Male work colleagues won't connect Twitter, but will on LinkedIn?
March 5, 2017 4:10 PM   Subscribe

I've recently been trying to rebuild my freelance business online, and that includes social media in the last weeks (anonymously w/ a different name). But while my friends, colleagues have known it is me... why won't my male colleagues or so-called friends connect via Twitter?

For some odd reason, several of my male colleagues/friends will connect w/ me on LinkedIn but oddly NOT follow me on Twitter. While they will add and converse w/ -other- female colleagues, or friends (despite I don't know any of the parties' histories')... Even if I say a professional "Hi" to them, they cease to say hello back. But then I will see a few engagements w/ these other women friends or professionals on Twitter... so I'm confused? I'm friendly, they obviously see me 'Ok' enough to link on LinkedIn... so I don't know what's wrong? My female connections are fine.

That said, since I've been back online, I notice these men will post stuff that is relating to topics either that I've tweeted about or have referenced. People on here may say I'm making a big fuss over nothing... but it seems like they're "Baiting" or teasing me, which is weird. I don't plan on asking why they're posting those things.

I do want to be clear most of these male colleagues/friends are married, and I am NOT seeking anything more with them, but to help w/ professional connecting -- as I am looking for work soon. I'm dating a man I'm head-over-heels with and that's on my profile. Then today, I posted hello to a former colleague at a prestigious company... shortly later he announces he is leaving social media for a while to be with his wife. (seriously)

Therefore, it *feels* like ulterior things going on, but I don't want to assume anything? Or can someone fill me in on some 'man-splaining' behavior here? (quoting Jonathan Pie) Are women not allowed to add male colleagues on Twitter? It's just frustrating b/c I would like to further my connections, but this isn't helping... Thank you.
posted by sam3cat to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you sure they know it is you?
posted by delight at 4:12 PM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I add colleagues I am not friends with on LinkedIn, but not in other social networking sites. That includes anyone on a different "tier" from me at work (no one above or below me on the chain would get added on other social sites. Friends who I work with might get added on other social sites, however. Are these people more friendly with the people they've added on Twitter than with you?
posted by brainmouse at 4:14 PM on March 5, 2017 [21 favorites]

Also, there's no such thing as a "professional" hello on non-linkedin social sites. That is inherently a personal hello. And on LinkedIn, it would be weird to do that without a reason for doing so.
posted by brainmouse at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2017 [26 favorites]

Twitter is more social than professional. It's more personal. Liking a colleague and sharing common interests is not enough to follow someone in Twitter. There is no obligation to follow someone back.
posted by saradarlin at 4:20 PM on March 5, 2017 [26 favorites]

Yeah, I'm way more picky about who I follow on Twitter than who I follow on Facebook, and I'll connect with anyone on LinkedIn (largely because I haven't figured out what it's for yet, other than when our company puts out a press release I echo it there 'cause I'm not pissing anyone off with noise if nobody reads that anyway...).

Twitter isn't a networking tool for me, or if it is it's ancillary to the socializing. Is the focus of your Twitter persona on things that your colleagues want to talk about in their off hours? My Twitter feed is about the occasional nerdery, yes, but also about woodworking and alternative sexualities, and these are fine if coworkers discover them, but I'm reluctant to put that out there to them. I also generally don't follow back if I've got any questions about an account, I wait for that account to engage me on something I'm interested in and then, if their follower count isn't too high and their content is interesting, I'll follow back.

I suppose what I should do is just follow everyone and use lists to pare that down to the people I actually want to get updates from (just as I "friend" everyone on Facebook and then unfollow and use selective notifications to try to cut out the mass of political copy and paste and get down to just the kid pictures and the life updates).

This sounds like a "how people use the tools" thing.
posted by straw at 4:37 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's hard to be a woman on the Internet. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of examples. So I personally don't follow or make friend requests of women work colleagues. I will accept requests and follow back, though, so if you're making the first overture and being rebuffed, something may be going on.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:38 PM on March 5, 2017

I and plenty of other people only use twitter to follow accounts I find personally entertaining, whether funny, political or aesthetic... I'd never follow someone else's professional account. For many people Linkedin is the only social media platform to use for professional contacts.

Also, a random "hello" to any ex colleague - without a really solid professional reason like "can you give me a reference on Linda" is odd, and in the case of a person of the opposite sex, I would assume it was a flirtation, especially on Linkedin.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:45 PM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

What does your Twitter profile look like? Is it obviously a working profile, where you primarily discuss work issues, retweet professional journals, have a professional headshot? Or is it more informal, where you also post about your social life and have an informal picture of yourself? If it's the latter, they may feel uncomfortable with the perceived intimacy. If it's the former, that may just not be how they use Twitter.
posted by instamatic at 4:46 PM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm from a fairly incestuous industry where friends and colleagues are often the same people but even then, Linkedin is for being professional and Facebook (or twitter) is not. Some of the people cross over because I know them in both contexts but the functions certainly do not and if I don't have that kind of dual connection with someone then I'll connect with them in only one way.

