back to article Is social networking good for anything more than cat pics?

LinkedIn made money in 2012. By all accounts it has done better than it had the year before, and as a result its stock price has soared. Despite this, I have some serious questions about the service, even as my fellow technorati fall all over themselves to heap praise upon the company. I get why LinkedIn is attractive to …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Spasch


    The only people who seem to view my profile are recruitment types. Admittedly I've picked up some work from that, so it's not all bad.

  2. Tim 11

    most people have better things to do

    The basic problem with media coverage of social networking is this: Social networking appeals to media types because that's the kind of thing they do all day - find out what's the latest news, looking at trends, and networking with people. So it tends to get a very positive presence in the media.

    Like most people in the real world, my day job involves actually making something or achieving something. Just keeping in touch with what everyone else says or thinks isn't a productive use of my time, I have work to do.

    (writing this in my 5 minute coffee break of course)

    1. verdox

      Re: most people have better things to do

      Most people making something (for business) need to sell the something they make. If you need to sell something then how do you go about selling it? You can use traditional channels but an alternative approach might be to monitor Twitter for your brand name, product or service and find people with a real need for your product rather than cold calling or door knocking - if your product is a mass consumer product then you can find people who have a direct genuine interest in your product on Facebook and create a very cost effective targeted advertising campaign. Is your business local only? Then geo-target the campaign, is it niche? then drill down and find people who care about your niche.

      It is great that you make something, but you also need to sell that something or it is just a hobby not a business. You can ignore social networking, but then I guess when print was in it's infancy there were many people talking about these new printed advertisements, ink! pah! It will never catch on.

  3. Cosmo

    It did crack me up

    I did have a good chortle when I saw people on Facebook and Twitter bragging about being in the top 10% or top 5% of LinkedIn. And then watched their bragging turn to embarrassment when virtually everyone else posted to say they had received the same email

  4. Cosmo

    Twitter can be pretty good

    I know I'm courting a possible nerd-pasting here, but I find Twitter pretty useful. I don't follow Z-List zelebs or teenage girls spewing their angst all over the interwebs, but it has been really useful for finding out what's happening locally with businesses, pubs, restaurants, events etc. etc.

    A lot of small businesses don't seem to have websites nowadays. Or if they do, they can be woefully out of date, so Twitter can be good for receiving "hot off the press" information.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Twitter can be pretty good

      They're still open, and the cook came to work today... other than advertising, what good could you possibly get out of them?

      1. Cosmo

        Re: Twitter can be pretty good

        Specials, updated menus, guest beers, which bands are playing this evening, that sort of thing

  5. g e

    Top 1% here, amazingly

    Though god knows how. I took it to mean Linked in doesn't have much useful traffic if that's truly the case.

    (Or they're all recruiters dibbling over my work/contract history, which is possible).

    Nil meaningful engagement from the site, though, beyond 'when are you free? have a 3 month contract somewhere you don't want to go' or 'Can you help me, do you know someone who does xxxx, but don't want to give you anything'

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Top 1% here, amazingly

      " I took it to mean Linked in doesn't have much useful traffic"

      I get plenty of emails apparently from people who want to add me to Linked in.

      So, not much different from Facebook then -- unknown people who will try to push some sort of business my way.

      1. g e

        Re: Top 1% here, amazingly

        Yeah I get a fair bit of that malarkey from 'Groups' and their members, now you mention it

  6. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Fed up of spam and pop ups

    I've just deleted my Linkedin profile because of spam and the annoying popups asking me to endorse, download contacts, update profile, tidy my room, wipe my feet, etc etc. Linkedin's gone from being interesting and mildly useful to f*****g annoying.

  7. frank ly

    I see what your problems is

    "LinkedIn offers a feature ... that lets me see who has viewed my profile. I check it once or twice a day ..."

    There it is.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: I see what your problems is

      Why? Don't you think Trevor would be interested if David Pogue's editor (of visited his profile?

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: I see what your problems is

      It is self defence. Marking wonks almost always check my LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an early warning system that doesn't require me to comb the logs on my apache server. Nothing more. But please understand the sheer VOLUME of PR people I have to deal with, and writing for El Reg isn't my day job.

      Still; the value of LinkedIn is that it is a slightly less ass version of webalizer? That's worth an instagram a year?

