Recently, we were witness to a tragic event on Linkedin.
Linkedin now has shareholders. Stock for sale on the market. And it also now appears very much to have developed the sociopathic corporate persona that comes with it.
I have been reading a lot of posts lately where people are expressing both concern and shock at the way LinkedIn’s attitude towards them has changed. These are group owners, group managers, regular posters & bloggers alike.
These people are all professionals, and care enough about what they believe in to put in the time and effort to reach out to help others succeed. Certainly there is a good deal of enlightened self-interest at work here. But for the most part this sub-culture on LinkedIn, which I, a while back, nicknamed The LinkedIn Underground, is just as much, if not more, about giving to their community.
The Defiance of Business Logic
One would think that any company big enough to make a public offering would appreciate that their product is actually defined by the work of these people. But this is not the case.
With a rather jaundiced eye, they have created a class (500-2500) of LinkedIn denizens called The Influencers. They have put a lot of faith it these people’s ability to attract eyeballs, which theoretically leads to good things like signups and paid memberships and, of course, profile stats they can sell to advertisers.
Relative to the number of writers, regular posters and people associated with LinkedIn groups, these Influencers comprise about 1/4 of 1% of the active LinkedIn population.
These are all the people who appear right under your post on LinkedIn Pulse with hundreds of thousands of page views, and hundreds, if not thousands of sycophantic comments, which invariably go un-responded to.
One the other side of this coin is the LinkedIn Underground. This is a class of people like myself and all of you reading this post.
We are every bit as professional as the so-called Influencers. We run and participate in groups that attract solid memberships. We contribute the vast, vast majority of posts to LinkedIn Pulse and we all work very hard to create the constructive dialogue and engagement that ensues from writing posts with an actual point of view.
But over the past year, we have seen our ability to to expand our networks and run groups effectively severely inhibited by a number of draconian tweaks to the mighty LinkedIn algorithm.
The Marketer In Me Has A Headache
As a professional marketer, who has been working in the digital world for the past decade, this behavior on the part of LinkedIn makes absolutely no sense. Any smart, savvy social media network owner will tell you that there can never be too much interaction and network building on their site.
Why?…well it’s 101 simple. Activity builds business. It creates interest for advertisers… It encourages good contributors to contribute even more…It allows professional groups to flourish and it ultimately increases the value proposition of a paid membership.
This is all good stuff. But when you deliberately inhibit the ability of individuals and groups to function freely, to build networks and associations with each other, you are basically, as a company, shooting yourself repeatedly in the foot.
If you continue this inhibiting of interaction between members of your site, two things will inevitably happen. 1. People will lose interest in being here. (This is already occurring in significant numbers) and 2. Somebody out there, with not even super deep pockets, will see an opportunity to build an alternative, based simply on the original, un-messed-around-with idea of LinkedIn.
This would be a true professional site with a level playing field for people to build their networks, build and manage groups that are free to set their own rules for participation, and attract a good deal of paid membership, and ultimately advertising revenues, because their profiling and target audience preferences would be much more clearly defined.
This is not the state of affairs right now on LinkedIn. The amount of discontent being expressed is relatively small compared to the advertised number of LinkedIn members, probably half of which could not even be considered active.
So it’s quite likely that posts like this and even hundreds of others in the same vein can go completely unnoticed in such a vast universe as LinkedIn purports to be.
Am I Just Pissing In The Wind?
I don’t think so . What I am doing is a) Getting stuff of my chest, which always feels good and b) Reminding people that if it is true that LinkedIn has basically abandoned us all, that we do have something they can’t tweak their algorithm to remove. And that is each other.
Until a solid alternative comes along, and notice I said until because this is inevitable, we need to help each other. And here’s how we do that.
1. Keep writing good stuff…
2. Join and participate in groups relevant to your business…
3. Promote your posts actively on your home page, twice or three times a day…
4. Expand your network. There’s no penalty for doing that anymore…
5. Encourage people to follow you and share your posts with their networks…
6. Make it a point to share other people’s good posts, either simple posts or longer format posts…
7. Expand your reach through other social media sites tike Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ Facebook and more…
8. Use your groups to spread notification and encourage conversation…
9. Like and comment on other people’s posts. Get your point of view out there…
10. Make your discontent known, on your home page and in your groups. Get people talking about it, because you never know who is looking at what…
11. Make all of this a part of your routine. You’ll be surprised at how efficient you get at it with a little practice.
We’re All On Our Own Here.
Everything that Linked Underground people have gone through this year has to be filed under “shit happens”.
It’s easy to be despondent and disappointed in LinkedIn these days, especially when your business mind tells you that this kind of activity runs counter to any business logic you may possess.
But having said all that, we do have alternatives as defined by the 11 points above.
Now I’m pretty sure that relatively few people will actually participate in all of this activity. And that’s sad because the alternative to that is just to hang around and wait for some kind of miracle to happen…you know that maybe LinkedIn will wake up one day and think, “OMG what have we done to our members?”
Well, that’s one way to go I suppose. But it’s not my way. I wrote this post to crystallize thoughts in my own head. I’m sharing it with you and saying this is what’s gonna work for me.
Whether it works for you, of course, is totally up to you. So there you go.
Have a good 2016 and remember this…success is only what you make it, and that is especially true these days here in LinkedIn.
Jim Murray has been a writer pretty much all his life. For most of his adult life, including now, people actually pay him to do it. They also pay him to art direct a lot of the stuff he writes. He is also a mentor, blog post editor and a photographer. Fancy that.
Jim writes to help people and companies with their marketing and blogs primarily to help people get better at communicating. In today’s world, that’s almost a public service.
If you are reading this article from within LinkedIn
and would like to read more of Jim’s stuff, you can access it here.