LinkedIn, Maintaining Relevance, or Downward Slide!

Recently, I noticed the "Activity" feed on my LinkedIn Profile Page was no longer visible to me or my visitors.  Initially, I assumed a "bug" took hold so I reported the malady to LinkedIn, only to find the omission was intentional.

Technical support offered no reason but to say "Activity feeds have been removed"... yea.. I know that.

So my LinkedIn profile along with ALL LinkedIn members has reverted back to yesteryears Static Profile Page.  You know, the view of kudos "fixed in time'... by default, the past!

Further investigation found me on a LinkedIn user-forum where members were voicing displeasure with LinkedIn's apparent disingenuous approach to member profile pages, especially for those who invested time into their skills representation designed in concert the "tweets" relayed through their "Activity" feeds to paint a "current" (not past) expression of their skills, experience and interests.  

Pretty valuable regardless your impetus for growing your network. 

I learned there also, that the "Activity" feed was a BETA and not "ALL" members enjoyed the feature's advantage... nasty! 

For those unaware due to exclusion, this nifty feature allowed "stale, static, classic profiles" to take on new life.  Refreshed through content shared relevant to current career goals the profile owner chose to share. 

Not the mostly nonsense people share on "down-time" social media platforms, but informative mostly business related information.  Want to express interest in a current or future technology so visitors to your page have a clue to your current interest (or career goals/direction)... tweet-it on your profile pages "Activity" feed.  Visitors are not only informed of your past accomplishments, but your current stated direction based on the information you choose to post. 

To minimize the power of this feature is to miss the impact social media has for bringing a voice to individuals on a platform that by nature is egalitarian if only in its ability to provide a stage for everyone, not just those with funds to spend on marketing their ideas.

But there some say is the reason LinkedIn has eliminated the feature in favor a model whereby "Activity" feeds are limited to company pages and will be offered as a "pay for use" feature in the near future.   Or, LinkedIn's "Home Page Activity Feed" where "buyers" could pay for "ad-space" similar to the model google search introduced years ago... won't that be fun???

Though LinkedIn to my knowledge has not admitted this is the reason for the features removal, I suspect their decision is not arbitrary or technology based.

As an early adopter of LinkedIn (67,862nd user) I've sat idle through LinkedIn's attempts at monetization and in fact pay a fee for membership voluntarily with no regret (hey, I'm as much a capitalist as the next guy), but this recent "miscue" begs the question "does LinkedIn understand basic tenets of Social Media IE, fostering communications in real (or near-real) time among opt-in participants, allowing network growth based on common, current and relevant interests"? 

Can you say "Twitter", "Facebook", "g+", "Fill-in-the-blank"? 

Does LinkedIn not understand that widespread inclusion among all its members for this feature will likely encourage more frequent page visits to not only post but to review recent posts from member's circles (woops, was that a plug for g+ as an alternative to static, mostly boring LinkedIn profile pages?)?  

Does not the "static page" model foster a "set it up then flee," rarely to return mentality?  I thought we all learned that lesson ages ago.

So I'm left wondering, has a "Too Big to Fail" mentality taken hold in the bowels of LinkedIn replacing common sense and basic customer service metrics (LinkedIn has yet to weigh-in on the forums where members lucky enough to be included in the beta are venting profusely as to LinkedIn's arrogance in this matter http://goo.gl/QzIX2B) in favor a "monetize" at ALL cost, users be damned mentality? 

Perhaps the fact that limited exposure to the feature under the beta test almost insures minimal "push-back" (from a broader membership perspective). 

It's easy I trust to recognize exposed or not to the feature first hand, the added dimension member profiles enjoy through the ability to share relevant business information in real or near-real time within the framework of individual LinkedIn Profile Page vs. "Drive by" Posts on LinkedIn's "Home" Page Feed (you go Richard Branson!).

LinkedIn must, cause it looks like they're posturing to "charge" for the privilege.

Please join me in voicing your displeasure with LinkedIn's apparent decision to monetize a feature users of Facebook, g+ and I dare say every other social media platform I can think of, enjoy "free of charge". 

Respond, Share or, Write your Own Article, enter a LinkedIn trouble ticket and Voice your opinion, tell your story on open platforms like LinkedIn (for now), twitter (how about #LinkedInFail) or wherever you choose to blog and lets show LinkedIn the power in its business model lies in LinkedIn's ability to give their members what they want, not through dreaming up new ways to squeeze every penny from its network.

