Dear (LinkedIn) Diary?

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Update, LinkedIn Status, Network Update, LinkedIn Diary

In a prior post, I wrote about LinkedIn content that is perhaps inappropriate for the medium.  In this post I address an interesting twist on that concept – and I’d like your opinion in the comments.

Most of us have shared content on LinkedIn, either an article from an outside source you believed would be beneficial to your network, or sharing an existing post you found on LinkedIn, or publishing a post on LinkedIn’s blogging platform, or maybe even a personal update (ex:  “I’m looking forward to attending the XYZ Event tonight” or “Happy to announce XYZ at this time”).  I’ve always believed that a little insight into you, the person, is a good thing as it helps transform your profile from two-dimensional to three-dimensional.

But, is there a point where your posts can be too personal on LinkedIn?  Is there a point where a personal post can do more harm than good?  Consider this situation . . . Meet Sharon (name and post details changed to protect identify), a professional currently looking for work.  Sharon recently shared these status updates on LinkedIn:

“Received a call from ABCD Company to discuss an open position. I made some resume changes to fit the job description. They seemed interested so I’m excited about the possibility.”

“I had my phone interview with ABCD Company and think it went well. We discussed my experience and willingness to learn new hardware and software. Their decision should be made in a few weeks.”

“As I await ABCD Company’s decision, I have other opportunities I’m actively pursuing and trying to schedule interviews with in Anytown, NY and  Fictitiousville, PA.”

“Today I scheduled a phone interview with a hiring manager at WXYZ Corp. for next Tuesday.”

“My phone interview with WXYZ Corp. went well yesterday.  The level of detail we discussed makes me hopeful.  While I await word from ABCD and WXYZ, I’ve just scheduled an interview with LMNOP Inc.  I’m excited about my interviewing activity and hoping an offer is coming soon.”

So what do you think about this level of personal detail being shared in status updates on LinkedIn?  Do you believe Sharon is successfully branding herself as being high-in-demand, which will help her job search?  Or, do you think that’s off-putting to potential employers that she’s sharing such personal and perhaps confidential information?  I could argue both sides, but I’d really love to hear opinions from recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals.

My First 5k

Twitter, Arthur Catalanello, @acatalanelloRecently, my personal Twitter account reached the 5,000 followers benchmark.  Having joined Twitter in June 2009, it’s taken me 7 years to the month to reach that milestone.  I wanted to share some observations and musings about my journey and strategy to 5k.

I’ve tweeted just shy of 13,000 times on Twitter.  I’ve watched some accounts delete older tweets to give the impression that they’ve built a large following based on fewer tweets.  That may fool the uninformed, but if you built your following organically, there’s no way you reached 5k followers on 128 tweets unless you’re a celebrity.  Besides, tweets are great for SEO, so if you want to be found on Google, your tweets should stay.

Speaking of organically growing your following, my following count is is 100% organic.  I have not purchased 1 follower to reach that number.  While I can see that helping a business get started on Twitter, I would otherwise not recommend it as I believe it’s better to have quality over quantity.

I don’t automatically follow-back the accounts who follow me.  I do look at each follower and read their bio, look at their number of tweets, the number they’re following and the number of followers they have.  I also look at the industry they’re in and/or the topics they tweet about.  I scroll through and read their last 5-10 tweets.  If the account seems legitimate and that I’d get value from their content, I follow them.  It’s time consuming compared to automating the process, but I believe it makes my Twitter stream more valuable to me.

I believe consistency is key to growing your following on Twitter.  You need to be consistent with the topics you tweet about and the frequency with which you tweet.  It’s also very important to be familiar with Twitter etiquette (or Twitiquette) and engage with other users.  Remember the basic rule of thumb that no more than 20% of your tweets should be self-promotion (and perhaps no more than 10%).

I’ve seen numerous accounts try to game the system by following several accounts, waiting for those accounts to follow back, then unfollowing those people.  This makes their followers count larger than the number of accounts they’re following, giving the false suggestion of importance and influence.  Because I’m active on Twitter multiple times a week, I use a tool (https://web.crowdfireapp.com/#/grow) to see who has recently unfollowed me.  Almost always it’s an account trying to manipulate their followers-to-following ratio.  If someone unfollows me for that reason, I unfollow back.  Once or twice a year I’ll review the accounts I’ve followed and will unfollow accounts that have been abandoned or haven’t tweeted in 12 months.

