Why I’m quitting LinkedIn

Broadcaster and publisher Matthew Tukaki no longer wants to read the posts of 'influencers' or 'thought leaders' on LinkedIn, and believes - despite adland's obsession with the platform - it has a serious trust problem.

Over the past few years the professional networking platform, LinkedIn, has changed significantly from a loosely aligned and simplified collection of people wanting to connect, to what has become “the place to be” for those wanting to progress their careers, build business or just to sit by and read the content of how others have succeeded.

The shift to becoming a content-based platform makes sense as professionals find a new way to talk about work or business-related issues, or trends that would otherwise be out of place on other sites such as Facebook. But, herein lies the dilemma. As older forms of media come under pressure through drops in readership and the cost-versus-quality argument, many people are moving away from being simply content readers. Instead, they are using distribution channels to become content creators in a bid to build their own direct audiences and brands.

But the challenge for readers of content has always been to understand the angle being taken. For example, if you read an opinion piece you pretty much know where things are going. If it’s a general piece about the latest unemployment figures, your engagement with the content will be as expected – the data alongside pull quotes from generally respected economists or commentators who are familiar to us.

On LinkedIn, the question of “trusted content” is key to understanding why so many people, including me, are becoming frustrated and walking away. Several years ago, when LinkedIn released its new “Pulse” blogging feature things seemed to be heading in the right direction – but content for content’s sake doesn’t lead to quality. It leads to so-called experts talking about how to use things like search engine optimisation, while life coaches and career coaches ply their content on a regular basis. Then there’s those who try and convince you that they know how to build a LinkedIn audience and engage with it.

The ‘6 things you need to know about this’ or ‘The 5 things you need to know about that’ are relatively easy to walk away from – but what happens when the content is focussed in on small business growth strategies, insights into banking and economic policy and more? It all comes back to whether you trust the source of the content being published – in this new world of “fake news” that is an important thing to keep in mind and the careers of many a journalist has fallen over as a result of unchecked facts or unverified sources.

And here it is – forget about the content for a moment and ask the question “Do I trust the source?” Like all social media platforms, LinkedIn struggles with the fake profiles or even organisations signing up a multitude of fake employees with photos sourced from the internet to ply their respective trades. In 2015 security firm Symantec launched its own investigation and found dozens of profiles that weren’t just fake – they were hacking into information. According to the BBC report, hackers were posing as recruiters who would connect with you and then go on to map the networks of business professionals, all with the aim of gaining trust before launching into a subtle sell.

More recently, Time has been reporting a rift between China and Germany, with German intelligence officials accusing the Asian giant of using fake LinkedIn profiles to spy on officials. The recent estimates put the LinkedIn members at 467 million (statista.com), and with suggestions that approximately between 5% and 10% could be fake, you come back to the question of trust. Do you trust the connection, the content creator and even the message sender?

In my own case, I have been a member of the LinkedIn community for some years now, accumulating around 10,000 connections and publishing around 300 pieces of content on the platform. Most of the content is re-published after being created on other platforms I work with or for such as the Macquarie Media Network through my role as a broadcaster on Talking Lifestyle Radio and on the global small business news channel, NewsNow and EntreHub.

I, like many readers, have had connection requests that could be nothing more than fake and those that are obvious fakes – such as the former deputy chief of the Australian Navy or the UN official based in London who had a great deal for me.

Being published on a mainstream network comes with the guarantee that the content being created is governed by rules and guidelines – and that ultimately, I can go for a skate if I get it wrong. In other words, the reader or the listener can hold me to account through regulations and rules that cover things such as commercial radio. Not on LinkedIn. There is no fall back, there is seemingly very little oversight when it comes to not only the proliferation of fake people and fake news, but fake connections.

In this increasingly challenging world of news and content production, the real pitch from the mainstream news channels and gatherers, producers and content distributors needs to be “trust the source.”

For my part, I have decided to leave the LinkedIn platform for no other reason than I just don’t trust what I am being sold, how I am being sold and who is doing the selling.

Matthew Tukaki is host of Talking Lifestyle Second Career across Macquarie Radio’s Talking Lifestyle Radio Network (formerly 2UE) and is chairman of EntreHub and NewsNow



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