Tag Archives: MySpace

Can this be your missing link? It has 100m users and is known as ‘the Facebook for suits’. Is LinkedIn is the business site you can’t ignore?

What’s your idea of business networking? A round of golf perhaps, a brief exchange of business cards at a trade show or a meeting in the dowdy conference room of a provincial hotel?   Like most people you probably find it a chore, but the stewed tea and broken Bourbons might soon be a thing of the past because social media is oiling the wheels of commerce — and LinkedIn is handling the introductions.   You might know LinkedIn from the daily requests from someone you have never heard of to join a network in which you have no interest. Or you may have joined at some stage in the past, thought it was a good idea, never to return. But according to some media and business experts, you ignore it at your peril.

Dubbed the “Facebook for suits”, the US social media site now has 100 million global users, six million of them in the UK, where it opened for business three years ago. The word from the internet’s other great growth business, social media analysts, is that if you’re not on it you’re nobody.

“If I was a CEO and time was precious I’d probably not bother with it much, but anyone else would be foolish to ignore it,” says Steve Virgin, director at Media Focus UK and a trustee of Wikimedia. Today we’re all marketing people and the most important thing we market is ourselves.”   I signed up to the site 18 months ago after an invitation from a colleague, but like most people have done little with it. Am I ignoring a potential professional goldmine? If I take LinkedIn seriously, will it double my business?

These are the questions that lead me to the company’s freshly minted offices behind Tottenham Court Road, Central London, to receive a networking masterclass from its communications chief, Richard George. A large TV screen in the boardroom displays LinkedIn’s mind-numbingly anodyne website and, more importantly, my perfunctory profile. Outside, employees beaver away providing IT support and recruitment and sales services in an open-plan office. At the far end is a canteen where staff gather to hear proclamations from Jeff Weiner, CEO and former Yahoo! executive, at a fortnightly videoconference.   “Everything starts with your profile. This is your professional identity, your CV,” George says, regarding mine with evident disdain. “You need to provide more information about yourself.   We give away a huge amount of functionality, it’s up to you to use it.”

LinkedIn was launched in California in May 2003 by Reid Hoffman, a US web entrepreneur and former executive on PayPal, who helped to engineer the meeting between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his first investors.   It took LinkedIn a year from its start to reach 500,000 members; today it is growing at a million a week. A month ago it also became the first social network to float on the New York Stock Exchange, prompting a frenzy of trading that saw shares leap from $45 to a high of $122 each. The valuation of $9 billion recalled the gold rush of the first dot-com boom a decade ago.

“It has grown massively in importance and in numbers and the one is a consequence of the other,” says Jan Vermeiren, founder of Networking Coach and author of How to Really Use LinkedIn. “Whether you are an individual or a company it is essential in your professional life.”   Perhaps. But most people just register and that’s it. “They don’t do much with it,” Vermeiren agrees. “But once you define your goal, what or for whom you are looking, you can see its value.”   Back at LinkedIn’s office we go about making “Brand Me”. A picture is uploaded, my skill summary is expanded, my past history filled in. Privacy has become one of the biggest issues of today. Cookies mean your electronic footprints are everywhere and for the (rightly) paranoid, revealing more information about your education, background, skills and interests to the world seems foolish, but LinkedIn stakes its reputation on ring-fencing your image.   “I was chatting to a guy recently who was worried about his daughter being on Facebook,” Virgin says. “I told him there’s a new form of privacy now. You have to accept that old notions of privacy don’t exist. You’re there whether you like it or not. It’s about turning it to your advantage and LinkedIn can be controlled in a way that Facebook can’t.”

