to be one person online - the personal and professional you - in the same profile. Instead of resisting, keep up with the changes and figure out how to capitalize on them. Pay attention to how things look and what information is displayed on your news feed.

Finally, Twitter. Twitter hadn't really failed me until this week. I attend networking and professional development events and share what I am learning via Twitter. The way to do this is to include a hashtag like #eventprofs in your tweets so that other people doing a search for that hashtag will see what you are saying. Most events have their own hashtag so if you are attending an event either live or virtually, you can see who else is tweeting about that event. At an event on Friday, I noticed that my tweets were not showing up in the twitter stream for that event. Upon further investigation, I realized that my tweets were not showing up in any streams, regardless of which hashtags I was using. I have contacted customer service, but the issue has not yet been resolved. This is a bit ironic, because twitter is such a good tool to use for customer service. I guess they are understaffed because Twitter is free for users and they are not making enough money! This particular lesson has been an important one for me because one of the services I provide to clients is to monitor the twitter feed at an event and engage on behalf of the organization. Well, if the account I am using is not showing up in the feed, this would be devastating.

Comment here if you have had any social media failures so we can all learn from each other!