Derek Featherstone's Box of Chocolates: You never know what you're going to get

Box of Chocolates

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 - 9:13am

Tracking the Spread of Ideas

The strength of a social networking site lies within its connections. If we don’t can’t see those connections or don’t have a mechanism to explore new connections, the social networking site has failed in at least one of its goals.

Tweets, Likes, Shares, +1s are the 4 most prevalent means for getting your content out there today — at least for our target audience at Simply Accessible and Seize the Room.

Figure 1: Badges on a Simply Accessible article for sharing on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus
Figure 1: Here we see 4 badges on the Simply Accessible site from a recent article. The tweet badge shows that 33 people have tweeted the article. Similarly, the Facebook Like button shows 3 likes, the LinkedIn button shows 8 shares and the article has been Plus Oned on Google+ 3 times.

Each badge includes a mechanism that allows you to share content on their respective social networking site. The Facebook and Google Plus badges allow you to toggle your status for that article, allowing you to like and unlike, or +1 and -1 that content directly via the badge. But sharing is only one of the core purposes of a social networking site.

My Favourite Piece

Click on the number that is beside the tweet button and you’re taken immediately to a search on twitter that shows you those 33 or whatever number of tweets. So you can see the effects or the spread of that content.

Why is that important? I want to know who is interested in my articles. Maybe I’ll follow them, or add them to a list. Maybe I’ll do nothing, but the important part is that I can track the spread of my ideas on twitter. The current badges for Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ don’t have that capability.

I wrote to LinkedIn support and asked if I was missing something. Is there a way to see those shares? I’d like to see who it was that shared it, and if they shared it in specific groups and/or discussions or just as an update. This feature would help connect more people to strengthen the network, so it seems to me that it would be central to any social networking site.

I got this response from LinkedIn:

Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have this functionality right now to track sharing, but I’ll definitely send your suggestion on to our product team. When lots of people ask for the same improvement, they try their best to get it done (but sorry to say, they usually can’t provide a timeline)

Doing my duty

Well, she left the door open. That support person suggested that we use the “Send Feedback” link on the bottom of any page. I’d encourage you to do so and request the same feature if you think its important. I know I’d appreciate it if the feature was there, and I think it would actually make LinkedIn better and more useful in terms of network building. As the support representative said, if enough of us ask, maybe it’ll get on the product road map.