While I was working on my class presentation, I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn out of necessity. Back when I first signed up for LinkedIn, I put a little effort into building my network. But over the last few years, my usage has dropped off drastically. Spending a lot of time on the site last week reminded me of why.
I’ve been a member of LinkedIn since 2005. I have never put a lot of effort into keeping up with LinkedIn’s new features and services, so I learned some new things last week in the course of researching my presentation. But I was also reminded of why I never really got into LinkedIn: marketing spam.
In the beginning, when LinkedIn was just getting started, I’d get invitations from people I actually knew in real life, such as former or current colleagues or college classmates. It was kind of fun to receive invitations from college classmates I hadn’t seen in years; I’d wondered what some of them had ended up doing for a living. And of course, there was the potential to find new job or networking opportunities through them.
But somewhere along the way, LinkedIn became less about connecting and re-connecting with professional colleagues and more about spammy companies trying to get their hooks into a targeted, affluent, business-oriented audience. I started to regularly receive invitations from recruiters or people selling a product or service. When I accepted the invitation (because in the beginning, I accepted pretty much anyone), I’d usually get a message afterward that would invite me to check out some product or company page, attend some virtual event, or join a virtual group that focused on what they were selling. In fact, at this moment I have many, many unread messages in my LinkedIn inbox that are all some form of what I could call spam.
As a result of the spam, I stopped accepting every single invitation, and I stopped visiting LinkedIn as much as I used to. Vaynerchuk regularly writes about how companies need to focus their social media marketing around the customer’s needs, but so many marketers on LinkedIn are doing the opposite. Of course, this isn’t limited to just LinkedIn; some marketers on all of the social media platforms have struggled to “get it”; otherwise, there would have been no need for Vaynerchuk to write his book!
I think this quote from Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is particularly telling: “A member of the Google Analytics team recently informed me that almost no one uses the tracking system properly.” If marketers can’t put in the time to learn how to use the data from their own websites, I guess it’s probably too optimistic to expect them to learn how to properly use the data from their social networks. Do we as consumers expect too much from marketers nowadays? I don’t think so. It’s definitely not too much to expect a marketer to take the time to learn how to tailor their marketing to suit my needs — not when there’s so much data out there at their fingertips.