Is it me or is it LinkedIn that’s doing this wrong?

By David Macnamara on Friday, 14 February 2020

We had the pleasure last week at Teamspirit to welcome a member of the LinkedIn marketing team to join us in our offices and give us a low down on the LinkedIn marketing platform. While it was informative to me, a lot of my colleagues left the room with more questions than answers. It wasn’t the presentation itself, it was more what role LinkedIn had for them to maximise the platforms potential. Their questions have been doing laps around my head for the last few days and I can understand their frustrations. It’s left me to question, who’s not making the most of LinkedIn, is it me or is LinkedIn itself?

When LinkedIn launched it was essentially your CV, online. But as the platform grew, and probably more importantly, the offering of competitor social platforms grew at a greater pace, it meant that our expectations of what a Professional Network should be changed. While once it was important to connect with those who worked within our organisation, is there any real value in me as a Social Media Manager having a professional connection with the CEO and vice-versa?

(As an aside, the 2nd thing that struck me as I sifted through my network was just how many recruiters I was connected to. Don’t get me wrong, their services have been vital to helping me achieve what I have achieved in my career however, from a learning and content sharing point of view, we really don’t have any shared interests.)

Having spent some time considering what I want from LinkedIn, I came to the conclusion that I’d like to hear from people who do the same job as me, or in a similar sector that shared opinion and had something to say. So, with that in mind I did something I’m not normally prone to doing. I made the effort to find these people. Except LinkedIn makes this task impossible! There is no simple way of searching: “London, Social Media Manager” and just following other people around your level.

In the late 00s when Facebook made the distinct pivot for the platform to be more than just a person to person environment and give brands a greater control over their presence it signalled the blossoming of Facebook into what it was probably born to do, an advertising platform for people who didn’t want to feel like they were being advertised to. Brands could use it to build personality, engage with followers, promote their brand ideals and develop the channel as an extension of their brand offering.

LinkedIn hasn’t experienced the same kind of shift and is now a strange halfway house between place to explore employment opportunities, keep up to date on the movements of former colleagues and occasionally be served a piece of content that might be vaguely related to your own job function. The problem is that I can get more insightful content from my Twitter feed, I can get more personal updates from my Facebook feed and I can get more engaging updates from my Instagram feed. So where does LinkedIn fit? Because I feel like it’s got the potential to be a great platform, that has the trust of it’s users who have a need amongst them to use it as a tool to further develop their own careers, but in my opinion in many ways, it’s failing the things that we sort of take for granted for social networks to do.

But then again, this brings me back to my original question, am I using the platform wrong? Is there something glaringly obvious that I’ve overlooked? Maybe I’m expecting too much from something that it’s just not capable of and I should use LinkedIn, in tandem with my other social channels, to get the content experience that I’m looking for? Interested to hear your thoughts on this.