Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category


Requested Recommendations on Social Networks: Why I Won’t Do It

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“Looking at LinkedIn Recommendations, They are Puffery”
I’m currently doing research on what skills marketers are looking for in their social media team, and interviewed one hiring manager yesterday. She told me she didn’t value the references on LinkedIn and told me that “Looking at LinkedIn recommendations, they are puffery”. Instead she was looking for examples of work experience, eagerness to do the job, and of course ability. I agree with her, when I see recommendations on LinkedIn, my alarm goes off, I know most are not objective.

Why These Reccomendations May Not Be Trusted
From time to time, former colleagues ask me to be their reference –or even do recommendations (online references or testimonials) for them on social sites, like LinkedIn. Yet having gone through this process, they aren’t that trustworthy, here’s why:

  • Filter One: I question how honest and authentic recommendations are when the system primarily has features that vet out unwanted reviews. In nearly every experience I’ve been in, a former colleague or someone I’ve worked with requests a recommendation, this means they are expecting a positive review. Since the content is in public, saying something bad about someone else (even if it’s true) isn’t going to help your network, so the the contributor is biased.
  • Filter Two: Then, they can review my submitted review, and then accept or reject. I’ve had someone reject my reference, and ask me to rewrite it once before (I think it may have been because I had a typo). Because these three filters are setup, it’s unlikely that you’ll see reviews that are have objective content, or negative information.

Now it’s not just recommendation systems in business social networks, it’s also case studies from vendors, and customer testimonials. All of this content is cleaned, scrubbed, and presentable in favor the seller.

Potential Solutions
RSomers suggested that LinkedIn reduce the number of recommendations people can give.  Like UserVoice or Deal Ideastorm they give a certain amount of points anyone can use, forcing people to be choosey and selective in where they put their vote.   Also, Get Glue has interesting technology to do this for the media side –maybe they can apply this to job candidates too.

References Will Always Have Their Place
I triggered a discussion on twitter, and had a variety of responses, many who see the positives. At least two people told me they received their jobs from recommendations they’d received on LinkedIn, but not because the content was objective, but because it triggered a notification in the references stream –causing word of mouth to happen.   Luke said he got his job from a LinkedIn recommendation, and says ‘who’ reccomends him is more important.

Recommendations in any form still matter, but become more relevant if they come from someone who are at the top of their game, or have a relationship to the buyer.  This isn’t to say that none of these are helpful, they have their time and place in the marketing process. While a plethora of glowing references on a company or professional profile on LinkedIn may seem like typical marketing –in the end, smart buyers and employers will dig deeper to find where sellers and candidates shine –and need some polishing.

I Won’t be Giving LinkedIn Recommendations
Although I’ve only given honest recommendations in LinkedIn, I won’t be giving anymore recommendations on that platform (at least for the foreseeable future), instead, I’ll use my blog and Twitter to provide them in a more organic area where there aren’t obvious filters –making the recommendations count even more.  The challenge of course is finding them will not be easy.

Takeaways

  • Recommendations that are vetted by the requestor will  never be fully viewed as objective –savvy buyers know that, and can figure out how to get the information through private conversations or other reviews.
  • Reccomendations still matter, but who they come from, and in what context matters ever more, indicating you liked working with someone is still valuable –even if they are filtered.
  • Buyers should look for references (positive and negative) from more organic locations like blogs and Twitter, where the candidate/seller has less control over filtering and scrubbing the content.
  • Canidates and sellers need to prepare for the open reviews of good –and bad–reviews about their company and resume.
  • LinkedIn very valuable, and has many other features of note. This isn’t a knock on them, but instead on the marketing and pitching process in general.

Related:  Impacts of Social Media on Customer Reference Pages

Update: Russ Somers has extended the converation on his blog: Evaluating LinkedIn Reccomendations

LinkedIn’s communications savvy Kay Luo, contacted me and gave some best practices around how recommendations should work, as such, she gave a recommendation to my own account, which I accepted.  If they have any best practices around recommendations, I’ll be happy to link to them from this post –furthering the conversation.

Update: July 24th, LinkedIn has responded from their blog, discussing the benefits of recommendations and the social economy.  They suggest that you give recommendations to five people unsolicited, although I’d suggest don’t feel obligated to meet a number, just do it when you believe in it.  I really appreciate them being part of the conversation –so we can make these systems better.

Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: May 11, 2009

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digest3 

I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.

I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my take, and click link to dive in for more.

Subscribe to this blog in your feedreader, or use the email subscription box in the right column. Or you can subscribe to this digest tag only and not receive my other posts.