Use metrics and apps to enhance the Twitter experience.  You can learn about best times and days of the week to tweet, where your engagement comes from and which accounts provide the best interaction.  Twitter by itself is somewhat basic, so if you’re wishing it could do something bigger and better, chances are, there’s an app for that.  Some are free and some are paid.

Try to minimize the automation.  While it’s fine to schedule tweets ahead of time (I use https://hootsuite.com), your account should not be so robotic that you neglect to interact with others.  As far as automatic direct messages, does anyone read them or like receiving them?  Just turn those off and reach out to me after we’ve engaged each other a few times.  It may work on some, but I think the quantity that are annoyed by that practice is significantly larger.

Lastly, know your audience and goals.  How I’ve chosen to use Twitter for my personal account is quite different than how I’ve used it for clients I’ve worked with.  Why?  Different audiences and different goals require different strategies and methods.

How are you using Twitter?  As a wise woman once said to me, “Twitter isn’t stupid if you follow smart people!”

Don’t Engage Them!

Internet Police, Internet Police BadgeLet me preface this post by stating that I am not the Internet Police.  I don’t claim to be, nor do I aspire to be.  Rather, I have opinions about what I see online each day, and you know what they say about opinions . . .  ;-)

One of my two biggest social media pet peeves is when individuals or businesses continually fail to customize the message for the medium.  Whether it’s out of laziness or ignorance, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.  You wouldn’t strip the audio file from a television commercial to create a radio commercial.  Why then, would a tweet make a good Facebook post (or visa-versa)?  I’m not condemning the casual user who occasionally cross-posts an Instagram picture to Facebook or Twitter.  I’m referring to businesses that fail to adjust their message to the platform as part of their strategic marketing plan.

My second pet peeve is when individuals or businesses continually fail to follow the etiquette for the social media platform being used.  However, this pet peeve has started to dissipate for me.  Over the years, many of the social media platforms have borrowed aspects of other platforms as a way to expand their presence and take business away from their competition.  Do you remember when the only place to find #hashtags was on Twitter?  Now it’s seemingly present across all platforms.  The lines have become so blurred that etiquette for each platform, in some instances, has also become blurred.

As an example, let’s look at LinkedIn.  Once LinkedIn started to encourage rich media sharing in its platform, that changed the rules of “acceptable” posts.  Is a meme acceptable to post on LinkedIn?  Is it only acceptable if it’s work-related?  But what if the person who shared it has a job outside of the corporate, cubicle-farm world?  Can a pediatrician with a LinkedIn profile share a funny picture or meme that’s about parenthood?  After all, to the pediatrician, it’s work-related.  Can a mathematician with a LinkedIn profile share one of those tricky math puzzles?  Can a chef with a LinkedIn profile share a food picture of her latest creation?  What’s inappropriate or anti-etiquette for one could make perfect sense for another.  The growth of LinkedIn over the years has given rise to an even greater variety of careers and professional interests.

If you’re a member of the Internet Police and still despise all of those posts that many deem “inappropriate” for LinkedIn, here’s my advice:  don’t engage with the post!  If you like and/or comment on the post, it only adds to the popularity of the post (plus, your connections see your interaction with it).  LinkedIn defaults your news feed to “Top Stories” rather than “Most Recent”so engaging with that post will help it become a top story, seen by more users.  If you ignore that kind of post, it’s less likely to gain traction.

Here’s a quick look at some posts on LinkedIn that some find LinkedInappropriate.

Social Media Privacy Check Up – Part 2

In my last post, I discussed how to check your privacy settings on LinkedIn and promised that my next post would cover privacy settings for Facebook.  What prompted this privacy topic were questions that were asked during recent public presentations I made on social media, including:

  1. Should I create a 2nd LinkedIn profile if I’m considering a career in a different industry?
  2. Is there a way I can hide my LinkedIn profile, or parts of it, so that someone doesn’t think I’m over-qualified?
  3. Can I temporarily suspend my LinkedIn profile while I make certain changes?
  4. Should I create a 2nd Facebook profile – one for fun and one for a professional footprint?
  5. Should I create a Facebook business page for myself for professional purposes?

To start with Facebook, let me specifically address questions 4 and 5 above.  The answer to each is a definitive NO.  First of all, it’s against Facebook’s community standards to maintain a second personal account.  Secondly, a business page is meant to promote a business.  If you simply want people to see certain information and updates, but not all (especially the information and updates you consider “personal”) then you need to adjust your privacy settings accordingly, rather than creating a business page.  Here’s how and where you do that . . .

