I joined LinkedIn before I joined Facebook. I mention that because I want you to know that its platform and community aren’t new to me. Alright, maybe I want to stake my claim as a LinkedIn pioneer so I can justify my anger for the L.I. noobs coming in and ruining it for those of us who use the site for what it’s intended to be: a professional social networking site.
I’ve always used LinkedIn to connect with other professionals and as a way to represent myself in the experiential marketing industry. I interact with groups specific to my professional interests, asking relevant, curiosity-based questions and responding with genuine, thoughtful answers. Five years ago, that was the norm.
Not any more.
Now when I log on in search of good dialogue and helpful insight, I have to sift through threads of shameless self-promotion and SEO-building collusion. No joke, here’s an example of an actual discussion topic I by-passed the other day: “Post your business Facebook page here and let’s follow each other!” Are you kidding me? What followed was equally as ridiculous: nearly 500 comments with people posting links to their own Facebook business page.
Let me spell this out in case you’re still wondering why I’m in such disbelief: someone who doesn’t know me has a service/product/business that I know nothing about, and he wants me to Like his business ONLY because he will Like mine. Where’s the authenticity here?
Call me cynical, bitter, misinformed, narrow-minded, old-fashioned, whatever. But what happened to organic and legitimate advocacy? LinkedIn is absolutely a place for building professional relationships, but it’s not a megaphone, and it’s not a link-back farm. Bring back the sounding board where people I trusted gave and asked for honest advice. Where selfish agendas weren’t planted in every thread of every discussion. Where everybody knew the difference between “I’d like to add you to my professional network” and “I’d like you to spam me.”