Web Strategy Summary
Been a light week as far as significant news goes. Facebook and Digg start to connect their social identities. Ning launches an application gallery, and MySpace trims staff.


Social Colonization: Digg adopts Facebook Connect
In an ongoing effort to spread its network, Facebook allowed third party sites to connect to it’s user and member base, now Digg users can use this to access their account info and social graph. The challenge is you can’t register FB with Digg if you’re using the same email address in Digg –the social profiles don’t yet merge.

Apps: Ning provides application gallery
Previously, Ning applications had to be installed by individuals, but now they can be replicated across networks, with what appears to be a widget gallery type feature.

Downsizing: MySpace trims workforce
While other social networks have also had layoffs (Hi5 in particular) MySpace trims 45 members of it’s staff, and is undergoing a major executive change out.

Findings: Wrapup from Inbound Marketing Summit
What was learned at the Inbound Marketing Summit? This excellent wrap up summarizes the key findings.

Ads: blogs come into their own
A few months ago, GigaOm’s network left Federated Media, and now Techcrunch sprouts it’s own advertising capabilities. Blogs are maturing now where they can reduce third party dependency on advertising revenue, demonstrating they’re their own media outlets.

Interview: Thor, of Get Satisfaction
Interesting audio interview from the founder of Get Satisfaction, a third party support site, that’s quite disruptive to corporate websites. Thor, the former CEO is now the CTO, having recently hired Wendy Lea. The chatter is casual at first, but gets focused as it progresses.

To watch: Cisco Eos puts stake in ground for media
Cisco’s Dan Scheinman is a general manager at the Eos, a community platform aimed at reaching media industry. While still early to market, I’m carefully watching this vendor as they have large backing from Cisco, that has a large enterprise footprint. Dan’s post suggests that Eos is intended to help Hollywood make money online, leveraging the disruption that new technologies have brought them.

Google: Analysis on Ad Behavior to improve TV ads
Google is doing some interesting and hopefully interesting analysis that will improve the context of ads, see their lengthy explanation and charts.

Accolades: Neighborhood America gets second award
Neighborhood America announces today that it has won its second consecutive CODiE Award for ‘Best Social Networking Solution’ for enterprises. See the many other categories and finalists.

Personal: Happy Mother’s Day Mom
Thanks for all you’ve done for me, supporting me when I was a young snot, and still supporting me as I’m an older snot. Love you mom. Now, I’m off to Amsterdam to help clients and speak at conferences, then going to Paris the week after.

Hungry For Social Networking Stats? Then you should see my collection of Social Networks Stats for 2008 and 2009. Bookmark them, then share it with others as I continue to update it.

Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: May 2, 2009

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digest3

I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.

I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my take, and click link to dive in for more.

Subscribe to this blog in your feedreader, or use the email subscription box in the right column. Or you can subscribe to this digest tag only and not receive my other posts.

Web Strategy Summary
Busy week, yet again. Vignette starts to come forth with it’s community features, which are a direct challenge to the community platform vendors. Facebook extends further into the era of social colonization by allowing activity streams to be displayed on third party sites. The impacts of the swing flu echo throughout social networks.


Launch: Vignette CMS rolls out social features
Community platform vendors need to be prepared to be squeezed from above as more CMS vendors prepare to enter this market. Vignette, who has a stable footprint in the enterprise space, launches first generation social features. They’re also demonstrating thought leadership by publishing best practices documents. Watch this change –the incumbents are waking up. I spent an hour with this team last week reviewing their live product, they just rolled this out, and hope to have customer adoption soon.

Colonization: Facebook exposes activity stream
Social colonization is when every web experience will be social. With FB opening it’s activity stream for third party developers (like Seesmic) it’s the start of the experience extending beyond the Facebook walls.

Government: Obama addresses nation on Flu
Using his weekly Youtube platform, Obama gives a clear assessment – Google Search of the situation, gives recommendations to schools, businesses, and people, then discloses the solution that have in place for vaccines, all without doublespeak. These simple social tools are empowering –but the content is most important.

Feature: Silverlight and Facebook create shiny UI
This is shiny, meaning it’s pretty, but doesn’t neccesarily offer multiplicative collaboration (useful), either way, see how silverlight flexes it’s UI muscles by displaying FB pictures.

Culture: US Military uses Social Networks to recruit soldiers
Now, you can befriend a recruiter. The pentagon is making considerable shifts towards using social networks to recruit young Gen Y folks for the military. Facebook is the leading social technology where they will deploy.

Context: Early examples of social context via scraping
Social networks are the first place where we’ve seen people voluntarily give up so much information about themselves unprompted. As a result, we’ll see an increase of services that scrape demographics to increase marketing and advertising effectiveness. While not a mature example of social context, it’s getting closer.