Nick Lagos
President / CEO
ProfessionalExec Recruiters
http://www.linkedin.com/in/nicklagosprofessionalexec
@NYCHeadhunter
http://about.me/nick.lagos

Views: 752

Tags: Career Advice, LinkedIn, Media, Recruiting Tools / Sourcing, Social

Comment by Larry Engel on January 30, 2014 at 9:16am

Thanks for writing about this, Nick. The more exposure we can get for this issue... the more users complaining... maybe LinkedIn will finally take notice that this new "enhancement" is actually a HUGE step backward.

I first noticed this problem on November 14, 2013, as I was part of the Beta project. I opened up a LinkedIn Service Ticket and started a LinkedIn Discussion that same day (http://community.linkedin.com/questions/119052/status-updates-on-my...).

I also was an early adopter of LinkedIn with a paid premium account. After years of my support and daily use, I now have to finally concede that LinkedIn is now failing to deliver what I, as a paid user, expect from the platform. I cancelled my paid LinkedIn Premium account earlier this month.

Comment by Nick Lagos on January 30, 2014 at 10:39am

Hey Larry,

Thanks for bringing this to light.  I'm staggered by your commitment in canceling your paid account with LinkedIn. As a social media expert, you know the necessity for member-driven interaction and content. Perhaps, LinkedIn could benefit from your counsel though I'm beginning to believe following Zuckerberg's lead, monetization satiation may be guiding LinkIn's ship.

Od considering unlike FB's model, LinkedIn's collections for Premium Subscriptions in Q3 2013 constituted 20% of revenue with an additional 57% collected in "Talent Solutions" (neither freemiums) for a 160% revenue increase according to my interpretation of the Linkedin Investor SlideDeck.

Od also that LinkedIn has yet to respond regarding the motivation for their move, generally considered acceptable for freemium platforms, but not of those that enjoy 77% revenue from paying subscribers.

I trust LinkedIn's release of this feature to a small group of beta testers like you and I allows for bullying tactics, but then, what does said mentality say about LinkedIn's long term solvency and growth in lieu the stiff competition knocking at the door.

I along with many I expect will be taking a long hard look at LinkedIn's "bang-for-the-buck" over the coming months and with the field quickly becoming populated with other choices, may not be too far behind your lead.

Thanks again Larry

.   

Comment by Larry Engel on January 30, 2014 at 11:38am

Nick,

Since I only use LinkedIn for professional networking purposes, it was easier to reach that cancellation decision. If I had to actually recruit on LinkedIn, I'd be incredibly pissed off by this "enhancement" to the LI platform - however, I would have to continue to pay for the Premium account.

Regarding the enhancement itself... how are recruiters supposed to qualify candidates for "fit" without being able to see their professional opinions and shares? Now you have to go to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to see that. LinkedIn is stupid to force user's somewhere else to see even the basic element of social networking... user's status updates.

I used to be one of the biggest endorsers of LinkedIn. I was a big fan and have had a paid account for years. LinkedIn has just started making really poor decisions. Recent enhancements have all been based upon their financial goals (which they have ever right to do. It's their website after all). However, they have become non-empathetic - no, wait... negligent - when it comes to user's pain points and needs/desires.

Also, I just plain refuse to give money to people who make poor decisions.

Comment by Larry Engel on January 30, 2014 at 12:55pm

Completely forgot I wrote an article on this topic a month ago, when it rolled out to everyone: http://nastalenttalk.com/2013/12/31/linkedin-has-a-very-special-gif...

Comment by Nick Lagos on January 30, 2014 at 1:45pm

Larry,

Well put (LinkedIn's Very Special Gift)!  I've been coaching candidates to use their Activity feeds wisely, so when peers and employers visit they understand the candidates current interests (from a business standpoint) which if synergistic their own, increase the potential for a connection to be made. Much like you describe in your article, as a prerequisite for you to accept the connection (spam-shield). 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on January 30, 2014 at 2:54pm

IMHO, until a significant number of the most influential "Talent Solutions" customers start cancelling, they'll continue to "squeeze and cut" as much as they please, and there ain;t much anyone can do 'bout it.

-Keith "Just an Old Country Recruiter from Portales, New Mexico" Halperin

Comment by Nick Lagos on January 30, 2014 at 3:58pm

Thank you for your comment Keith.  May be so, but perhaps if enough of us "noisy" recruiters bring attention to this "foo-pa" it won't be necessary to go that far.

