LinkedIn: On The Downhill Slide

I have a hypothesis, a gut feeling, a intuition; LinkedIn is a dying platform. It’s long past its prime as platform that can “make a difference” in a professional’s life, it’s terrible for businesses looking to form new business relationships, and it’s well beyond its usefulness as a traffic-driver or conversion-driver for any business. LinkedIn is part of the “old guard” in social platforms; however, in any digital marketing or search strategy, LinkedIn is an afterthought.

LinkedIn By The Numbers

Kai Ryssdal HeadshotIt’s always the first question every marketer asks, “what’s membership look like?” So, as Kai Ryssdal would say, “let’s do the numbers.”

LinkedIn User and Revenue Stats 2009 - 2015
statistics via

The numbers say it is anything but past its prime; it is not an over-the-hill, defunct platform. The numbers indicate that LinkedIn is a full-grown adult at the height of its physical powers. In fact, LinkedIn is going to set another milestone in membership and revenue at the turn of 2016. Yet, there is still this feeling, this aura, that LinkedIn is Google+ masquerading as business professionals social networking platform (only 25% of LinkedIn users engage with the platform monthly). Despite what the numbers say, the “eye test” says LinkedIn has jumped the shark and is on the downhill slide into irrelevance.

The Long, Slow Slide Into Irrelevance

Perhaps you’ve felt this way too: a nagging feeling tugging at the back of your shirt, a wisping breeze from some unknown origin sliding across the back of your neck? For me, today, LinkedIn is nothing more than inbound link from a strong domain. Here’s why:

  • It’s breeding ground for spammy service pitches
  • It’s chum bucket for a recruiting shark tank
  • It’s a ego echo-chamber for business professionals

LinkedIn – A Better Class of Spam

LinkedIn SpamIn the last year, I’ve had more connection requests from professionals than the last two years combined. That’s speaks to the continuing membership growth, but it also speaks to the stronger barred windows on inboxes and higher percentage choices for success.

Spammers have snugged up their Windsor knots, put some product in their hair, and started to prowl the LinkedIn landscape. Why fire off cold-pitch emails only to end up in the spam folder, when you can send a connection request and get sure-fire access to an inbox? And, in terms of probability, it’s a higher percentage play because they are a “professional”; the chances of someone opening the InMail™ are incredibly better than opening it in a spam folder. LinkedIn has set up fish-in-a-barrel and handed spammers a gun.

Recruiter Feeding Frenzy

They’re handing corporate recruiters a gun too. Depending on the package, recruiters can pay $575 – $1,200 and lob potential positions to prospective candidates ad infinitum. These carbon-copy, regurgitated, template-driven messages are on the same level as spam (if not worse; it seems the spammers at least do a little homework).

All I ask is that you at least read my profile before you catapult “job opportunities” over the fence. Just because you did an “advanced” search with the terms “digital marketing,” “SEO,” and “search engine marketing,” doesn’t mean I’m a fit for the entry-to-mid-level position you have available.

The Business Professional Echo Chamber

From ultra-embellished Professional Headlines, to overly elaborate Skills and Endorsements, to LinkedIn’s new Pulse, the platform has devolved from what was a useful place for business professionals, to ego-stroking, bordering on hyper-narcissism, echo-chamber. All of us (myself included) shouting and simply clamoring for the attention of cold-pitch spammer connections and half-hearted recruitment attempts.

The people you really know, and know how wonderful you are at what you do, already have a way to connect with you outside LinkedIn. If I’m to be honest about it (and if you’re honest about it too), I can’t remember the last time a business opportunity was sparked because we found each other on LinkedIn.

In The End, LinkedIn Is Just A Link

Get your citations from a company page and profile page, get your link(s) back from LinkedIn, and then walk away. Don’t get suckered into the Medium-concept of LinkedIn Pulse, posting your original content on another platform for a pre-fab community and a chance at traffic. Sure, you can’t discount being thought of as a “thought-leader”, in a community of business professionals (even if you’re working hard to create a presence there), but I think it really only signals the vultures to inundate you with spam. Don’t participate in an ego-shouting contest.

It might not happen in the next year, it might not even happen in the two to three years, but LinkedIn is going to reach a critical mass of intolerable crap. If you look at it today, the tale is unfolding: less “real” folks replaced by spammers, recruiters, and bots. And, as LinkedIn starts to become a ghost town based on revenue-driven programs that make investors happy and business professionals looking for connections miserable, the tide will turn. I hope.