My LinkedIn relationship status … ‘It’s complicated’

By in Views
On July 24, 2017

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b2b social media

My relationship is going south, and I’m tempted to throw in the towel. LinkedIn is causing me heartache. Call me a purist but I long for the days when the platform was a straight-forward business networking tool. It didn’t matter if I was using it to develop new contacts or keep in touch with old colleagues. It was effective for business networking and corporate storytelling, and I appreciated it for that. It didn’t try to be anything else. But things have gone horribly awry.

Sure, it still has some good b2b features like targeted sponsored posts and its publishing platform but it’s become overly personal. Some posts are too political, some too sentimental, others are just plain over-sharing. Enough of the ‘like and share’ mentality. LinkedIn has lost its identity. Is it a recruitment site? Is it for sales or marketing? Or a personal platform? Further, what will it be like 12 months? Sadly, in the most part, it now embodies the elements I most dislike about Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

A snapshot of posts on a regular recent weekday shows the range – from the dull to the ridiculous to the just plain stupid. It’s become a cluttered landscape of random musings that have no connection to me or anything of interest – personal or professional.

I love Mojitos too, but really…?!                                  Is LinkedIn the right place for this post?

When I asked others for their thoughts, I realized I wasn’t alone. My friends and colleagues had similar complaints. Some of the ‘winners’ from their feeds:

Fun but better for Facebook:                                     Flirting that’s a little too Tinder-esque:

 

 

 

 

   The ubiquitous plate-of-food shot – enough already!

An ailing platform

Some (me included) wonder if LinkedIn’s acquisition by Microsoft marked the beginning of the end, with subtle moves to monetise the site that have brought unfortunate consequences. Microsoft paid a whooping $26.2 billion for LinkedIn. It only stands to reason they want to see some profits from the platform. And to make money the business needs to move more and more users to one of its paid solutions—Business/Job Seeker, Sales Navigator or Talent Solutions. Increasingly it’s become a pay-to-play site, pushing users to upgrade by removing free features or making it impossible to use the platform effectively without making an investment.

There could be more forces at work that have led to sad state of the platform’s groups. Once robust, most LinkedIn groups are mere shadows of their former selves. There’s no real engagement. You can share content but the involvement ends there. The groups have been taken over by commercial interests with few real voices anymore.

Merging the personal and professional

Many think LinkedIn is already dead and point to evidence that other platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, are far more effective for business engagement. After all, why not use the same platform for business as you do for personal? It’s logical reasoning. And it’s certainly clear to Facebook, who sees the financial opportunity and is adding platform features to make it more business friendly. It’s tough to argue that an all-in-one solution would simplify life for everyone.

Facebook seems to be gaining ground for B2B social media and marketing. It makes sense if you consider that Facebook knows a lot about their users and has targeting settings for B2B advertising, including demographic targeting and targeting by interest, behavior and customization. Facebook also has a much larger audience and, from the looks of it, more ad types.

Who knows how all of this will shake out? But I’d place my bet with Facebook, Instagram – with its visual appeal – and Twitter. But I can’t help wondering. Is LinkedIn’s demise a result of the way users are using it or is the platform itself to blame? To me, it’s a little of both. Shame on them – and us. Another perfectly good tool has bitten the dust. Tell me I’m wrong. But I miss my old friend LinkedIn.

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