strangers on social media

To some degree, I’ve wrote on this topic before… social media platforms and their purpose. Seems to be all the rage as of late, so why not write on it again. :)

I’m definitely not an expert, but I feel that I have a good grasp of effective use of social media.

Social media is a powerful tool — and so many people have signed up for accounts, completely unaware of the risks involved.

Tonight I went through a stack of business cards that had been collected over the last month. I opened up my LinkedIn account and read through each card. I asked myself the following questions… Do I remember who this is? Where did I meet him/her? Are they “relevant” or did I just take the card to be polite? I tossed 19 and I added the rest. In most of the invites, I wrote a personalized note on why I was adding them.

When you add someone on LinkedIn… the platform asks if you know the contact. If you click the link, you get this:

The biggest problem with adding someone you don’t know is the second point — “Others may ask you about them and vice versa.” Dangerland.

Take the following example. Random idiot adds me on LinkedIn. He writes a sweet note about why we should be contacts. I accept. The following week, he’s at an event with people I know. Through the small world that is most cities, my contacts find out I am “friends” with the random idiot. Judgement commences. This random idiot now negatively reflects on me. And I don’t even know him… and will likely never know that this transpired.

Seem far fetched? It happens all the time.

In my opinion:

Facebook is for your personal friend circle.

Twitter is for engaging with and learning from the masses.

LinkedIn is for connecting with professionals.

By keeping Facebook to your friends (and locked down) — like actual friends — you can share your private life with minimal risk. If you have more than 100 friends, you should likely have built a limited profile within your account. This way when you feel guilted into accepting a ‘friend’, you limit the information that will be of access to them. :) If someone is posting about random things (cough Farmville cough) that have no relevance to you — delete them. If you have grown apart — delete them. If your extended family went crazy and phones your mom whenever you post about boys — delete them. If you are not actual friends with the person — delete them.

By being aware of who you follow on Twitter, you can control your feed… always ensuring information is relevant to you. Anyone can read through who you follow at any time — they 100% reflect your brand. If you decide to follow a load of 20-25 year old blonde girls with their boobs all up in their avatar or the male pornstar of the month or every single job hunting site to man — people will make judgement. The key is to be aware that people are watching. Who you follow shows your interests. Ensure they reflect you accurately. [The only time this does not apply is if you’re #TeamFollowBack. I won’t get started – entirely different argument if that’s the case].

The goal of LinkedIn is to connect with fellow professionals. It is about quality over quantity. Want to expand your network? Get out there in the community and put your feet to the pavement. Attend events, get involved in your industry, meet people. Think that you can expand your network by adding whatever stranger on LinkedIn? Technically yes, but the quality of your ‘network’ will take a nosedive.

My point is:

Adding strangers on LinkedIn does not add value.

Really. No value.

At minimum, it is an ego boost for people. “Weeee… I have a large network. Look at all the people I’m helping.” :/

Seem harsh? I see it way too often.

LinkedIn has huge perks if you use it effectively. Currently it is the most succinct way to stay in touch with people you’ve met through university, work and the community.

I challenge you to take the time to go through your networks and ask yourself why each contact is there.

Determine how each of the tools you utilize adds value to your life.

Happy Monday.

// End Rant

PS – Don’t even get me started on Google+… I have yet to join.


  1. Great post. The only unknown people I’ve ever added on LinkedIn were ones that worked for companies I wanted to be employed by and in each instance (4 or 5 times) it’s resulted in a job interview. As for your takes on the other social media forums, I completely agree. To me, Facebook is for friends and family I want to stay connected to. Twitter is for my interests and community. Google+… well I’m not sure what to think of that quite yet lol.

  2. Jillian Walker August 8, 2011

    Thanks for the comment Cory! And it’s intriguing that prospect companies would add you on LinkedIn. Was it the Recruiter or a Manager? In that case and since it resulted positively — an interview, I can’t see anything wrong with it. They key is to truly think about purpose and value… in this case, you had it.

    PS – Sometimes don’t you wish family was banned from FB haha? ;)

  3. mike August 8, 2011

    what are the rules for instagram? or are there no rules on instagram?

  4. nkeene August 9, 2011

    Great information! I’d like to know what your thoughts will be on Google+, when you get around to it.

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