Step two in my social networking lesson: make some connections. Connections are like your Facebook friends: they’re people you might do business with or who might help you to do business. A quick way to get started is by synching your e-mail address book with the site, but each time you do business with someone you can also invite them to connect. The point is not that you connect with them but that you link into their network. You have to conclude that the more you put into something this way, the more you get out. Equally, you will receive requests for introduction, but you have a choice on whether you acknowledge them positively (do you know them? Are they likely to be of any use?).   As in life, not all requests are granted. There were some abject failures. An attempt to reach an editor on the BBC sport website crashed. The football agent blanked me (no surprise there). Nevertheless, I grew in popularity with 57 connections, which apparently linked me to a mind-boggling 1,303,000 professionals. Cool. Even if it did feel a bit like freshers’ week.

“Well it’s not new or especially radical,” Virgin says. “It’s taking something we’ve always done but it’s doing it faster than ever before.”   Of the many people to whom I spoke, — in PR, sales, finance and marketing — not one had a bad word to say about LinkedIn. Several said that it had got them a new job. The jobs market is a big driver for LinkedIn and a key source of revenue. You may not even know you’re in the market for a job until one is offered.   Tim McLoughlin, a social media expert at Aegis Group, had switched jobs the previous week when I contacted him. “I was looking for a change,” he says. “I did almost my entire job-surfing on LinkedIn by looking up companies I was interested in to see if I had any connections. I asked for some recommendations and ended up at a place where I had never met anyone face to face.”   For this reason LinkedIn is becoming an essential tool in the recruitment industry. Users are polishing themselves up, companies are using search tools to track them down.   Last year the recruitment agency Hays carried out a survey of 500 professionals and 60 per cent were aware that employers used it to research potential recruits.

Chris McCarthy, a Hays director, has been a member since the site opened eight years ago and now uses it every day. “It has increased our source pool,” he says. “Your profile is an online CV and we read hundreds every day, which we benchmark against others. That’s why you should make an effort. We search by job title or regionally or we can go through competitors. What we want is a career history with a solid track record of progression.   “Where we are really seeing its reach is as a global tool. I recently found someone for a UK manufacturer in China who was German. Advertising may not have worked for that. You can gain access to experts very quickly. It’s also meritocratic, it does away with all the old-school-tie stuff because your CV is there alongside everyone else’s.”

Actually your educational background is part of your profile, but one colleague in market research, who also uses it regularly, warns against an expectation that a job will drop in your lap. “I don’t think there are any epiphanies. It’s more subtle than that,” he says.   There is also the issue of potential conflict between companies and employees. “I tell CEOs that they have to trust the people who work for them,” says Vermeiren, for whom training companies is now his biggest growth area. “They need to have a calm discussion about the consequences of misusing LinkedIn. Generally, people act as ambassadors and promote the company. If you tell people you’re going to monitor their behaviour then they’re not going to show goodwill.”   McCarthy has seen the other side, the indiscretion and the bitching. “Companies need to be wary about how employees use it. I’ve come across some profiles with staggering stuff that doesn’t exactly represent the company in the best light,” he says. “Pictures revealing too much, indiscreet comments.”

With LinkedIn’s middle-management client base, the consequences of a bitch about the boss on the Twitter feed you synched to your account could be much worse than a PA getting fired.   And don’t think you aren’t being watched. Last month the software developer Actiance announced a new add-on called Socialite that intercepts new edits of LinkedIn profiles and automatically reroutes the changes for review. Employers might see any alteration as a “come-on” to recruiters.   Further potential conflict exists in all those useful connections you make in doinging your job: your client base. When the split happens, who gets the kids?   “The legal side of social media is evolving steadily,” Virgin says. “The data has a real value so you can see a time where the company wants to own your contacts if you leave because you built them up on the company’s time and through the company’s reach. If you attempt to hit on those contacts and get them to move their business it becomes an issue. Someone is going to clean their previous employer out and there’s going to be a court case.”