Risks: Social networking sites have downsides
This is an important article by Computerworld, in which it shows the potential risks that social networking sites bring to professional relationships and the office as many users are not aware of how privacy works. Beyond this, potential IP and corporate knowledge could be spread in social networking sites, learn about these risks.

Twitter Hype: People come –but don’t come back
The overhyped Twitter shows that some come but never come back, yet Nielsen responds vis this video suggesting that the small community is indeed very influential.

Oddparts: Facebook trivia
Culture, anonymity and a strong virtual gift economy make Facebook a misfit in China. Facebook is able to map mentions of the Swine Flu within it’s network from state to state.

Personal: IBM’s Impact and Calgary’s Web Strategy Summit
Last week, I started to give personal updates, and some suggested I continue. I launched the future of the social web report this week, and it received positive feedback. I’m headed to IBM’s IMPACT conference in vegas to speak, then to the Web Strategy Summit in Calgary to present my findings on the future of the social web. I’ve mentioned several times on Twitter that I’m forgoing shaking hands to protect the community, I’m a germ magnet, since I travel so much and meet many.


Submit: I’m listening. If you’re a social network, or widget company, I want to know of your news, send me an email, or leave a comment below. Help me stay up to date but first, read how to score your announcements.

Hungry For Social Networking Stats? Then you should see my collection of Social Networks Stats for 2008 and 2009. Bookmark them, then share it with others as I continue to update it.

Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: April 26, 2009

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digest3

I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.

I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my take, and click link to dive in for more.

Subscribe to this blog in your feedreader, or use the email subscription box in the right column. Or you can subscribe to this digest tag only and not receive my other posts.

Web Strategy Summary
For once, this week has some actual strategic news: Google’s intent to bypass closed social networks by creating public profiles are aligned with it’s strategy. MySpace is undergoing some leadership changes, in order to win back the media’s attention, they’ll need to quickly innovate. Following the executive turnover we’re seeing all over the industry, Hi5 follows suit.


Strategy: Google to circumvent social networks
This is an important gesture in the world of social networks. Google has launched a profile feature that allows people to create profiles in exchange for influence on search results page. As you know, social networks are comprised of profiles and people connecting to each other. This strategy enables Google to build a ‘non-social network’ that rather than focus on a destination, instead lives on the open web. This is aligned with Google’s open strategy towards the web. Given their large user base, this will likely be successful, my question however is simple: what took so long?

Leadership: MySpace names Owen Vean Natta as CEO
News Corp’s MySpace has been doing the executive cleanse, having removed a handful of leadership now including Chris DeWolfe. This move, likely in response to the daunting growth and buzz of Facebook, and the potential fall out from the Google deal. While MySpace has been innovating with media, music, and catering to small businesses, they’ve not caught the eye of the market as the innovative player. Brands shouldn’t walk away from MySpace, they’ve still a thriving community, and this new leadership could offer innovation –although expect it to takes months to emerge. I’ve requested numbers from MySpace, to evaluate their current capabilities.

Leadership: Hi5 appoints new CEO of axe swings
Hi5, a very quickly growing social network with 60mm users missed it’s opportunity to monetize that growth resulting in layoffs that cut deep in this social network. They’ve now appointed Bill Gossman as the CEO, who has connections with their investors. Former CEO Ramu Yalamanchi, will step to a Chief Product role with a focus on operations.

Culture: Silicon Valley Social Media Deployed in Iraq
Cultures are often defined on how the common people are allowed to communicate and share their voices. Silicon Valley leaders or founders from Twitter, Meetup, Hocast, and YouTube assemble in Iraq to share expertise and discuss how social tools can improve the local situation.

Security: Cybergangs crowdsource thugs
Not uncommon, but social networking tools can be used to steal people’s identity, financial info, or release harmful code. Cybergangs are employing crowd created mobs to break captcha codes, a brute force tactic to get into people’s personal info.

Verticals: Social network for the beautiful…only
Modelfeed is a social network for the beautiful, and is in line with social networks being created for every possible vertical. What’s next? How about a social network for the fugly.

Deals: Mzinga lands Playboy
This large media company will try it’s hand to let the community of 6 million users to it’s website to engage by participating in voting, sharing, and discussions. Mzinga scored well in my recent Wave for moderation –which could come in handy for a large, and ‘passionate’ community.

Features: Facebook continues to emulate Twitter
Facebook made motions to buy Twitter, but the deal didn’t go through, Facebook can easily replicate the features, and has done so with text based updates that you can now receive on your mobile phone. This is an example of social colonization.

