01 May, 2011

Why I'm Exhausted From Defending Linkedin: An Open Letter To The Investors, Board, Management And Other Linkedin "Suits"

Remember Velma Hart? She's the black lady who made national news when she stood up in a televised Town Hall Meeting that she was "exhausted" from defending Barack Obama.

I feel like the Velma Hart of Linkedin. I'm exhausted from defending Linkedin.

I just spent hours composing a message to members of the three Linkedin groups I own and manage explaining to them how the latest ham-handed "anti-spam" Linkedin technological change will adversely effect members' ability to send messages to each other unless they do so as 1st level connections or unless they do so as participants in a group discussion.

To thwart spammers, Linkedin no longer allows me to look you up and send you a message from an advanced search screen. Let's say a recruiter, HR manager, department head or other heavy LI user sets up an advanced search to find everybody in her network with a degree in accounting and let's say some of the people who show up in that search are members of some of the same groups as the searcher. The searcher no longer has a "send message" option at that screen unless the searcher and the intended recipient are 1st level connections.

This is another example of how the technological geniuses and engineers who run Linkedin don't understand the first damn thing about the humans who use their technology. The harder Linkedin makes it for people to "talk to each other" via Linkedin, the less often Linkedin account holders will log on and the less time they will spend there.

Is there NOBODY at Linkedin who understands this? If the suits who run Linkedin - Reid Hoffman, Nick Besbeas, Jeff Weiner, Deep Nishar, Skip Battle, Leslie Kilgore, Michael Moritz, David Sze, et al,  don't understand this then the investors need to rise up and make them understand that people with Linkedin accounts are just giving up on Linkedin in droves.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear Linkedin is deliberately driving users into the messaging-enabled arms of Facebook where, if I can see you I can send you a message unless you have disabled that messaging in your account settings. Of course, most Facebook account holders have not disabled that function. Why would they? The whole point of "social media" is to be able to talk to people via the social media platform you're using. Facebook makes that easy. Linkedin makes that hard.

In my 01 September 2010 blog post I said that Linkedin's artificial distinction between "professional" networking and the "social networking" of Facebook is not shared by the typical Linkedin user and has not survived first contact with the enemy (Facebook). Linkedin tries to say they don't compete with Facebook and, therefore, don't care if the Facebook user experience is making Linkedin users expect Linkedin to be more like Facebook. That's like a beer maker saying he doesn't mind losing sales to wine makers because their target markets are different. People have a limited amount of time to spend on networking platforms and if they are choosing to spend it on Facebook instead of Linkedin, that's going to cost Linkedin investors money. Don't they understand that?

Doesn't Deep Nishar, VP of User Experience at Linkedin, understand that the reason Linkedin has so-called "users" who haven't logged on in a year and can't remember their passwords is because Linkedin keeps making it harder, not easier, for users to talk to each other?

Isn't there a Linkedin investor out there who understands that "the Facebook effect" has forever shaped and elevated Linkedin user expectations?

Look, Linkedin, I get it. I do. You are trying to use your technology to enforce a particular networking philosophy. I understand. In a perfect world, the best way for me to "meet" a person I don't know is for me to be introduced to that person through a mutual friend. I agree, that's best. The mutual friend serves as a kind of "social and professional co-signer". I get it. I agree with it. But your average Linkedin user doesn't know how to use the "get introduced through a connection" function.

And what's the deal with asking us for the recipient's email address before we can send a connection request to that recipient? It may be that I haven't seen the recipient since 3 jobs ago but the recipient would gladly reconnect with me. Why do you make me go find them on Facebook so I can get their email address? If I have to find them on Facebook, send them a message, get their email address and then connect with them on Linkedin, what's to prevent me from just deciding that Facebook is easier to use and facilitates rather than hinders my communication with other people?

So, just as Velma Hart is "exhausted" from defending Obama, I am exhausted from defending Linkedin. Just the other day I told one of my Friends of Linkedin group members that I hope somebody who understands people as well as engineering will buy Linkedin and fully enable messaging between Linkedin account holders.
Read my 01 September 2010 post, "How Linkedin Must Change" at ::http://higginbothamatlarge.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-linkedin-must-change-adapting-to.html
Higginbotham at Large no longer accepts or publishes reader comments here. if you wish to send me suggestions or hate mail, email me at JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com. If you wish to discuss current events or politics with me, meet me at LinkedLiberals on Linkedin. If you wish to discuss the future of St. Albans, WV, meet me at LinkedSt.Albans on Linkedin. 

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