In June 2015 I wrote a post talking about how these days it’s hard to do business on LinkedIn. I talked about how people who seemingly reach out saying they want to work with you actually want you to work for them… for free! I talked about how I rarely get anyone reaching out to me to do business for them where I’ll get paid, and I mentioned how people will reach out to ask me for advice; I don’t mind that part.
Then last September, on my birthday no less, I wrote a post about social media mistakes people make which included mentioning how it seems that a lot of people these days are acting like trolls on LinkedIn, a site that’s supposed to be for business purposes. I can’t understand how those people think someone will see that and say “Ooohhh, I can’t wait to work with this person”; wouldn’t be me!
Yet, I have noticed something intriguing over the past 18 months or so, and what’s made it intriguing is that people are saying on LinkedIn what I’ve been thinking for a while but think it’s rude to actually say on LinkedIn, especially on something someone else has posted. That line, or a derivative of it, is: “This shouldn’t be on LinkedIn; it should be on Facebook.”
That’s a very legitimate gripe and it leads to the big question, the elephant in the room: why has LinkedIn become Facebook?
The initial reason is easy; have you seen Facebook’s numbers, both in members and growth? In essence, Facebook is now the largest country in the world; who wouldn’t want to emulate that?
Other reasons make sense also. Since making changes a couple of years ago, their revenue has increased, engagement overall has increased, visits have increased and advertising has increased. It’s no wonder Microsoft bought them in June.
They say their overall long term goal is to have 3 billion profiles and a major growth in traffic and usage via their LinkedIn mobile app (which I’m not all that crazy about). So far their newest strategies seem to be working out for them; so what’s the problem?
The problem is that it’s less of a business site and more of a… well… Facebook type site.
One thing LinkedIn has done is diminished the usefulness of their Groups option, and that’s too bad. Then again, I’d lamented how it seemed that most groups either had people just posting links without comment or had become a cesspool of spam that no one was moderating anyway so I guess it’s easier to ask “what’s the point” than to try to fix them and make them more attractive.
Another thing is some of what we now see in the updates area on the home page. Nearly everyone is just posting links to things they’re not creating and they have no comment most of the time. At least the link I share from this blog and my business blog are things I’m creating on my own, but I’ll be honest and say what I do might not be all that much better just because I created it.
The updates that get commented on are… well, interesting. Any updates with puppies and babies get the most comments… like on Facebook. Political posts seem to get the most vitriol… just like on Facebook. For a site that likes to promote itself as a business networking site I’m not sure that’s what any of the above can truly be considered as.
Obviously I have some complaints about LinkedIn, some of which I’ve made plain here. However, I’m one of those people who hates people who complain about things without offering some suggestions for how to make things better. Here are 3 things I wish they had or would do to make it better:
1. Set up “true” networking sites
What would be nice is if, instead of something like the type of groups they have now, LinkedIn set up networking groups based on specific business categories that people could join and know that they would have the opportunity to really engage with others in their industry. The difference here is that if people joined and never said anything for a period of 30 days they’d automatically be bounced from the group.
A gripe of mine is joining a group that says it has 25,000 members but only 3 or 4 people are ever posting anything, and maybe 9 or 10 ever say anything. I think fewer people but those ready to talk about industry information and possibilities would be much stronger and make the site more valuable to both consultants like myself and people who might want to find someone to work with.
2. Make people declare sites they’re related to and set a limit on the number of items they can share outside of those sites.
This might seem a bit controversial until you realize it’s what YouTube has done to a certain extent. On YouTube, I can only share information in their Cards program from either sites that I’m associated with in my profile or other YouTube videos. They also only limit 5 cards per video. Some might say you can get around this by using annotations but those don’t show up on mobile.
With restrictions like this, it would limit the amount of mindless posts that people share that have nothing to do with them and potentially get them back to posting more business related items. It might reduce the stream a little bit but truthfully, who can say they even know how to keep up with the stream (like Facebook), let alone care (like Facebook)? It would certainly give more members a chance to highlight themselves; it’s amazing that people need to be forced to talk about themselves or their business on a site supposedly for business.
3. Allow local members to set up face-to-face networking events via LinkedIn.
Since they want to be Facebook anyway, LinkedIn might as well set this feature up like Facebook has. In the past many of us tried doing it through groups because there were a lot of people who were members but there was no way of seeing who might really be interested in coming. I’m not sure how valuable this might be to the masses but I know that meeting the few people I have because of LinkedIn locally has been a wonderful thing, and having a chance to meet a bunch of them at once would probably be pretty nice also.
How do you feel about the “new” LinkedIn, and what would you like to see that you don’t see now?
(Update – it seems that just a couple of weeks later LinkedIn admits it wants to be the #1 social media site in the world by… you guessed it… trying to beat Facebook at Facebook…)