In June 2015 I wrote a post talking about how these days it’s harder to do business on LinkedIn than it used to be. I mentioned 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 last part.
I also wrote a post some time ago 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 some of the things they say and think “Ooohhh, I can’t wait to work with this person”; wouldn’t be me!
Over the last year or so, I’ve seen some fairly horrific postings by supposed professionals. A lot of people are saying things on LinkedIn that I might have expected on Facebook here and there, and definitely on Twitter. There’s an added group that’s shown up, and I can’t blame them all that much because they’re saying “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? True, they’re going through a rough period at the moment with a lot of advertisers deciding to pull their advertisements because of a stance they’ve taken to protect what many are calling “hate speech.” Still, in essence, Facebook is now the largest country in the world; who wouldn’t want to emulate that?
Other reasons for change also make sense. Since making changes to emulate Facebook revenue has increased, engagement overall has increased, visits have increased and the number of advertisers has increased. It’s no wonder Microsoft bought them.
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… only worse.
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 posting links without comment or had become a cesspool of spam that no one was moderating anyway. 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 links I share from this blog, my business blog and my two video channels are things I’m creating on my own. Still, I don’t mind people sharing links to things they’re interested in; it’s just that they have more space to comment on it, unlike Twitter, and it would be nice to know their opinion about it before we read it.
The updates that get commented on are… well, interesting. Any updates with puppies and babies and good looking women get the most comments… like on Facebook. That doesn’t mean those comments are always nice.
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. Over the last 6 weeks, after the murder of George Floyd, a lot of black people like myself have been posting our thoughts and histories. I’ve gotten a fairly nice response (thanks for that), but last week one young lady actually got a death threat from someone… on LinkedIn… where you have to give your real name!
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 4 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. They would also be moderated by a LinkedIn employee or a designated outsider who’d eliminate the spam and encourage people to say something about any links they’re sharing ahead of time.
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 in a group with those ready to talk about industry information, best practices and possibilities would be much stronger for everyone involved, 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.
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.
4. Delete any profile that hasn’t been visited by its creator in 3 years.
This one’s never going to happen because everyone thinks the numbers game is the most important thing when it comes to advertising and promotions. Truth be told, I doubt that 35% to 40% of the people who’ve created profiles have ever been back to check on anything, even if they’ve changed jobs.
LinkedIn promotes a premium package that they say would help all of us improve our business communications. In my opinion, it only helps if we know the people we might reach out to are not only somewhat active on the site but are still working where they purport to be.
How do you feel about LinkedIn these days, and what would you like to see that you don’t see now?