Social Media, Facebook, Privacy, Facebook Privacy, Settings

The fastest way to check your privacy settings is to use the padlock icon in the toolbar.  From there, you can change who can see your future posts, you can see and review things you’ve posted on Facebook (activity log) and you can see how others view your Facebook timeline by selecting a public view (those you’re not friends with) or what a specific friend sees on your timeline.  If you have your default setting for posts set to friends (that’s what mine is set for), then there will be a difference between a public view and a friend’s view.

Each of these settings in the first drop-down menu under the padlock icon should be reviewed in detail.  If you previously had your default setting for posts set to public, consider whether there is something you’ve posted in the past that can be viewed negatively.  In addition to your timeline posts, click on each of the tabs under your banner picture (About, Friends, Photos, More).  Are you satisfied with what can be seen publicly?  Are there things you need to make private (or friends only)?

At the bottom of the drop-down menu under the padlock icon are two links that you should also review:  More Settings and Privacy Basics.  These areas are where you can truly fine-tune your settings.  For example, you can change the visibility of past posts, you can turn on/off whether or not search engines outside of Facebook can link to your profile, and you can review the settings for when you’re tagged in posts.

If you’re looking for work, at minimum you should have your work history and contact information (including links to websites and other social media accounts) visible to the public.  In its 2015 annual survey, Jobvite found that 92% of all recruiters are using social media as part of their job.  While LinkedIn naturally leads the field at 87%, Facebook is second with 55%.  The lesson learned is over half of the recruiters will use Facebook – regardless of whether or not you want to use Facebook as part of your job search.  This same Jobvite article also shares the kinds of posts that recruiters view positively and negatively.  Don’t forget, if you comment on a post on Facebook, others can see that regardless of your own privacy settings!  Perhaps you have some Facebook clean-up to do?

Here’s how I manage my Facebook account…

  1. I’m pretty selective with who I connect with on Facebook.  I treat Facebook as I would my “backyard cookout.”  If I don’t know you well-enough to invite you to a backyard cookout I might have, chances are you’ll have to follow my public updates on Facebook (which I’ve allowed) to see my posts.
  2. I’ve set past and future posts to friends only by default.  If and when I have a post that I do want the public to see (a professional article, a blog post, an announcement about a public speaking engagement, a milestone event, etc.), I will intentionally change the visibility setting for that particular post from friends to public.
  3. I’ve created lists and will intentionally change the visibility setting for a particular post from friends to a specific list.  For example, since I live in Western NY, do my friends and family in Florida need to see my post about a lost dog I’ve found?  Creating and using lists allow you to be a “good citizen” of Facebook by reducing the timeline clutter of irrelevant posts.
  4. Remember that profile pictures and cover pictures are visible to the public by default, so choose them wisely!
  5. I also review every time I’m tagged and decide whether or not that’s something that I want to appear on my timeline.  Please note that if you choose not to have a post you’re tagged in appear on your timeline, it still appears on their timeline.

By knowing how the privacy settings work and how/where to change them, you can continue to use your ONE personal account for personal and professional purposes!

Social Media Privacy Check Up – Part 1

Are you happy with your social media privacy settings?  Do you even know what they’re currently set to, let alone where to change them?

The good news is, most social media platforms have improved, simplified and clarified their privacy settings in recent years.  The bad news is, based on questions I’ve fielded in recent presentations and seminars, many users have yet to master these settings.  Among the questions I’ve been asked. . .

  1. Should I create a 2nd LinkedIn profile if I’m considering a career in a different industry?
  2. Is there a way I can hide my LinkedIn profile, or parts of it, so that someone doesn’t think I’m over-qualified?
  3. Can I temporarily suspend my LinkedIn profile while I make certain changes?
  4. Should I create a 2nd Facebook profile – one for fun and one for a professional footprint?
  5. Should I create a Facebook business page for myself for professional purposes?

The short answer to each of the above is “No!”  If you take the time to learn and master your account privacy settings, there’s no need to create unnecessary duplication of profiles.  Not only would a duplicate profile violate user terms, in fact, profile duplication can do more harm than good.

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Settings, Privacy & Settings

Let’s start with LinkedIn.  To locate your LinkedIn privacy settings, you’ll want to click on the icon in the upper toolbar that contains your profile picture (if you haven’t uploaded a profile picture, click here!).  After clicking on that icon, select “Privacy & Settings” from the drop-down menu.  Privacy & Settings is split into three distinct areas: Account, Privacy, Communications.

