Friday, 9 March 2018

LinkedIn: A Lemon Going Down the Drain?

I used to be a staunch advocate of LinkedIn (LI). I joined LinkedIn because I felt was good for my profile, but I stayed for the groups. 

I knew that LI monetises the platform through recruitment as recruiters have paid, professional memberships which provides them with absolute access to all of we unpaid members. We with the free accounts who graze the groups are the cattle: providing the raw material for LI's recruitment monetisation.

However, a couple of years ago, the organisation seems to have lost their way. Nail number one in the LI Coffin: it took the focus off the groups (which is why I stayed in the first place). In early 2015, I would have said there was a incredibly strong sense of community on LI through the groups. They hummed. Now the groups are ghost towns. A few people post things, but where once we might have had twenty or more threads a day, now we might get half a dozen a week. We once narrow-cast questions, discussion and ideas within the groups, and got some fabulous debate going. Group members now broadcast: they post in the homepage main thread. No more discussion on the groups. Hardly even a like. No more food for the soul.

LI as an organisation should be concerned, because when we - the cattle - no longer get palatable food (groups), we will roam to other pastures. This will mean that the recruiters will see a drop off in raw material quality, and LI's ability to monetise will decrease. But Microsoft bought the company - probably for the member database (I have written about these changes here, here, here, here and here). And if revenue falls, there are other ways to make money, as Microsoft well knows.

How about a spot of advertising to narrow the revenue gap? Great: nail number two in the LI coffin. The advertising on the homepage thread is driving me batty, and that was when I really started to lose interest. I have opted out of ads in my settings on both my phone and my PC, but that doesn't stop the ads on the page. I cannot turn those ones off: I just have to endure the fact that probably one in every three posts is not something I am remotely interested in. They just keep on coming.

Nail number three: the incessant emails and notifications. The barrage of emails made me decide to I opt out of all emails and advertising (please note that I STILL get emails, but probably 5% of the volume I used to - see the 'joke' illustrating this post). I used to get advisory emails daily from each group. I don't anymore. So my habits have changed almost without me noticing: I used to check LI first thing every morning: I might spend 20 minutes a week now. I post my blog post using Buffer to LI and Twitter, and connect with anyone who asks me (as that is the point of networking, I feel) but I no longer care enough to post or make more than a couple of comments a week. I have disengaged.

And then there is nail number four: post quality. People are now posting 'Facebook' posts: 'what I did on my holiday', things to buy for the home, recipes and banal bumpf. Positive thinking drivel. I am seeing the standard of gossip and opinions on LI that I would have expected on Medium: lightweight. FB has always only been for family, but I now tend to post there more than on LI, because the differentiation between the platforms is narrowing. The time of the FB flake and the FB diatribe appearing on LI seems to be drawing ever nearer.

What used to be a community is now a hollow shell. It is sad, but there is nothing I can do about it. The great thing is departing.


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