The once proud LinkedIn has passed the threshold of being a useful social media network. It is now simply a place to keep and update your public resume. It’s amazing to see how Microsoft has killed the golden goose so quickly. By first making the page and interface more like Facebook, they might have gone too far. Now, rather than an alternative to Facebook, as the "other" social media network, they have made the experience of using LinkedIn more generic. It’s one big self-promotional platform. Everyone is posting, no one is clicking or reading.

I wrote last week about my loss of referral traffic: WTF Happened to LinkedIn? Referrals Drop 75%!

But this loss of LinkedIn has affected all of us deeper than just lost referral traffic. At one point, LinkedIn was a great way to keep up with your network. And when you saw some interesting post by a colleague or friend, it was common to post comments to one another, to start a conversation. That’s the idea behind a "social" network. But today, those comments are few and far in between. No one is commenting. No one is reading.

There is sure a lot of content being posted to LinkedIn every hour. It’s much more active than Facebook, as far as my feed is concerned. But it’s become a broadcast network. By "facebooking" the LinkedIn experience the Microsoft team has degraded the level of conversation on the entire site.

Have you had any meaningful conversations that started on LinkedIn? Or are we all just looking for those referrals in our network and checking each others resumes?

Today, LinkedIn is an HR site. Recruiters use it to find people who might fit roles they are looking to fill. HR departments and interviewers are looking at LinkedIn to get a better feel for candidates and what they share. So we’re all "sharing" because that means we’re engaged. We want to appear active on LinkedIn and influential by the current and clever content we share. And I admit I do the same thing. But I was really trying to build an audience at one point, using LinkedIn. Now, my audience is established, but LinkedIn is providing almost zero referral traffic to my either of my two marketing blogs. And I post 5 – 8 things a day, every day. So, it’s not like I’m dabbling.

What’s your experience with LinkedIn? Do you use it? Do you network on LinkedIn? Do you have any faith in the "referrals" you might seek out on your 1st degree network?

I’m not sure what Microsoft can do to bring the collaborative magic back. And from their traffic numbers, the "network" is doing fine. The "social" part, not so much. The deeper question that needs to be answered is about B2B marketing on LinkedIn. If the organic participation is so bad, how are the ads performing? My guess is their numbers are way down as well. Where does the B2B social marketer go now?

Is LinkedIn dead for all but HR and hiring managers? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and let’s chat: John McElhenney on LinkedIn

John McElhenney

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth

Of Added Interest:

Once a Running Joke, LinkedIn Is Suddenly a Hot Social Network – Adweek

“LinkedIn is the Facebook for b-to-b marketers,” says McInnes. “If you are an Apple, a Cisco or an IBM, LinkedIn is a great place to market your products.”

Yes, I would agree with this statement. You’ve got a captive audience. But "social" it’s not.

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