Happy Birthday! Or should I say, Happy Birthday?
When you hear those words, what do you think of? A child’s birthday party? A co-worker gathering for birthdays for the month? Or a recurring line from a Christmastime cartoon?
Or perhaps do you think of an onslaught of people, some you may not even know well, sending you those 2 words in a rote fashion over a social media platform?
It is for this latter reason why I don’t list my birthday on LinkedIn.
Sincerity vs. Obligation
Adults have a variety of traditions when it comes to their birthdays. Some don’t acknowledge them at all, some dog you with it like it’s a national week of celebration, and most are somewhere in between. For myself, my immediate family will acknowledge it, I get a few messages from those cousins who keep track of everyone’s birthdays, and that’s it. And I am fine with that.
As social media platforms have evolved, they have asked for more and more information about you. This includes LinkedIn, which most regard as business social media platform and, ideally, above the fray of such frivolity. However, that’s not the case, as they ask for the date you entered this mortal coil. Capturing this in their databases, now owned by Microsoft, is not the extent of it, as they now share your birthday with your connections on that unique day – as you go through your feed seeing who has a new job or work anniversary, you will also see who is marking the day as surviving another year on this planet.
This compels people to “like” or go as far as to wish you a Happy Birthday with a canned greeting. On occasion someone, likely a person who actually knows you, may put a more personalized greeting, but for the most part the obligatory methods are the ones which are used. On the surface this may seem nice – look, everyone’s wishing me a Happy Birthday – but it is insincere, and for some, intrusive, as many people don’t like it highlighted.
Just Say No As I Do
If you want to rise above the fray of the frivolity of empty birthday greetings on LinkedIn, there are 2 steps you need to follow. First, don’t list your birthday. Under your contact info on your profile page, simply remove your birthday, as shown above. Second, you can turn off notifications of those who still have their birthday listed on the social platform, so you won’t be inundated with requests to wish them something that may not want to hear. The image at the top of this post is what this looks like on the LinkedIn notifications page.
But Wait, What About in The Name of CRM?
As some of you are reading this, you may be thinking I am missing the point of why LinkedIn is asking for this information to begin with. My guess is some of you who are in sales or have businesses may think birthdays are a great way to engage with customers and provide an added level of personalization, and taking their birth date from LinkedIn to your own customer relationship management system is a natural step.
Deconstructing Birthdays in LinkedIn
Birthdays are personal. Sending birthday greetings to a person you do not know well, just because you saw they entered their date onto a social media platform, can be awkward. Especially when using a business-focused social platform like LinkedIn, pause should be taken when acknowledging or using this information, as the person who entered it may not be aware of how it would be used or shared.
Do you have your birthday listed on LinkedIn? On other social media platforms? I welcome your thoughts on this in the comments to this post.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
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