Microsoft, you shocked us with your purchase of LinkedIn.
Initially, my fellow recruiters and I may have mocked you and joked about how the seemingly misguided purchase could signal the return of the similarly misguided Clippy, your leery Microsoft Office mascot that was finally given a proper funeral back in 2007.
But ultimately we all agreed that you couldn’t make LinkedIn worse.
Since joining in 2004, I’ve watched LinkedIn remove useful features in an attempt to monetize, well…pretty much everything, and I’ve seen LinkedIn usage drop lower and lower as the platform turned itself from a professional social network into a job board.
So a plea to you, dear Microsoft…
Please remember that (non-recruitment) people don’t think of LinkedIn as a job board.
I doubt even your savviest members would start a job search anywhere other than Google.
Would your most active recruiter clients even think to use LinkedIn first?
No, I think they’d also head to Google, where LinkedIn is unlikely to be in the top 5 results, if on page 1 at all. And we all know only dead bodies are to be found on page 2.
As the ‘Professional Social Network’ LinkedIn had its own unique place in peoples’ minds, so why did it want to be a job board? Don’t we have enough of those already?
If you want LinkedIn to be valuable again, you need to get member usage up.
But why is Facebook usage so high?
- Facebook does not reset our newsfeed to top every single time we hit the home page (on the desktop), making organic post visibility so low it’s become pointless and thereby encouraging people to post evocative rubbish in a fruitless attempt to create the AIDA effect.
- Advertising on LinkedIn is expensive and, unless the intended audience is a recruiter, marketer, sales professional or entrepreneur, fairly pointless with such low daily usage.
- Facebook introduced the ability to search the 2 trillion public daily updates, while LinkedIn removed Signal without providing a replacement that allows members to search for organic updates in the same kind of way.
- Facebook has great, highly interactive Event pages that can be boosted for very little money. LinkedIn removed Events years ago, so we recruiters and sourcers defected to Meetup and Facebook.
- Facebook remembers that it is a social network not a blogging platform, and it doesn’t bombard its users with notifications of yet another ill-written post.
- Facebook groups are thriving because group members receive subtle notifications of group updates not countless email notifications.
- Facebook removed the ‘Other’ inbox that so few people knew existed and rather replaced it with a ‘Message Request’ function. This allows members to send messages to all 1.65 billion users for free, whilst LinkedIn members need to pay to send InMails to anyone that’s not a first-degree connection. Not to mention, InMails have a very low open rate, and you can only message 15 fellow group members each month.
- …and of course, there is the ability to save links, see trending news, and view the new Facebook Live.
Hey, Facebook isn’t perfect. It has a lot of data to process, and sure, we don’t see everything we may want to, but we love it anyway because they give us stuff rather than take it away.
But there’s still a chance for LinkedIn; not everyone wants to add professional connections to Facebook, but you best be quick, Microsoft, this is changing and changing fast.
But Microsoft, if you truly want LinkedIn to return to its glory days, your marketing message must change.
LinkedIn is not a job board. Not all 430 million members joined to look for a job. They don’t want to be spammed with irrelevant job posts and recruiter InMails.
Reeducate your recruiter clients so people feel it’s safe to return.
Microsoft, please take LinkedIn back to what it used to do best. Return the features we loved and bring LinkedIn back to being the professional social network we once knew and used.