LinkedIn’s Terms and Conditions

linkedin-android-walks_0Social media terms and conditions is a subject area that is a little dry, so when asked to assess a network’s user agreement, I wasn’t sure which network to choose. In the hopes of being somewhat original, I focused my attention on LinkedIn. I can’t argue LinkedIn’s value, but much like terms and conditions, it’s not the most exciting social network. I was pleasantly surprised when I went to LinkedIn’s User Agreement page. I’m not saying that I’ll go to the page for pleasure reading, but after looking at Facebook and Twitter’s user agreements, I think LinkedIn may have the advantage.

Like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn’s User Agreement is long and contains a lot of jargon. There’s really no way around it if they want to protect themselves. Unlike the other two networks, LinkedIn breaks down each section of the User Agreement into concise, easy to understand segments (below). Not only does this help ensure that users are reading the terms that they’re agreeing to, the organization and breakdown helps users to actually understand what they’re agreeing to, which is an ethical win for LinkedIn. No user can claim that they couldn’t make sense of the terms and conditions.

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Another great aspect of LinkedIn’s User Agreement is that there is a breakdown of what user responsibilities are, and then a section about what the company’s rights and obligations are to the users. On Facebook, the majority of responsibility is placed on the user. It’s nice that LinkedIn acknowledges that they have some accountability in the equation. This section also provides the network some security because if someone comes to the network with a complaint or problem, they can point to the User Agreement and show that they were up front about both the user’s and company’s obligations.

You hear about the implications of unethical behaviors on the “more social” social networks all the time. False representation or catfishing, has effected celebrities and professional athletes, and now there’s even a show dedicated to the unethical practice on MTV. As inconvenient as it may be to discover that someone else is using your photos or falsely representing you on Facebook or Twitter, can you imagine the negative implications of being falsely represented on LinkedIn? This is the network that is viewed as professional, so a fake profile could really ruin your career and your life.

While LinkedIn can’t force anyone to be an ethical person, the company’s User Agreement does take the necessary steps to protect users and the company itself. When LinkedIn users sign the User Agreement they agree that, “You promise to only provide us information and content that you have the right to give us and you promise that you LinkedIn profile will be truthful.” LinkedIn states that they have the right to suspend or terminate the profile of anyone who creates multiple or fake profiles. It seems as though LinkedIn has considered the major ethical implications, and they’ve done everything in their power to create a positive and secure user experience.

 

Tweet relevant content, not ads

Despite Bill Keller’s belief that Twitter is destroying our ability to actually communicate and contemplate thought, if utilized properly, the social media network gives companies the opportunity to engage more potential consumers. The key to Twitter success is sharing relevant content, not just trying to push a sale.

According to Mark Fidelman, Jill Duffy, Kim Darst and Emily Price, the worst thing a brand could do on Twitter is push their products instead of pushing relevant content. Many tweeters suggest following the 80/20 rule (80 percent content, 20 percent sales), but as a consumer and a Twitter user, I would prefer a 90/10 ratio. Sure it’s great to be knowledgeable about promotions every once in awhile, but if a brand if constantly trying to get me to buy something, I’m going to unfollow them.

Pushing sales is a lot like walking into some clothing stores. I loathe the stores where as soon as I walk through the door, I’m bombarded with employees telling me all of the latest promotions. If I even so much as look at a shirt, an employee comes over to tell me what a great deal it is. Enough is enough! Constant pushing of sales is only going to push potential customers away, and the theory holds true for Twitter.

Sharing relevant content helps you appear like an industry expert. Even if your followers aren’t in the market to buy what you’re selling, the content you share will have them constantly engaged with your brand. When the customer is looking to buy, you will have already won their trust. 

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Someone should have told my friend that social media engagement drops when you use three or more hashtags!

Aaron Lee, Garst, Duffy suggest that in order for a brand to be fully engaged, they must respond to the tweets they receive. Responding to your followers shows that you care about your customers. Many customers will retweet your responses because they’re pleasantly surprised that someone took the time to respond. Just this week, I noticed several of my classmates excitedly posting responses they received from big companies. My classmates’ excitement makes me wonder, how many larger companies are taking the time to build relationships through social media? Is it reasonable to expect large companies to respond to every single tweet?

Twitter not only allows you to have conversations with your customers, it allows you to see what customers are saying about your brand and your industry. Cheryl Conner and Michael Brito encourage brands to monitor what they’re customers are saying and how they’re using Twitter. Once you have a better understanding of what the customer wants, you’ll be able to engage them more successfully.

It’s important for both companies and professionals to know how to successfully use Twitter. Ryan Lytle explains that Twitter helps students and professionals create a brand for themselves. Good grades aren’t enough anymore, it’s important to have a social media presence.

Teaching students how to properly utilize Twitter will eventually allow companies to have less restrictive guidelines for their tweeters. If a professional knows how to use Twitter, and understands the company’s goals and audiences, shouldn’t they be trusted to carry out the brand’s goals without having their voice restricted?