Seems like everyone has "social media" in their profile these days, or at least about 600,000 on LinkedIn do (search for social media on LinkedIn to see). This got me wondering about the difference between two terms we all use a lot to describe Internet-based applications: Social Media and Social Networking; what is the difference? Social media allows anyone to broadcast content that others can discover, share, and comment on, while social networking allows people to connect around shared interests. Both types of software are used as part of broader marketing campaigns and both generally rely on viral marketing to bring in new users and so can grow at exponential rates.
There is a special case of social networking I'd like to zero in on for this blog posting: What happens when famous people use social networking tools? In some cases such as the examples I give below, I think these people are trying to use social networking platforms as if they were social media platforms, and in my opinion, this usually fails spectacularly. Barack's campaign is one notable exception, but that was unique because his campaign invented a new way to use social networking tools, and I'd hesitate to call this either social networking or social media. I think we need a new term for this. Any ideas?
I recently discovered that a number of famous people appear to have their own LinkedIn profiles. At least I'm assuming these are real as I expect they would have been torn down if they were fake. Here are my personal favorite examples of celebrities trying to use LinkedIn as if it were a social media platform. I've just requested a direct connection with all of them. If I get any responses, I'll come back and edit this blog posting and let you know who let me in!
Sarah Palin's profile is just downright funny to read - her summary ends with such badly written English, you have to wonder how this could still be here online, but there it is:
"My fellow Americans, come join our cause. Join our cause and help our country to elect a great man the next president of the United States. And I thank you, and I -- God bless you, I say, and God bless America. Thank you."
Bill Gate's profile is awesome in it's conciseness. With only 38 connections it's pretty clear Bill is not using LinkedIn for its social networking capabilities. I'm guessing he wanted to try it out at some point and just abandoned his account. Maybe he thought his profile description would be a good way to describe himself to the LinkedIn community.
The man does not need to say much in his profile. He calls the Gates Foundation, the largest foundation in the world, "A humble initiative", and Microsoft, one of the most dominant software forces in history, "A small monument". A bit of false modesty? He never finished college though, so I don't know. One of his public recommendations appears to be this comment which probably wasn't meant to be public so I am a bit surprised that he'd post this:
Like Gates, this guy doesn't need to say much. His job description for being President simply says, "I am serving as the 44th President of the United States of America." This is the complete opposite of Bill's profile: millions of connections - over three million on facebook alone. This is not social networking in the sense that most people think of when they think of LinkedIn, yet at the same time, he never posted anything new on his LinkedIn profile so there could not have been much social media going on either. I think this was something else, neither social media nor social networking; it was a badge his fans could put on their profile to show their support to their own network.
Talk about not needing to say much, Britney has the shortest profile of the group. This is the entire profile: