How to resign without being a prat

At last! Social Media for dummies

They call it ‘social media’ or ‘social networking’, and some might quibble at the word ‘social’ because a lot of it can be done alone, from the confines of a darkened room.

And most recruiters don’t have the faintest clue how to get the best out of the digital social explosion. A cursory glance will show you recruiters using Twitter as a job board, personal Facebook pages to connect with clients, and LinkedIn as a place to share banter and weekend war stories. All wrong.

So where to begin to understand how to interact on these various platforms? Are they different in terms of what you share and how you ‘speak’?

Well, ‘yes’, is the answer as far as I can see. And seeing that we call this stuff ‘social’ media, lets try (tongue firmly in cheek) to relate digital social to social IRL (In Real Life, of course!)

Facebook is like a pub: It’s an informal place where people get together with old friends, shoot the breeze, tell risqué jokes, and meet people they have never spoken to before. There are few rules and people certainly tend to misbehave there at times, often feeling embarrassed later about what they have said, shown or done! But real friendships can start there, and what’s more business can be done over a beer in the Facebook pub, so it’s not to be ignored.

Twitter is like a cocktail party: There is lots going on, and it’s very high energy. Many conversations are happening at once. Lots of people are talking and far fewer are listening. People drop in and out of conversations and if you like a conversation you might share it with another group. Sure you get the odd twitter cocktail party guest who behaves inappropriately, but mostly it’s pretty cordial, with more manners, and better language, than at the Facebook Pub.

LinkedIn is like a Tradeshow or a corporate conference: It’s business-like. People are there to work, learn and connect with like-minded business people. Mostly everyone is aware they are ‘on show’, and put their best foot forward. At the “Conference” you watch your language, dress up a little.

YouTube is like Times Square on New Years Eve or the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras: Pretty much anything goes! People will let their hair down and willingly make a fool of themselves, but no one really cares… until they meet you at the LinkedIn Conference, maybe.

A blog is like Speakers Corner in Hyde Park in London: You can stand on your soapbox and say pretty much whatever you like. But your audience is fickle and will drift in and out, and judge you very quickly to be an interesting expert on a niche subject or a quack to be jeered or ignored. But don’t ignore it because lucid orators on street corners spark ideas!

MySpace is like Woodstock: The young and the crazy populated it, but it’s a fading memory for most.

I guess the point is this. Buttoned-down corporate lawyers for example go to the pub and let it all hang out at the Mardi Gras. But they also attend corporate conferences and cocktail parties and they would never get confused about how to dress or behave at each event.

That’s social media. Content and context are everything.

This article was partially inspired by a presentation on Social Media by Rachel Gould, Social Media Manager, Lander Associates. Thanks Rachel!

About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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29 Responses to At last! Social Media for dummies

  1. Kate Dass June 1, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    “At last” indeed! Thank you, Greg, for an amusing and accurate summary.

  2. Shane June 1, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Best definition and example I’ve ever read. Well done. Love that it took a recruiter to work the whole game out.

  3. Arod June 1, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    I think that this is pretty much common knowledge. The fact that recruiters may sometimes use these sites inappropriately comes more out of laziness then anything else.
    I actually thought you would be giving some insight in how to use these websites to promote positions or find candidates and not a very brief and not-in-depth descriptions that are known to 99% of recruiters (par Kate and Shane apparently).

    • Greg Savage June 1, 2011 at 11:50 am #

      Thanks Arod. Yes I agree, its a very lightweight piece, meant to be entertaining. I clearly failed there. Sorry about that. You are dead wrong on one thing however. This is NOT ‘common knowledge’ as you suggest. Not amongst recruiters. And I feel I have some insight to that. I employ recruiters in 8 countries for a start and I communicate with thousands of them each year. Recruiters, on the whole, are still coming to grips with how to use social media. Indeed the vast majority of recruiters in Australia don’t have a Twitter account at all. Have a look, . Nor do they use Linked In effectively, As I write this reply to you, 1 hour after I published the blog, I notice it has been retweeted on Twitter over 50 times already, which suggests that more people than Kate and Shane found it a little useful. Best, Greg

  4. Benjamin Teh June 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Hi Greg,

    Never thought of the various options in the way you haev described before, but definitely true. I have a “usage of social media” discussion coming up and will be stealing your descriptions blatantly… I especially like the woodstock piece.. seem to hear a sigh escape you as you wrote that…

  5. Heather Allen June 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Great explanation Greg AND entertaining!!

  6. Danny Busija June 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Very simple Greg. And it should be. We (recruiters) tend to over think this whole “Social Media” thing. It is not going away! Embrace it!!

  7. Madeleine June 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Brilliant Greg, thank you. Your article here would I think benefit all in the business community, recruiter or not! I am amazed by how many posts I see come through on LinkedIn that are far more appropriate for Facebook or the pub rather than a professional network. The offenders don’t realise the impact either – that for me, I am immediately turned off engaging in any business dealings with that person, because it demonstrates to me they lack even the most basic commercial awareness that I would expect in anyone I choose to do business with! Thanks again, always enjoy your insights.

  8. Kez June 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Completely agree Greg.

    Arod the title of the article is Social Media for dummies! not in-depth descriptions on promoting positions and finding candidates…

  9. Andrew June 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Right then, I will see you all in the pub!

  10. Arod June 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Hi Greg,

    Look, I was clearly wrong there in my assumptions here. We here do know the difference between all the different sites, but could use a real “social network for dummies” guide. Fact is that the possibilities from these sites (especially Linkedin) are well under used.

