LinkedIn – why I’m tuning out..

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I love a good blog. I particularly love it when people aren’t afraid to put their opinions in them either. A real bonus is when blogs aren’t just rehashing things that have already been said or trying to play both sides of an argument as not to piss anyone off. Richard Westney (AKA @HRManNZ on Twitter) is a blogger known for not shying away from a little debate.  I remind you of the famous “Why HR Hate Recruiters” presentation done at the MeetUp groups in Auckland and Wellington late last year as some recent proof.

Richard’s recent post about the death of good conversation on social networks – more people, but more spam and less decent conversation – really struck a chord with me this week. Check it out here if you wish: https://hrmannz.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/shout-above-the-noise/. This post made me reflect and got me musing over my LinkedIn account and the activities and time I’ve been investing in my network recently.

I am a total convert to LinkedIn, in my recruitment career, I’ve been a vocal advocate even! However, I’d never even heard of it until I joined the world of recruitment a number of years ago. My GM at the time told me she almost didn’t hire me because I didn’t have a profile! Since then I’ve grown my network to over 7000 connections, I publish posts with LinkedIn Publisher and I source many candidates from my wider network for the roles both myself and others are recruiting for. I realised I spend quite a bit of time on this network, and invest that time on sourcing, branding and professional development – reading on current trends, challenges and innovation in the wider recruitment and HR world.

However, there is a but. A big but. Recently in their quest to engage a wider audience LinkedIn has put in multiple updates to make it more “social”. I think they’ve done the complete opposite.

Long gone are the days when I got great unique messages from connections, saw interesting and relevant posts in my newsfeed and received multiple comments on my posts of real value. Today, I can break my LinkedIn into the following (in order of most prevalent):

  1. Generic direct messages. Mostly asking for my cooperation to get the messager a job at the company I work for – any job – with no skill/job target and very little value. This includes generic messages from the “new and improved” mobile app (see below for more…).
  2. Scams and spam.
  3. Propositions of the highly innapropriate kind.
  4. Content that actually belongs on Facebook.
  5. Content I actually want to read and engage with.
  6. Connections and messages with people there is actually value to engage with.

That’s scary reading.

I must confess that I very much dislike the new feature of LinkedIn on the mobile app that prompts to either “say congrats” to a job change or work anniversary in my network or to say “great post” to a published post from someone in my network. Sounds nice in theory right? I’m sure whoever deployed the update thinks so. It’s terrible.

Recently I moved positions in my career, moving from New Zealand to Australia. In the week following my role update I received  over 250 generic direct messages simply saying “congratulations on the new role. I hope you’re doing well”. The first few were nice, the next bunch made me feel like people weren’t sincere, and the last few were a chore to reply to – so I simply messaged “thank you” in return.

On top of that, every time I post a new update in LinkedIn publisher I get multiple generic “great post” direct messages. Thanks for the message – but I’d much rather someone engage with my post content or have an opinion on it. Maybe even read it? Heck, I already know my post is great! (Note: sarcasm here).

After my reflection, I came to ask myself – with the time I am investing in LinkedIn am I actually getting ROI? The result – not enough. I’ve even noticed that when I am using it, I’m tuning out.

So where to from here? I can’t walk away from the biggest professional network as I do get results from it! To not lose my mind online and get the most out of a reduced quality network, I’ve resolved to do the following:

  • Continue to answer all my direct messages, but to respond to the generic ones with a generic response cut and pasted.
  • Never send a generic message through the mobile app (note: I’ve never sent one to this day!)
  • Continue to block all the spam and inappropriate accounts.
  • Increase my investment of time with LinkedIn on sourcing, engaging with valuable connections and interesting content and decrease my investment of time with the rest.

Do I think LinkedIn still has a place social sourcing? Heck yes. I won’t be deleting my profile anytime soon or turning that social channel off. But, I do think that to last on LinkedIn you need to review what you want from it, and what activities are best to get those results.

What do you think?

p.s. Even I agree that cat pics aren’t for LinkedIn (although I did manage to sneak one in at December about letting “the cat out of the bag!”)

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