An email arrived today. Linked In and Tweets. My soul soared. At first glance it looked like LinkedIn was removing the Twitter spam from its update streams. Sense reigned!
It was a shortlived euphoria. I’d misread. LinkedIn is not only NOT eliminating the ability to send updates from Twitter to LinkedIn accounts. it’s stopped supporting the standalone Tweets Application.
I have no idea what LinkedIn wants to achieve. Pure hypothesis might be:
– it wants to appear more on trend and sees Twitter as a way to do it
– it’s playing a numbers game so that it can show exponential growth in status updates to investors, who notoriously overvalue numbers of users as a factor rather than profits (No, the dotcom boom appears not to have taught some people much.)
What it’s actually doing is losing it’s point of differentiation as a pureplay business network. Yes, I know social’s where the money is, but LinkedIn can’t, currently, compete with Facebook or Twitter. To my mind it should be focussing on cleaning up its act rather than adding noise to it.
The majority of people I know using LinkedIn as a business tool get a once a week status update. Of late this is spattered with out of context:
I follow the people I want to follow on Twitter if this is the conversation I want to have. The wonder of LinkedIn is that it is an asynchronous technology. I don’t have to be there constantly, and at the end of the week can see that a journalist is moving or an old work colleague has changed jobs. This allows me, in turn, to reach out as appropriate and wish them well, update any databases they may be in and generally make my contact with them better for everyone. It’s been a genuinely useful business tool.
I have also been able to get everyone’s Twitter stream in a single box on my LinkedIn account, and put my own there without spamming the airwaves. LinkedIn will, however, stop supporting this function. If I want people to see my tweets I have to spam them – or leave it to Twitter.
LinkedIn’s information is rapidly becoming so hard to wheedle out that it’s hard to see who the LinkedIn stream will be useful to.
Meanwhile LinkedIn’s groups have opened up so much that many have become little more than spam farms where people broadcast on a regular basis, and anyone with an advanced account can reach out to me and spam me whether I know them or not.
Twitter is Twitter. It’s joy is it’s openness and ability to find connections and likeminded souls. Facebook is personal (as our other similar networks like Tuenti and Hyves). Google + is trying to tear us away from both. Why would LinkedIn try and compete? It’s a different medium and should be carving out a leadership role for itself.
Has CEO Jeff Weiner really sat back and thought hard about what makes LinkedIn special? Business networks are never going to have the sexy, glossy high valuations that consumer social networks attract. But there are a million and one other ways to add value to the network that don’t involve copycatting everyone else, whilst adding real, differentiating value to both LinkedIn and to its users – and a longevity that would make investment a safer proposition.
There are already competitors out there, growing fast. LinkedIn has a lead, but why on earth would it diversify and copy rather than innovate and extend it’s lead in its own field?
In June 2006 – just over five years ago – MySpace was bigger than Google. At one point it had a $12 billion valuation. Very sexy. And great if you cashed out at the right time, a dog if you didn’t, since last year only $35 million exchanged hands for the once glorious site. Today it has a small musical niche that might just save it from extinction. Could LinkedIn go the same way if it continues to value its stats above its users?