Independent Thinking Blog

Is LinkedIn the Anti Social Network?

Now we are 7.

My blog turned seven on June 4, which means I’ve been blogging here since 2008. Which seems a long time, especially in digital years (which make dog years seem quaint).

I wasn’t marking this passage of time–but LinkedIn was. At some point last week, the site generated a notice to my network to congratulate me on having a work anniversary this month. I know because suddenly lots of people were hitting the “like” button and saying “congrats.” I’m grateful to them, and it was nice to see some folks I haven’t talked to in a while. But–

This isn’t engagement.

LinkedIn is very good at creating top-of-mind opportunities. Faux-versaries. Changes in job status. Reminding you that your friends have posted updates or written new posts. What the platform encourages is a quick “atta girl”; a like, an endorsement, a brief moment of public praise.

I was on a Twitter chat the other day about LinkedIn, which coincidentally happened just before the platform marked my blog  anniversary:


That’s when it hit me.

LinkedIn rewards activity, not interaction.

This is a design problem.

LinkedIn is all about cheap metrics: How often you show up in a group. How many people have stumbled on your profile. How many endorsements you have. It’s low-effort activity. Even LinkedIn’s “15 ways to keep in touch” is mostly work anniversaries. This morning LinkedIn encouraged me to congratulate my dad on seven years at the DC-area Phi Beta Kappa Association. (Congrats, dad! I’ll call you later.)

This isn’t to say that LinkedIn isn’t a valuable platform. It is. It’s a terrific place to research prospective clients (or bosses) and the companies they represent. It’s a great place to find people, and to keep track of the people already in your network.

It’s just not the place to engage with your network. For me, at least, that happens elsewhere.

Now I’m off to find a cupcake to celebrate turning 7.

Feature photo by Too Far North (Flickr).

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