Back at my home page further surfing in Events (under “More”) reveals LinkedIn London, a face-to-face gathering run by Jorgen Sundberg, founder of Link Humans, a social media consultancy. I attend its next meeting upstairs in a Holborn pub, where Sundberg explains how to exploit LinkedIn to a dozen members including Jinessh, a business development manager, and Edita, an accounts manager, both keen for a move.   I meet Andrew Pothecary, the young MD of WCAFI, which makes a “clean air kit” aimed at companies interested in branding them as corporate gifts. Beer in hand he proves an enthusiastic LinkedIn proselyte.   “I’ve been using it an awful lot the past six months to analyse who I’ve been in contact with by e-mail and reconnecting with them by LinkedIn. I used a contact in Canada to set up a deal with Mastercard UK and I found three or four commercial agents on the groups page who are keen to meet me. It makes networking in real life that bit easier, it’s a great facilitator.

We’re here today meeting people, tomorrow we’ll be back on LinkedIn looking for more people to meet. That’s how it works.”   It’s probably me but there’s an air of forced bonhomie at such events: they feel awkward and artificial and it’s hard to say what value they have apart from reacquainting people with those redundant social skills.   It might be my misanthropic tendencies but it makes me want to retreat behind my profile and fire off more invitations. It’s a lot less effort after all.   How to control your career with LinkedIn   It all starts with your profile. It’s your resumé, so follow the instructions carefully.   Upload a head and shoulders picture eBay-style. Think “appropriate”.   Expand your summary. Explain your job role, making sure that you use keywords because this acts as SEO — search engine optimisation — pushing you up the rankings.   Avoid bad jokes.   Expand your network — send out invitations but don’t hassle people. Don’t play the numbers game — it’s quality, not quantity, that matters.

Join relevant Groups (some are open, some closed and you have to request admission).   Use the search engine tool at the top right of the page to find people who could be of use. Post recommendations. Someone must have been impressed by you. Ask them to add a testimonial. Don’t make it look like a swapsie.   Avoid posting sensitive information or complaining about your job.   If you Twitter, pair it up with your LinkedIn account. But remember that people are now receiving your tweets. We don’t care if you had a bagel for breakfast.   Be visible. Updating your profile and interacting subtly reminds your contacts that you’re out there.   What your social network says about you   I am not a LinkedIn user. When I receive a request from someone to connect with them on LinkedIn, I feel much the same way as the Times columnist Caitlin Moran, who wrote on Twitter recently: “*endless sorrow* My brother has invited me to join him on LinkedIn. I’d rather he’d just formally told me we have nothing in common.”   What social network you belong to says something about you — your background, your aspirations and, of course, your friends.

LinkedIn has the well-earned reputation of being “Facebook for suits”, emphasising networking rather than being sociable. The idea of making connections to others mainly to advance you career can seem a bit distasteful and phoney.   All the same, millions of people want to be part of LinkedIn and many of us are now active members of more than one network. At various times I have used Facebook, MySpace and Twitter — MySpace’s focus on new music appeals to my wannabe-trendy side. Twitter has become a valuable journalistic tool, keeping me in touch with the day’s events faster than any other news feed.   Then there’s Facebook, the biggest beast of them all with 700 million users worldwide. One person in three in the UK is on the site, which has become a one-stop socialising shop with tentacles that reach all over the web.   So, we may dabble in LinkedIn, especially with its promise to get us a better job and higher salary. But Facebook is the site that has made social networkers of us all.

Advertisements

MySpace loses millions of users in a few weeks

Latest statistics suggest attempts to kick new life into MySpace may be failing.

Tech industry analysts comScore say figures show MySpace lost more than 10 million unique users worldwide between January and February. There were almost 63 million users of MySpace in February 2011, down from more than 73 million. Year on year the site has lost almost 50 million users, down from close to 110 million in February 2010. The loss of users comes despite a series of changes to the site to make it more about music.

