Monday, October 8, 2012

Is LinkedIn Testing Shark Filled Waters with its New Top Influencers Updates?

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Is LinkedIn jumping the shark with a new influencers feed?

In what may end up being the jumping of the shark for LinkedIn they, to me at least, have succumbed to social peer pressure.

Up until now the news feed features and highlights that appeal directly to you we're in your feed.  It included only influencers and top discussions from groups you are a member of and news feeds from your network.

I may be ahead of the game and yes, it seems all social networks have a life-cycle. I want to mark today as the day that I said this is the LinkedIn 'jumping the shark moment.' It seems the professional network has buckled to the pressures of other social media and taken steps to remain relevant with users. 

Why do I say this?

LinkedIn, after it dissolved an agreement with Twitter for an instantaneous update feed has now, in what I believe is a struggle to remain relevant, has announced that it has engaged with the professional world's top influencers to post content, whether wanted or not, generated by the business world's top influencers.

According to another blog and as evidenced by this morning's activity, Twitter has engaged the likes of Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Chopra and Robbins to circulate content on its network, and on a regular basis.  

What I don't want in the least is logging into LinkedIn to read Obama or Romney’s political agenda, Deepak Chopra’s peaceful meditation recommendations, or Tony Robbins “inspiration”.

Even though I have a choice whether or not I want to follow this stream of what I consider to be irrelevant fodder on the network, if one of my connections chooses to follow and post updates from these 'influencers' I am faced to deal with countless stories and 'news' feed in which I am not interested.

I purposely choose who Is in my network and from who I want to see updates. Why would you force upon me the people who LinkedIn thinks are important? 

When I log in to Facebook I don’t get political agenda thrown upon me from anyone other than my friends who choose to promote their own beliefs, and If I don’t like them I can argue, or un-friend them. 

Even if they don’t thrust this upon me and make me choose to follow it, it still opens the network up to people who likely aren’t the real people posting information that will be re-tweeted, re-posted on Facebook, and put into news feeds. 

I don’t believe that the likes of Obama and Romney (or Chopra or Robins for that matter) will really sit down and create LinkedIn updates. Sorry, but I’d like to think they have better things to do with their time.  So whatever publicist is posting their messages (that will undoubtedly appear all over the social networks including LinkedIn of which I am a part), I am almost certain I will not be getting information from this “Trusted Elite Influencer.”

LinkedIn...I hate to say it because I do find the professional networking you provide of value not only to my business and colleagues within my business but, I am sorry;  this looks like the beginning of the end to me.

I woke up to the same story re-posted several times on my timeline saying it was a trending story. I may have missed a strategic move by a former colleague or a current colleague as a result. I may use LinkedIn differently than the average user; who is mostly interested in leveraging contacts to gain better employment opportunities; but I feel the new changes have reduced this network to a glorified social medium that is teetering on the edge of becoming just 'another social media outlet.'

Don't get me wrong, LinkedIn has its place. I've said before that I think it will render job aggregation boards obsolete, but I really think LinkedIn could do a lot more to become more than a recruitment platform. Maybe that’s what they are going for with the trusted elite news feeds / following, but I think they missed the target.

They need to engage professionals: the exact people using LinkedIn.   We need to know what professionals are seeing in their industry; not just a single job they need help with. Maybe we as a professional group are transactional and single job focused, but doesn’t the big picture have relevancy?

What do you think? Has LinkedIn devalued itself to pander to the likes of Facebook and Twitter to remain relevant, or do you think the mere nature of the network as a professional network is enough to sustain its relevance, no matter what they do?

Josh Kaplan writes on various subjects including information technology breakthroughs, big data, IT staffing and recruitment, healthcare IT recruitment, and technical industry news and trends.