Response: 4 lies about social media

8 Dec

I am a follower of Penelope Trunk’s blog, Brazen Careerist, and when I saw this post – 4 lies about social media – it immediately got me thinking as to whether it tallied with my experiences. She presents these as the four lies (quotes are from the blog post):

* My ‘agrees’ and ‘disagrees’ relate to Penelope’s position (so ‘agree’ means I do think the statement in the heading is a lie… sorry only saw potential confusion after writing…):

Lie #1: LinkedIn is for networking

LinkedIn is great. I’m on LinkedIn. I have 650 connections. At first I wondered, why do I need this list of connections published on LinkedIn? What was the purpose of it? But now I get it. With LinkedIn, people can tell that I am a very connected person.

Penelope’s main point is that LinkedIn is not a place for conversation.


  • Yes I tend to treat my profile as a fairly static CV/calling-card. I will connect with people I met at a work event, and store the contacts for later.
  • Yes I will have more respect for someone who is an effective user of the site, with plenty of contacts and a rich profile – it is a sign of professional awareness, yet…


  • If all I see in my feed is John Smith connecting with dozens of new people all the time, I will regard him as just a ‘collector’, not interested in meaningful relationships, and probably with a strong agenda or product to push (which I would prefer to avoid).
  • I do take part in some very interesting conversations in the Groups I have joined on LinkedIn. I enjoy receiving my round-up email and it regularly instigates me to participate. I don’t think I have actually made contacts through this, but some faces have become more familiar, and it definitely helps my wider professional development and awareness of broader issues.

Lie #2: Twitter is for conversation

The problem with using Twitter for conversation is that we need more than 140 characters to make a genuine connection with someone. So you’re not going to have a whole conversation there; Twitter is great for finding people who have similar ideas, and for keeping track of them in a superficial way.


  • Absolutely, Twitter has been fantastic for helping me find people in libraries, marketing and technology work, that has all been very helpful when I need advice (or work-related entertainment).
  • I suppose conversation doesn’t really happen there. Don’t tell, but the one web 2.0 tool I hate is instant messaging. For me, the benefit of Twitter is that I can exchange a couple of quality messages, then walk away without offending anyone. It is a degree more casual.

I’m not sure if this ranks as agree or disagree

  • Penelope adds that you need to take a Twitter-generated relationship elsewhere to solidify it. I agree with this, but just wanted to add that Twitterers generate meet-ups and events purely based on Twitter acquaintance, and associated Twitter tools built on the free API do provide instant chat, extended messages, photo exchange and more, which helps develop a relationship. The ‘elsehwere’ you need to go to may be Twitter-generated.

Lie #3: Blogs are personal journals

Your blog is a record of what you’re thinking, and that record will represent you online, as a high-ranking search result when someone googles your name. So if you care about building a network, you’ll stop using your blog as a diary.


  • Blogs are definitely not just diaries. There are wide possibilities for tone, topic and audience. They are indeed very public too, so you might as well consider the professional impact from the start and plan accordingly.

Lie #4: Social media is no place for business

Companies understand they need to participate in conversation, and they are looking a professional places to do it. If you want to be known to companies, you will use social media to allow them to get to know you.


  • Social media is a great way to build SEO and professional presence. If you approach it professionally there is no reason it should be inappropriate. Business is already out there on the social web, manipulating it, monitoring it, and if you make contact with them – monitoring you on it. Embracing social media should show you to be image-savvy with an eye for opportunities whereever they may arise – great traits for business.


Ok, so I don’t really disagree with Penelope at all, but I can understand reservations about using social media for business.

  • When times are tight, the hard-to-measure ROI of social media can make it a soft-target to cut or avoid.  Coupled with the fact that social media eats time and always demands more, it can seem an unappealing proposition to invest in.
  • For all the management effort you put in, you might still have a disaster event that means your own page or forum becomes the focus of a hammering. Trolls are given a space, publicly-available and searchable, to rant away. That is scary – it takes some progressive thinking and faith in your contacts and customers to trust that they will be reasonable and listen more to your responses and reassurances than the troll’s nonsense.

3 Responses to “Response: 4 lies about social media”

  1. Penelope Trunk December 9, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

    Hi. Loved your commentary. It’s totally true that twitter begets great meetups, which beget great relationships. I forgot about that.


    • helencurry December 9, 2009 at 11:40 pm #

      Appreciate the comment Penelope, and thanks for your initial post that got me thinking. It has reminded me that I must review our social media strategy at work (i.e. negotiate and write one rather than rely on received notions) and your points are definitely ones I want to work with.

      – Helen

  2. David Winter December 10, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    I liked Penelope’s comments too. Having been sucked into the world of Twitter throught the blog I’m working on, I’ve realised it is a group of people, each standing in a different corner of a room, shouting haikus into the centre of the room. Occasionally, you will overhear someone else’s haiku and repeat it to the centre of the room. I miss old-fashioned discussion forums.

    As a newish blogger, I also liked Penelope’s post on What makes a blog successful.

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