It was the social network site that helped launch the careers of artists like Arctic Monkeys, Kate Nash and Lily Allen. But so far this year MySpace has already announced it is to cut half its workforce. Falling numbers. A round 500 staff are going worldwide. Five years ago it was booming and for many was the first place to visit to talk to friends and listen to music. But the arrival of sites likes Facebook has changed the face of social networking. In the UK, 2.3 million people used the site in February 2011.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp bought the company for £330 million back in 2005.  If they were to sell today, they might get as little as £50 million for it. MySpace boss Mike Jones has been putting a brave face on the falling numbers. He said the site is no longer a social network and is instead an “entertainment destination”.  But with competition from YouTube, streaming services and increased file-sharing it faces tough times.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/12862139

MySpace launches social calendar function with ads

MySpace is trying to get on your social calendar — or at least take over how you manage it. The social networking site, in the midst of an overhaul to regain its lost mojo, is rolling out a service Thursday that blends nearly 1 million concert listings with a calendar and new links to buy tickets from partners or artists. Other pop culture events such as movie debuts and album releases are expected to appear on the calendar as well. Users can add or subtract which events they see on their personal calendars on MySpace by clicking on categories such as music or friends’ events. They even could list or remove events they were notified of on Facebook, the rival social networking giant. Listings can be tailored to a user’s favorite artists and location. MySpace is capitalizing on its strength as a forum where 14 million musicians interact with fans and on its bustling invitation application, which it says handled 126 million event invitations in March alone. The new project also opens a channel for advertising that is needed to improve the finances of MySpace, which has become an underperforming unit of News Corp. MySpace is selling event listings that will show up prominently on users’ calendars and profile pages. The new feature takes advantage of MySpace’s USD 20 million acquisition last year of iLike, a popular music application that also runs in Facebook, and blends it with Social Plan, an event application that was absorbed by MySpace in January. Social Plan was also a unit of News Corp

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100415/ap_on_hi_te/us_tec_techbit_myspace_events

Why did it all go wrong for the once fashionable social network?…Bebo has failed to evolve in the way of Facebook and Twitter

Buying a fledgling social networking site is the quickest way for a giant corporation to gain credibility with a youthful audience, but it is also the fastest way to waste a few hundred million pounds.

US internet giant AOL snapped up Bebo, the UK equivalent of Facebook, for $800m two years ago, only to announce last week that it was embarking on a “strategic review” that is likely to lead to its closure. At the time of the deal in March 2008, which made millionaires of Bebo’s founders Michael Birch, a Briton, and his Californian wife, Xochi, AOL described it as “a game-changing acquisition” that “puts us in a leading position in social media”. That lead evaporated remarkably quickly.

Back then, Bebo had a global audience of between 7.1 million (according to online ratings company Nielsen) and 40 million (said Bebo). Most agreed it was the third largest social networking site in the UK behind Facebook and MySpace, although it had struggled to gain traction in the US. According to figures from ComScore, Bebo’s global unique visitors in February 2010 totalled 12.8 million, down 45% on February 2009. Facebook had 462 million visitors, MySpace nearly 110 million, and Twitter 69.5 million.

What went wrong? Being brought by a global corporation tarnished the cooler-than-thou image of an independent start-up that was particularly popular in school playgrounds. Aggressive expansion by Facebook also played a part. Like most social networking sites, Bebo also benefited from a novelty factor that can disappear as quickly as it emerges. News Corp, the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, bought MySpace for $580m in 2005, only to watch its appeal diminish along with its value as it loaded the site with adverts.

ITV took a gamble on another UK start up, Friends Reunited, paying £120m in the same year, only to sell it at a huge loss last year. Company insiders criticise AOL for failing to invest in Bebo, and point out that an acquisition by a corporate giant tends to stifle creativity. That may hide a more uncomfortable truth, however, which can make a mockery of the savviest owners. Social networking sites are businesses based on the fickle behaviour of internet users, who are free to move on to the next site when a competitor emerges and are offered few reasons to stick with their existing site. In that sense, Bebo was a fad.

It may not have fallen into the trap of letting naked commercialisation scare its teenage users away, but nor did it evolve in the manner that many of its competitors did. Facebook is used by adults as well as children. Much of Twitter’s power, influence – and likely longevity – derives from the fact it has become a professional tool, rather than an online outlet for gossip posted by its users.

