The Slow Death of LinkedIn
I remember last year — after LinkedIn finally updated its profile designs and introduced a new pricing plan — seeing #RIPLinkedIn for the first time. Professionals & media experts were broken into two camps; those who believed in the platform, and those who scoffed at it.
As a member of the latter camp, I haven't actively used the professional networking channel for years, but couldn't help notice how much attention the new changes — and the new viral hashtag — had been garnering across social and news media. Something was up, and something I had personally disliked was now something a lot of folks disliked.
As a digital marketer, I like to think I have a firm understanding of social media and user behavior, trends and insights. I'm fascinated with why people prefer certain social channels, and why they stop using other social channels.
I originally gave up on LinkedIn because it was...well, it was cheesy. I wasn't looking for a job and my feed had become flooded with sales people—some I had purchased media from in the past, others were old acquaintances, or worse yet, acquaintances of acquaintances. Then came the wave of marketers from my own corner of the digital universe — and we came in droves. Leave it to marketers, we can ruin just about anything. Remember MySpace? Yep, that was us.
How Did We Get Here?
So how did LinkedIn go from being one of the top job boards, recruitment channels and professional industry networks to a shady, over-reaching sales gauntlet fraught with pointless content and marketing rubbish? It became popular, that's how. And when the dinner bell rings, the outlaws come-a-runnin'.
Several years back, it was imperative to not only have a personal LinkedIn profile, but a LinkedIn page for your business as well. I remember meeting with new clients and auditing their social media footprint. "You have to have a LinkedIn page for your business," I would tell them. Fast-forward to today, and my own company, Media Fury, does not have a LinkedIn account.
When it was brought up in our initial development meetings, I remember telling my partners, "I'm not cheesing up this agency with a freakin' LinkedIn page. How embarrassing!"
That sentiment has not changed. LinkedIn is dead. Marketing models have shifted — or should be shifting — from having to be on every major social media channel to now choosing which social platforms to work with. Countless businesses have discovered that they simply don't have the time to manage all of those channels, so they focus on the one or two that actually get results. Why would I associate my new ad agency that supposedly specializes in social media, with an out-of-date, out-of-touch social platform? I wouldn't, and neither should you.
Is LinkedIn Good For Anything?
Hiring? Nope. We hire from our own backyard and from a close-knit network of professionals.
Lead Generation? Good luck with that. You risk becoming desperate and annoying if you join the army of former-telemarketers-turned-internet-hounds. It's a frustrating grind.
Informative? No thanks, I get my industry info from a strategically curated Twitter feed.
Contact us? We have a website and multiple social media profiles for that.
Consumer Advertising? Oh boy, you have a long way to go. Your money is better spent with an ad in the Yellow Pages...the print version. LinkedIn Ads result in roughly a $1.22 CPC (cost-per-click) rate. To give you a little comparison, our Facebook Local programs garner CPC rates as low as $0.17. Don't piss your budget away on LinkedIn.
Using People's Networks to Worm Your Way Into a Sale? Um sure, go for it.
Okay, so the social networking site was never engineered to be an advertising tool or an information sharing platform, and perhaps I've been a bit unfair. LinkedIn was developed to be a place to cultivate professional relationships — a place where one professional can share content with his or her colleagues. The problem is, too many users have turned it into a socially-awkward deposit for their political views or commentary on the latest exploding smartphone. It has become a professional distraction.
The Future of LinkedIn
Microsoft's recent acquisition of LinkedIn has raised a lot of eyebrows. Analysts surmise that the deal will make Microsoft the first trillion-dollar company. Or will it? Microsoft has a long, tainted history of failed acquisitions. Their idea is to make LinkedIn a crowdsourcing platform and to usher it into the future as the next digital innovation, after smartphones and apps. Unfortunately, social media experts aren't buying it — and neither am I.
For those willing to stick around and find out, please let the rest of us know how it goes. As most professionals under 50 continue their exodus from LinkedIn, many old-schoolers will continue to toil with their network — a network that is just as easily communicated with through email, Twitter, Facebook and even a phone. Just remember, while you're sifting through your feed looking for that next great contact, the rest of us are crushing it in the real world.