What's Up with LinkedIn?

Mike Allton
Mike Allton Internet Marketing Consultant, The Social Media Hat

Posted on February 18th 2013

What's Up with LinkedIn?
What's up with LinkedIn?

Last September, I wrote a summary of the major developments LinkedIn had implemented to that point in 2012. Entitled, "Is the LinkedIn Business Experience Getting Better or Worse," I suggested that most of the changes to that point were definite improvements, with the possible exception of the new Notification system that was sure to generate a lot of spam. Not long after writing that post, LinkedIn initiated the new Endorsement system and it seems like things have gone downhill from there. Let's take a look at what LinkedIn has done in the last five months and you can judge for yourself.

Endorsements

At the end of September, LinkedIn announced a new Endorsement system. Much like K's on Klout, LinkedIn users were given the opportunity to "endorse" other members by agreeing that they possess certain skills. Most of the time, LinkedIn would suggest a set of skills that a member might have and one would simply click Endorse to agree with all of them. Once you endorse one person, LinkedIn then proceeds to show you four other members and a skill for each, and asks you to endorse all four. Each time you agree, a new set appears, and this can go on for quite some time.

As a result, LinkedIn members are spending more time on the site endorsing each other. Each time you endorse someone, unless they've turned off their email notifications, they'll get an email telling them that you endorsed them.

Group Spotlight

In December, LinkedIn added a nice option to LinkedIn Company Pages which allows businesses to spotlight up to three Groups. A new box appears on the right side of your Company Page and you can put whatever groups there you want (as long as you're a member).

For businesses that have a Group strategy in place, this presents an opportunity to increase group membership, as well as highlight some groups that they're proud to be members of and participants. Many businesses have taken advantage of the group functionality to create their own group so that they can feature their own content and foster great relationships at the same time. Group Spotlight gives businesses a place to highlight their own group.

LinkedIn Surpasses 200 Million Members

While not a change to the platform, I thought it would be pertinent to include this milestone in our timeline since LinkedIn made a big deal about it. They announced in early January that they'd passed 200 million members and proceeded to break out a number of interested statistics about their current membership.

While membership may not immediately be of value to your business, the fact is, if you're using a social network to promote your business, the more members that network has, the better. The problem with this metric and the statistics they shared was that LinkedIn's growth now appears to be coming from outside the US. If you're a business in the United States that doesn't have a global reach, LinkedIn's growth should be less impressive. If you want to enter the markets of Brazil or India, your reach is expanding.

LinkedIn Company Updates with Images and Files

About a week later, LinkedIn implemented an improvement to Company Pages that allows businesses to share images and files as part of a status update. Previously, businesses were only able to share some text or a link. If they posted a link, the link would automatically grab a preview which might include an image.

With this update, businesses can post images and files like PDFs or presentations which the site will upload and automatically convert and actually display. I have been advocating for some time that businesses expand their content marketing to include more slideshows and images, like infographs, so this could be a nice feature.

LinkedIn Answers

Late in January, LinkedIn announced that it would be terminating the LinkedIn Answers functionality completely within the week. Like Quora or Yahoo! Answers, LinkedIn Answers was a tool used by many to ask questions, or answer other people's questions and demosntrate expertise.

LinkedIn's announcement simply stated that they were going to work on new and different ways to demonstrate expertise. There was no clear explanation of why LinkedIn Answers had to be removed in order to accomplish that. Unfortunately, since the feature was completely removed, all previous questions and answers are completely gone.

LinkedIn's Top X% Campaign

Which brings us to the most recent LinkedIn event - their "top x%" marketing campaign. As we discussed earlier, LinkedIn identified several different categories, like most viewed profile or most endorsed skill, and then proceeded to send emails to the top 1%, 5% and 10% of users within those categories, congratulating them.

Reception has been quite mixxed. Many saw it as a pure marketing stunt and dismissed it out of hand. Others saw it as pure genius for generating discussion and activity and probably even some sales of premium accounts.

What's Next?

Unlike last year, this roundup of LinkedIn activity seems to be leaning quite a bit more toward the "unhelpful" side. Group Spotlights were nice and being able to share images and files to your Company Page could be leveraged effectively, but what about the rest? Have you seen any value to Endorsements? Were you impressed with LinkedIn's membership or their email campaign? Did you use LinkedIn Answers? I'm interested in hearing what you think about LinkedIn, and if your impression of the network is getting better or worse. Will you be devoting more time to Google+?

Mike Allton

Mike Allton

Internet Marketing Consultant, The Social Media Hat

I love to help small businesses and organizations that are interested in using the Internet more effectively. I provide a comprehensive set of consulting services, which include Social Media, Blogging, website development, SEO and Internet marketing.

I started my own website design firm in 2007 when I moved to St. Louis. Though I had been designing websites for years, it was always side jobs and part time gigs until I started my own firm. I now provide professional web development and Internet consulting full time.