Start-ups rarely fare well when they are taken under the wing of a bureaucratic corporate parent, and Bebo may also have suffered by hitching its wagon to AOL, a business that has itself seen better days. It is owned by Time Warner, an American media giant that owns CNN, Time magazine and a host of other assets, but the $162bn deal that brought AOL and Time together is now regarded as one of the most disastrous in corporate history.

Buying Bebo was an attempt to build on AOL’s status as the world’s first internet provider by bolting on a new audience, but internet users are notoriously promiscuous. For Bebo’s young users, the site turned out to be the online equivalent of a teenage crush – intense while it lasted, but it didn’t last…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/apr/11/bebo-mistake-aol-facebook-twitter

Twitter users not so social after all

Twitter may be a fast-growing social network, but most of its 50 million accounts merely follow other users rather than posting their own messages. In fact, a whopping 73 percent of Twitter accounts have tweeted fewer than 10 times according to a new report from Barracuda Networks, a Web security company. It seems that Twitter is becoming more of news feed than a social network, said Paul Judge, author of the report and chief research officer at Barracuda. And that raises questions about its growth potential, as well as how the Internet phenomenon will make money. As of December 2009, only 21 percent of Twitter account holders were what Barracuda defines as “true users,” meaning someone who has at least 10 followers, follows at least 10 people and has tweeted at least 10 times. That indicates that most Twitter users “came online to follow their favorite celebrities, not to interact with their buddies the way they would on Facebook or MySpace,” said Judge. The follow-only trend exploded when celebrities helped push the microblogging site into the mainstream during a six-month period that Barracuda calls Twitter’s “red carpet era.”

http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/10/technology/twitter_users_active/index.htm

Google’s real-time search to go live this week

Google has unveiled its long awaited real-time search function, announcing that it has partnered with MySpace and FriendFeed to provide the service, along with Twitter, which signed up a few weeks ago.

Rolling out globally in English over the next few days, real-time results means users entering key words into the Google search box will see what is being said about the subject on Twitter, MySpace, FriendFeed and other social networking sites at the very moment the enquiry is being made, along with the usual Google results

It will produce just a couple of results on the main Google page but users can also click on ‘latest results’ to get a full page of live tweets, blogs and other content, which will scroll down as more are added. Settings can be adjusted so that only results are delivered from a selected site.

Writing on the Google Blog, Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, said: “Our real-time search features are based on more than a dozen new search technologies that enable us to monitor more than a billion documents and process hundreds of millions of real-time changes each day.

“Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our new partners that we’re announcing today: Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Jaiku and Identi.ca — along with Twitter, which we announced a few weeks ago.”Microsoft’s Bing has already introduced a beta version of real time search, using Twitter

http://www.brandrepublic.com/BrandRepublicNews/News/972488/Googles-real-time-search-go-live-week/?DCMP=EMC-DailyNewsBulletin

Why e-mail has become the new snail mail

Compared with text messages and instant messaging, e-mail is an incredibly slow and inefficient method of communication

I was struck, the other day, by an uncharacteristic desire to socialise and decided to invite a few friends over for dinner. But three days after sending out an e-mail invitation, only half the prospective guests have replied. And while there might be a number of banal explanations for this — the poor souls in question may be away, they may not like me as much as I like them, they may have heard about that unfortunate dinner party in 2002 when I drank so much that I threw up between courses and was in bed before pudding could be served — I think there’s a profound explanation for the silence. E-mail is no longer a useful method of communication.

And one of the many surprising things about this development is that it has absolutely nothing to do with spam, the thing that, some years ago, many people thought would result in the death of e-mail.

Unsolicited messages are still, of course, an issue — according to one estimate, three quarters of all e-mails are spam — but filters do a brilliant job, achieving a success rate of 99.5 to 99.9 per cent — and of the thousands of e-mails I get each month, no more than two or three are ever offering “80 per cent off Codeine, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Xanex or Valium” or “increased performance guaranteed” or “pills for a larger Pen1s!”.

