Linkedin shares have fallen more than 40 per cent since Steven Sordello, CFO, warned about slowing growth at the so-called “talent solutions business”, which sells subscriptions to companies hunting for potential hires.

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Losing its way

Linkedin has always been known as the “professional social network” where you can prospect, recruit and build relationships with former colleagues. Users can also share industry specific articles and statistics where we can “like” or share on to our own network. Saying this however, just a quick glance on my feed shows me posts such as, “This man was a WWII veteran, how many likes can he get?”, “Like and share and we’ll include you on our weekly lottery draw” and the infamous and highly irritating, “Here’s a maths calculation..only geniuses get it right”.

Firstly – what kind of professional actually falls for this nonsense. I would be mortified if a superior discovered that I fell for this blatant click bait.

Secondly – is it any wonder this content is becoming more and more popular? Unfortunately, Linkedin is BORING. That’s why these posts are so popular. A salesperson scrolling Linkedin for prospects is far more likely to interact with something a little lighter than read another article on the Dell/EMC acquisition.

So is Linkedin becoming Facebook? Nowhere near according to Trip Chowdhry, an analyst at Global Equities Research. He believes that users do not feel at home on LinkedIn. Every move can be seen by superiors or juniors in the workplace. He says“On Facebook, you can say negative things about a friend, about anything in life. On LinkedIn, you can’t because it will hurt you professionally – It is a site with zero credibility.”

A simple resolution to this issue is to go back to basics. Remove the news feed, or at least allow users to filter out content not relevant to them. As a database, Linkedin is invaluable but unfortunately this is clouded by all the “social interaction fluff”.

Poor user experience

I know plenty of time has passed since Linkedin destroyed two of its best (in my opinion) features but I will continue to harp on about them.

Linkedin Events

As a former sales rep, especially as it became harder and harder to cold call prospects – I was constantly searching for networking opportunities and how to get infront of decision makers in a saturated market place. With Linkedin Events, you could post upcoming events and promote them through your network and the LinkedIn Events page. I felt that it worked great and lots of my connections used it. Unfortunately, LinkedIn strangely didn’t talk about it very much and hid it in their navigation bar so there were a lot of people who didn’t even know it existed.

LinkedIn announced that they would shut down their LinkedIn Events application on November 26, 2012. They claimed that the investment would be best used in other areas of the site. I’m still confused as to why? As I mentioned previously – Linkedin is an EPIC database – wouldn’t it be great if your whole professional network saw details of your upcoming events rather than have to click on an external link to EventBrite?

 Linkedin Answers

LinkedIn Answers was a Quora-style question and answer forum, where managers could ask for advice in a variety of topical categories. In turn, users could answer questions in their area of expertise, which I believe was possibly THE best lead-generating activity you could do on LinkedIn. Why?

1) Credibility: Nowhere else on the web can you get an answer to a question and have the ability to click through to view the person’s entire professional history. This provided an instantaneous way to evaluate the credibility of the advice given.

2) Focus: The questions and answers being traded on LinkedIn Answers were about business. Although other question and answer sites have categories for business, there are none that are as business-focused and as widely used by business professionals in the world.

3) Lead Generation: If I took the time to give an asker a very thorough and helpful answer (as unsalesy as possible), the asker would nearly always respond with a personal message of thanks, and would often either ask to have a further discussion (hi LEAD!), connect with me (increasing my exposure to their network), and/or share my content with others (because it helped them so much).

Again like LinkedIn Events Linkedin greatly diminished the potential of its Answers feature by hiding it. It didn’t even have it’s own menu item in the site’s main navigation. One had to click on the “More” menu item at the far right to find it hence why people didn’t appreciate its value.

These features were incredibly unique and helpful to users that use Linkedin as a prospecting or relationship building tool – their demise weakened Linkedin by limited potential interactions with our networks.

Poor Strategy

LinkedIn may be best known as a place for users to connect with colleagues and find a job however Jeff Weiner, CEO has larger ambitions of morphing the site into an “economic graph”.

His plan was to digitally map the global economy with accessible profiles for every worker, pages for every company, listings for all the vacancies in the world and even recording the skills required for the available jobs. Turning Linkedin to a mega database.

However, the past weeks have shown that Linkedin is not simply an economy-watcher. Instead, its fortunes may be more dependent on the jobs market than they had anticipated, as 62% of LinkedIn’s revenues come from recruiters.

Therefore, one could argue that it would be better to enhance and focus on user experience and encourage smaller businesses to use it rather than look too much at the bigger picture for the time being.

Either way – I feel Linkedin has lost its focus and until this is re imagined, it will be very difficult to recover from this downfall in share prices.

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