If you are an avid user of LinkedIn and utilize many of the functions, do you find yourself being frustrated by the constant changes that they implement? Do you then spend way too much time trying to figure out what is going on and what changes affect your profile or your business page now?
If you do you are not alone. On the one hand I truly love LinkedIn; as it is truly the best platform when it comes to a true B2B social networking. The but is- as someone who pays for the Premium service, I have a hard time understanding what I am now paying for and what benefit that provides. I also find I spend time trying to figure out where the feature I used last week went and why it disappeared without any warning. I am beginning to wonder if now that LinkedIn is now a larger public company if they actually talk to users any more or they just begin implementing new features without rhyme or reason. I would like to complete that sentence and say to see what sticks, but some features are not around long enough for them to have determined the value.
This could be a platform that could get by with charging more than the others if they didn't keeping adding and taking away features regularly. I find the value you get for Premium is really not worth it any more as the best features are free to everyone. Inmails and being able who viewed your profile are important, but not for 25-50 a month where other features I would pay for such as being able to create blogs. You can get around the ability to contact someone - just join a group they belong to and you can most likely reach them.
We not only used LinkedIn in our own business daily, we advocate and help others learn how to get the most out of LinkedIn. It is very frustrating to have to tell a client - we now have to change the way you are utilizing LinkedIn as that function you were using is gone or has changed. Your average business does not have time to spend changing their social media constantly - especially small and medium sized businesses.
Here are just a few of the features or changes in LinkedIn over the last while that has impacted us and our clients. Do you find these the same for you and your business, or do you have others?
LinkedIn was one of the first social networks to use polls which was a great feature. That has been taken away, but now use it on Facebook and Google+.
This was an excellent feature that existed before Quora came along and as a consultant who works with small businesses , this was an excellent tool that they could use to get some advice where experts answered questions. For the most part the answers did not include promotional answers that were jammed down the throat of the one posing the question. Most people were helpful and sincere . Since LinkedIn removed this function - Quora has done an excellent job at developing a platform for this medium.
Product Pages off of Business Page
This was an excellent feature that allowed businesses to showcase their products and services. They have now gotten rid of this function and replaced it with a ShowCase Page which I find does not have the value of the previous features. Their previous rendering of a Business Page functionality was far superior to other platforms but I have to say that Facebook and Google+ are now far exceeding LinkedIn's Business Page in usefulness and functionality.
New Features Rolled Out to Non-Paying Subscribers First
LinkedIn added a great feature recently that allows anyone to develop a blog article on their platform. I am a paying subscriber and I found out after many of my peers and customers who do not pay for LinkedIn started talking about how great the feature was. I had just determined they had delayed rolling it out. When I contacted LinkedIn to determine why or how I get access to it as a Premium member when those not paying got it first, their reply was I got a larger picture for my profile. This is not a feature I care about - so why would I be concerned about this. After threatening to stop paying for my Premium Subscriber package, I was awarded the privilege the next week out of the blue.
Blog Posts No Longer Showing on Your Profile
The blog feature is bar none one of the best features that LinkedIn has ever provided and came about after their purchase of Pulse I believe. It is an incredible way to showcase your talent and knowledge and also is a great way to find out great information and share knowledge. Once you had written blog articles, they appeared like a badge almost on your profile. This was a fantastic way to go in quickly and find how the article had performed as well as see articles written by your contacts. Well guess what? Last week that feature mysteriously disappeared. Accessing those articles down the road that your wrote takes some manoeuvring on your part. If you are technical, you will figure it out, if not - not so easy. You have to go in and find it among your updates and scroll through them in order to view the article and the number of shares and those that have viewed or read the article. Not exactly intuitive.
Their Support Is Horrible
We have had numerous friends and clients who have had loved ones pass away and want to take their profile down, and that becomes ridiculous and in most cases goes on deaf ear. I do not know about the rest of you, but I have had friends pass away and find it is creepy that information out there is still getting distributed - such as endorse "deceased person". It must be more unsettling for family members who they have had issues getting a response and then are told it has something to do with that the person owned the profile.
We have had so many clients to count who have had employees leave the business and hold their business page hostage and then they contact LinkedIn thinking that since they are the business, this should be a simple task. In one case it took 4 months for LinkedIn to help them out.
That is to say nothing of the flippant response I received after asking why as a paying customer I did not have access to writing blogs and being told that I should be happy that I have a bigger picture and other features like Inmail.
This customer support scoreboard gives an excellent example of how LinkedIn's support is viewed overall and is most likely based on the have a good experience tell 1 person, have a bad experience tell 10 people.
LinkedIn may be the leading provider of B2B social media on the web, but that could change overtime and customer service is important to any business. There are plenty of large businesses that were doing well years ago and now are no longer around. Social media is really still in its infancy so who knows who will be on top in 5 years.
Spamming at an All Time High
How much spam are you getting in your LinkedIn inbox from people in groups you belong trying to sell to you everything and the kitchen sink.They can contact you just because you belong to a group of 30,000. Just join a group and contact anyone instead of subscribing to their packages is the message being sent. How many invites are you getting from people that are in some distant country that you do not have anything in common with from a business or industry perspective and they are just trying to get to the highest number of connections on LinkedIn? In the last year this has gotten worse than it ever was. I cannot even figure out the criteria any longer of how they can even send you invites. I would have expected this more on Facebook and for some reason I have never had an issue being contacted by someone I do not know or have had some interaction on their platform. I get 4-5 people I have no idea who they are that send the generic add me to your LinkedIn message a week to connect from across the world.
Groups are Now About Self Promotion
How often do you go to a group and read a question you look forward to seeing people in the group discussing; or you ask a question you would really like to see discussed? Instead you find out it is the self-promotion hour with ever sales person and consultant self promoting themselves and trying to sell you their product or service to answer your question. It then gets to the point that you just stop using the group function which had been great way to network and share information, but is now is only about self-promotion.
One of the Only Major Platforms that DOES NOT Support Hashtags
Of all the social media platforms we use or recommend, LinkedIn is the only platform that does not currently support hashtags and is noticeably missing. Hashtags are a great way to measure results on a specific topic, event, product, or general information on a conversation through social media.
I am sure there are a list of other items that each person has an issue with. I like most consumers and business have no issue paying for a service as long as there is value. No one can expect a platform to be sustaining for free without charging for advertising and some features, but I think that LinkedIn needs to go out and spend some time with people that really use their platform and understand their needs. They haven't really changed their model since their inception. They had the most features at one time and little by little they are just taking them away. They are by far the leader in B2B social networking, but who knows if that will be the case down the road. As a public company they should care more about revenue, and their current model for subscriptions falls short, along with their customer service and their constant flux of the platform. They need to really understand what features were truly important to their customer base. We will still recommend and continue to use LinkedIn, but if a better competitor comes along --as we all know social media is an ever changing market and it could fall as fast as it grew.
Would be interested in your own thoughts and findings.
RK Fischer & Associates