Did LinkedIn Drop the Ball on B2B Social Networking?

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LinkedIn is the #1 social networking site for business professionals, but this week, we’re taking a hard look at what people love – and hate – about the platform. Could LinkedIn do better? We think so!

First, let’s take a look at what people love about LinkedIn.
It serves a particular interest. Users like that the social network gives people the opportunity to interact with colleagues, supervisors, and other professionals in a dedicated setting. Many employees aren’t interested in mixing their personal and professional lives, and LinkedIn makes it easy for those people to connect online without sharing more personal aspects of their lives as they might on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Networking online is more convenient than in person. Sometimes, professionals can’t get approval to travel to a conference or trade show. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to go to local networking events. And sometimes, people are just shy! LinkedIn offers an easy way for people to find possible connections and reach out without leaving the office.
It’s easy to find new people and make connections. With advanced search features that allow users to target people in a given area, members of a specific group, professionals at a certain point in their careers, job seekers, job titles, and more, LinkedIn gives people a solid way to network. 

However, there are lots of complaints about LinkedIn, too.
“Spamming” is rampant. Real networking is valuable, but many professionals report receiving an overwhelming amount of spam in their inboxes. In some cases, this even results in spam emails.  It’s usually clear that these messages are being sent to every connection a person has – they aren’t personalized, and they aren’t relevant. If you have a large network on LinkedIn, chances are your connections are trying desperately to sell you their products and services.
The user interface isn’t intuitive. Whether you’re setting up advertisements on LinkedIn, looking for a new job, or trying to connect with your colleagues, the platform is less than user friendly. Compared to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn gets some of the lowest marks in the industry for its user experience. When it comes to professional networking, the last thing you want to risk is making a big, public mistake!
Setting up a company page is more difficult than it should be. Although many companies outsource their marketing to businesses like ours, there is no way for them to outsource the creation of a LinkedIn company page. Only users with a company email address who list that company in the experience section of their profiles can create a company page – IF they have enough connections to meet LinkedIn’s requirements. Not all clients have – or want – to be involved in personal social networking, even though they do want their businesses to appear on LinkedIn.
The “newsfeed” is long and doesn’t show what people want to see. If you have the time and dedication – and you remember, each time you log in, to filter so that you can see recent posts – then you might be able to keep up with your newsfeed on LinkedIn. Otherwise, you’ll see some recent posts but not others, and unlike Facebook, you can’t visit specific profiles to see all updates from your connections. If you miss a post in the newsfeed, it’s gone forever.
The ad platform is unnecessarily complicated. We mentioned this briefly above, but it’s a big concern for businesses that want to advertise on LinkedIn. We often recommend LinkedIn ads to our B2B customers because we appreciate the precise targeting options, but we have lots of experience running campaigns on their platform. It’s definitely not a set-up for beginners, and unless you’re spending a ton, LinkedIn offers little in the way of support.

So, did LinkedIn drop the ball?
Without question, LinkedIn has a long way to go before it will be as well-received as Facebook or Twitter (both of which have their share of negatives, too). It’s great that people have a way to separate their personal and professional lives online, but until LinkedIn makes some changes to improve it’s user experience it will continue to rank as one of the least enjoyable social networks.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.
 

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