Despite the huge values associated with its imminent IPO, Linkedin still has that slight feel of the poor relation. The one who recycles last year’s Christmas gifts. The aunt who doesn’t laugh quite quickly enough at the jokes. Yes, there’s a definite feel that Linkedin is just a bit out of sync with the fast-changing social scene. Here’s some examples of what I mean. Recycled status updates. The short, microblog status update has become synonymous with Twitter. So the unique Linkedin status update is rarely seen; it tends to just be a feed for Twitter. Smart people have declared how you should differentiate very clearly so that your coffee habits and views on superinjunctions stay on Twitter while your more earnest stuff is kept in its Linkedin home. But judging from most homepage updates, few adhere to this. And it does mean that updates that are aimed specifically at your business network get lost in the noise. Groups. Linkedin groups have been around for a long time and should be the perfect networking platform for your peers. After all, we’re on social networks to be social. Even if that social network is more business-focused than our fun, home stuff. But Linkedin groups, though plentiful, no longer seem to be prolific in terms of engagement. Discussions start, but most responses are of the sales variety. Sometimes of course, that’s just what the enquiry wanted, but it’s not leading to a fulfilling social engagement. And you know that most of the members of groups are now hovering around like vultures, hoping someone is going to be daft enough to leave out a bit of flesh in the terms of a product enquiry. The rest of the content is nearly always flat education and information led – so it might be of interest to others in the group but means that the group is more information aggregator than driver. Company Pages. Although the new look pages were launched with a bang this year, they are still lagging some way behind Facebook pages. Their structure is too redolent of early-stage, brochure, websites and the flexibility within that is limited. The lack of a newsfeed within them is galling. Answers. Linkedin answers generate discussion that’s broader than groups but they are now in competition with Quora. And question quality varies hugely – not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that, but it means that the relevant ones can get lost – the categorisation hasn’t really developed. So, why the ‘selfish’ tag in the title. It’s because what Linkedin is now doing is making us want it ‘just for ourselves’. We want the list of likely prospects, or potential recruits and we are all guilty of talking rather than listening. We link up with people not to re-establish old ties, but because we want something. All the channels available in Linkedin encourage this personal brand development. Let’s face it, most articles on best use of Linkedin are not suggesting the altruistic approach. Is selfish wrong? Not at all, but what it does mean is that we need to think very clearly about where Linkedin fits within our Social Media Strategy. What all this boils down to is that it is, of course, the network with more of a business focus than others – although Facebook may catch up as its pages open up more potential for microsite/landing page/campaign-based functionality. And where it is clearly positioned now is that it is the lead generation network – whether it’s for your products or for yourself. It’s time both the users and the network itself accepted and came clean on this. Then we won’t be looking for a professional FB where engagement and entertainment lead, but accepting it as our method of reaching out to those we want to buy.
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