I have been a member of LinkedIn for several years. During that time I have seen it grow from a simple resume hosting community with forums to a full blown social media advertising site.
Unfortunately, the advertising is from its users. It is difficult to find a group that is not inundated with blog posts wanting someone to leave LinkedIn and go visit their site. This is counterproductive for building SEM techniques and getting your personal brand out in the web world.
If you spend any time going through the groups you will see that the blog posts tend to get little to no feedback and simply take up space. The members are wise in knowing that the blog post might have good information but who wants to peruse through page after page of posts that only give you a little enticement about the topic and then require you to do extra work to actually get to the meat of the topic? This may make us lazy but I like to follow the premise that you must provide real benefit to your readers and not just throw junk at the wall and see what sticks.
The real issue that comes to the surface is, will LinkedIn get involved in correcting this shortcoming and actively try to stabilize their service so that it can function as a place for idea exchange and building quality connections? They are in a difficult position, with their revenue coming from total visitors and the amount they can charge for advertising; once their advertising customers no longer consider the site to have an acceptable ROI they will find better locations. Secondly, companies wanting to post job openings must pay for the pleasure. If no real people are using LinkedIn, then the job posters will not want to post jobs. And finally, if you pay for an upgrade beyond the basic account at what point is your personal ROI worth it when the service only provides a platform for blog posts?
I still use LinkedIn but am more focused on how I do the work. It can be a good source for building links to my blog but I do not try and trick the users into visiting my blog location. I simply say what I have to say and then provide some form of byline at the end to help drive traffic. It is interesting to note that in doing the simple byline, I actually get more hits to my blog than I do if I just dump my blog post link into the group. I have personally tried a few experiments to see what works.
The next couple of years are going to be interesting for LinkedIn. They have recently gone public and will be trying to solidify their brand and generate a stable and enhanced revenue stream. I would not be surprised if some major changes to how their platform functions are changed and we start to see new satellite sites developing that help them cross-generate revenue.
John Wilkerson is a Marketing/Sales Professional specializing in online branding, ecommerce sites, blogging, email advertising, content creation, print media, and direct mail.