When did LinkedIn become so cheesy?

My boss said 'dress for the job you want, not the job you have'. Now I'm sitting in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Batman…

LinkedIn has become the world's pre-eminent online business networking site but are members who use it to broadcast jokes, motivational messages and memes turning its original base of professional users off?

Yes, says senior software executive Steve Terry. One of the site's early users, he's considered removing his profile in response to the growing onslaught of cartoons and other assorted corporate clutter that now clog his daily news feed.

He took to the platform himself early this year to vent his spleen, writing:

"So much pretend motivational nonsense on LinkedIn nowadays. It's becoming the Facebook of corporate crap. I don't need to see people's motivational reposts of other people's "stuff" or graphs, pictures of some nonsense poster, or worst of all, Dilbert or comic posts? Serious? Give me something new, refreshing, inspiring and useful, or maybe just say nothing?"

Give me something new, refreshing, inspiring and useful, or maybe just say nothing?

Steve Terry

Quality over quantity

Terry aims to limit his own posts to around one a quarter, on business-related topics, but says the quality-over-quantity rule isn't observed by many members intent on building a presence. He believes it's to the detriment of the site.

"There are too many people posting for the sake of posting," Terry says.

"The nonsense is getting bigger and bigger and more intense… it's a valuable tool but they've got to tidy it up or it'll become so diluted."

Fellow early adopter Klaus Bartosch, the CEO of 1st Available, is similarly disaffected.

"LinkedIn started out as a professional business platform where professional people could network and learn a bit about each other and engage in a way that was meaningful," he says.

"My take is that the consequence of LinkedIn trying to monetise its member base and [build] its traffic has resulted in them potentially undermining, if not cheapening, the experience for all those who signed up and have been using it for a long time.

"Too much unqualified content, and/or approaches being made through the platform, that I think means the majority of us just ignore it."

Cheapening the experience

LinkedIn has enjoyed extraordinary success since its 2003 launch, propelling itself into a position as the world's dominant social-media-for-business platform.

It has seven million members in Australia and 400 million worldwide and has attracted a slew of 'influencers' including Richard Branson, Bill Gates and homegrown IT entrepreneur Matt Barrie, whose blog posts are followed by millions.

There are over 150,000 blog posts published on the platform each week and members are advised to share content that's valuable to the community, in order to build their own brand and reputation, according to a LinkedIn spokesperson.

KPMG director and social media specialist James Griffin says there has been mass uptake of LinkedIn by individuals at all levels of the workforce over the past two years.

The result is more people folk who perhaps don't appreciate some of the finer points about appropriate use, as evidenced by the surge in motivational messages, puzzles and the like, deemed by other members to be of dubious value, Griffin says.

Setting standards

Implement some filters if you don't like what you're seeing, he advises. Be more discerning about who you connect with, set your notifications so you're not pinged dozens of times a day, and cull 'empty vessels' and irrelevant contacts from your connections list periodically.

And if you're one of the small percentage of LinkedIn users who post regularly on the platform, set high standards for yourself, adds Daniel Young, general manager of digital strategy agency Brightpoint Digital.

"If you're a content creator then you need to give real thought to the quality of the content you're producing and ensure that it offers real value to the reader and not just you," Young says.

But what for one member may be an eye-rolling exhortation to reach for the stars and never give up can be another's inspiration to do just that, SAP Hybris senior executive Nicholas Kontopoulos points out.

A LinkedIn user for more than seven years, he devotes around 15 minutes a day to the platform.

Like-minded links

While there has been a rise in the number of members sharing questionable content such as their political views, tuning out the 'noise' is a simple enough proposition, Kontopoulos says.

"The first secret to LinkedIn is to connect only with like-minded professionals that you would like to share content and knowledge with," he says.

"If someone shares content that you don't deem valuable then all you have to do is unfollow them. The second secret is to share content and knowledge with the view of helping contribute to a community discussion and knowledge growth.

"At times I have drawn great inspiration from a thought leader's quote being shared in my community that has inspired my creative process when writing a new blog or keynote talk. Sometimes one person's trash is another person's treasure."

Has LinkedIn become too infested with memes and motivational quotes? Share your view in the comment section.

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