Good or Bad? 1 Billion+ LinkedIn Endorsements

Why LinkedIn Endorsements are a good idea, gone bad. 
  

A few months ago, LinkedIn celebrated 1 billion endorsements by releasing an infographic (see below). Considering the passage of time and the increasing velocity of endorsement giving, this number may be over 3 billion by now.

On the face of it, LinkedIn Endorsements seemed to be a good idea. Users can endorse specific skills of others, thereby helping potential employers to more easily shortlist candidates (the ‘placement’ market is after all, the main revenue stream for LinkedIn). Users will also benefit from ‘social recognition‘ of their skills and capabilities.

However, all is not well in wonderland. The manner in which the Endorsement system has been implemented is resulting in several, hopefully unforeseen, problems. Three main issues are:

1. Personal Brand Dilution:

A user does not necessarily have control over what skills are being endorsed by others. Thus a skill which one does not wish to emphasize might get ‘suggested’ by LinkedIn for endorsement by others, while the skills a user has selected as part of his/her ‘online brand’ are not always visible. While a one can opt not to display a particular endorsement, the overall result is either a wasted endorsement or dilution of the personal brand.

2. Endorsement Value Dilution:

As per the current implementation, anyone can endorse any skill for any connections on LinkedIn. As a result, one may get endorsed for a particular skill by someone who is not is a position to make a genuine evaluation of the skill. For example, a Scientist’s mathematical skills can be endorsed by his/her basketball teammate – not exactly someone who maybe in a position to make such a judgement.  Alternatively, one might get endorsed for a skill that one does not possess [In jest, I've received an endorsement for Quidditch! Unfortunately, I cannot tell a Quaffle from a Bludger]. When combined with the fact that there is no way to verify endorsements, this results in the value of a LinkedIn endorsement being zilch.

3. Unusable LinkedIn Stream:

There was a time when one could view the LinkedIn activity stream and garner the major happenings in one’s professional network. Who changed jobs, who got promoted, who started something new. Now, the stream is largely unreadable, with the majority of updates simply stating that X got endorsed by Y for a skill Z.  Which has made the LinkedIn Activity Stream unusable.

1 Billion Endorsements Given on LinkedIn

The Dunbar Number Explained

The advent of Facebook and other online social networks has made the Dunbar Number a well known concept. This article provides a nice layman’s explanation of the Dunbar number, in the words of Robin Dunbar himself. The article also points out that recent research shows that while people can have several thousand Facebook or Twitter friends, the number of people with whom they have meaningful interactions remains at around 150.

Dunbar's Number in Twitter Conversations

Dunbar’s Number in Twitter Conversations (Photo credit: Cea.)

It seems as though the concept of a ‘Technology Assisted Dunbar Number’, which I had attempted to conceptualize 5 years ago has not found empirical support – as of yet. Hope remains that technology will one day enhance the limits of human cognition and thus enable us to evolve beyond this natural barrier.

 

Key passages from the article are highlighted below:

 

 

 

Over the past two decades, he and other like-minded researchers have discovered groupings of 150 nearly everywhere they looked. Anthropologists studying the world’s remaining hunter-gatherer societies have found that clans tend to have 150 members. Throughout Western military history, the size of the company—the smallest autonomous military unit—has hovered around 150. The self-governing communes of the Hutterites, an Anabaptist sect similar to the Amish and the Mennonites, always split when they grow larger than 150. So do the offices of W.L. Gore & Associates, the materials firm famous for innovative products such as Gore-Tex and for its radically nonhierarchical management structure. When a branch exceeds 150 employees, the company breaks it in two and builds a new office.

For Dunbar, there’s a simple explanation for this: In the same way that human beings can’t breathe underwater or run the 100-meter dash in 2.5 seconds or see microwaves with the naked eye, most cannot maintain many more than 150 meaningful relationships. Cognitively, we’re just not built for it.

—–x—–

Dunbar actually describes a scale of numbers, delimiting ever-widening circles of connection. The innermost is a group of three to five, our very closest friends. Then there is a circle of 12 to 15, those whose death would be devastating to us. (This is also, Dunbar points out, the size of a jury.) Then comes 50, “the typical overnight camp size among traditional hunter-gatherers like the Australian Aboriginals or the San Bushmen of southern Africa,” Dunbar writes in his book How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Beyond 150 there are further rings: Fifteen hundred, for example, is the average tribe size in hunter-gatherer societies, the number of people who speak the same language or dialect. These numbers, which Dunbar has teased out of surveys and ethnographies, grow by a factor of roughly three. Why, he isn’t sure.

 

Another link to the article is here.

