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Social Media featuring Social Media about Social Media

Geoff Wood

Through side-by-side commenting about LinkedIn on, I became aware of by Scott Allen and I wanted to highlight it here.

It took me a bit to figure out exactly what Scott was doing with the site but it appears that its the first example I've ever seen of Social Media featuring Social Media about Social Media.
Confusing? Not so, Scott writes a blog (social media) featuring screen caps of Tweets from Twitter (social media) that are about LinkedIn (social media). 
It's ingenious really since it transcends most of us who comment on social media by simply blogging about it. 
All kidding aside, his posts demonstrate the value that Twitter can provide in researching a topic (in this case LinkedIn).


Are Barack Obama and Chris Brogan Diminishing the Value of LinkedIn?

Geoff Wood

An interesting point came up in a discussion about LinkedIn the other day, when a friend said that LinkedIn suggested none-other-than President Barack Obama as a “Person You May Know”. As I’ve written before, I think the suggested connection functionality in LinkedIn needs to be overhauled, but in this case it’s a logical leap since President Obama is already a second degree connection, according to my friend. That prompted me to wonder who my friend knows that knows Obama; perhaps he has a business relationship with someone in the Illinois Congressional Delegation or at some point last year befriended the local campaign chair in our state? Not the case, the shared connection between the sitting President of the United States and my friend was a kid that he had hired a few years ago. I haven’t asked (I’m connected to the person, as well), but I’m pretty sure that this direct connection to President Obama has never met the man.

As I’ve written before, I utilize LinkedIn in a very specific way: I must have a real relationship with a person before I’ll connect to them. I define a “real relationship” as being familiar enough with each other that my connections could contact me and I would immediately know who they are (and vice versa). This typically means that we’ve met in person(1) – such as we went to school together, we’ve worked together, talked at a conference and exchanged cards, or are in the same social circles.

I want to be able to reach out to my connections to get value out of my network, such as asking them for information and recommendations, or to introduce me to someone else. The latter being a significant part of the value proposition of LinkedIn – that the people you are connected to directly (your first degree connections) are also connected directly to others (your second degree connections) and those others are directly connected to another tier of users (your third degree connections).

However, if these networks are skewed by unreal connections at any degree, like those to President Obama, then the value of my network is weakened.


It’s not just President Obama, others like social media guru Chris Brogan (who I enjoy following on Twitter @chrisbrogan), send out mass public invitations to gather unreal connections in LinkedIn, such as the one above through Twitter.

While the invitation seems innocent enough, he has a tremendous following on Twitter with over 56,000 followers. He includes his e-mail address in the request, which allows these would-be connections to bypass a safeguard that LinkedIn has put in place to encourage real connections in the system.

I have over 300 direct connections in LinkedIn and that connects me within three degrees of 1.25 million users. If any significant percentage of Mr. Brogan’s Twitter followers take him up on his offer to connect in LinkedIn it will play havoc in the system. That “havoc” will result in users having to spend more time sorting between real and unreal second and third degree connections and in the long run can only serve to decrease confidence in their network and ultimately the platform.

I respect that people use social media tools in different ways and that they evolve over time. In fact, I think that’s what makes Twitter such an amazing platform. However, this is the first instance I’ve found where someone else’s particular use of the tool is diminishing my value.


(1)Or, at the very least we’ve had multiple digital interactions (e-mail, phone, etc).


Which Social Media Companies Do You Admire?

Geoff Wood

Over the past several weeks I’ve been conducting some personal research into the Web 2.0-o-sphere. I’ve had coffee and shared meals with several people in person and asked (what I consider to be pertinent) questions to many more online.

One research area that I’m curious about is companies and their use of social media tools. To find out more I asked a simple question in several different mediums:

Which social media companies/consultants do you admire and what have they done to earn your admiration?

I asked the question in a few slight derivations first in Twitter – where I directed it specifically at people in “Iowa” and in “Indy” (my Twitter followers varies but isn’t large – only 173 as of now). I then asked in the forums of a local popular Ning network in Indiana called (4,806 members). Finally, I asked it in three different groups with decent size that I belong to on Phi Delta Theta Alumni (1,312 members), Iowa State University Network (3,592 members) and Kelley School of Business Alumni (2,237 members). It’s likely that very few members of any one medium are also members of another (unless they are, of course, me). In total, the question was posed to 12,120 folks (more or less), not counting one retweet in Twitter.