Research: Social Networks used by Marketers
This research, (I can’t vouch for the methodolgy) suggests that many marketers are using social networking tools, with a focus on Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs. Overall, these numbers look high, but it depends on how the questions were posed, and over what time period.

Hype: Twitter growth numbers misleading
Twitter is overhyped, and although they’ve received mainstream attention, it doesn’t account for true recurring users on a monthly or weekly basis. Visitors to the site don’t account for registrations –nor can it truly count for global and client based activity such as tweetdeck. The true Twitter usage numbers are allusive –although it’s clear, it has media attention.

App: When did you join Twitter?
For kicks: this little application tells you when you joined Twitter. It says I joined in Dec 2006, and at the time, I felt I was behind the early adopter curve.

Personal: On the road
This is the first time I’ve done a weekly update on me, let me know if you think I should continue this. I’ve been on the road for the last 5 out of 6 weeks, I got back at midnight last night from Forrester’s marketing forum in Orlando. While I find my work enjoyable, at the same time it’s exhausting. I do look forward to these quiet moments on the weekend where I can really think about where the industry is headed. It’s moving so incredibly fast, I find that aggregation, and a quiet hour every weekend is very important to do. On Monday, my report “future of the social web” launches. Stay tuned. Next week I go to IBM’s Impact event, then to Calgary to speak at the Web Strategy conference.


Submit: I’m listening. If you’re a social network, or widget company, I want to know of your news, send me an email, or leave a comment below. Help me stay up to date but first, read how to score your announcements.

Hungry For Social Networking Stats? Then you should see my collection of Social Networks Stats for 2008 and 2009. Bookmark them, then share it with others as I continue to update it.

Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: April 19, 2009

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digest3

I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.

I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my take, and click link to dive in for more.

Subscribe to this blog in your feedreader, or use the email subscription box in the right column. Or you can subscribe to this digest tag only and not receive my other posts.

Web Strategy Summary
This is only a sample of the news that happened last week. Without a doubt, this space is starting to move faster and faster, and it’s real struggle for me, an industry analyst, to keep up. Here’s what I think is important: things beyond the hype, deals, partnerships, movements of money, and potential for future growth.


Europe: Facebook trumps Hi5 and Bebo
Facebook Ranks as Top Social Networking Site in the Majority of European Countries. Facebook Captures #1 Ranking in Spain for the First Time in February, comScore, April

Partnership: Adobe and Gigya Partner to spread widget advertising
Adobe allows flash developers to extend advertisements to Gigya’s widget network using flash pro. This makes flash development easy to use and now social.

Security: Twitter compromised by hacker
Popular microblogging service Twitter was afflicted with a worm last weekend, causing the company to scramble to deal with it before the larger media attention mid week, and briefly resurfaced on Friday. Twitter must focus not only on making it’s site scalable (had major issues last year) but now must focus on making it safer through hardened security.

Growth: Ning hits 1 million communities
White label do it yourself social networking site Ning has reached a milestone, having hit 1 million individual social networks, or communities. Expect this trend to continue as we’ve seen an increase in ‘joiner’ behavior from year to year.

Amazon “Ham Fists” it’s adult books
A Twitter storm erupts, followed by blogs, then mainstream media as an apparent glitch by a ham fisted error caused the community to backlash. During the incident, it was hard to separate fact from fiction, but it became clear that from these news stories what really happened.

Spinout: StumbleUpon breaks free from eBay
I spoke with David Hornik, who’s on the board of Stumbleupon, who has now broken free from eBay. Expect to see some innovation occur now that the company is back in an open space environment. If they do this right, they could impact search as we know it.

Case Study: CPG $1.28 Million in Sales From $1 Million Social-Media Campaign
While not the highest possible margins you’d hope for in a social media campaign, this measurement reported by ad age shows that myspace worked with comscore and other agencies to measure a recent sales of a CPG effort. The study doesn’t indicate the positive word of mouth or other social residuals that may increase awareness, consideration, or brand preference.

Hype: Social noise as celebrities jump on Twitter
Of course, it shouldn’t go without mention that there’s quite a bit of noise within the social sphere beyond the AmazonFail incident, but the race to 1 million users by Ashton vs CNN. Ashton going on Oprah, her evangelizing the tool to her millions –and the continued growth we should expect from that. I have another blog post for that topic in a few.


Submit: I’m listening. If you’re a social network, or widget company, I want to know of your news, send me an email, or leave a comment below. Help me stay up to date but first, read how to score your announcements.

Hungry For Social Networking Stats? Then you should see my collection of Social Networks Stats for 2008 and 2009. Bookmark them, then share it with others as I continue to update it.