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Settings, Privacy & Settings

While you should check each and every setting, in particular, here are the ones you’ll want to review:

Under Account/Basics:

  1.  Name, location and industry:  See how this information appears to other people on LinkedIn and make changes, if needed.

Under Privacy/Profile Privacy:

  1.  Edit your public profile:  Control how you appear when people search for you on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. as well as which profile contents are displayed (picture, headline, websites, posts, summary, current position and details, past positions and details, volunteer experiences and causes, projects, skills, education and details, recommendations, and groups).  You can also make changes to your profile summary, which is especially helpful if you want to describe a change in career focus.
  2. Sharing profile edits:  As you make changes to your profile, you can turn off the notifications to your network that would ordinarily accompany each change as it’s made.
  3. Profile viewing mode:  When you view someone’s profile, do you want them to see your name, location, industry and headline?  Or do you prefer generic characteristics?  Or do you prefer complete stealth mode?

You cannot temporarily suspend your LinkedIn account, so make sure you adjust your settings accordingly.  As a way to check how your settings impact the information that’s visible in your profile, you’ll want to go to Profile in your main toolbar and then select Edit Profile.  The blue button next to your profile picture will say “View profile as.”  Click that button and in the white toolbar that appears under the black toolbar, toggle between connections and public (those you’re not connected to).

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Profile, View Profile As

Don’t forget that the value of LinkedIn lies in being found and finding others.  The more active you are and the more information you include, the more valuable of a tool it becomes.

In my next post, I’ll address how your privacy settings in Facebook can help answer the questions that I’ve fielded in recent seminars I’ve given.

The Most Surprising LinkedIn Tip

Arthur Catalanello, LinkedIn, Presentation, Training, Public Speaking, Social Media, Advanced LinkedInTuesday evening I had the privilege of presenting “Advanced LinkedIn:  Hints, tips and tricks to take your LinkedIn skills from beginner to advanced!” to patrons of the Penfield Public Library.  It was a large crowd (as far as these types of presentations typically go) that was very engaged with many great questions asked.

In the course of 90+ minutes I covered how to create a customized and robust personal profile, how to create and save advanced searches, how to find groups and customize group settings and numerous other hints, tips and tricks.

When you’re presenting to a group of people, you learn to “read” the audience in terms of which points are resonating and which you might need to explain or clarify in further detail.  While I provided well over 20 tips throughout the evening, there was one in particular that seemed to generate the most “a-ha!” reactions among the attendees. . .

Arthur Catalanello, LinkedIn, Top Updates, Recent Updates, LinkedIn Newsfeed, LinkedIn News Feed, LinkedIn Settings

LinkedIn defaults the news feed on your home page to “Top Updates” (i.e., those with higher engagement levels . . . likes, comments and/or shares).  While it’s great to see what’s popular in your network, many people want to check their news feed for recent updates.  LinkedIn doesn’t make it easy to change from Top Updates to Recent Updates.  You need to locate the ••• symbol located between “Publish a post” and the first item in your news feed (see red box area in the screen capture above).

When you click that symbol it allows you to change from top updates to recent updates.  However, this setting is not permanent or “sticky” so each time you navigate away from your news feed, you’ll need to change it if you wish to see recent updates.

If you attended my presentation, was there a different tip or trick that you thought was even more eye-opening?  If so, please mention it in the comments and I’ll build a future post around it to share with others!

 

Detecting Fake LinkedIn Profiles

On Good Morning America yesterday, they ran a story on how scammers are targeting job search sites (LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.).  After watching that clip, you might wonder how someone could fall victim to such a scam.  It’s easy to be skeptical of email scams because they’ve been in existence almost as long as email itself.  But when it comes to social media scams, it’s sometimes a little harder to  discern.  After all, you have a level of trust with your connections and they couldn’t possibly share something false or harmful.  Right?  Wrong!

I regularly receive LinkedIn requests from people I do not know or have never met.  Since I’m not a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker), I tend to be selective when determining whether or not to accept the request.  I’ve been a member of LinkedIn since October 2007 and I’d like to think my “scam detector” is pretty accurate after all of these years.