Here are the comprehensive results: 

Twitter, which had the smallest population of any the groups and actually received the question twice (localized), offered up two companies: MediaSauce (Indianapolis) and Lava Row (Des Moines).

Smaller Indiana, the group with the largest population, resulted in several companies and individuals (all in Indiana):
Individual People:
  • Erik Deckers (Professional Blog Service, blogging)
  • Renee Englehart (blog coach)
  • Tom Deeter (Social Media Campaign Management )
  • Paul Lorinczi (Metrics)
  • Kyle Lacy & Colin (Branding)
  • Lorainne Ball (RoundPeg, small biz)
  • Pat Coyle (Branded Social Networks)
  • Raquel Richardson, Angela, and Clay   (Silver Square)
  • Brian Gray (MediaSauce)
  • Greg Cross (Cross Creative)

The Linked In groups haven’t had long to respond but so far they appear to have each interpreted the question a little differently:

Phi Delta Theta Alumni – interpreted more along the lines of resources:
Kelley School of Business Alumni – interpreted more along the lines of platforms
  • LinkedIn and Twitter
Iowa State University Network – no response as of yet.

Now, I pose the question to you, readers of the ol’blog - “Which social media companies/consultants do you admire and what have they done to earn your admiration?”

Leave a comment below (and let me if you found the question through one of the resources above).

Facebook's 25 Random Things

Geoff Wood

There’s been an interesting phenomenon spreading throughout Facebook the last couple weeks called “25 Random Things About Me”. Cleverly named, it’s a list of 25 random things about me (or the person writing it).

You become aware of the list when one of your Facebook friends creates a 25 Random Things list and then “tags” you and 24 other people. You are then given the following instructions:

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

In effect, it’s a combination of the chain letter that’s been around for centuries and the odd e-mail “Get to Know Me”-surveys that were bouncing around collegiate e-mail directories in the last 1990s. However, unlike chain letters, there is no ill will set to fall upon you if you don’t pick up the challenge and unlike those surveys there are no common questions asked of each person.
After being tagged three times by co-workers and once by a family member I decided to capitulate and, since I took the time to create the list I figured that I should also share it here:
  1. I know the difference between a Monument and a Memorial (as in Washington and Lincoln).
  2. I will one day have a job where I can take my dogs to work.
  3. I’ve had the same seats at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa since I graduated in 2000 even though I've lived in Indiana for four of the those years and Nebraska for one.
  4. I still consider myself a “Chevy Truck Guy” even though I’ve happily owned an Acura sedan for over a year. The power of branding is strong.
  5. There is a bit of a strained dichotomy in my life in that I love history and tradition but constantly seek change.
  6. I’ve become a big enough fan of IndyCar racing in our time in Indiana that I was able to recognize 2008 Indy 500 and Indy Car Series champion Scott Dixon when he walked past me in the Indianapolis Airport this summer (we have a great picture).
  7. I have cousins named Rustin, Justin and Dustin (in three separate families).
  8. I pay for a home phone but don’t know the number.
  9. I don’t understand people who have a non-geographic loyalty to a particular professional sports team.
  10. I like to know as much as possible about the sports teams that I follow and as a result I have a hard time just turning on the TV and enjoying a casual NFL or MLB game (unless it’s the Vikings or Twins).
  11. I visualize a map of the United States when thinking about cardinal directions (such as the Atlantic Ocean is East and the Pacific is West). Ever since moving to Indiana, I’m at times confused since the Mississippi River is now West of me.
  12. I think that umbrellas are not masculine but have no problems with scarves and earmuffs (at least the wrap around ones). My opinion has been disputed several times by a few of my MBA classmates.
  13. Other than at the office, as many of my friends refer to me by last name as do my first
  14. I still refer to most of my female friends from college by their last/maiden names (only) even though several have acquired new ones for themselves.
  15. In the last few months I’ve become an avid user of Twitter.
  16. I met Dave Matthews at my first ever company holiday party and no holiday part since has been as exciting.
  17. I never drank coffee until I started graduate school in August 2007, now I drink it a lot. I drink as much of it after 6 PM as I do before 11 AM. I only drink it black – no mochochocalatte-ish drinks.
  18. My greatest athletic accomplishment is somewhere between riding all 471 miles across Iowa in RAGBRAI 2008 and making “Pro” in Wii tennis. Middle school basketball (2 years), high school tennis (2 years), and Iowa State Rugby (1 year) were not quite as successful. I also like to play kickball but we didn’t field a team last season.
  19. After the first time that I went out with my wife, Hope, (we were already friends and she didn’t know it was an “exploratory” date) I decided that I wasn’t going to her ask her out again; she called and asked me out instead.
  20. Hope and I started to a tradition of going to movies every weekend when we first started dating (March 2002); we still see 2 or more per month.
  21. I was the first person I knew to have a CD player when my folks gave me one for my birthday in 5th grade. Everyone bought me CDs that they wanted to listen to: my Sister Sara - Paula Abdul’s “Shut Up & Dance”, my brother Joe – Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” and my folks - Tom Petty’s “Into the Great Wide Open”. I listened to all of them at the time but Tom Petty is the only one that I’d still like to have today.
  22. Over Christmas this year, I visited the neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that I grew up in and it still looks like Post-Katrina New Orleans from last summer’s floods. The recovery needed from that disaster has been grossly under publicized. 
  23. I firmly believe that almost all recommendations are crap.
  24. Even though I’m not a Colts fan (like most folks around these parts), I think Peyton Manning is hilarious.
  25. The tater tot is my favorite form of potato. I love the fact that I can order them at The High Life Lounge in Des Moines (though I haven't been there in a few years). 
At first I thought the 25 Random Things list was fairly silly but now I kind of dig it. One of the greatest uses of Facebook for those of us over 22 years of age is to catch up with friends from long ago (like the elementary school classmate who “friended” me this evening). What better way to learn about what they are up to then to view the 25 Random Things about their life that they’ve chosen to share with the world?