The other surprising thing about the decreasing usefulness of e-mail is that it is actually being crippled, in part, by solicited messages. It has, in short, become a victim of its own success.

In surveys of business users, the biggest complaint about e-mail is that there is too much of it, with people too often using electronic messages as a way of demonstrating that they are working, and endless, enervating chains of messages with people offering mindless opinions on inconsequential corporate developments clogging inboxes across the country. But personal e-mail is becoming just as cumbersome.

The other day I was complaining to a friend and colleague about the ever-increasing volume of e-mails, saying that I replied to very urgent ones as I got them, made a mental note to reply to moderately urgent messages by the end of the day (but often forgot to do so) but in general managed to respond to messages only once a week or once a fortnight, during marathon, guilt-fuelled e-mailing sessions.

And he responded with the news that he’d given up on e-mail entirely. If you want a response from him, you have to get him by telephone, or text message, which brings us to yet another surprising thing about e-mail in 2009: it has become the new snail mail.

This may sound peculiar to people who are still mourning the demise of the letter, and the opportunities it provided for considered reflection, contemplation, fancy handwriting and the use of silver fountain pens and exclusively milled, watermarked, personalised writing paper from Smythson of Bond Street, but e-mail, compared with text messages, and instant messaging, is an incredibly slow and inefficient method of communication.

How inefficient and slow? Well consider these facts from a recent study: as few as one in five of e-mail messages are ever opened; whereas more than 95 percent of text messages are opened; the average time for a recipient to view an e-mail message is 6.4 hours; whereas the average time for the recipient to view a text message is 14 minutes.

And then, on top of this, there’s the effect of social networking. And it seems to me that there are three main ways in which sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace are killing e-mail, the first being that they reduce the need for sending out many e-mails in the first place.

If you know from Facebook, or Twitter, or for that matter from someone’s status on gmail or Skype, that they are on holiday in Africa or on a book deadline or have relatives staying over, there’s no need to an e-mail a dinner invitation.

Second, sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace allow you to message lots of people at the same time much more efficiently than e-mail, reducing the need for targeted, specific, involved e-mails.

Planning things by Facebook is particularly easy: set up an event, invite everyone you want to by clicking on their names, and then they can respond by clicking on “attending”, “maybe attending” or “not attending”. No need for tiresome explanations.

Third, social networking sites encourage brevity of communication, and are much easier to use on the move than e-mail and are therefore more suited to the way we use the internet now: instead of logging in and out, checking messages periodically, we’re always connected via computers or mobile phones.

In addition, Twitter gets rid of the need for tiresome e-mail etiquette — there’s no need to worry about terms of address or signoffs and so on, because there’s no space — and makes e-mail feel as antiquated as sending out messages by carrier pigeon.

It is true, of course, that e-mail is still growing: according to a recent study, in the month of August this year, the number of e-mail users increased by 21 per cent. But social networking is growing faster: over the same period, the number of social network users grew by 31 per cent.

And if you think it is outlandish to suggest that e-mail use is peaking, ask yourself this question: when was the last time a teenager sent you an e-mail? You may have sent them one, but I bet you have to text or instant message them to instruct them to read it and to respond.

I was not at all surprised to read a report from Professor David Zeitly of the University of Kent at Canterbury, the social anthropologist, on the UK’s internet habits which found that e-mail is much more popular among older than younger segments of the UK population: apparently 86 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds use e-mail compared with 98 per cent of people aged 65 or over. Meanwhile, only 51 per cent of Britons in their teens or early twenties say e-mail is their first choice of communication.

Of course, these figures show that e-mail is a long way from dying out. But it is beginning to fade, and I suspect it will slowly go the way of the letter, becoming less and less popular and eventually ending up as the preferred method of communication for business users, the elderly, the helplessly middle-aged, the hopelessly nostalgic, estate agents, solicitors and credit card companies

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/sathnam_sanghera/article6937890.ece