When I left LinkedIn and clicked that button to permanently delete my account, I felt a sense of relief. And pure glee.
I don’t know how long I was annoyed by LinkedIn before my displeasure even started registering. I’d log in, look at a newsfeed that included self promotions, trite business quotes, and that same fucking “inspirational” video of the football coach screaming at that kid crawling across the field. (I hate that clip.) Sure there were likes and superficial comments, but for the most part, it was like being stuck in a business meeting with weak coffee and stale store-brand donuts.
Predictable. Bland. Nothing ever moved forward. Pointless.
Maybe what annoyed me was knowing I was just as bad as everyone else, putting out more of the same. Funny quotes. My blog posts. An occasional promo. In fact, 95% of my LinkedIn posts were auto-scheduled. I wasn’t on LinkedIn for more than a few minutes a day and my annoyance level was pegging into the red. Towards the end, I only went on to respond to a message. Even that was, for me, a waste of time.
People weren’t really having discussions about business concepts or offering concrete advice. Maybe they were in some groups, but I didn’t see it in my feed. It was just a steady stream of promotions, reposted blogs and shared business articles.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
LinkedIn works for some people. One friend built his entire seven figure business on LinkedIn. Sure, he was selling a course and coaching on how to get a job which was a perfect fit for the space at the time. Job hunters were his target market and they were on LinkedIn in droves. I have a client who works LinkedIn the way it should be worked, truly reaching out and connecting with people in his industry. But he’s a rarity in so many ways, from work ethic to truly caring about people.
But I wasn’t job hunting or hiring anyone. I wasn’t even looking to “build a network.” I run a boutique business with a small amount of moderately high paying clients, almost 90% of it referral or repeat. For the most part, I was seeing the same people on LinkedIn that I saw on Facebook. Duplicating effort without increasing results is not my idea of a good use of my time.
Adding to my annoyance was a woman in my industry who would comment on all my posts just to get her name in front of my audience. I don’t know which marketing guru teaches that strategy, but it’s self-defeating. Had she looked on me as a colleague rather than a competitor to poach from, I might have referred some work her way. Well, I might have if she could actually spell, so no. Scratch that. What annoyed me most was she thought I was too stupid to figure out what she was doing. Newbies. I used to eat them for breakfast, but French Toast tastes better.
The Hair Gel Hipster Squad
I hated connection requests because I knew what was coming if I accepted them — a poorly aimed pitch for services. Sometimes you got a templated friendly welcome email first. It was like sitting in a bar entirely populated by guys who had been told getting laid was just a numbers game. It may be, but most of us like a little chatting up before you shove your junk in our faces.
Worst of all are the “bro-marketers” — those guys (and a few misguided women) who contacted me with unsolicited promises of “exploding your pipeline with thousands of leads.” First, it showed they hadn’t looked at my profile (I do very specific, niche marketing for business authors; if I wanted to explode my pipeline, I could). Second, they offered up their hammer solution without checking to see if my problem was a nail or if I had a problem at all.
The most insulting part of their process was assuming I needed their help. Most of these guys were young with little to no experience and the whole fake it ‘til you make it attitude. They all looked the same, too. Late 20s, early 30s, with too much hair gel and the knock-off untucked shirt. When you asked how their business was going, their response was always that they were “crushing it.” Of course, I’d think. In the middle of a pandemic, you’re spamming people on a free platform because your business is going gangbusters.
Marketing is a low barrier to entry industry, especially online, and no one is checking your credentials at the door which makes it ripe for newly minted entrepreneurs to get a slick logo and head shot and crown themselves an expert. And they are all sending automated (and predictable) messages on LinkedIn. Yay.
LinkedIn sells hope to entrepreneurs and business people. “Set up your booth at our expo. We are THE business network.” I get it. Businesses are there in the hopes of getting more business and some of them, those who do it right, leverage the platform efficiently. Unfortunately, most of the people on LinkedIn are flying blind, doing more of the same in the hopes that something will happen.
From the user side, LinkedIn is like a cable channel dedicated to ads for products and services you’re not interested in, all being shoved down your throat. It’s walking through a department store and being ambushed by dozens of perfume reps.
From the provider side, LinkedIn is like being a carnival barker in a sea of carnival barkers, each one with his own little bullhorn waving a flag, desperately trying to get someone’s, anyone’s attention.
It’s not just LinkedIn, of course. It’s just LinkedIn had no entertainment to break up the commercials. It is Facebook’s boring cousin. Or maybe Facebook’s boring great-uncle telling us he remembers when bread was a nickel. (Do we even have nickels anymore?) Times have changed. I’m old and not hip and even I can see that.
Marketing Needs to Keep Up
I know what I want. I know how to find it when I’m ready to get it. I’m not a pioneer living in some little house on the prairie who gets news delivered when the stage coach comes through every third month. I can click a few buttons and get cake delivered to my door. (And champagne to go with it.) I can add the word “scam” to an online search of any person or company and get the dirt if there is any. I can pull up reviews. I can text or email friends for personal recommendations when I need to hire someone.
Which is what people do now. We have instant access to just about anything we want or need. We don’t have to wait for the salesperson to show up at our door with the latest line of Fuller brushes. Marketing has changed yet marketers are still yelling their one-way messages like a car huckster in a 1960s TV commercial. And LinkedIn is the lukewarm medium that brings you those endless commercials.
Will you pick up some customers by spamming people on LinkedIn messaging? Sure. Probably. But it’s not the most efficient way to market. And you’re most likely pissing off a hundred or more people for every person you sell. Knock yourselves out.
But if I wanted your shit, I would have already found you.
And I don’t need to help out LinkedIn by putting out content and adding to their numbers just to be annoyed in return.
When you use a marketing strategy, you need to track and measure how much time, effort, and money you put it. How much revenue you take out. But when your business reaches a certain level, one where you can pick and choose your clientele, there’s another factor: pleasure.
We start our own businesses because we want to do our own thing and be happy doing it. If you’re using a strategy that you find frustrating or annoying and it’s not bringing in any money, maybe it’s time to put your efforts into something that brings better results or at least doesn’t piss you off on a daily basis. There are tons of different ways to market your business. Find that sweet spot of effective and fun.
And stop listening to the people (including me) who tell you that you have to do this or you have to do that. Everyone’s going over to this platform-you have to be there. The only thing you have to do is what works for you.
I left LinkedIn because it was not my jam. It may be yours. Listen to your gut. Then go with it.
Originally published at https://barbaragrassey.com on March 19, 2021.