For most clients and projects, we start with a new website. The new site is based on the Drupal Content Management System (CMS) platform so that the client may log into their site and add or edit content any time they need to. Each CMS includes a built-in Blog and other content types like FAQs and Testimonials. The CMS also includes a full compliment of SEO and Social Media integration options so that every time they create a new blog entry, that post is automatically shared with search engines like Google and Bing, and can be easily posted to social networks like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Once we have a great new website in place, I provide my business clients with ongoing marketing advice and assistance. I can tell them exactly what they need to do, or just do it for them, depending on how involved they wish to be. These ongoing activities can include blogging, creating and updating social network profiles, interacting with followers and readers, and managing online advertising campaigns.

I am the editor at The Social Media Hat (http://www.TheSocialMediaHat.com) where I regularly share articles discussing Social Media, SEO, Blogging, Writing, Internet Marketing and Business Technology.

My goal is to ensure that businesses are able to leverage the power and connectivity of the Internet to promote and grow their business. How can I help you with your own business today?

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Comments

Hi Mike, good post. I agree, there are quite a few strange moves from LinkedIn lately, and also some features which are of great value. Their endorsement feature is a good idea, but the execution could be better as users sometimes endorse others almost automatically leaving question marks about the validity of an endorsement. Answers disappearing = fail. And the updated company pages are a real winner - there's a lot more they could do in that space too.

 

Thanks Chris! You're right, I know countless users mindlessly click the Endorse button and assign whatever skills LinkedIn recommends.

LinkedIn should consider changing the name of the "Endorsements" program to "Try to Guilt Trip People Into Reciprocating" program.

The endorsement program seems to take some of the professionalism out of LinkedIn.  I can see those desperate to find work feeling the need to become endorsed as a way to get jobs.  This could lead to soliciting people for endorsements.

I have definitely been asked to provide endorsements. Have you personally?

Thanks for reading!

Hi Mike, I never think endorsements work because I myself received a lot of endorsements from people that I never work with.

I love the strategy LinkedIn used to spread LinkedIn by using our ego - LinkedIn's Top X% Campaign

 

Thanks Kent!

Many of us have multiple accounts in order to stay on top of the best information from each agency.  Your article attempting to smear LinkedIn does not convince me of the corporate integrity of Social Media Today.

Ed, I'm the CEO of Social Media Today.  I'm not sure where this article attempts to "smear" LinkedIn.  In my definition, a smear is an unwarranted and untrue attack.  While the author is not particularly positive about some of the new changes, are any of his points untrue?

I'm sorry you didn't agree with my points, Ed, but I certainly wasn't attempting to smear LinkedIn. I use LI every day and recommend the platform as the #1 social network for my B2B clients.

Of the points that I made, which ones do you think are unfounded?

I agree with most of the above. generally i think LI is improving- in complate contrast to facebook! Some additional points:

1. The new personal profile is better, but there needs to be much more advice on how to get the best out of it. For example incorporating documents and videos, how do you reorder them etc. Any experts out there then this is an opprtunity for a blog post!

2. I miss the tight integration with Slideshare and the dropping of aut blog feeds. I also qfound the Amazon reading list amusing.

3.I like the notifications, i do not get much spam so it is not a problem

3. I certainly will not miss Answers

4. Dropping "original content" from news  has never been satisfactorarily explaned in my view.

5.The biggest area i would try and improve is the huge number of dicussions which are fact pure promotion.Often these are on auto post and keep coming up. This is spoiling a large number of groups

 

Great points Richard. Thanks! I will definitely think about your idea for a blog post.

Linkedin Answers: Gone.

Linkedin Events: Gone

Linkedin Blog Apps: Gone

Add RSS to Groups: Gone

Almost all other apps: Gone

Do you see a pattern here?

All the features that allowed us to connect and share information among ourselves has been stripped out.


What have they been replaced with? Advertising space.

Or am I just being cynical? (lol)

LinkedIn might argue that while those kinds of features and functions have their uses, the primary purpose of LinkedIn is provide a platform for professionals to network. And I would have to agree with them in that these features do not support that purpose.

LinkedIn has recently revamped Jobs, which was needed, and I've also noticed some developing business purposes and benefits to Endorsements, so it's not all doom and gloom over at LI. And they promise more features and benefits are coming, so we'll see.

Thanks for reading!

Maybe it's a matter of perspective but I disagree that those features didn't hlep professionals network.

Events in particular was a fundametal feature in helping people network. Whole physical networking communities have been built using that feature. Now it's gone, those users will go to.

Even Answers had obvious networking benefits.

Don't get me wrong, I still like Linkedin, I just don't buy in to all the corporate spin they've put around the deletion of these features.

As for the Jobs revamp, for the vast majority of users the Jobs section is irrelevant. I think there is far too much emphasis on the jobs and recruiting aspect of Linkedin. That's not what we're there for.

I know that's how they are making money, but if Linkedin just becomes one giant help wanted billboard, then it loses it's appeal.

Linkedin built a 200 million user network on the old platform and design, so obviously something about it  was working. I really don't think they should have scrapped wholesale dozens of features that people were using.

 

 

 

Great points Mark!