A few weeks ago, I received a LinkedIn connection request that immediately had several red flags.  The top 3 concerns I had were:

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Invitation, LinkedIn Scam, Emily Blunt

  1. The first thing I noticed was that this person claimed to be a professional in my industry.  While I have an extensive established network, especially in the marketing field, I do not know everyone.  Yet, we had at least 10 connections in common.  Supposedly.
  2. The second thing that caught my eye was the use of ALL CAPS for her first name.  That’s certainly not a guarantee of a fake profile since some people intentionally do little tricks with how their name is displayed to stand out.  And, stand out she did.
  3. The third thing I noticed was how glamorous her profile picture was.  This wasn’t just a picture of an attractive person – she looked like a movie star!  And surprise, surprise, the picture IS of a movie star.  Emily Blunt, meet your alias, NAOMI Thomas.  How did I figure that out?  By using a reverse image search on Google!  This page from Google Support explains how to do that.

So now that you know how to conduct a reverse image search, I suggest you search for your own profile picture to make sure a scammer isn’t using your image for dishonest purposes.  After all, images of regular users are less likely to raise suspicion than a movie star.  If you find your image being used by a scam account, report it to that website immediately.  And as for NAOMI Thomas?  LinkedIn has removed her profile.  :-)

The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes

Cobbler, Cobbler's shoes, shoe makerThere’s an old saying that the cobbler’s children have no shoes because the cobbler has been too busy and successful at providing them for paying customers.  That’s been the blessing I’ve had since my last blog post.

A combination of factors brought me away from blogging regularly and a combination of factors is now bringing me back.  I’ve missed sharing my experiences and perspectives with you on marketing, social media, professional networking and job search.  Hopefully you’ve missed my posts too.  Much has changed in each of those areas since my last post, as have my experiences and perspective.  I look forward to reconnecting with you and hope you find my posts insightful and entertaining.  Until next time . . .

 

A New Year’s Resolution For Facebook Users

Happy New YearIf you’re a regular user of Facebook, you’ve probably seen your fair share of scams and bogus stories on Facebook.  Perhaps you’ve even inadvertently shared and perpetuated some of them.  While many would think that “common sense” would prevail at all times, it’s easy to get tricked when a friend, family member or someone you trust shares such a post and your intentions are good.

Why not make a resolution for the new year to become a better “citizen” of the Facebook community by helping to stop the spread of these scams and rumors?  Here are 4 Facebook pages that I recommend you “like” immediately.  Most, if not all of these have searchable websites too.  So before you share that post that Disney World is giving away a free vacation for 4 people plus a Visa Gift Card worth $1,000 for spending money, or BMW is giving away a free sports car worth over $50,000, or that posting a legal disclaimer will somehow protect your privacy, please do a little homework using these sites:

  1. Facecrooks:  https://www.facebook.com/Facecrooks
  2. ThatsNonsense:  https://www.facebook.com/thatsnonsense
  3. Hoax Slayer:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hoax-Slayer/69502133435
  4. Snopes:  https://www.facebook.com/snopes

If you realize you’ve shared a post that’s bogus, the best thing you can do is delete the post from your timeline.  If the post was a give-away scam that required you to authorize a sweepstakes app, you should delete that app immediately.  If you want to be a good Facebook citizen, you can even private message your friends who might have shared the story from your timeline and encourage them to delete the post too.  Lastly, it couldn’t hurt to change your Facebook password, which you should do regularly anyway.

My best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015!

 

Considerate or Creepy?

FoursquareThat’s the question I posed to my Facebook friends earlier this year when I was wrapping up a consulting project.  I wanted to give the person who referred me to an opportunity, a small token of my appreciation.  At the time, Foursquare had not yet split its check-in activity into a separate app called Swarm.  Since I was connected to this individual on Foursquare (and she checked in on Foursquare frequently), I was familiar with the restaurant and entertainment venues she likes.

At first I was a little concerned that using this information could be construed as creepy.  But, she was posting to Foursquare and syncing her check-ins to Facebook (where we’re also connected).  Rather than guessing at where she might like a gift certificate to, I could give her a gift I knew she’d enjoy, by using her social media activity she’s chosen to share publicly.

But before I purchased my gift, I posted my question to my Facebook friends.  In an unscientific poll, it was a near unanimous opinion that using the shared social check-in information was considerate.

This is just one example of how social check-ins can be valuable.  Businesses can learn about customers who frequent their location.  Customers can often receive incentives for checking in (free items, discounts, Wi-Fi access).  It can also be used as a search engine tool to discover new businesses in an area or see what’s trending in your area.

Social check-ins can also be used in the job search process.  Job seekers may be able to learn information about the hiring manager (and visa-versa).  But, be careful with the information you choose to publicly share and the check-in knowledge you choose to use.  Not everyone will view the “considerate vs. creepy” question the same way!

What are your thoughts on social check-ins?  Do you participate?  Do you find value in them?