LinkedIn: is it still the place to be for business professionals?

Jack Buckley ClearlyPR
by Jack Buckley

At its inception, LinkedIn was hailed as the be all and end all of business related social media. Combining the humble CV with the gravitas of Facebook, the platform was designed as a place where professionals could congregate – sharing insights, job postings, and best practice advice.

This is what it was designed to do. In reality, through years of unnecessary and often unwanted algorithm updates, as well as attempts to turn the platform into a walled garden, the social giant is experiencing something of a branding crisis.

Posts, once insightful, have now become:

  • Inane drivel with a line between each sentence (see Oleg Vishnepolsky),
  • Plagarised statuses with 15,000 likes that have been floating around for the last few years (congratulations on your cut and paste humble-brag, noble small-business owner)
  • Valuable content that you can never find due to the ‘recommended’ tab loading in as default (please fix it…)

This isn’t even counting the marketing mavens, the UX experts, or the supposed ‘specialists’ with six months in the industry and a C-suite job title. Now, I’ve painted a fairly bleak picture, but there is one thing keeping this network going despite gross mismanagement – its users.

The challenge with LinkedIn today is to side-step all those accounts that try to game the algorithm. It’s disappointing how effective these strategies are for a platform built on valuable insights, but such efforts are only effective in reaching the front page of the platform. Any actual engagement, actual influence, now happens behind closed doors.

It’s safe to say that the real value of LinkedIn has been driven underground. Real insights from people, requests for jobs, and best practice advice. So, is the platform still worth using?

To be blunt, yes… but only because nothing better has come along. LinkedIn currently has a monopoly over the global professional social scene – a crown that does not appear to have slipped. There are, however, challengers. Facebook is looking to muscle in on this demographic with their latest CV feature. Elixio, the invite-only platform, is making moves on LinkedIn’s senior executives, and Beyond is looking to claim the job searcher market.

As an advertiser, the value of the platform has skyrocketed – with the increased membership and, frankly, a lack of consistently interesting content in the newsfeed, eyes will naturally drift towards the sponsored postings in the sidebar. It’s clear that LinkedIn is following the money, and this has to be balanced with usability, and actual value for those who choose to engage with the platform.

For business professionals, then, you’d be forgiven for believing the value of the platform has diminished. Despite some major, highly visible, annoyances the bones of the site remain unchanged. LinkedIn Pulse articles are still an excellent means of interacting with your chosen persons, groups are now making a comeback, and through carefully curating your feed and contacts list, the platform can still provide some semblance of insightful advice.

Our recommendations, then… block Oleg, mute anyone engaging with trite postings, and curate your own feed to the point of usefulness. LinkedIn seem to be under no impetus to make their own site a valuable tool for business users – that bit’s up to us.