 

 

Technology Trends

Key tech trends include wearable computing, contextual apps, big data and maturation of social networks.

 

Futurologist Robert Scoble has predicted four major tech trends – wearable computing (see my previous posts here), contextual apps, Big Data (see previous posts here), and social network maturation.

future

future (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

 

While these trends will surely change commerce practice in the coming years, the nexus of these trends will be immensely disruptive. Think convergence – contextual apps on wearable computers that provide services based on real-time analysis of social and location data, delivered via omnipresent wireless internet access.

 

Wearable computing: Think Google Glasses or Motorola Solutions’ new HC1 headset computer that you attach to your head and operate with voice commands

The “open world”: Android’s relative openness has encouraged “contextual apps” to emerge from the woodwork. “Apple doesn’t let them [developers] talk to the WiFi radio or bluetooth radio,” said Scoble.

Weird databases and the rise of “big data”: “We are seeing weird databases spring up like mushrooms,” said Scoble. These include NoSQL, Firebase, and MongoDB.

The maturation of social networks: The leading social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are accumulating a massive store of user-generated data. What will they do with it?

 

Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2012/10/24/scoble-kawasaki/#B8hsX6orKpglPyWy.99

Facebook offers free mobile talk time in India

Facebook is giving away Rs. 50 worth of mobile talk time (minutes) to new mobile users in India. This pilot scheme was launched last week and offers the give away as part of a referral program. Many have suggested that this may lead to a flood of fake Facebook profiles – however, it seems that there are sufficient preventive measures in place. Instead, this is a clear play by Facebook to increase its penetration of the nearly 1 billion mobile user population in India and comes on the back of earlier offers of free Facebook access. Will it work? This is a long term play – don’t expect a bump in share price due to this in the short term.

 

facebook free talktime offers

via fivepoint5.com

 

  • Scheme is only for new users and not for existing people on Facebook and is valid for registrations through mobile only.
  • New user has to registers himself/herself to Facebook through mobile using the URL – m.facebook.com/tt.
  • After registration he/she has to provide his mobile number on the Facebook Talktime page.
  • Once you sign up and confirm your accounta talktime of Rs. 50 will be credited to his/her account within 3 days.

via http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/10/18/127-Register-on-Facebook-mobile-and-get-Rs-50-talktime-for-free.html

State of the Social Network War

Facebook might be the biggest social network, but LinkedIn is clearly the stock market’s darling. 

 

While Facebook has been in the news recently for its dropping share price (which perhaps is not a fair reflection of future possibilities as I write in this earlier post), LinkedIn has been quietly going about its job. It has been announcing a slew of features. These include  new company pages, notifications, new mobile features, and Outlook integration.

 

Launching today is our new notifications feature, which will keep you notified in real-time when someone likes what you’ve shared on LinkedIn, views your profile, accepts your invitation, and much more.

 

 

 

 

On iPhone and Android:

  • Get notified: We will keep you notified in real-time when someone likes what you’ve shared on LinkedIn, views your profile, accepts your invitation, and much more.
  • Company pages goes mobile: Find out which connections work at the companies you care about, see recent news and updates from the company, and learn about current job openings.
  • Don’t want your employer to know you’re looking?: We’ve recently added access tojob listings and jobs you may be interested in directly within your mobile update stream.

 

 

Clearly, LinkedIn is doing better on the mobile platform (23% of LinkedIn users use its mobile apps) and on its ability to monetize its user base (for now). This is reflected in the rising share price – this wonderful chart by statista.com clearly shows that LinkedIn is thriving, while Facebook crashes (see the original chart here).

 

Image via Statista.com

 

And what about Google+? Well, this comic by xkcd says it all.

 

Google+

Image via xkcd

The Social Impact of Social Media (Infographic)

Twitter and Facebook are blamed for being the catalysts of recent (good and bad) events –  cue the happenings in Egypt and the recent tidings from India. Whatever be the impact,  social media has become a major means by which the voices of people are heard, and primary means to news (which at times is spread faster) for many. This infographic, at open-site.org, nicely captures the social impacts of social media, or the power of the internet community.

 

Image via Open-Site.Org

See the original infographic here.

Is it really doomsday for Facebook?

Several issues are depressing Facebook’s stock price, but there seems an upside that the market is not tuned in to.

 

Facebook’s plummeting market value has been a major talking point of late. Its share price recently fell to below half of its IPO level and the doomsday forecasts are arriving thick and fast. Most analysts suggest that this is due to a combination of factors – expiry of a moratorium means that insiders are flooding the market with stock; Facebook is barely meeting its revenue and profit guidance numbers; and, the market is adjusting to the ‘real value’ due to reduced future expectations .

