LinkedIn and the Meaning of Connections

6 03 2012

I’ve just passed the 500 mark on LinkedIn and it feels wrong.  Let me explain.  I can’t possible know 500 people.  I’m fascinated and largely persuaded by the work of  British anthropologist Robin Dunbar.

His theory known as ‘Dunbar’s number’ is a limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable relationships. That’s the sort where I know someone, they know me and we understand our relationship.  It is commonly held to be around 150. Dunbar says the “limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size”.

So how did I get here, my LinkedIn group was a list of people who I knew well personally or more commonly had worked with as colleagues, client, supplier or partners in various projects. So what went wrong? Why don’t I really know all of the people who I purport on-line to be connected to?  Here is my list of ways in which I think it’s gone wrong.

  • I’ve been on LinkedIn for around five years. Some people I knew well then, I don’t know well any more.
  • In building up my initial contact list I was probably over enthusiastic about finding and adding people.
  • A desire not to offend. I wrote a note to someone a couple of years ago politely declining an invitation to connect as we had no previous connection.  I received a vitriolic reply.  I still decline these invitations but accept others where the connection is tenuous.
  • Confusion. I think many people have a different view to mine on the nature of LinkedIn and networking on-line in general.

It may not matter but my network is clearly, to me and anyone that looks in, now a loose one. LinkedIn doesn’t annotate my actual number of connections any more. I’m like many other people a 500+.

Is there something I should do differently? There probably is. I should regard my online network as the loose association that it is and concentrate more on my real world network.  Obvious when you think about it.

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Twitsophrenia – Split Personality Online

23 06 2011

Split Personality Cowboy and Indian CostumeIt began with a conversation in the Blackdog Ballroom with Dom Burch.  He is about to take a six month sabbatical from his role as Head of Corporate Communications at ASDA and he has a new twitter profile to mark the occasion.  I then saw on twitter that the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg is moving to ITV and will therefore cease to be @BBCLauraK; re-emerging in the autumn as @ITVLauraK.

The border lines in social networks are commonly understood if sometimes blurry.  Facebook for friends and frivolity,  LinkedIn for work and Twitter…well for either, or a bit of both, or neither.  Twitter is nothing if not versatile but if you tie your twitter account to one aspect of your life, in this case your working life, then you may find yourself in need of multiple on-line personalities.   The other downside is that if your circumstances change you’ll lose the network of followers that you have lovingly built.

For journalists, their personal following online is becoming more and more important.  Speaking in Cannes this week Piers Morgan claimed that a single tweet added up to half a million viewers to an interview he conducted with Charlie Sheen on CNN.  The value of a personal online network is not solely the preserve of the press.   So I guess we have to decide.  We can have different accounts for the different aspects of our lives or we can have an account that reflects the varied aspects of who we are and what we do but isn’t tied to any of them.  The choice as they say, is yours.





The Curious Case of Connect.Me

9 03 2011

Earlier today San Francisco web developer Joe Johnston launched his contribution to the social web with a small post via his twitter account @simple10.  It said simply “connect.me beta sign-up launched http://cxt.me/cn2Wfw“.

He doesn’t have a huge following but within hours the twittersphere was buzzing and some high-profile people were registering connect.me profiles without actually knowing what was on offer.  Secrecy seemed to be at the heart of the launch strategy; “We’d love to share more” said the site “but we’re in ninja stealth mode and would regrettably have to kill you.”  Part of the sign-up process seems to have involved (personally I wouldn’t touch it without knowing more) granting access to your social networks with the promise “We’re a better way to manage your connections and a better way for online communities to discover and connect”.

I don’t know about you but it seems pretty asymmetric to me to grant access to your social graph with zero information on offer as to why or what for.  However the desire to register your user name seems to be a big driver as many people did just that.

It looks like connect.me has found ways to get various types of data, particularly from Facebook once the user has provided a one-off authentication.  It will also call on data from Twitter and LinkedIn.   That might provide an exciting way of linking your social networks but equally it seems pretty scary granting that kind of access without knowing why.





Who’s the Pimp?

18 02 2009

I have read a couple of posts recently by leading PR evangelists talking in disparaging terms about ‘pimping’ blogs in social networks.  It seems that it is unseemly to post too many links to your own scribblings in twitter and elsewhere.

I’m going to ‘fess up right now, I ‘tweet’ a link to pretty much every post I write on this blog and on PR Media Blog the agency blog for Staniforth\  (I also recommend blogs by my colleagues) and I think that it is a right and proper thing to do for a number of reasons.

  • One of the most important functions of the social web is to promote and share content. Links maketh the web.
  • If I don’t link to what I post I really shouldn’t expect others to do it for me.
  • It’s completely opt in.  If you don’t want to follow the link, you won’t and if it really offends you, you will vote with your feet and unfollow, delink or unbefriend.   Market forces are alive and well on the social web even if they seem to have deserted the global economy.
  • I can’t say everything I want to in 140 characters.
  • I want the people I follow to tell me when they’ve written something.  It’s more personal than an RSS feed (and I’m a bit slack when it comes to looking at my feed readers). 

This having been said there are some conventions to observe and room for a well mannered approach

  • Promote other people’s content as well as your own.
  • Maintain a healthy balance and add some thoughtful microblogs to your twitterstream.
  • Keep your friends and followers in mind whatever it is you say or link to.

There is a final argument in favour of the promoter.  This blog has a twitter presence (@SOCIALWEBPR).  It does nothing but pump out links to this blog….and it is about to overtake my personal twitter presence in terms of follower numbers, oh and it never follows it just follows back.   I can only conclude that  the simple  links are more compelling than my innumerable  assorted micro-ramblings.








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