First, the criticism
In Q3 2015, LinkedIn reported that it has 396m members globally, up from 81m five years earlier. Impressive growth indeed, but success has not come without some issues.
Most of the problems seem to come from the open nature of the network.
Members can be found easily through searching on LinkedIn or Google and then contacted without too much difficulty.
As a result, members have become overwhelmed by anonymous contacts and so a few justified critiques have emerged lately.
1. Users are plagued with random link requests
Anyone can try to connect with you on LinkedIn and so members often are overloaded with random connection requests.
LinkedIn members have seen the phrase “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” so often that it has taken on meme-like status.
So much so, that The Atlantic recently ran a piece showing how the ubiquitous phrase could be used in just about any New Yorker cartoon, with comedic effect.
2. InMails have become hopelessly compromised
InMails were originally just a way for LinkedIn members to contact each other. At some point, though, the messaging capability was sold to businesses, specificially recruitment firms, as a way to message people who had not accepted a connection request.
But InMails seem to have been oversold.
Many members LinkedIn inboxes are now clogged with unsolicited messages and they, too, have become a well-recognized point of frustration with the platform.
3. Many updates are meaningless and annoying
LinkedIn users are long familiar with the silly math puzzles…
But lately there has been a new source of annoyance – useless updates from LinkedIn itself.
These are all valid points from the perspective of the end user. LinkedIn is, or has become, annoying to use.
But though there are complaints about usability, does this compromise it as a marketing platform? That is, are brands still able to use LinkedIn to communicate with potential customers?
I think so – and here are three very good reasons to keep using LinkedIn, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
1. LinkedIn’s growth in Asia-Pacific has outpaced its growth in the West
LinkedIn has been experiencing growth globally and since I last wrote about the network, its user base has grown even more in Asia Pacific.
Below are numbers for the population of LinkedIn users who are in the IT industry.
The first column is from my last survey in July 2014 and the next is from January 2016.
What it shows is that, whereas USA growth has been single-digit, most countries in Asia-Pacific have enjoyed double-digit growth.
Great news for those wanting to reach people on the platform.
2. There are now many more ways to target people on LinkedIn
LinkedIn has made a number of changes to the way that you can reach people on the platform.
Whereas they used to only allow for small ads on the side, you can now promote updates directly in the feed, where people actually look, in many different formats (link, photo, text).
And if you haven’t used the ad platform lately, it has been improved in the past year and is much easier-to-use now.
3. LinkedIn is the only place you can effectively target professionals
But the single greatest benefit of using LinkedIn for marketing is that you can target professionals.
Sure you can proxy this capability by targeting the right keywords in Google or interests in Facebook, but neither of these compare with being able to target someone’s job title, company size, seniority, etc.
That is, if you are targeting people who work in the IT industry in, say, Singapore, you simply cannot find them as effectively anywhere other than on LinkedIn.
So I think the demise of LinkedIn has been greatly exaggerated, at least in Asia-Pacific.
It’s growing in the region, the marketing options are getting better, and it is still the only place that you can reliably target professionals.
So, for now, ignore the haters and use LinkedIn to connect with your audience and get your brand message out there.
(Even if it does annoy you at times!)