LinkedIn’s Underbelly

Let me say this upfront: I like LinkedIn – I use it frequently because it delivers tangible professional value to me. It’s my uber online calling card, a searchable rollerdex and a cross-industry research tool rolled up into one; and the live status updates from my 500+ connections for market intelligence purposes are profoundly useful.

But here’s what I don’t like about LinkedIn. They’re a law unto themselves; a private company based in a faraway land with the ability – and sometimes the will – to arbitrarily suspend or delete your profile account. It has happened to me.

Many people fail to realise that their profile information which may sit on an online networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook is not their property. Yes, it’s your profile, but it’s not legally yours. If LinkedIn for instance were to delete or suspend your account you would have no legal redress. And where your account goes your profile information and network follows, resulting in immediately reduced online outreach and online visibility.

Some of us have spent years building up our profiles and our network of professional connections; for many it has become an important business asset. But again, an asset I have only limited control over.

LinkedIn suspended my account without notice because they claimed I owed them money. I ran some ads as a trial and authorised $100 to come out of my credit card (as an aside the click-thru results were fairly ordinary). But LinkedIn kept running the ads after the $100 had been exhausted. By the time I had worked out what was happening, several hundred dollars worth of advertising had been spent. LinkedIn asked for the money, and I replied by email as to what the situation was – pleaded my case – and heard nothing back. Then one day shortly after my account is suspended. Talk about rotten customer service: no discussion, no notice, no compromise. Just a big heavy hand flicking the off switch.

This is the kind of service you would expect from a monopoly – which is exactly what LinkedIn and Facebook have become for millions in their respective categories of professional and social networking. These are monopolies not in the traditional sense of there being no other choice, but rather they have each acquired the critical mass necessary to render other online networking options as practical non-options.

Yes, I paid the money and they restored my account – I had no (real) choice. But now I know who’s really in control here – and it isn’t me. As a professional I would advise anyone to maintain at least one other strong online presence aside from LinkedIn – a personal website or a blog would suffice from a search perspective. After all, professional online invisibility, whether by accident or design, is not a desirable thing these days. And I would also regularly export my full network contact data for safekeeping – just in case.

LinkedIn contact export option


Marketing your business with Facebook

A growing number of businesses are making Facebook an indispensible part of hanging out their shingles.

Source: NY TIMES – 10/12/09

The new networking on the internet

Now, the Internet is starting to upend those long-established methods; online networking on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and newer niche sites can be instantaneous and far-reaching.

Source: NY TIMES – 4/6/09

Keeping you alive with social networking

“The new future of old age is about staying in society, staying in the workplace and staying very connected,” he added. “And technology is going to be a very big part of that, because the new reality is, increasingly, a virtual reality. It provides a way to make new connections, new friends and new senses of purpose.” [Joseph F. Coughlin – Director of AgeLab]

Source: NY TIMES – 2/6/09

Is there such a thing as overuse of social networking tools?

There seems no part of public, private or commercial life that hasn’t been made more accessible through social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Hospitals are posting videos of surgeries on YouTube and doctors are sending tweets from operating rooms to educate the public and market their services. Those are just the latest examples of media-driven communication in places that used to be relatively private.

Source: NY TIMES – 28/5/09

Are you talking to your customers?

“You need to increase your efficiencies, drive down costs and create new markets or respond more eloquently to market needs. It’s about listening to your customers and creating products that make more sense to them [in] this environment. [Liza Boston – Cracked Pepper chief executive]

Source: THE AGE – 15/5/09

Is Twitter “hypnotic” and “mesmerising”?

Twitter is no longer new. It’s nearly three years old. Early enthusiasts who used it for barhopping bulletins have cooled on it. Corporations, institutions and PR firms now tweet like maniacs.

Source: THE AGE – 13/5/09

Is social networking ruining your health?

A study published this month by the British Institute of Biology claims that replacing real-world interaction with living, breathing human beings, with interaction over Twitter and Facebook, can bring about changes in your biology that can lead to all manner of problems, including sleep deprivation, increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and, at the end of it all, “mortality”.

Source: AFR – 12/5/09

Advertising on a social network

As of January, each MySpace visitor spent an average 266 minutes on the site in a month, compared with 176 minutes on Facebook, according to the tracking firm ComScore Media Metrix. Marketers like that because it means people are hanging around long enough to see their ads.

Source: AFR – 6/5/09

Twitter on the fashion runway

Social networking website Twitter took over AFW faster than a case of swine flu, with bloggers and magazine editors alike posting regular updates about not just the fashions they saw, but also the gossip and rumours running rife at the 5 day event.

Source: THE AUSTRALIAN – 5/5/09