New Year’s Resolutions 2009

Geoff Wood

My wife is the one who is big on New Year’s Resolutions in our family but this year I thought I’d go ahead a name a few for myself:

1. No Soda in January (possibly to extend to all of 2009)

I like soda. I love soda. I drink it – a lot. I tend to gravitate to one specific brand at a time. In college it was Diet Mountain Dew (I once taped a plea to the Pepsi machine at the fratter to have the delivery guy add it to vending options). After that it was Diet Dr. Pepper, then Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, and for the last several years Coke Zero (it…is…awesome). Since I started graduate school more than 12 months ago, my intake has increased to unhealthy proportions. I’ve actually had medical professionals recommend knocking it off – my dentist every time I see her and my doctor at the pre-RAGBRAI physical last summer. I’m going to start with January and if it takes, I may extend it to the entire year.

Please note: I did not give up caffeine – I’m drinking more coffee than ever.

2. Smell Better

For the record, I don’t smell bad now. At least, I don’t think so and if I did I’m sure the wife would mention it (living with me and all). However, I’m sure that I could always smell better. I’ve never really been a cologne guy (other than a Hugo Boss experiment for awhile at the end of college) and I’m going to try it out for 2009. My mother-in-law gave me some cologne-like-stuff for Christmas and I like the smell so I’ll start there. Also, I’ve never been a “mints” guy, either, but due to the increase in coffee (see resolution #1) it might be a good thing idea to get out ahead of coffee breath. Anyone have good ideas for mints?

3. Networking 2.0, er, 1.0

Over the last few years I’ve become an avid user of social media/web 2.0 technologies such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I use them for different purposes, each of which is a little hard to describe. I like how Nathan Wright characterizes the difference at his blog: “…social networks like Facebook are great for connecting me to friends from my previous life, but Twitter connects me with people I should have known my whole life.” I use Facebook to check in on the lives of the people I’ve known from college, high school, and before, as well as coworkers and others that I’ve called my friends. I use Twitter to find interesting people that I’d like to know and learn from others that I’ll likely never meet. I use LinkedIn mostly as a professional resource to organize “official” contacts with colleagues, MBA classmates, and business partners.

On to the resolution, I’m planning to take these three web 2.0 technologies and roll them back to 1.0. My goal is to personally contact one of my connections from these social media services each week in 2009.  It may be an e-mail, a phone call, or an invitation to lunch, but I plan to do strengthen my networking ties with a little “old school”, er 1.0, direct contact.