      Also: why would I care if the NYT editor checks my LinkedIn. That just means I am about to be interviewed because I trolled someone. There is a near-zero chance that anyone, anywhere is going to pay me enough to write full time that it replaces my income as a sysadmin. Writers do NOT get paid well. To hear others talk, the "per word" hasn't come up in over a decade.

      I write because I like you guys, well...mostly. The money eniugh to build a lab is nice. But I only have a lab so I can write...

      1. frank ly

        Re: I see what your problems is

        I'll try to remember the password for my LinkedIn account and see if anyone's been looking at my profile.

        1. Harman Mogul

          Re: I see what your problems is

          Yes, that's the one that always gets me too.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It has its pros and cons

    Pros - Beef up your profile around wage review time. You might get more of a raise. You might even get a few good offers from other companies.

    Cons - spam from job agencies wanting to be your friend. Some cheeky fuckers even phoned up my company's main number and ask for me while I was at work asking if I knew of any positions that needed filling.

    I've even received a friend request on there from one of our suppliers. Well, they didn't actually supply us with anything as they were prating about and we dropped them.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it is time we collectively admit that social networking is pretty much crap, full stop.

    1. earlyjester

      shhh the emperors clothes look great

      (while people are mucking about with this stuff it keeps them busy and out of our way to get on with real things)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters


      In some cases the government disagrees; they really enjoy being able to keep some taps on some people.

      Which I guess basically also proves your point ;-)

      And its not only limited to that. Recently the Guardian reported on RIOT (Rapid Information Overlay Technology); a program solely aimed at grabbing information from social media websites in order to provide as much information about a certain person as you'd want.

      You can find the original story here. I don't know how liable this whole story is (the movie page gives out a 404) but its still something to think about nonetheless IMO.

    3. Robert Helpmann??

      RE: it is time...

      it is time we collectively admit that social networking is pretty much crap, full stop.

      Yes! Will post this to FB immediately so all my FB Friends can like it, too.

    4. #didIjusthashtagthis

      completely customisable social interfacing

      I find that its up to the user to customise their social site nad how it works for them.

      I find myself using Facebook less these days, but that is my friendship circle news.

      While I dislike the constant nature of Twitter, I go enjoy Google+ and have started to use it soley for Photography, with tutorials and photo groups as well as feedback useful. I believe that folk may even end up having multiple accounts on G+ and Twitter for different interest feeds.

      Linked in can be honed down to the most useful contacts who put relevent news on linkedin, removing those outside of your direct industry.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The best thing about social networking sites?

    The amount of personal data you can buy from the liquidator on the cheap when a site goes bust.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It has its uses.

    Like trying to shame the world into parking properly with the facebook page BadlyParkedCars

    1. jungle_jim

      Re: It has its uses.

      I prefer for that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It has its uses.

        That second site should come with a NSFW warning. Its not all BadlyParkedCars

  12. Charles Calthrop
    Thumb Up

    this post paid for by linkedin

    Maybe I am lucky in that there are very few people who can use the software which is used in my industry. This means it is a small industry but also means a small pool of candidates: I got a full time job plus 2 side gigs from linkedin

    I find it helps if you put specialised skills rather than the generic 'web dev' type stuff.

  13. Pete the not so great

    Wanna be linked in buddies?


  14. Semaj
    Thumb Up

    I find that linkedin is a useful tool for aggregating results from recruitment sites.

    It's also quite handy when you need a new job quickly because the recruiters mob you as soon as you let them know you are up for grabs.

    But I can't see it's purpose for anything other than finding a new job. It's too spammed up with recruiters to find anything of interest.

    Out of all the various ones I'd say it's the best because it at least have a purpose - even if it is a really boring one.

  15. Seanmon

    No option though.

    If you're looking for a job, telling a recruitment type you're not on Linkedin is akin to saying you don't want the job. I don't get linkedin at all, I don't really want it, but I'm out of contract in 6 weeks, so... bullet bitten.

  16. bag o' spanners

    I use Linkedin as a fallback in case the zombie apocalypse takes out Facebook on day one. (Maybe it already has?) Most of the people who send me requests only do so to inflate their numbers. The most agressive linkmakers are probably those legendary top 1%ers . I check it when I'm clearing my soc-media notifications and tech spam mailbox on Sundays.

