Have you ever removed a connection on LinkedIn? Unfriended someone on Facebook? Blocked a Twitter profile? It’s a rare event, but on occasion I do severe relationships. I don’t do it lightly because it’s hurtful. Yes, it’s true that social rejection activates the same part of the brain that physical pain does. It hurts most of us to be rejected. In fact, I also feel bad when the role is reversed making me the rejector. That means I don’t like to do it if I don’t have to. But recently I received a direct message from - what I’ll call - a “weak ties” LinkedIn connection that resulted in my terminating the relationship. It read as follows:
If you haven’t already, please review my profile page and utilize my service as a resource. Also, in an effort to improve my ranking I would ask for your endorsement in several key areas of my services:
1. Endorsement Area Request
2. Endorsement Area Request
3. Endorsement Area Request
4. Endorsement Area Request
5. Endorsement Area Request
6. Endorsement Area Request
7. Endorsement Area Request
Thank you again,
Name of removed connection
As you can see, I removed the particulars to protect the identity of the sender. I’d like to believe they were only being temporarily self-centered at the time. But the message felt like they were giving me a direct order for purposes of taking advantage of my social capital, and I just didn’t feel compelled to give them a second chance.
In fact, it makes me sad that I even accepted their original invitation. For me, it’s a lesson learned concerning connection requests that come from total strangers who are also outside of your field of interest. No matter how well you try to vet these weak tie types of invitations it’s a situation that’s going to present a degree of risk. For those of you who are LION’s, your willingness to accept social networking risk at these highest levels escapes me.
I was in direct sales long before I became a marketer, so my tolerance for risky, assertive and even aggressive type personalities is very high. But the nature of the request above is simply no way to win friends or influence people on social media platforms.
I know there is plenty of research out there that states “if you want to be retweeted, just ask!” In short, that research suggests that it is OK to impose a direct order for assistance from your social audience. So, by all means, ask for the demo meeting immediately, just make your demands known by telling your social capital exactly what you want them to do. Join the conversation and “like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and read our blogs!” For our social media ROI sake please heed our “call to action” so we can justify our jobs!
I suppose five years ago, before anyone with one or two social media profiles and a hundred followers could become a “social media expert” that research seemed reasonable. Social audiences were smaller then, and still trying to figure out how communication and engagement should work on those platforms. But I believe most people have figured out that if you wouldn’t make that type of request directly to their face then you shouldn’t express it through a social media message. Now, not all bad behavior results in unfollowing or dropping the connection. Sometimes you just ignore the request, hit the delete button and go on with your social engagement strategy. But I’ll admit there is a part of me that now wants to stop rewarding bad behavior by totally disconnecting the relationship without feeling guilty.
OK, I’ll get off my high horse. Perhaps I need to develop an even thicker skin. Or perhaps I’m not pushing my own social networking strategy to the degree that I should? How would you have reacted to the request above given the limited amount of background information I presented?