LinkedIn: Content but Lost?

September 6, 2013

I read “All LinkedIn with Nowhere to Go.” The write up discusses the “glorified résumé distribution service.” I am not looking for a job. As I race towards 70 years of age, I just don’t have the stamina to keep up with the wheel reinventing younger wizards. However, lots of people do use LinkedIn. I know because I get invitations to connect with folks whom I don’t know. I also get endorsement about skills which surprise me. After working at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, I have seen some spectacular résumés only loosely anchored in reality.

The author of the write up states:

This frenetic networking-by-vague-association has bred a mordant skepticism among some users of the site. Scott Monty, head of social media for the Ford Motor Company, includes a disclaimer in the first line of his LinkedIn bio that, in any other context, would be a hilarious redundancy: “Note: I make connections only with people whom I have met.” It’s an Escher staircase masquerading as a career ladder.

And this from Ford whose in car automation system is almost as amazing as some of the LinkedIn services.

The article tackles “influencers” on LinkedIn as well:

Still, there’s a distinctly perfunctory quality to the offerings of the charmed circle of “influencers.” They often simply repost things on LinkedIn that they’ve written (or had ghostwritten, in some cases) for their personal sites. Their advice—on LinkedIn, “thoughts” almost always equal “advice”—ranges from the semi practical (embrace three digital media trends; get all of your employees on social media) to the lofty (be on a mission that doesn’t suck; search for a noble purpose) to the downright confusing (how to create time; how do careers really work?). The worst of the bunch reads like management-speak Mad Libs, such as this bit of gobbledygook about the career success ladder: “Failure to make a decision is often worse than making the wrong one. This ability is developed and honed over time based on both successes and failures,” writes one thought leader, who includes a complicated chart that is in no way ladder-like. Cue the vacuous, grammar-challenged sloganeering: “High-level thinking, problem-solving and critical decision-making is the cornerstone of long-term success.”

Then there is the notion of “thought leadership.” The author asserts:

Thanks to such fast-and-louche appropriations of the mantle of thought leadership, even its apostles are denouncing the fast-multiplying apostasies that dilute the essence of the one true faith. “In only 15 years we’ve managed to dumb down the idea of thought leadership from someone who has changed their area of business to someone who can create a marketing plan that implants the idea that they are a thought leader,” wrote sales guru Paul McCord in 2009. “When everybody’s one, nobody is one.”

Okay. I do want to point out a couple of characteristics I have noticed about LinkedIn.

First, I get spam of various sorts. The most egregious comes from recruiters who view me as a candidate for a job. Yo, recruiters! What part of my being almost 70 and residing in rural Kentucky is unknown to you? I know that LinkedIn is selling my email to these folks who just spam away. Profitable? Probably. Annoying? You bet.

Second, LinkedIn owns Slideshare. I don’t see much integration of the content on LinkedIn with the content on Slideshare. For example, the person who manages my LinkedIn presence posts the titles of my for-fee articles. We do this to see if any LinkedIn users follow up. Since we added this “content” a couple of years ago, we have received exactly zero inquiries about a full text copy. Furthermore, the input form for the content does not make it possible to list the articles in reverse chronological order. Careless? Nah. I think LinkedIn is just snagging content in the hopes that it will be useful in the future. But why not integrate the content from the two services so a person could snap between the two services, find related content, or better yet, find other LinkedIn folks who have written about a related topic? On a related note, we learned yesterday that for certain queries from behind our firewall, Slideshare would not process the query. We solved the problem by using a different Internet service and registering for a new account. Filtering? Sure seems like it to the law librarian and professional tech journalist who watched the LinkedIn system block my queries. Anomaly? Sure, why not say that?

Third, I find the entire idea of sending me emails from folks I don’t know interesting. The purpose is to get me to click a link and then try to figure out how to get past the different messages displayed to me. I usually just delete the LinkedIn emails. Too much hassle. I wonder if the youngsters whom LinkedIn is now chasing as “members” will get into the LinkedIn swimming pool. Even Facebook is less annoying says the gosling who manages my LinkedIn account.

Fourth, the content in the groups is pretty darned amazing. I see folks asking questions which can be answered via a Google or Yandex query. More interesting are the long dissertations about some topics by folks who want to show off their knowledge. I have instructed the analyst who looks at the LinkedIn content to post only questions in response to the most wacky write ups. Remarkably some people try to answer my questions. Fascinating and usually uninformed are the “answers.”

With LinkedIn chasing more money via a stock offering, I look forward to more bobbing and ducking. See “Linked In Cashing In: Social Network to Raise $1 B in Share Offering as Stock Flies High.”

In the meantime, LinkedIn will continue to make my “pulse” beat more rapidly. (See “LinkedIn’s Acquisitions of Pulse Promotes Role of Game Changer.” Wait, wait. I meant make my pulse beat more “vapidly.”

Stephen E Arnold, September 6, 2013


One Response to “LinkedIn: Content but Lost?”

  1. Nancy J on September 7th, 2013 5:42 pm

    ‘Though leader.’ A phrase that should be on the ‘banned from business’ list.

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