    Referral services are more useful, especially when they're peopled by individuals you know and trust. If a friend, whose professional skillz I actually respect, points some overflow business my way, then it makes sense for me to reciprocate. This may only work effectively for togs and AV bods, because it's more of an unofficial guild than a jobs market. In a market segment where unskilled idiots will do most jobs ineptly for free, it helps to have a reservoir of professionalism with a fairly balanced pricing scale. I know lighting techs, togs, and audio engineers at the top of their professions, so if someone asks them if they know someone less expensive, but equally capable, for a one-off job, a referral generally hits the spot.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It does headhunters good only in that it allows them to spam a large number of people with the right tickbox words in their profiles until they find one with low enough self-esteem to accept the bent pittance they are offering.

    Hahaha - right in one. I would somewhat object to the term "recruiters" on LinkedIn, though - the people who find candidates on LinkedIn are tickbox and profile merchants, not people with a vetted, managed network (as opposed to "database") of candidates actually worth talking to.

    We work in the security and privacy sector - the benefit of drawing people in from our own network is that we know they can actually do the job, and come with a track record we can actually verify which makes vetting easier and speeds up contracting if we're in a hurry. In our experience, the old hacker adage of "it takes one to know one" is VERY true in security..

    Last but not least, I personally intensely dislike the "broadcast to all" when you change as much as a single character of the profile, and the skills acknowledgement thing is annoying as well as useless..

  18. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    The real value in these services

    Is the metadata. Some of these companies really have got the art of working out who is connected to who down to a fine art. Frankly it scares me who I find suggested given how I little I have entered into my profile. So, while recruiters will remain the primary scavengers of the site I think they are all tooling up for "added value services" such as credit rating (article on The Economist). The maths behind it are quite interesting because they can even work out quite a lot out about people who think they are off-grid. For all of us who think we are being careful with quite what we put online we have many acquaintances who are busy uploading their address books with our names and addresses.

  19. AceRimmer

    Top 1%!

    I'm in a select group of 2 million linkedin members

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Borderline Tosspot

    The one time I tried to use it to leverage someone in my 'professional network' to refer me for an open position with his employer and I didn't even get as much as a reply to my request. This is someone who was my manager at a former company, rather than just a LinkedIn contact. Clearly I'm not quite a big enough tosser to be removed from a social network, but I don't make the grade when it comes to real life.

  21. Fiddler on the roof

    Social Networking is useful

    No really it is, if you want to stay in touch and be a small part of peoples lives where your not in close proximity. For instance I'm from one end of the UK but grew up and lived for al ong time in another. FB allows me a small amount of particpation in lives of friends from my old locality which I wouldnt have without it.

    As for linked in I finally bowed to pressure from my friends and family to join and cant see why I bothered, to me its only of use if you want to network in order to get on. Personally I dont (being happy as a grunt), so doubtless the next time Im in a bad mood and it spams me I will delete my account.

  22. Turtle_Fan

    LinkedIn ain't too bad

    For starters I receive way less spam from LinkedIn than most other sites.

    Secondly I have had some really good job offers and leads. People found me on LinkedIn but didn't contact me via LinkedIn; they used traditional methods. In fact even my current job started life as first contact on LinkedIn.

    Furthermore, it surely helps me in my procurement capacity when branching out to new locales and geographies, I have a nice pool of people to solicit help from, for leads and contacts and I likewise help out wherever I can.

    If you set up the mailing options properly, then spam is greatly reduced.

    Finally, I just ignore recruiters that don't spend the time to contact me properly and treat me as just another entry in their sad mail merge exercise.


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social media is...

    ...for people who need to get a life.

  24. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I'm in top 5% as well.

    Shame I've never even had a Linked-In account. And as far as I can tell from the headers, it was genuinely from Linked-In. I noticed I started getting a TON of email from them after I browsed a couple of people whose profiles I found with Google.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: I'm in top 5% as well.

      As far as I can see from the percentage of people that have mentioned to me to be in the top 1% or 5%, there is considerable statistical evidence that marketing and math are firmly separated disciplines..

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Friends Reunited!

