For Writers and Alert People: News from Nellie

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I Hate LinkedIn


I hate LinkedIn.

I gave it a shot – honest. I polished all the different parts of my resume they asked me to polish. I joined a lot of groups related to my industry (writing and publishing). I participated in discussions, and gave out useful advice to strangers. But for every positive experience, there were at least five annoying and occasionally threatening experiences, making me wonder – is this really worth it?

Here are my reasons for believing that LinkedIn is basically a hoax. As soon as they add advertising, its transformation into shill for the data mining industry will be complete.

1.            If the point of LinkedIn is to get work, my experience was an epic FAIL.  I never saw anything remotely like a work opportunity.  On the other hand, there were countless requests for me to help others. People use LinkedIn to sell things nobody wants. Sometimes this is cleverly presented as a benefit to you (“Wondering about the best way to promote your book? Just sign up for my online course!”). Other times people don’t even pretend to have anything interesting to say (“I just sold my book to Dumb F”cks Publishing!  Read a sample chapter here!”).  Is there anything more tiresome than reading unsolicited sales pitches? Actually, yes, there is – reading unsolicited marketing pitches disguised as industry information.

2.            The principal benefit of LinkedIn is that you can post your resume where people can find it. You also can find out where your ex-boss or ex-colleague got a new job, if you left the country for a year, or are so isolated you don’t already know. Unfortunately, half the resumes on LinkedIn are “padded,” and a certain number are completely fraudulent. I assumed I was participating in a social network with other adults who would base their resumes on actual experience. I was wrong. Totally naïve.

3.            #2 does not bother the folks who run LinkedIn at all. There are no lifeguards at the LinkedIn swimming pool. I know one individual who was reported to the Customer Support Department at LinkedIn by several members, including a former employer, for posting a resume that was outrageously deceitful. This gentleman has an extensive open history on the Internet of running scams. He tried to scam one of my authors by “friending” me and using my name. He also has a history of getting kicked off other sites such as for being being overly aggressive with women. Months later, his falsified resume is still on LinkedIn. In fact, he has started a brand new group, and in order to sign up, women have to give him their personal phone numbers. What could possibly go wrong?

4.            I am very uncomfortable with the LinkedIn system of unsolicited invitations from people who don’t know me, but who want to add me to their list of contacts. At first I refused these invitations, saying I only formed connections with people I knew. Out of four invitations, I received two hostile email messages in return saying I wasn’t playing the game right. So I switched to just accepting anybody, and was rewarded with one scam artist plus an “in” box full of favors being asked. People wanted me to tell them my best publishing contacts and everything I had learned in 30 years of being self-employed, for free, right away. That’s all.

5.            Speaking of my “in” box, how is it possible for LinkedIn to generate so many useless emails?  I don’t mind receiving a group update about the people I follow, but I can read their Twitter messages on, you guessed it, Twitter. And where are all these requests for attention and emails about pointless discussions coming from? (Yes, I do stay on top of which people and which discussions I am “following.”)

6.            Evidently LinkedIn is aimed at mid-level corporate types. According to one source, there are 80 million “executives” on LinkedIn, making it a Generation X phone book for the unemployed. In my field there is a high percentage of people who are both unemployed and totally inexperienced, even in groups that have names like “Don’t Join This Group Unless You Have Publishing Experience.” People think taking a course in writing or publishing makes them an expert and – whoopee – they’re on the same page you are. An informal survey during one large discussion about literary agents revealed that only two of us had agents, let alone had ever actually spoken to one.

7.            Therefore, if you venture into the discussions, do not assume that your fellow group members have any idea what they are talking about. It’s true that there are some people who are very wise and who are generous with their advice. But there are far more people who know next to nothing and are still happy to share. I have seen all kinds of absolutely terrible advice being recycled around and around by newbies who swear it’s true. They read it on LinkedIn.

8.            I belonged to one group for writers and publishing types that has over six thousand members, with dozens more signing up every day. What could possibly be the benefit of a group this large?  How can one group leader (or “owner,” in LinkedIn lingo) effectively monitor all the discussions among 6000 people?  One guy called me a Nazi sympathizer for saying I like the site “Slush Pile Hell” (it is hilarious, check it out: and his insults went downhill from there, until he started saying things like, I had not written anything in the last 30 years. Now, this is a lie, and it could affect my career if other people believed him. Nothing was done to protect me from the verbal onslaught of this emotionally unstable individual - who, of course, had no publishing experience.  His resume, even padded, did not have a single job listed on it, yet he was free to assault me about my 30 year career.  I wrote the Customer Support Department at LinkedIn and suggested they set a limit to group size so that all the discussions could be effectively moderated. I never got an answer. The Jumbo Group lives on.

9.            As it turns out, the “owner” of this Jumbo Group – theoretically the authority figure for this circus – has no experience in traditional publishing at all. She has no literary agent, and has never been published by a traditional publisher (which is the route most people still prefer, since the money flows from the publisher to you, instead of the other way around).  As we already learned in #3, apparently anybody can set up a group for LinkedIn. I find this troublesome, don’t you?

10.            I have friends whose LinkedIn accounts have been zapped out of existence, or whose comments have been erased for reasons that are unclear. Combined with my negative experiences with Customer Support, I’d say the elves who run LinkedIn are doing a bad, bad job.

So who really benefits from your participation in LinkedIn? They do. Especially if you pay money to upgrade to the next level of LinkedIn, which I assume is just as useless and ugly but also expensive.

One last thing. LinkedIn is for followers, not for leaders. You can’t honestly believe that the CEO, COO or CFO of your target company is spending time on his or her laptop just waiting to find your resume out of the 80,000 that are listed. But cheer up. As you while away all that free time you have on your hands, you can amuse yourself connecting with other unemployed, inexperienced people.



Filed under Social Media LinkedIn

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How Do You Feel About Twitter Selling Your Tweets?

While you probably thought “trending topics” was just a curiosity, it actually represented Twitter’s first steps into data mining for commercial purposes.

Now data mining is coming to Twitter in a serious way. And Twitter is going to make a fortune off your tweets.

Corporations want access to your Twitter messages so they can learn more about who has what opinions where, and why. They are already following everything you do on Facebook and everything you research or purchase on your computer, so this is just another source of information for them - and another erosion of privacy for you.

Twitter reserves the right to sell 100% of its datastream to whomever it wants. In partnership with Gnip, Twitter also has announced three new ways for companies to access the Twitter stream:

  • Twitter Halfhose - corporations can purchase 50% of the full firehose.
  • Twitter Decahose - they can purchase 10% of the full firehose. 
  • Twitter Mentionhose - they can purchase the realtime tweets that mention a user, including @replies and re-tweets. This means any corporation can buy access to your individual Twitter remarks.

The companies are supposed to use this information only for analysis, not for public display. However, they can use the information for “targeted tweeting” of their own. At the very least, I would expect companies to start following people who might use their products, and sending out Twitter advertisements (or hopefully discounts!).

What do you think of this development?

Filed under Twitter Social Media

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Twitter Data - Who Is Listening in Twitterverse?

74% of American adults are internet users

8% of online adults use Twitter  (men =  7%, women = 10%)

2% of online adults use Twitter so on a typical day

6% of women between the ages of 50 and 64 (that’s me)

Twitter is most popular with young adults, African-Americans and Latinos, and Urban dwellers. Not exactly the target audience for an old white lady.

Twitter use by demographic group

Filed under Twitter Social Media