LinkedIn – Now With Less Value!

Alan BelniakNetworking, Social Media2 Comments

You may have missed it, but LinkedIn recently overhauled its desktop experience. It looks more like the mobile experience – I’m not sure if that was intentional or not.  Social Media Examiner has a really good write up here. Some are lauding the change (look at the comments on that post, or elsewhere) saying the UX is more intuitive.

But LinkedIn Says It’s An ‘Improvement’

Improvements come with a cost, though. Some of the functionality intrinsic with connecting with someone is going away. And this baffles me.

Specifically, the relationship section of a profile will soon no longer be available. That is to say, the notes you add to a connection (how or where you met them, tags, etc.) will disappear on March 31, 2017. They go on to describe it in their post here.

LinkedIn Scraps Relationship Section of Profile -

LinkedIn: “I’ll Give You This For That”

New features and design comes as a trade-off … LinkedIn even says so in the second sentence of the page above. I’ve worked in software before and I understand it. However, what I don’t understand is trading this away for a more polished look.

This relationship section, to me, is core to connecting on a social network. It’s the meta-data of a connection. Over the years, LinkedIn has reduced the friction to connect with someone. In the past, you had to have some sort of prior connection to link up with them on their platform. Presumably as a desire to increase the user/member base and drive up daily active users, they made connection easier.

As connection count increases, it becomes more difficult to ‘remember’ how and where you met someone. The relationship section is (was) a great way to capture those notes.  This is why I’m baffled: as one of the social networks where the reason behind the connection is one of the most important components of that connection, shouldn’t that be a piece that’s maintained? Shouldn’t that stay core to the connection experience?

If You’re Not The Customer on LinkedIn, You’re The Product

I can’t understand why they are throwing that away. Of course, you could say they are not – one needs to simply read to the end, and see that they are indeed keeping a form of that meta-data … for a fee.  With this swift move, LinkedIn is exemplifying the truest law in online platforms, as stated so eloquently by Tom Webster:

If you do not pay for a service, you are the product they sell. So it ever has been.

TL; DR – “We’re scrapping something that’s pretty important to connecting so we can focus efforts on other parts of our platform. But we’re not really scrapping it. You can still get it. Just pay us.”

I get that they have to make money. I get that the quid-pro-quo in an exchange like this is “I give you information, you give me free access to your site.” I get it. I do. But why not ‘scrap’ something else that isn’t so germane to connecting?

What about you? Do you use the relationship section of LinkedIn? Are you going to miss the ability to use it? Or no?