  11. Christine June 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    An enjoyable and excellent “compendium” Thanks!

  12. Duncan Elliott June 1, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    Nice one Greg. I think LinkedIn is getting more like facebook every day. Blogged about that the other day, click my name to read it.

  13. Craig Beechey June 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Thanks Greg (and Rachel) for an amusing but oh so accurate digital-social-media-networking-IRL insight.
    I have often thought that the Facebook pub should have a breathalyser attached to its login. I have myself once (or maybe twice) woken up in the morning and cringed at the thought at what I have ‘shared’ the preceding night. Some others should have obviously been refused entry at the door.
    The Cocktail Party is indeed busy with Twitter and twatter. I am currently at a table having an animated discussion with a space probe (@Voyager2) some 14 light-hours from Earth (a long way) talking all things universal – and I’m only on my second Margarita!
    Trade shows? Love’em! I have just come from one, the manufacturing exhibition in Melbourne. It is no surprise that I bumped into many of my LinkedIn connections there. The networking, swapping ideas and keeping abreast with industry trends and innovations is exhilarating for us engineering tragics – the ultimate mix of business and pleasure.
    YouTube, I more liken to a mystery flight. You could end up in the Antarctic or the Sahara, or anywhere in between. With that flashing curser in the search bar you can go anywhere you choose, cruise down memory lane or open up your world to new and wondrous things. If you post, you can; “do what ya wanna do, be what ya wanna be, yeah…” (sorry, memory lane there)
    I have been to the ‘Blogs’ forerunner, namely Speaker’s Corner. It was a very cold and wet London Sunday afternoon (go figure) and the topic was something about normality and conformity (go figure again). I wasn’t listening, because my ears were frozen. I was busy eyeing off some guys two inch thick scarf that I thought would be better suited around my neck.
    Woodstock……what was the question again….?!
    Your point is well…poignant. We all have different aspects to our personality which can be spread over these six different social media platforms and it is true that I would be ill advised to walk into a corporate board meeting with a tie-dyed bandanna singing American Pie (however tempting). Although at some point all things intertwine, it’s probably good advice when interacting with social media to have our own internal – six degrees of separation…

  14. kris de Jager June 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Hi Greg

    Very well put Greg.

    You could almost add the use of mobile phones in public space to the list!

    Kind regards

    Kris de Jager

  15. Jonathan Champ June 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    A great analogy makes things simple. Thanks for writing this – I’ll be pointing a few people this way. I have been using a very similar hierarchy with clients recently with minor variation – LinkedIn (workplace), Twitter (conference). Facebook was still the pub. I really like the speakers corner, youtube and myspace extensions.

  16. Cathy Hyland June 3, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Entertaining as always, Greg, and I agree with Jonathan – I love your analogies! I’m on a personal crusade to get my job seeking clients to understand the differences and this article is just as relevant to them as to recruiters.

  17. Robert LaGow June 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    I’ve always thought of them as twitter as the hallway/water cooler chatter, LinkedIn is a more formal meeting in a conference room, and Facebook is happy hour on Friday night

  18. Elliot Mist June 10, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Your facebook connections are people you know offline (Mum, Brother, High School friend). Your twitter connections are people you WANT to know offline (Mentors, professionals). Your Linkedin Connections is a bit of both.

  19. Paul Anderson June 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Perfectly put, I’m off to the pub.

  20. Oli Mistry August 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Thansk Greg, l like that analogy

    So does that make Google+ the new bar in town.?
    It had a VIP guest list only for the first few opening weeks. It’s cool and trendy and well designed, it has shiny new taps but mostly serves the same drinks as the pub.
    It’s being touted as niche and trendy but really its owned by that hospitality company that owns everything.
    The trendy types in ther are going on about how awesome it is compared to the old pub but they are currently only having the same conversations that they had in the old pub and doing the same old things they ever did. Most of their good mates are still in the old pub so secretly they don’t find it as fun.
    But of course they would never admit that to anyone..


    • Greg Savage August 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

      Well done Oli
      I love your addition to the theme…. and a lot of truth in what you write!

  21. Gowan Clews August 22, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Speakers Corner in Hyde Park is where people get on their soapboxes. Hyde Park Corner is a different corner.

  22. Teri Etherington September 7, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Fantastic! I am going to be steering a lot of our readers in your direction. Oli – have to agree although still keep an eye on who is in the trendy winebar!

  23. Kelly Donelly October 17, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    Love it! and yes I will be recounting it at the cocktail party, and posting it on the bar wall, maybe even mention it at the conference 😉

  24. Vlasta Eriksson December 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    I like your interpretation Greg and I agree with your point of view in most. However, in my view,
    posting on Twitter is more like the NY Stock exchange on a bad day; whoever shouts the loudest will capture the crowd. Conversations on Twitter are fast moving and you need a lot of time on your hands to really get involved, which most recruiters do not have.

  25. Suzanne Benderski March 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    Do you feel that this is still current, having been written in June of 2011? At the speed social media moves, I feel like things have already changed. BranchOut for Facebook is one example. I’m finding that more and more people are putting their “work lives” on Facebook and there isn’t the clear divide between personal and professional that there initially seemed to be.

  26. Robert October 18, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    they forgot gplus = ghost town 🙂


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