Friday, 18 December 2015

LinkedIn and Hubris

(Friedman, 2015)
I was reading a piece by a colleague of mine from the Collaborative Career Conversations group - Kelly Mitchell - a few days ago.

Kelly was saying how he felt that the folk at LinkedIn were putting the cart before the horse: that LinkedIn was making changes to the online platform that customers were not taking to.

And, that instead of listening to the growing gripes from customers, they were ploughing on regardless with more changes, with no communication about what the cumulative changes were going to lead to.

Kelly makes a very good point. When we shout out, and hear nothing back, we fill in that silence with our own impressions. And in today's market of almost instantaneous response, maintaining radio silence is very nearly the kiss of death for a brand.

I hope, as Kelly also does, that this is not a case of arrogance: "we hear about situations where unwanted change occurs [made by] folks in their ivory towers who think they know what’s best for the masses but are out of the loop."

At the same time I was reading Kelly's article, another post by Phil Friedman crossed my path.

Phil reported that LinkedIn has decided to limit the number of posts that we see. "To ensure members only receive high quality and relevant publishing notifications, we do two things. First, all posts must pass our spam and low quality filter before having a notification published for them. Second, only connections whom we deem are strong connections will receive these notifications. We determine this by leveraging the connection strength score from the LinkedIn cloud service. Cloud service maintains connection relationships between members" (Byron Ma, LinkedIn’s Engineering Blog, August 2014, as cited by Johnson, 2015, as cited by Friedman, 2015).

LinkedIn is apparently being our benevolent parent, and deciding who should see what, on our behalf. As Phil says, "LinkedIn has taken upon itself to unilaterally and without notice begin overriding the express requests of those who have connected with, and elected to follow an author. And moreover, LI has chosen to misrepresent the situation by continuing to send out notices such as this one received when I last week posted my most recent article on the long-form platform". The LI message that Phil refers to read "Nice Work! We've let your 2759 LinkedIn followers know that you've published. Keep up the momentum by sharing with your other networks!"

Phil's reaction was "The rationale given for 'choking' or 'throttling down' notifications of an author's posts to his or her connections and followers, is unadulterated gobbledygook. It is an accepted fact that less than 20% of readers on social media actively engage consistently by posting comments. Most of the time, they are happy to just read. Consequently, the weakly-defined metric of 'strong connection' will, in very many cases, I submit, completely distort the true nature of the relationship between an author and a follower. In other words, a follower of a given author could be a devoted fan, yet because that follower doesn't actively 'engage' regularly, could be easily and incorrectly discounted as not-strong, un-strong, anti-strong, or any other bull-chip expression LI may choose to employ".

So. LinkedIn is reducing the links they send us, throttling back who our messages go to, and deciding arbitrarily who is 'active' in our network.

Killing [themselves] softly...?



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