Could that be at work here?
posted by deadwax at 4:53 PM on March 5, 2017

I'm in a really incestuous industry and I keep my Facebook pretty private. I follow no one one Twitter except news/ events I'm interested in, generally only for a short period of time. This sometimes leads to hard feelings like yours but that's my rules.

I recently found out that because I don't post much and rarely post photos of myself or friends or family, a bunch of people at work thought I spent all my free time alone, in my house with the lights off. Which was hilarious but goes to show how different people use social media.
posted by fshgrl at 4:55 PM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Are women not allowed to add male colleagues on Twitter?
That's not a practice or a taboo I've ever encountered.

Couple of alternate explanations:

-LinkedIn and Twitter are fundamentally different kinds of social media. For one thing, LinkedIn in my experience tends to be more passive, a place where many people are happy to add anyone they vaguely know, with the expectation that there will be relatively little follow-up contact. In contrast, following someone on Twitter means actively choosing to hear from them, potentially quite often. This gives incentive to be somewhat selective. (Different people and different industries also use Twitter very differently, but I would probably find someone using it to say "Hi" somewhat unusual, especially if we don't have much of a pre-existing relationship. I would also find it somewhat unusual to see someone mentioning their boyfriend in their profile if they were using Twitter primarily in a professional capacity.)

- Twitter is also particularly time-sensitive. Getting an email and replying two days later is relatively normal, while I might ignore a tweet if I wasn't online around the time it was sent. The volume of content on Twitter also makes it quite easy to miss any contact entirely. For whatever reason, I know plenty of people who don't follow me or are not especially responsive on Twitter, and it's never seemed to indicate anything particularly amiss between us. Many people don't put a whole lot of thought into things like this.

-Colleagues/friends posting on topics similar to ones you've brought up honestly seems like it may be finding a pattern where none necessarily exists. It's possible there's something particularly idiosyncratic and gender-related going on with you, your specific colleagues, or your specific industry, but I think it's also possible that there is not.

Regardless, this sounds frustrating! Wishing you good luck with rebuilding your business.
posted by eponym at 6:49 PM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

From the outside it sounds like you're reading too much into their interactions with others, the topics they post, and that one guy announcing his social media break. I'm not sure why you'd conclude this is about you at all-- these all sound like normal online behaviors to me.

I'm not sure if you're suggesting these men are all secretly aligned against you (which seems really REALLY unlikely but if so they suck and you shouldn't strive for their attention) or if you're wondering if there's something about you that's putting them off. We can't speak to the latter because we don't know how you present yourself. Is it possible your photo or content looks like a bot? Is it possible in this world of double standards that your friendliness comes across as flirting?

Otherwise, I think Twitter is social for most, and LinkedIn is professional. Why is it so important for you to connect with these particular people on that particular network?

Maybe if you can take a step back it will bother you less. I know it sucks to feel left out, but instead of worrying about these folks, I think you'll feel better about this if you forget them and find your own online community.
posted by kapers at 6:52 PM on March 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I haven't seen any mores about gender on Twitter such as you describe. The fact they have other women friends also suggests this isn't about gender. My money is on the fact of this just being how they use Twitter, since Twitter has a broader range than LinkedIn, from personal to professional. And on it being sort of random.

But some exploratory questions:

Is it possible they feel intimidated by you?

Are they a different ranking than you?

Are they trying to stay uninvolved in your new business? I don't understand why you're doing it anonymously. Maybe, if you're doing it so your management don't find out, they're trying to stay out of it.

Do they, or other men, act this way in any other sphere of life? -- it's Iikely, if you're giving off a creepy vibe online, you're giving one off in person.
posted by ramenopres at 7:10 PM on March 5, 2017

Agree that Twitter is *fundamentally* different. Twitter is for creating a feed focused on your personal interests. LinkedIn is a giant funnel that takes in everyone you've ever done business with for anything - and moves a lot slower, and is a lot more about steady reputation and less reaction to the moment.

I use Twitter for professional reasons only. But it's still a firehose, and because I want it to work efficiently, I *only* follow people who are consistently productive in terms of vital perspectives/information that I am seeking for my work. I am followed by many more people than I re-follow. That's OK. I am trying to filter and limit my intake on Twitter, because I can't read three thousand Tweets a day.

