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 Monster.com has become. Perhaps they should make it cost $500 a month or more for recruiters.