Is the LinkedIn Publishing Platform a Failure?

As a marketer, this is an important question to me but to come right out and say that something is either a success or a failure you have to first compare goals and results. Here’s an example.

When my sons were little, it used to drive me nuts that well-meaning sporting associations would give every child a trophy at the end of each season! It troubled me that nobody kept score throughout the season. Forget that if we had, the record would show that we rarely won.

Photo courtesy of USAG - Humphreys (CC)

Photo courtesy of USAG – Humphreys (CC)

It took me a while to realize that their goal was to encourage participation, to get children to try a new sport, and to expose them to the basic concepts of teamwork. To that end, every trophy was deserved and the goal had been met.

Is the LinkedIn publishing platform a success or a failure? To try to answer this I hunted down their goals. If I am going to critique the concept it only seems fair to understand what results the publishing platform is designed to achieve. Their goals are:

Be a one-stop resource   Primarily, the platform was built to collect resources for business people to help them be successful at what they do. LinkedIn wants to make sure that “the time you spend on LinkedIn will make you better at your job today.

Be a brand builder   The publishing platform was also designed with the goal of helping individuals build their personal brand. Technology has levelled the playing field. We all have access to tools that mimic those of the big brands. LinkedIn’s publishing platform is one of those tools.

Be inclusive   With the advent of the publishing platform, each of us can follow members not in our network and we can make ourselves accessible to those outside our network who want to follow us.

Be a relationship nurturer   Coupled with access to a variety of information comes the ability to comment on posts and ask questions of the writer. This is a pre-cursor to networking where partnerships tend to occur.

Be able to showcase expertise   Showcasing expertise to a large group is typically off limits to all but a few. LinkedIn’s goal is to remove the roadblocks and allow expertise to rise to the surface. This helps the expert because their audience grows and the audience because their knowledge grows.

These are the goals. What are the results? In my opinion, the LinkedIn publishing platform is not a failure but it is failing in some key aspects.

To be clear, this is my opinion and I have been known to be wrong (see third paragraph!) so please feel free to disagree and persuade me away from my present viewpoint.

Here’s where I think LinkedIn’s publishing platform is failing:

Being a one-stop resource   The platform has definitely attracted a ton of content. The drawback is that I just don’t have time to search through this sea of opinions for the relevant, fact-based content. There is no quality control and as a result LinkedIn is not helping me be better at my job.

I’m also finding that curation of really great content is at an all-time low. I have always relied quite heavily on my network to share knowledge to improve my skill set. Now we’re all busy trying to get our content noticed.

And the influx of personal stories loosely tied to a career message makes me dizzy. Pleased don’t misunderstand; I enjoy many of these outside of LinkedIn. They are just not what I come to LinkedIn for and they don’t make me more knowledgeable in my profession.

Being able to showcase expertise   Consider my example from earlier. Expertise has been inadvertently devalued by the publishing platform. Everyone’s participating but at the cost of permeating the belief that as long as we’re all kicking the ball around, we’re all winners.

The winners should be those that “make you better at your job today.” We’ve all become experts and as a result no-one’s an expert.

Here’s where I think LinkedIn’s publishing platform is succeeding:

Being a brand builder   Without the opportunity to publish on LinkedIn I’d be struggling away anonymously. LinkedIn complements my marketing strategy and supplements the traffic I drive to my website and ultimately to my business.

Being inclusive   I like to be careful about measurements. What do they really tell us? Growing my number of followers feels good but is it actually meaningful and does it ultimately generate revenue?

Sadly no or not immediately, but what I have found, and why I consider inclusiveness a success, is that these professionals that I now have access to and who are smarter than me compel me to think.

Being a relationship nurturer As I’ve been writing I’ve had this one alternately under the failures and the successes. My struggle is that I have had the opportunity to interact with some really smart people thanks to LinkedIn. Professionals that I almost certainly would not have met before using the publishing platform.

I’ve also, like many of you I’m sure, had too many people try to fake their way into a relationship with me. It’s perhaps not fair to call this a failure of the platform as much as a tradeoff. Overall, the platform does allow me to nurture relationships.

In the end I arrive at two conclusions. The first is that you have to determine your professional goals and measure them in a meaningful way to know if the publishing platform is a success or a failure for you and your brand/business.

The second is that perhaps nothing has fundamentally changed. Regardless of the tools, you still have to provide excellent, relevant content consistently to attract and retain your target audience…and win an MVP trophy!

Success or failure?  What do you think?  Thanks for your participation 😉


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