Sliced bread or a necessary evil? What LinkedIn members really think about the platform
Wednesday, January 16, 2019/
Dedicated LinkedIn users all agree the platform delivers substantial benefits. But what would a deeper probe of experiences reveal?
Asking members what they really like and dislike about LinkedIn are important questions. Answers would shine a balanced light on the activities, tools, systems and behaviours from both members and LinkedIn to impact user experiences and success going forward.
I took a two-pronged approach in collating member feedback. I recognised many would not publicly share their views, so I privately emailed 150 people, as well as posting a public LinkedIn post. In total, 220 participants shared their views. Age, gender, location, industry, seniority and professions were diverse. It’s worth noting that, for some, LinkedIn is their primary marketing and sales tool, while for others, it’s part of a broader strategy.
The two questions asked without predictive checklists were ‘what did you most like and dislike about LinkedIn in 2018?’ and ‘if you had a magic wand what would you like to see change?’
Many remarked they didn’t just like the platform, but loved it. Several expressed a love-hate relationship and others a sense of it being a necessary evil.
Below is a list of common responses and a few takeaways.
- Connect with members you would never have had an opportunity to meet otherwise.
- Build long-term meaningful relationships both online and offline.
- Meet new friends, suppliers, mentors, clients, collaborators and partners.
- Major high-value new sales and revenue streams.
- Ability to research backgrounds, shared connections and credentials before hiring new staff, engaging suppliers and board appointments.
- Excellent for brand building and expertise positioning.
- Product and brand launches have had great reach.
- Drive new channels and geographical outreach.
- Platform to give back, find support, build communities and share experiences.
- Topic research, and learning and development.
- Reliable platform to share and consume content.
Functions and tools
- Voice messaging
- QR codes
- Find-me tool
- PDF-document sharing
- Native video
- Company pages (updates, functionality and video sponsoring)
- Search functionalities and options
- Follow versus connect button
- New sales navigator
- Category of list upgrades
- Experience section layout (linking functions and roles together)
There was a wide range of new functions and tools introduced in 2018. Some garnered mixed opinions but overall the introduction of most was welcome and robustly integrated. Voice messaging (on mobile) seemed to be embraced more by those who identified as extroverted. This was used by many as a key point of difference in their message strategy and is worth pursuing further from feedback.
LinkedIn is the most coveted platform for business development and professional relationships. There are no signs of this abating any time soon.
- Algorithms — issues included constant changes, penalisation of posts with links, articles given very low priority (almost non-existent) in reach and the feed, overall necessitation of guerrilla tactics to maximise visibility.
- Customer service and financial engagement experiences (including automated responses, long timeframes for resolution of issues, sense of manipulation to pay for same services).
- Non-personalised connection requests and generic automated third-party plug-in invitations.
- Narcissistic, ego-driven ‘look at me’ posts.
- Trolls, bullying and plagiarism.
- The explosion of low-quality videos without real value and substance (especially shot in cars).
- Blatant upfront sales pitches without any hello or relationship building.
- No pre-warning of major profile and platform changes and upgrades.
- Incomplete profiles with poor (or no) photos, minimal information or a lack of clarity.
Functions and tools
- Inconsistency of functions and tools across the desktop and mobile devices.
- Clunky loading and image management.
- Groups still relatively ineffective with administrator controls reduced.
LinkedIn needs to review how they apportion equal algorithm weight to all content forms — videos, podcasts, posts, document shares and articles — classifying content based on qual, ty not format, as content preferences are not linear.
LinkedIn is a relationship platform. Generic spray and pray invitations and blatant heavy sales pitches just do not work.
Following popular rhetoric without critical analysis isn’t advised. For example, don’t put up a video just because you think you should. Quality and value-add on all forms of content is first and foremost in any curation decision.
Ensure your profile is inspiring, detailed and complete. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes — would you contact you?
- Introduction of a Facebook Live-esque option.
- Add a video messaging tool.
- Upgrade the recommendations and skills sections.
- A telephone contact option for customer service.
- Add back the note function to profiles.
- Integrate Sales Navigator with LinkedIn.
It’s clear both members and LinkedIn contribute to the overall user experience, albeit from different angles and with differing responsibilities. But each side has a part to play.
There is no utopian tool or digital platform in business that is 100% perfect. But LinkedIn is the clear champion for growth and networking transformation. Businesses who embrace LinkedIn in 2019 will maximise abundant opportunities. Those who don’t will definitely be leaving money on the table.
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