Hate the Player, Not the Game: Living with LinkedIn Bugs

“I hate LinkedIn.” “Facebook doesn’t work.” “Twitter is noisy and hard to use.”
If you’re using social media for business or professional purposes, it’s likely that you’ve muttered one of those phrases at some point. And, all of those things are true, at least to some degree, but our personal experience doesn’t change the importance these channels have in marketing these days. We need to separate the channel from the activity. In other words, we can hate the player but not the game.
We’ll pick on LinkedIn in this post, because it’s arguably the most heavily used business/professional social channel, and well, we’ve noticed some things.
Bugged by LinkedIn bugs?
Nothing else does what LinkedIn does as well as LinkedIn does it. But LinkedIn is notoriously buggy. Some of these bugs are annoying, but don’t ultimately inhibit productive use of the site. Some bugs, on the other hand, aren’t just minor or inconveniencing—they directly affect the functionality of the website.
For example, you might occasionally get an all-encompassing error message and nothing works. Any number of page refreshes don’t seem to get you to your destination when this happens. Or, when one of the many pop-up windows LinkedIn has built in to its dynamic interface don’t load, you’re missing out on an integral part of what you’re trying to accomplish, i.e. send a message to group contacts.
Unfortunately, sorting and filtering tools intended to organize recent connections don’t always work reliably. If you’re using LinkedIn to manage new business leads or prospects, this can make tracking those relationships very difficult. Similarly, the feature that allows you to view your pending connection requests doesn’t reliable populate by date, isn’t agreeable with the search or find function and can sometimes only be reached by opening the link in a new tab.
Functionality changes
Sometimes, LinkedIn changes its functionality because it believes the changes will enhance the users’ experience (even over the objection of hardcore LinkedIn users) or because they want to start charging for that bit of functionality. For example, it used to be that contacts could be saved without actually having to connect, but that’s not an option anymore—unless you buy an upgrade. The ability to save contacts without connecting is a lead-building activity and potentially a very important business tool for users.
Also, messages you send when connecting are no longer saved. So if a recipient responds without being specific about what you said, you’ll find yourself in the awkward position of having to ask, “What did I say again?” Even worse, when it comes to tracking past messages, there’s no longer an archive feature for messages and conversations. The new messaging feature display more closely resembles a chat interface. You can either delete, or leave the message in your inbox. With no ability to archive, messages simply start stacking on top of one another.
Why even use it then?
So with all the bugs and changing functionality in LinkedIn, why keep using it? This is where we must separate the activity and functionality—which can sometimes drive us crazy—from the channel, which retains its intrinsic value no matter what.
Digital social networking among professional connections with LinkedIn is powerful and enhances the likelihood of professional and sales success. We’ve seen examples and heard the anecdotes time and again. No other service allows individuals to build business relationships as well as LinkedIn does now. And there’s no doubt that LinkedIn does some things extremely well:
Advanced search tools are excellent for finding a specific subset of the population for lead generation and recruiting
The new publication platform is excellent, helping reach new and wider audiences easily
The lead-building functionality in Sales Navigator is very valuable, even accounting for the fact that it’s now an add-on that requires a paid subscription.
Recruiter tools, advertising functionality, outreach enabling tools and more…
A LinkedIn alternative?
Remember when Google+ tried to become the alternative to Facebook? Many people still believe it’s much better than Facebook, but when Google+ launched, everybody was already on Facebook and not willing to leave. You can’t have an effective social network if nobody’s there, and that’s what happened to Google+.
Even if you don’t like it personally, and wish there was a better LinkedIn alternative—at the end of the day, it’s where professional people are, so you need to be there too. (Those are my exact sentiments, actually.)
So our job and yours is to figure out the best way to navigate the landscape LinkedIn provides us. As long as LinkedIn is used in an authentic, personal (non-automated) way, it can work well for your business despite the occasional headache. We know this is true because we use LinkedIn successfully on behalf of our clients every day. We know plenty of ways to leverage pesky social media tools to help you elevate your business profile and your network. If you’d like some ideas on which tools to use and how, get hold of us.

If you'd like help forging new business relationships, or just want to share some love, please Contact Us.