Got Social?

LinkedIn and my social media experiment

So, I used a recent shout out to try to accomplish two things.

First, for the last year, or a bit more, I’ve been having a constant battle with how to deal with LinkedIn, specifically with regard to connection requests.  I’ve been getting requests from people I do not personally know, or know well.  Now, I have no reason to believe they are not nice people, that’s not my concern – my understanding of LinkedIn has been is that its supposed to be people you could “vouch for” from having worked with them.  Now, I combed their site for that language and I no longer see it.  If you can find it, feel free to comment it here.  So maybe they have changed their pitch, but when I signed up (a million years ago) it very specifically indicated this.

Even though I don’t know someone right now doesn’t mean I might not want to know them – that’s called “meeting new people” and we do that in professional situations all the time.  So, has LinkedIn turned into the online equivalent of the professional cocktail party?  I guess it can be whatever I want it to be, for me, but I did want to find out what others said and I’ll get to that in a moment.

The other thing I used this for was to test how each of my networks would respond.  I posted my though via ping.fm to Facebook and Twitter (and LinkedIn, Plurk, and a few others I’ve long forgotten but opened to test them out), and I also posted it to Google+.  The wording was exactly the same on all three.  Now, Google+ surprised me.  I’ve  not been impressed with its adoption.  I like it, but I haven’t found much value in checking it regularly.  I’ve created circles, but I monitor my main stream.  Its interesting, it’s just not been sticky for me and I’m not sure why.

Now, I posted my “grenade” at 7:19am on Monday, October 24th.  When I say grenade, I mean a digital blip that I retreat from and wait to see the reaction.  Like, posting “Who is on LinkedIn and how do you decide who to accept into your network?”

So its been roughly 50 hours that its been out there.  The Stream has gone by fast enough that most of the people who will reply have probably done so.  ”The Stream’ is what I refer to as the input from all of my feeds – Twitter, Facebook, RSS, I think even email to some extent, but mostly the first two – the very active and constantly moving stream of digital existence that I’m tapped into.

Anyway, here are the numbers

  • Twitter:  Two people replied.  I have 871 followers, so that is 0.2%
  • Facebook: Three people (other than myself) involved in conversation.  I have 260 friends, so that is 1.2%
  • Google + : Four people responded.  I’m not sure how many people saw it, since I posted it to my circles, my extended circles, and publicly, but I have 159 people in my circles (and 209 people who have added me) and all four people who responded are in a circle of mine.  That means their G+ response is 2.5%, more than twice that of Facebook and WAY more than Twitter.

One main caveat is that it could have been the content of the question.  Clearly, this response rate has everything to do with whether or not the people seeing the post felt compelled to respond.  I know that, but the above is comparing the three networks based on the same exact input.  What needs to happen next is, another post but of a different topic.   I’ll wait a while, since now “the cats out of the bag” that I’m looking at this, so it could have an impact on people responding, one way or the other.

The actual content of the responses is also quite interesting.  On Twitter, although there were two responses, one of them was a spambot, so there was really only one response.  No matter how you look at it, that’s a pathetic response rate.  Now, this says something about me, my relationship with Twitter, the people who follow me, the relationship I have with them, and the medium itself.  Good, bad, or indifferent, the response says something about the relationships; it has to, by design.

The person who responded via Twitter said she’d accept a response from anyone.  Knowing the responder, I’m sure she’d look at the profile first and as long as the person wasn’t a stalker creep, she meant anyone.  So, 100% of Twitter respondents indicated they did not need to know the person personally or have worked with them.  Yes, 100%, how amazing is that Mr. Disreali?

Facebook was interesting in that it was a conversation.  Someone posted a response, then someone else did, agreeing with what the first person posted.  I responded to both of them and asked a clarifying question.  A third person joined in and then the second person responded to the clarification. There was one final post by me, about 2 hours after the initial posting.  So the Facebook stream has a 2 hour window, at these with these four people.

Three of the four respondents to the Facebook posting said they needed to know the person personally, professionally, and/or have worked with them. The fourth said that it was a professional network, but that he also used it to keep and maintain professional connections, especially with those doing the same job he does.

As I said above, Goole + is the one that surprised me.  Normally I see far more constructive content in Facebook, but clearly Google+ schooled Facebook with over twice the response rate.  The four Google + respondents work in Academia.  In the Facebook response, one was in higher ed, one worked in higher ed in the past, on the IT side of the house, and the third works for a company that does a lot of business with higher ed.  All four higher education professionals (Google + response) said that they either needed to know the person, have personally met them, or have a close association with them in the digital world (worked on something, same organization, etc…).

So, the final tally is…

  • Need to know them personally or have a working virtual relationship with them. 7 (78%)
  • Do not need to know them personally or have a working relationship with them. 2 (22%)

I’m not really clear what all this says in-and-of itself.  I mean, there is interesting information in all this, but until I get a chance to run a second experiment, this means little in isolation.

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