Here's to hopin!

Comment by Tom Humbarger on January 30, 2014 at 6:46pm

Great article Nick.  You can still view the activity feeds on the mobile versions of LinkedIn (for now).  But since I spend most of my day on a laptop computer, that doesn't do me much good.

When I communicated with LinkedIn Enterprise Help, they actually apologized twice.  While I do not agree with their reasoning, I have copied their reply below so you can make your own judgement:

"I apologize for the inconvenience this change has caused for how you use LinkedIn. The decision was made in the same way we make many difficult decisions about out website: we have to look closely at how users are using the features and products and redouble our efforts in some projects, which requires retiring others.

This is not a beta test, all users no longer have access to this part of the profile view. I also do not want to set improper expectations; we do not have any current plans to bring this back to the view.

 Again we apologize for the inconvenience and I am glad to hear that you have found how to filter your activity feed to see your activity. Also, rest assured that your connections' updates will still come to the feed, however, they will no longer be visible on the profile level, nor outside of this aggregate form."

Comment by Nick Lagos on January 31, 2014 at 9:13am

Thanks Tom,

Appreciate you sharing LinkedIn's response to your inquiry.  Seems though varied, LinkedIn's message appears firm on their decision, and judging by the response (or lack thereof) from the recruiting community, they'll be getting their way.  

Kelly Blokdijk has an interesting post this morning (Are you bored with RBC?) and I feel she is "spot-on".  Issues matter, and frankly, I'm concerned that recruiters, historically an outspoken group sometimes to a fault, would sit back and allow a vender (that's all LinkedIn is) to push them around.  

A deeper concern for me relevant to LinkedIn's decision however, is touched on by Matt Chaney (though in a different context) in his response to Kelly's post when he says "...social media becomes part of our jobs and recruiters become more visible (when this site launched, the trick was hiding from candidates, not making sure they were able to find you on every network known to man)".

My assumption that the volley in 2013 about social media's "relevance" within the broad spectrum of recruiters tools was settled in favor what Matt points out and to my mind is a crucial aspects of our jobs (whether you're a corporate recruiter or 3rd party) which is "being found" but I'd add "and recognized as an industry expert in your niche!"  

When you pump 50+ calls a day (candidate or marketing), and the recipients of those calls finally "look you up", and your Activity feed on LinkedIn is sharing information relevant to THEM (timely articles, industry (their) news, etc.), your contact with them becomes "warm", and your credibility goes way up!  

When we coach our candidates to do the same, so when our clients "look them up," (who relies solely on a resume these days?) and "they" are using their Activity feed to establish synergy within their industry (and therefore our clients) are we not "bending" social media to OUR will, transforming what once was nothing more than a glorified  "job-board" (LinkedIn static profile) into an recruiter tool with RELEVANCE.

Was I the only recruiter out there doing this??? 

LinkedIn wants to sell you their recruiting solutions (which is fine), but where is the "outrage" from all the recruiters out there who see the social media trend for what it is (a boon for recruiters who learn it) when the platform "WE'" as recruiters made relevant in the business world (vs. FB till recently, which is a post for another day), pull's the rug from under our feet!

Are we going to sit like sheep while LinkedIn builds their sales-deck for yet another product they can charge us for (freemium every where else) after all recruiters have invested into this platform over the years?  

Some might believe migrating their activity to g+ (or others) is the right move and they might be right, but I suspect it will take years (if ever) to establish another platform as the premier platform for "Business Professionals" and LinkedIn did not do it alone!

I think quite possibly to Kelly's point with regards to issues that matter to recruiters here on RBC... 

WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYONE ON THIS ISSUE AND WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO ABOUT IT !!!

(but Kelly, please don't let me put words in your mouth ;- ) 

Comment by Laurie Mitchell on February 8, 2014 at 9:41pm

Thank you, Nick, for writing about this issue. As a "Premium" Linked In member, I vehemently protested this injustice -- via complaint, activity update and otherwise -- the minute that LI's always lousy customer service wrote that the loss of the profile page activity feed was deliberate.  It is no wonder that LI's stock is falling and the business media are questioning their practices. Their CEO's prevarication on CNBC a few weeks ago was not encouraging. Unfortunately, LI doesn't give a hoot about what its customers think or want, and isn't interested in legitimate feedback. Now, I hope that they don't cut you or me off for speaking truth to power.

Laurie Mitchell, CPC

Laurie Mitchell & Company, Inc.

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