LinkedIn is different - I Link to just about anyone I've ever had a professional interaction with, and find that valuable. But there are so many unique ways that people filter their Twitter that you should not attempt to read much into this. Just don't expect people to use their limited Twitter eyeball time to support your business unless their use of Twitter is super closely aligned with the content you're putting out. You're probably better off using hashtags and search to identify and follow people who use Twitter to get information on the exact sort of service you're offering than to try to expand your reach using people you know who just don't use Twitter that way.
posted by Miko at 7:58 PM on March 5, 2017

Not saying it never happens, but saying hi/hello isn't really a thing on Twitter. Don't be Nikki Blonsky.
posted by acidic at 8:00 PM on March 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

While they will add and converse w/ -other- female colleagues

...about work? Or about other stuff?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:56 PM on March 5, 2017

This makes a lot of sense (even assuming for the sake of argument that they recognize you on Twitter). LinkedIn is decidedly buttoned-up and professional, mostly emphasizing static presentations of work and educational history; Twitter is a wild free-for-all with constantly updated content. Many people have no problem connecting with coworkers on LinkedIn, but would feel inhibited about being friends with coworkers on Twitter. They probably want to feel free to say or share whatever they want on Twitter without worrying about how it would look to their coworkers.
posted by John Cohen at 8:56 AM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for your responses.

I'm a Graduate student in the digital tech field, and my guy friends/colleagues definitely know about that and know the profile is from me. So my Twitter account is to promote my freelance business, but I had worked with/thought I had formed friendships w/ these men and conversed previously before moving and going back to school.

I am an outlier - short-statuted, petite, Asian. Making work friends and colleagues is NOT easy for me b/c most don't take me seriously. But I have a pretty full resume working for big branded companies and agencies in the past, with some freelance years on my own in between.

I've come strictly from the point of making professional connections or wanting to converse professionally. But...I definitely DO get the weird feeling some of these male colleagues - yes, married ones, are looking for something else after finding that they ignore me... but will talk to other females. My current Twitter profile shot is just my brand logo. But I have tweeted Loving messages to a guy I'm currently seeing, in btwn my professional or work/industry-related tweets. (As well as some political tweets, think we see that all the time).

But all of your responses have been interesting to hear the magnitude or perception of how everyone uses Twitter or LinkedIn. I hear those who say since they may not view me as a friend, is the reason they're not speaking to me. So at was important to hear. At least I'm not offended, or it's a good thing they've added me on LinkedIn, therefore not to take it as a work or professional slight.

Interesting to hear the add on's from single females as flirtation, as I have received solicited messages from males I don't know (married ones as well) -- and feel the same way (but failed to see that in the past and dismissed as friendly behavior). I've tried to make male connections that way in the past as well, and I -don't- want to give off the wrong idea. So thank you for that perception.

The male colleague/friend who did announce he was going to spend time w/ his wife after I direct tweeted (openly, publicly just saying hi) was DEFINITELY a slight. He was very active previously, posting a lot of personal pics (even of his new home..). I was a bit hurt by that bc we used to talk a lot thru work, thought we were buds, and I even referenced hope his family is well. I've since moved far away, so... guess relations dying off just happens, I guess. Thanks.
posted by sam3cat at 11:16 PM on March 6, 2017

I had worked with/thought I had formed friendships w/ these men and conversed previously

Being friends with someone doesn't mean they want to follow you on Twitter. I follow almost none of my RL friends.

I definitely DO get the weird feeling some of these male colleagues - yes, married ones, are looking for something else after finding that they ignore me... but will talk to other females.

I'm not sure what you mean, but it sounds like something not really related to digital communication. Your other story about the married colleague suggests there is more going on, as well. It might be worth it to consider the wider context of the quality and nature of your professional relationships.

I have tweeted Loving messages to a guy I'm currently seeing, in btwn my professional or work/industry-related tweets

It would make me uncomfortable to see this coming from a brand page I had followed. That is a real mixed message that feels inappropriate to a company account; I don't expect or want to see personal communications from a company. It feels like TMI. As far as adds from single females, unless your brand depends on promoting your individual identity or your single-femaleness, I'm not sure how people would know. It can be a good idea to remove all personal identifiers from a brand profile so as not to create that impression.

You seem to be assured that you understand Twitter and digital marketing, but I would suggest that your statements still show a mis-alignment of message with position and a limited understanding of the most effective ways of using these channels. You may want to delve more deeply into the etiquette and conventions of Twitter, in particular, and look for guidelines as to what is successful - sure, you can always find an example of 'but other people do it,' yet you are not other people, your company is not a person, and it sounds like you a need a more rigorously defined strategy. For instance, trying to promote your Twitter account just among friends is not, to begin with, the most effective way of finding followers. Should you venture into Instagram or other platforms, each of them also has their own unique techniques and conventions and forms communities differently.
posted by Miko at 5:21 AM on March 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm in btwn errands, but really appreciate the last 2 paragraphs above. Yes, I need to work on not making it so personal (Altho many ppl do it, including those persons I'm harping about), but ultimately I don't really want it as a casual conversation account. I Think you nailed some points and yes, I should start reading books on marketing w/ Twitter. Altho it's prob not the best platform anymore, but I prefer it over Instagram and FB. It seems or have through experience been easier to sell or promote myself on Twitter than LinkedIn, so is probably why I still want to capitalize on it. Many thanks.
posted by sam3cat at 9:02 AM on March 7, 2017

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