Few of us are fond of being boiled down to just a set of statistics and yet our interest in something is often sparked by the statistics that are offered (read Charles Seife’s Proofiness) by a company, in an article, etc. Business is driven by data – what data to collect, how to collect it, how to best utilize it and on and on. We humans are fascinated by quantification, but skeptical of being lumped into the underlying statistics.
Marketing companies that design successful rewards cards or programs have found a way into our data paradox sweet spot – offer something that we want or need, don’t sell the resulting data directly tied to our personal info and we will be more likely to sign up and give the company access to our volume of purchase data. Don’t make our direct benefit clear, or make your data needs too obvious and death to your marketing effort.
Being someone who is fascinated by process, I often like to pull back the covers to see if I can figure out how something is a sustainable business – look at how Facebook is making various money grabs now that they have gone public. (I used to wonder how they could afford all the employees and sweet digs…) Unlike many, I don’t resent a company’s ability to make money from their interactions with me, as long as my benefit is equal or greater than the one I perceive they are receiving. Someday I might be able to reverse that dynamic and gain some business advantage of my own from the relationship.
I think that it is this perceived benefit that is at the bottom of the social media opinion that many people hold. It is their skepticism of the benefit they will receive versus their sketchy understanding of the value of their appearance on social media. In my opinion, there is plenty of benefit to professionals to put moderate effort into creating and maintaining a profile on the LinkedIn site. But the reactions of folks I talk to range from strong agreement to vitriolic dislike of the pull of social media in general and LinkedIn particularly.
These people in the strong dislike category usually object based on their skepticism of putting their personal information online. When I have the opportunity to delve further with them I like to find out if they have other social media presence, if they hold a credit card or any participate in any rewards programs, do online banking. More often than not they do many of these other things, but have not associated these activities with the data mining that occurs in these arenas as well. Hmmm.
I was first introduced to LinkedIn in 2009 by a co-worker. I wasn’t on any social media site at that point and I am not an early adopter of anything. So I thought about it and she mentioned it a couple more times and then sent an invitation through LinkedIn to join. A forum for professionals, interesting – so I created a basic profile and mostly left it to its own devises and accepted invitations to connect from folks.
It has only been in the last few months that I have become a proponent of the site and the benefits. In my opinion, LinkedIn offers solid benefits in exchange for data mining my business information for their own purposes. Where do you stand?
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