 

This article, on TechCrunch, presents three reasons why the future is bleak for Facebook –

Decelerating growth in users, unfavorable change in user mix, and a question mark in ARPU. In the short term, Facebook is certain to grow, but the question of Inferno vs. Paradiso will take quite some time to sort out.

This infographic by statista illustrates the market saturation and user mix problems faced by Facebook:

 

Image via Statista

 

Facebook’s major user growth in the coming years will occur in developing markets – where average revenues per user are traditionally much lower as compared to developed markets. Another major trend is the the movement of users to mobile platforms.

This second infographic by statista makes this more clear:

 

Image via Statista

 

It seems clear that Facebook’s future (or at least future stock price) is dependent upon its ability to monetize its mobile and developing world users. Or is it?

 

A bigger upside depends upon Facebook’s ability to make itself a platform for commerce and creativity. If Facebook can set rules that protect the privacy and security of its billion plus engaged users, while providing an environment within which application developers and entrepreneurs can offer Social network driven, Mobile based, Location triggered services, it can potentially earn billions in revenues through commissions alone. A scene illustrating this viable future is:

 

You are deciding where to get lunch. You launch the FB app, and use the smartphone camera to view a restaurant. The image is augmented by a bubble which states that 78 of your FB friends have recently been to the place, 80% of whom rate it 4+ out of 5. The app also says that if you eat there today, you will get 10% off your bill in the form of FB credits.

 

How does Facebook make real money in the scenario? By taking a cut on the sales of FB credits (for example, $1 = 1 FB Credit, but you can buy 10 credits from Facebook for $11 and sell 10 credits back for just $9).

 

However, these are big IFs and THENs.

LinkedIn Integration with Outlook

 

LinkedIn has shared some more details about its ‘native integration with the new Office experience’. The LinkedIn App on Microsoft’s App Store will integrate with the new Outlook email and calendar to pull information from public LinkedIn profiles. Excellent idea – except that folks will have to careful while putting ‘looking for an opportunity’ as their LinkedIn headline! Get the app here.

 

Now every time you send or receive an email or check with whom you’re meeting with that day, you’ll see relevant information to help you be better prepared and armed for your work day, such as:

  • Their LinkedIn profile, including photo
  • Any professional updates or information shared on LinkedIn
  • Common connections and professional groups
  • Information about the person’s company and ability to follow that company
  • Ability to like or comment on their professional activity

 

Image via LinkedIn

 

See the original post here.

 

Facebook Q2 Earnings

This infographic, by Statista, presents Facebook‘s Q2 earnings report. The bottom line – revenue growth is slowing as more users access Facebook via mobiles. The sinking stock price reflects investors’ concerns about the lack of a clear mobile monetization strategy.

 

Image via Statista

 

See the original infographic here.

What makes a tweet go viral?

There is a lot of recent research studies that investigate what factors influence the popularity of memes on social networks. Much of this research analyzes twitter posts and has identified many reasons why certain tweets go viral. These include factors related to the tweet itself (e.g. how controversial the tweet is) and factors related to the tweeters (e.g. number of followers, influence, and frequency of posting). New work says that ‘going viral’ is a random process.

Visualizations of meme diffusion networks for different topics.

This new study uses an agent-based model to study this phenomenon. This model simulates message sharing on a social network and incorporates two key characteristics of such a context: users have limited attention spans and can only view a portion of all tweets.

The predictions of our model are consistent with empirical data from Twitter, a popular microblogging platform. Surprisingly, we can explain the massive heterogeneity in the popularity and persistence of memes as deriving from a combination of the competition for our limited attention and the structure of the social network, without the need to assume different intrinsic values among ideas.

Or in other words, the pattern of twitter memes can be replicated in the absence of tweet or tweeter based factors.  This raises interesting questions regarding the direction of causality – do tweets go viral because of certain factors, or is the popularity of posts on social networks a random process and we find mere correlations in our bid to find explanations. While some say that this correlation versus causation conundrum can be solved only empirically, others say that a controlled, experimental approach is the way to go.

Suppose, Menczer says, that in his study he randomly assigned different colours to each tweet. If red tweets ended up being the most popular, one could argue that colour was a predictive factor for success when in reality the popularity of red-coloured tweets was coincidental.

Read more at  Going viral on Twitter is a random act – tech – 13 April 2012 – New Scientist and Competition among memes in a world with limited attention : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group.

References:

Weng, L., Flammini, A., Vespignani, A. & Menczer, F., Competition among memes in a world with limited attention, Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 335 doi:10.1038/srep00335