"THIS ISN'T FACEBOOK!!!!" screams an angry LinkedIn commenter under a video that showcases a pilot's ability to land a plane in extreme storm conditions.
I see this all over LinkedIn — posting police with a bone to pick and an exclamation mark quota that can't stand the thought of people having fun or connecting in ways they consider to be too casual, too fun, or too darn engaging for a "Professional Social Platform".
They are certainly angry about it — but are they right?
Depends who you are.
I was watching "Comedians in Cars" with Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock and they discussed how all life and its enjoyment is really about the company you keep.
"A gourmet meal with an asshole is a horrible meal. A hot dog with an interesting person is an amazing meal." - Chris Rock
That is why, for me, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offers a great chance to engage with a refined list of friends made up of past classmates, coworkers, lifelong acquaintances, and people I met during my travels.
This refined list offers my feed a consistent collection of content I can quickly browse, relate to, enjoy, and laugh about later, often in-person, with those same friends.
I may not see them every week — I may not want to see them every week — but they are kindred souls (and the wives of people I don't wish to offend) and we generally like the same stuff.
It’s a little different for me on LinkedIn.
I typically connect with anyone that requests it and as such, LinkedIn represents an eclectic network of professionals that I have met, heard about, or that simply reached out to sell or ask me something.
It also includes past bosses I never clicked with, clients that made my hair turn grey, and people I've selfishly identified as potential 'good people to know'.
I don't delete contacts unless they go against the family and I didn't make sure we share the same sense of humour or political views before I added the majority of them — if I've worked with you, you're in!
As a result, I've see everything on my feed from work anniversary announcements to tank top selfies — and even the odd "you gotta see this" video or word or number quiz (some of which I even participate in, especially when I've already done them somewhere else, Googled the answer for confirmation, and then confidently placed my answers above all the fools that forgot BEDMAS. Swish!).
The point being, LinkedIn as a 'professional's' platform reminds me of most of the jobs I've had.
Every day I would come to an office where I see people whose opinions I don't agree with, bosses I didn't particularly like, and overly cheerful temps I didn't get attached to.
Similar to working in a professional environment, you take what you like, (try to) ignore what you don't, and remain focused on the job you are there to do.
In the meantime, if you are lucky, you have a few office friends you chat up at the coffee machine, share video links with, and work on your in-house staff impersonations with.
The point is that just like at the office, having a little fun on LinkedIn shouldn't cause people to, quite literally, rage out on their computer.
LinkedIn isn't a timeout or detention from professionalism. Rather, it is a place to share ideas and questions in the interest of engagement with peers.
Unless a nipple makes an appearance, or someone racist is hurting something cute on video, why not let that person simply be themselves until their current HR rep quietly shows them the door?
That's the beauty of social media; you don't have to be here and you can always walk away.
If you find yourself YELL-TYPING and rebuking people who are posting videos or images that dozens of others seem to like, it's not a sign that you "get" the rules surrounding professional social networking — it's a sign that you suck at connecting with people.
You may think that you speak for the masses, and that your connections will see you as the type of straight-shooter they want to work with, but who the hell wants to work with someone that can't take five minutes to relax, stretch their mind in a different way, or simply enjoy a relatable laugh?
Unfortunately, just like driving, raising children, and using the self-checkout at the grocery store, social media participation doesn't require qualifications.
But it is an amazing platform to showcase your personal brand.
As such, there are things you should know about social media (strategies you should be utilizing) before you waste precious time participating in something you don't understand. (unless you are there specifically to waste time and confuse people about your brand, in which case, go nuts!)
Believe it or not, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram — heck, even Facebook — can all be strategically used to increase engagement, culture and SALES!
You should be aware how to interact with, post on, and manage your account in a way that fosters real engagement and that can position you to offer your gourmet meal or your hot dogs in a way that makes you interesting, and worth eating a meal with.
Not perfectly polished. Not 'professionally' dull. Just a unique human with value to offer.
Want a non-hateful review of your social media platforms for the chance to capitalize on the power of strategic optimization?