    Absolute winners on the basis of consistency. They have been mailing me to ask if I know the same two people (yes, I do) for years

  26. verdox

    short sighted

    I am not going to debate if social networking works or if it is crap but I am going to say that you have been very short sighted about how useful it is to a modern business. Historically companies have retained databases of their customers and the relationships those customers have with companies, customer relationship management is nothing new to business and I am sure not many people would question the value of correctly recording the details about how you engage with your clients and measure the impact that your marketing activity has. Social networking is an often overlooked component that you are selling short if you feel the only benefit is to human resources and head-hunters. There is not enough space here for me to explain the full value but let me give you an example…

    A business receives a referral from a customer (a common scenario) so adds that prospect customer into their CRM database and assigns it to someone to follow-up, at this stage if you scan LinkedIn you can find information about that company including its turnover, number of employees, company type, how long it has been trading – more importantly you can establish who in your network you can speak to connected to that company. This information is not used for the purposes of spamming (of course it can be!) but it can demonstrate how you are connected to your prospect customer and who can genuinely introduce you to someone there that might be interested in what you have to say.

    By using LinkedIn in the way it was intended and working with the degrees of separation concept you can establish ways of connecting with prospect customers your traditional CRM system could never have revealed. This provides value to everyone using the network. These concepts are not limited to LinkedIn, with some creative thinking social media can enhance relationship management and customer service providing real demonstrable value to users of those networks.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: short sighted

      @verdox your entire diatribe is presupposed on everyone using LinkedIn "the way it was intended." My point is that nobody does. Not the HR types, not the companies, not the people creating the profiles. Instead, they use the service/software in the manner that would seem most intuitively likely to benefit them directly.

      What LinkedIn needs is actually quite simple:

      1) I, as a LinkedIn profile creator (the product being sold) should be able to set something in my profile that says "bugger off unless you are offering at least $75K." Ideally, nobody but LinkedIn will actually see this.

      2) The HR drone (the person buying the product on offer) should be able to set a parameter in their search that says "show me only profiles that have agreed to work for the bent pittance I am offering."

      3) My profile won't show up unless they are prepared to talk about a living wage.

      4) HR bodies will be electrocuted and their remains fired into the sun if they set the numbers on their search higher than they are actually willing to pay.

      Suddenly, you get a LOT more realistic view of the available job field as an HR body, and you get WAY less time-wasting spam as a prospective candidate. Unfortunately, if LinkedIn actually did that, then the whole world would discover the basis of their site is one big lie, and their stock price would collapse overnight…so they'll never do it. More's the pity.

      1. Hungry Sean

        Re: short sighted

        it's a good suggestion and would actually probably make Linked In more money. One problem-- wage and cost of living disparity across the US. A few years back, $85K in Texas worked out to an equivalent CA wage of about $110K. Pretty sure you wouldn't be happy earning $75k in the bay.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: short sighted

          No, I wouldn't. My suggestion isn't perfect - I could think of a dozen ways to refine it beyond the excellent suggestion you provided - but it is a start. It would minimise the noise, boost the singal.

          Oh, and please do remember life beyond the USA. I'm from Canada, eh?

          1. Hungry Sean

            Re: life beyond the US

            Sorry Trevor, I know you're up in the great Canadian north-west, but I do recall you also posting articles about crossing the border for work (apparently the US government makes this hard). And the dollar value threw me-- for the vast majority of my life, the exchange rate has been roughly $2 canadian to $1 US-- I suspect it's the other way now.

            Also, I am forever unable to think of Canadian currency as the dollar after reading this:


            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: life beyond the US

              Canadian dollar and USian dolar are mroe or less at par.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: short sighted

          Mortgage man, gotta pay it.

      3. Harman Mogul

        Re: short sighted

        Why the downvotes? It's an intelligent rebuttal of Verdox's sensible exposition.

      4. verdox

        Re: short sighted

        That is an excellent idea, being able to set your desired salary (privately) and enabling that to be applied to filters when HR and recruitment staff are using the platform would make an excellent addition to their service, however you are still thinking about LinkedIn as a recruitment platform, LinkedIn is a business platform.

        If you step outside of the recruitment vertical that you have focused on then you will be surprised to find a wealth of information that business has deemed essential for decades prior to the concept of social networking being dreamt up. If you wear the hat of someone working in marketing or business development you will be able to dream up many ways of working with the data available to you on social networks that when used alongside existing business systems can provide a lot of value. LinkedIn has a very robust policy on its data usage, the spamming techniques you mention break their TOS, the fact is people using networks in the manner you describe are wasting their time, I think companies should be working with not against the platforms and in doing so you can achieve some excellent results.

        Your article also points at the entire social networking genre, not just LinkedIn, Twitter for example is an excellent platform to provide proactive customer service on and Facebook is a fantastic B2C advertising platform. The adoption of social networking has been unprecedented, and it is providing forward thinking smart companies with a lot more value than posting cat pictures as your article suggests. Of course you might be right and the millions using it wrong, but I suspect not!

