5 Reasons LinkedIn Has Lost Its Luster

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By Eric Wittlake, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Twitter may be my favorite social network, but LinkedIn was always the network I valued the most. LinkedIn is where I connected with colleagues, clients and business partners. I knew when they moved, when they were promoted and sometimes even what they were working on.

In comparison to the constant ping of tag (or even poke!) notifications on Facebook and the firehose of updates on Twitter, LinkedIn was a quiet and peaceful place. And that was good! You were able to see career changes that would otherwise be lost amid the memes, links and quotes.

Unfortunately, that is all changing. Here are five reasons why …

1. LinkedIn gamified the recommendation

Remember when people actually gave long-form recommendations on LinkedIn, back before relatives started endorsing you for skills they didn’t even understand? Now LinkedIn prompts us to endorse people for skills they don’t even have, but it’s far easier to click “Endorse” than it is to actually edit what you are endorsing someone for!

Adding to the confusion, many social media experts jumped on endorsements as a way to get someone’s attention. Endorse them for a few skills and show up in their notification stream as a way to engage them. Gah!

I was one of the early opponents of endorsements, and LinkedIn has done very little to change my view of endorsements in the nearly two years since it was rolled out.

But LinkedIn is seeing dollar signs. Endorsements are behind the ability to target ads to people based on their skills. So the next time someone endorses you, remember this: your connections are now choosing what information LinkedIn has about you, and advertisers are using that information to market to you. In today’s age of advertising data collection and privacy concerns, how do you feel about that?

2. Profile views became the new vanity metric

Remember in 2012 when LinkedIn notified users that they were in the top 10%, 5% or 1% of profiles based on how frequently their profiles were viewed? More recently, LinkedIn has expanded the “who has viewed your profile” to include how you rank versus your network and your colleagues.

Nothing like seeding a little competitive spirit behind a vanity metric to drive behavior!

3. LinkedIn belittled the connection

In the past, connections on LinkedIn represented a real connection, someone that could make an introduction or even provide a reference. LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers, individuals who connect with anyone) and weak connections were the exception. While LinkedIn still includes the message below on the desktop, it has been dropped from mobile versions of the site.

"only invite people you know well" suggestion from LinkedIn

Now LinkedIn encourages you to connect with people you don’t know (or claim skills you don’t have) because “profile views matter.”

LinkedIn Profile Views Matter

4. LinkedIn started pushing content on you

LinkedIn Signal and LinkedIn Today were once great ways to discover interesting content. But now almost all I see in LinkedIn Pulse is content published on LinkedIn. Gone is the variety, the original content and the opportunity to discover new and interesting source. Chad Pollitt nailed the issue a year ago in Why LinkedIn Just Got Less Appealing.

With an open publishing platform, it is even worse. I recently had five notifications of new posts on LinkedIn. Three were cross-posted (I’d already seen the originals) and two were posts I had no interest in, from connections I value professionally but I never would subscribe to read their blog.

Yes, I know I can unsubscribe from a user’s posts now, but that unsubscribe function is one-by-one. It is almost like opting out of spam emails as they come in instead of using a spam filter.

5. LinkedIn is going Facebook now!

With large header images, the ability to tag users and even prompts to share your birthdate and marital status, there are more and more similarities between LinkedIn and Facebook.

Users are responding by acting more and more like LinkedIn is Facebook, with “Eye Test” and “98% of people got this math problem wrong” updates invading the stream. Make. It. Stop!

I feel like I’ve been manipulated

LinkedIn is successfully manipulating me. I’m spending more and more time on the site, viewing more pages, contributing more data (including data about other people) and ultimately driving up LinkedIn’s advertising revenue. At the same time though, LinkedIn is delivering less and less of what made it valuable to me in the first place.

This may be working for LinkedIn and for LinkedIn marketers, but for me personally, LinkedIn has lost its luster. What about you?

Eric WittlakeEric Wittlake spends his days working with B2B marketers and shares his marketing views on his personal blog, B2B Digital Marketing. You can find him on Twitter (@wittlake) when he hasn’t been sucked into the vortex of LinkedIn’s latest scheme.

Image Credit: Tom Fishburne

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