Linked in bullcrap

I have ranted often about LinkedIn, from their desire to be a destination as often and for as much time as Facebook, a tall order indeed. Many of the people I know in Marketing are hailing it as the B2B marketing platform, praising the blogs, the opinion leaders they have recruited, and the communities that can be created.

I naturally have a LinkedIn profile, and I am a member to many of these communities that are relevant to my field, and I will admit that there are some interesting discussions. But there is a downside. First is the volume of notifications. Holy moly, my social tab of my Gmail account must get 30+ notification emails a day (I am sure there is a way to turn that off, but like facebook, LinkedIn doesn’t make things like that easy). And they are mostly lame.

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LinkedIn Still Sucks

Who would have thought that my last rant against LinkedIn would be the third most viewed post on my site. Astounding, and by the comments, it seems to have rung a bell with others. (note: this is a repost from my professional blog)

LinkedIn is still crappy, for all the same reasons I wrote about here, but some new suckage has floated to the top. LinkedIn is ostensibly the “Facebook” of the professional world. Many people keep totally different personas on the two sites, for obvious reasons. But where LinkedIn fails is that it really wants to have people visit every day, and spend hours glued to the site so they can monetize your eyeballs.

To try to get people incentivized to visit often (daily or multiple times a day), they have tried to go beyond a business network, and to add things that are really a clumsy fit. These are:

Groups: A nice concept. Have self organizing user communities where like minded people gather to chat, and exchange information. Very analogous to the old computer BBS’s, the Forums that created vibrand communities (like the one I participate in for the S2000 owners club). But on LinkedIn, they seem contrived. I am a member of 4 different AFM communities. Some are open, some are closed, one is for a specific maker. The same situation for Product Marketing. There is a Product Marketing group, a Product Marketing Professionals group, and a 280 Product Marketing group. Again, lots of balkanization. In the outside world, there may be more than one community, but in truth, there is one that “wins” and the rest wither or atrophy.

Forums (part of the groups): There is a reason that some of the best forums on the internet are moderated. The world is full of trolls and folks who just like to take the counter argument just to be “dickish”. Moderation helps keep this to a tolerable level. But none of the LinkedIn groups I frequent appear to be moderated (correction: the APS Physics group does moderate with a heavy hand). I have seen competitors in public pissing matches, escalate a discussion into a full blown PR disaster. You would think that reasonable, rational professionals would be more reserved, but then you would be wrong.

A news feed: When I go to my page, I get bombarded by the trivialities and banalities of my network. I really don’t pay attention to this. Yes, sometimes I will learn that John Smith moved to a new job, but often it is dumb things like a member “liked” something. I get the idea of trying to build your “graph” and to try to gain more eyeball-minutes on your content, but come on.

Trying to grow your network by giving LinkedIn access to your Gmail contacts: This one pisses me off to no end. (and you can repeat this argument for all the other online email services) Everytime I interact with them, they want me to give them the login details for my Gmail account so that they can look for potential people to link to. Uh, not only is this a no, but it is a giant F*CK NO. None of the social media operators have a shred of concern about maintaining privacy, and will gladly sell their mother for more traffic.

Constant offers to go to premium (paid) access: This one really infuriates me to no end. I must get 2 – 3 offers for a free month of Premium (just give them a credit card to charge when the free period is done.) I looked up the plans, and the cheapest one, “Business” is a whopping $19.95 a month, IF you buy a year worth at a time. The business Plus is $39.95 a month, and the executive level is $74.95 a month. FFS, what on earth can be worth $900 a year to me?  Oh, so I can connect with and message people who aren’t in my network without having to go through a common connection. Sorry, that is just worth about $0.0003 a month to me. I can understand those who are seeking employment might benefit, but I doubt they will buy a year at a time. And recruiters? No brainer. In fact they should charge $500.00 a month for recruiters. That would weed out the crappy ones pretty quick. I don’t mind paying for things that provide value, but I can’t imagine LinkedIn being worth more than about tree fiddy


LinkedIn is a pretty good way to remain in contact with all the people you come across. But their business model (and valuation) is dependent upon increasing the time that users spend on the site. So they are turning to the Facebook playbook to create reasons for people to visit unprompted, and to spend more time browsing. Their stumbling at the offering of endorsed product advertising (Getting sued for unautorized use of images and user details for adverising is a huge breach of trust) is just one of their ill advised efforts to monetize the service.

But, the value that they offer me, the professional who drops in when I get a connection invite, or when a notification catches my eye, is not on the social network functionality. I am never going to spend hours a week glued to LinkedIn.

Lastly, they need to do something to increase the coherence of the recruiters who use their site. LinkedIn is a valuable asset to that business, but it does give way to laziness, and that leads to us, the talent, being bombarded with bullshit job offers. Fix that, or become as irrelevant as has become. Perhaps they should make it cost $500 a month or more for recruiters.


My problems with LinkedIn

linkedin-logoI am getting social media swamped.  But there is one trend that I am sure that I am not alone in is the in your face nature that LinkedIn has become since going public.  I have been a member of Linkedin for a long time, and it has been a good place to collect my professional connections.  But, it is not a place that I go to daily, weekly, or even once a month.  The truth is that for me it is not a major motivator in my professional career. But lately, the noise from LinkedIn has become intolerable.  I blame the pressures of becoming a public company and the incessant drive to derive money from its users. But, come on…

First, as a user, and in my past searches for new positions, I have never once thought to look to LinkedIn.  I know that there are job postings there, and that some people are successful in using it to hunt for jobs, but, truth be told I rely on my reputation, and the relationships I have with a few select recruiters who I have worked with in the past (on both sides, as a candidate and to seek a candidate). LinkedIn has disrupted this, but, to me, not for the better.  I get a lot of queries for positions that it should be clear to a 3rd grade level reader that I am not really suitable for, or that my qualifications don’t fit. It is almost like it has made recruiters stupid, and turned them into spamming telemarketers.  I have stopped responding to the most ludicrous ones.

Second, what started as a nice idea, the “recommendations” feature has become rife with abuse.  How often do you get a query from a past colleague seeking recommendations?  You can decline, but most people just cave in and write one. Usually glowing with flowery praise for someone who is about as intelligent and worthy as a potted plant. When I do go hunting around, I often read the recommendations for former colleagues that I didn’t write, and I have seen a lot of lipstick applied to the proverbial pig. Yikes.  I would never rely on the recommendations of a candidate that are on linked in.  For the record. I have NEVER asked for a recommendation.  The ones on my profile are genuine from people who wouldn’t pull punches.

Lastly, they have started this thing called “endorsements”.  You see 4 of your connections with what seems like a match for their skills, and are asked to endorse them.  I have received literally hundreds of them. The problem is that most of the people doing the endorsement wouldn’t know how good I am at “Product Management” or “Marketing”.  My interactions with them were either for different reasons, or completely unrelated to what they have endorsed me for. Criminy, I got endorsed for “Microsoft Office”. Seriously, WTF is up with that?

Naturally, this is all to help them generate more page views, and more advertising, thus leading HR and Recruiters to continue to pony up for the access to this huge pool of talent. But to me, LinkedIn remains a fairly static view of me and my career. Regardless of how often they offer me a free month of “Premium” I will never take it, because to me there can’t be enough value for me to pay for it. Monetizing your “product” is important, but just like if Facebook started charging the users for the service, it would whither and die, so will LinkedIn.  Continue to make it the professional network, but realize that some/many of your enhancements are making the service far less valuable for my time. There is nothing LinkedIn can do to get my visit frequency to daily.

(I originally wrote this for my professional blog, but thought I should share it here as well)