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: short sighted

          Oh, I suspect the "millions using it" to be drastically inflated. 200 million profiles means sweet fuck all if that overwhelming majority of them simply make a profile then bugger off.

          You talk about the "value" of the service to marketing and HR bodies. I never once denied that there was potential for value there. I said - and please, reread my comments without the LinkedIn-coloured glasses on, that there is little-to-no value for anyone else. I also said "that's a huge problem."

          Why is that a problem? Because if the non-marketing/HR users of your server (known in non-bullshit-speak as "the product you are selling") can derive no value from the service, they will bugger off eventually. First, the high-value eyeballs, then the midrange ones. Right around here, your HR/marketing bodies won't be able to find anyone they give fucks about and will stop paying for the service too.

          You have to keep the plebeians happy if you want to sell them as your product.

          Unfortunately, the plebeians aren't happy. LinkedIn provides fuck-all for value as a recruitment service (and don't bullshit yourself, me, or the fine readers of The Register by even pretending that isn't the primary reason the plebeians sign up) and it provides next-to-no value as a "business networking service" (outside the marketing/HR circles.)

          Again you come at this from a "if everyone played nice, it would work!" Nobody plays nice; they do what is convenient and the most likely to gain them something in the short term. When was the last time you encountered humans who en masses thought long term?

          Twitter is an excellent platform for customer service, but that doesn't make Twitter any money. Twitter's value is that it has become the instant messaging platform that displaced the previous instant messaging platforms...but how does that help Twitter keep the lights on, eh?

          Facebook is a B2C advertising platform if your target market are "households making less than 50K per annum." Great for peddling soft drinks but worth fuck all to companies that want to shift shit with margins. (You know, the companies that are willing to really bust out marketing budgets?)

          So yeah, I'm right. And there are literally millions of people pissing away thier time on this shit. That's not surprising, they also tend to be the millions of people who have next to no disposable income, and the companies that chase after them.

          The rest of the world - those with anything resembling income - went elsewhere looking for something that provided real value to the end user (the product being sold to the advertiser, remember!) long ago. Social networking must either provide demonstrable value to all parties or it will fail.

          It will fail if it can't make enough money to keep the lights on. (Twitter.)

          It will fail if it only appeals to those who have no money. (Facebook.)

          Right now, LinkedIn is basically built on the lie - and it is a lie - that LinkedIn offers value to the common plebian. As soon as the majority wake up to the fact that they extract far less value from the site than the time they put in, they'll leave. (And many are doing so; not by closing accounts, but simply by giving no fucks and not logging in.) This will doom them when those who actually pay for the service - advertisers, marketing and HR types - start an exodus.

          So what does LinkedIn do? It can increase the value of the service to the plebes, which would reduce the value to the HR/Marketing types (but increase value to advertisers.) They'd have to find the balance of "worth it for the common man" without pissing away their entire revenue base.

          Alternately, they can follow Facebook. I'm betting on the latter. Why? Because LinkedIn lost it's "startup" feel a while back (so sayeth many in the valley, if you talk to them,) and has become bureaucratised. This always means a shift away from delivering a good product to the common user and a focus on quarterly revenues. That - quite frankly - is doom for any social network, and I believe that the general discontent amongst the hoi polloi with the service (and the mounting spam) is evidence enough that this shift is well underway.

  27. NozeDive

    You know, I had just about given in, and was planning to make a Linked In profile after all of the constant invitations. Nope. Not happening now.


  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And what about those silly endorsements? It's what finally put me off LinkedIn... well that and the pestering by recruiters.

  29. steven W. Scott

    Linkedin: A wasteland of recruiters and embelishment

    Deleted my Linkedin acct nearly three years ago - for some strange reason tho, my password still found its way into the hacked list released 6-8 months ago. During the time my account was active (5 years or so) it provided no value to me whatsoever, unless value could be attributed to receiving solicitations for employment in some foreign country at laughable pay.

    Content is king on the web, and if the substance of the content is questionable or lacking completely (ie, The CEO of multimillion dollar business "Informationen Technologie-Design" is actually a distant cousin living on welfare), then the visitors aren't returning, and besides, a hiring manager will still want an interview or some more concrete method of evaluating a prospect for employment consideration than a self-evaluation from a social site. Geocities anyone?

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021