Like many of you, I have a complicated relationship with LinkedIn. I don’t like it, but I also have to use it. In Social Media Is Bullshit, I said people who use LinkedIn were “f—ing creepy”. And you know what? I stand by that. LinkedIn is a creepy service used mostly by creepy people to creepy ends; however, as I also said in Social Media Is Bullshit, if your target customers / current customers are using a particular platform, and you have the time, resources, and plan for the use of that platform, it’s worth having a presence there to complete that plan.
My plan for LinkedIn is a simple one: I know third party testimonials are critical to selling products, and LinkedIn allowed me to export my contacts into an easily searchable database. This then allowed me to make an organized effort to solicit honest testimonials about my book that can be used in promotional material and on the Social Media IS BS website. See? Specific purpose behind being on the platform. Specific plan of action for what I’m doing while using that platform. There’s none of this “engagement”, “awareness”, and “community” nonsense where I’m stuck relying on phony metrics to measure success. Instead, it’s just a simple plan.
Once the plan has been finished? I no longer have any use for LinkedIN beyond having a profile solely for the SEO (search engine optimization) benefits. And honestly? These days I just dump links into LinkedIn to send a signal to Google’s algorithm that will help determine how those links will rank on search engine results pages. I don’t really use it beyond that now that I’ve started working on my new project, Dracula And Kittens, and the majority of you out there who don’t publish content don’t need to keep a LinkedIn profile for that purpose.
To the platform’s credit, LinkedIn does serve a couple of uses you should be aware of. For example, it is true that if you’re looking for a job, LinkedIn can be helpful. In fact, according to their most recent 2013 numbers, a little more than half of their revenue comes from offering premium services to recruiters and employers. This is why LinkedIn shareholders are happy and Facebook shareholders continue to contemplate burning as many copies of Sheryl Sandberg’s book as they can. (It was Sandberg, afterall, who for years peddled the myth that Facebook was the place small businesses and others should invest their advertising dollars. It’s no coincidence, now that the IPO has bombed and Facebook has lost a lot of its value, that Facebook’s COO may be angling for a career change.) Facebook today is a fun toy for your Mom. She doesn’t even look at the advertising or things that aren’t related to her by blood. LinkedIn is useful for people looking to find a job and those looking to hire. In a down economy, that’s not a bad business to be in.
(That being said, if and when this depression ends, it’ll be interesting to see if it remains true that LinkedIn is a place job seekers should go to find jobs. It could very well be that LinkedIn’s profitability is linked to loose anecdotal evidence that someone you know found a job using it, and that’s why so many people are congregating there looking for work. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but there are a lot of people out there selling tips on how to get a job using LinkedIn, seemingly more than there are who actually found work using the platform. That’s never a good sign.)
So, unless you work in sales, the social network side of LinkedIn serves little use beyond:
1. Maintaining appearances if you’re looking for a job.
2. Squeezing some SEO juice out of it if you’re a content publisher.
Squeezing Google juice out of LinkedIN, by the way, is something you can do for yourself in about ten minutes. DO NOT hire a social media expert to “optimize” your LinkedIN profile for you. That’s a waste of money and if you do that, you’re feeding the beast you and I are trying to kill. It is; however, ok to hire a copywriter or another party who can write a professional LinkedIn profile, and resume, for you. The difference is that the copywriter will help you find work while the social media guru will do what you can do in about ten minutes of your own time for little gain. You should also note that again, we’re talking about specifics here. A copywriter serves a very specific purpose that fits into a larger plan of action for you. In this case, you’re looking for a job. The social media expert serves no purpose because there’s not much of a reason for the majority of people to have an optimized LinkedIN profile, and again, that optimization can be done easily and quickly on your own. The myth of social media, as peddled by social media experts, rests entirely on vagueness and generalities, not specificities. Again: Specific plan. Specific purpose. That should be your mantra in determining what platform to use, if any. So if LinkedIN falls within that plan for you, then there may be something to be gained by using it.
Image by leedsn.