No!! LinkedIn Just Went Klout On Us!

If you have viewed a LinkedIn profile in the last couple days, chances are you have seen a new box at the top of the page prompting you to endorse the individuals skills.

Here is a screenshot of the endorse box on one of my connection’s profile page:

With one click, I can endorse Lauren’s skills in these five areas simply because we are connected. But wait, there’s more! Scroll down the page and there is a prominent call, again, to endorse Lauren!

Is this really a good idea?

Comparing LinkedIn to Klout

The process to give someone +K on Klout is very similar to LinkedIn. +K-ers are public and topics are ranked by the number of +Ks received.

Like the new LinkedIn Endorsements, Klout’s +K is a one-click endorsement of someone’s influence on a topic. Unlike a written recommendation, you cannot differentiate between meaningful endorsements and throwaways.

There is no difference between a brand new coworker or sales contact and a client that has worked closely with me and has first-hand knowledge of my B2B marketing experience and skill set endorsing me. How do you judge the value of an endorsement without this context?

The short answer is, you don’t.

A Gamified LinkedIn?

Because you cannot judge the quality of individual endorsements, you are left to judge the quantity of endorsements an individual has received.

LinkedIn has been free of most direct gamification for years. Once a profile has more than 500 connections, the number of connections are not even displayed. With endorsements, LinkedIn just embraced gaming their network.

As people collect endorsements, the value of LinkedIn as a business network and as an advertising property will decrease. Here are a few of the changes we should expect:

  1. The value of endorsements will decrease. People will collect endorsements and in order to increase the number of endorsements (which are publicly displayed), the will also collect connections.
  2. The value of connections will decrease. When connections no longer represent a strong connection, the value of connections and introductions on LinkedIn will also decrease.
  3. LinkedIn traffic will increase. Giving endorsements and the endorsement notifications LinkedIn sends will increase total traffic and available advertising inventory. However, as LinkedIn use moves towards more social or gamified activity and away from business networking, the value of their advertising will decrease.
  4. Spam will increase. Spam is already increasing on LinkedIn, endorsement requests, connection requests and endorsement notifications on the LinkedIn homepage will add to the spam and clutter LinkedIn has been collecting recently.

At the end of this road is a very different LinkedIn, one that has lost much of the potential professional value it offers today.

Your Turn

I hope I am wrong and I would love it if you give me hope and point out the positive in this change. Please share how endorsements will increase the value of LinkedIn without introducing additional spam and clutter into the environment. The comments are yours.

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  • I’m with you, Eric – I am sad to see LinkedIn “selling out.” I initially joined LinkedIn for strictly networking purposes. Then I saw it become a forum for sharing posts and I was okay with that, too. I’ve read and shared some great posts by people who may not be part of my social media groups.

    All that being said, I think the primary purpose for LinkedIn is for recruiters and job-seekers. With this premise, the endorsements are actually a very good addition and could possibly help many a job-seeker land their dream jobs. But, like you, I see the potential for abuse and spam…but that’s going to happen everywhere, unfortunately.

    Great post – I think you bring up some great points, Eric.

    • Thanks Jenn. Time will tell, right? I’m already getting the endorsement notifications, a range of ones that might be knowledgeable and ones from people that have no place endorsing me.

  • I view linked in as a sort of ‘facebook’ for professionals. As such, it allows me to link with other like professionals and share information, viewpoints and trends. I’ve found it very useful for B2B marketing and for research. And yes, it is also a great way for recruiters to network with potential candidates, etc. As for the new endorsements feature – hopefully your wrong as I value Linked In. But monetization is a challenge and this might be their way of creating revenue.

    • PS – ok two days of this and I agree Eric – this is bogus.

      • My opinion of it is dropping each day as well. Thanks for coming back to share your view!

  • Another example of ‘bleed-over’ between social media sites. Does it ‘fit’ the LinkedIn vibe? Not really, in my opinion, as I agree with your assessment that the endorsements do not indicate ‘weight’ of the skill. It’s a subjective ‘on/off’ switch. It may have value to recruiters that key on the ‘skills’ categories that LinkedIn provides. From there, it’s up to the recruiter and candidate to negotiate the value. All-in-all, more ‘stuff’ to wade through on my LinkedIn home page…

    • Mark, I think you nailed it, this just doesn’t seem to “fit” with LinkedIn. More stuff distracting from the stuff that matters.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • I continue to believe that the real people (aka the non-consultant workers) see this BS in Social Media and it’s actually repulsive to them. The consultants LOVE it but it’s not meaningful to the real world in any way. Gah.

    • So that ones that tell people what to do love it and the ones doing the work hate it? That will be a recipe for disaster. Watching it unfold…

  • Agree with your points here, especially #s 1&2. I am disappointed at the dumbing down of LinkedIn. Personally I try to use it in a professional capacity and weigh my posts & comments carefully. As a group moderator I also try to maintain the professionalism of the discussion, which is more difficult with open groups.

    It’s not all bad news, is it? The optimist in me is wondering who will be able to fill the “value void” for business users. Is this an opportunity for google+ to reinvent itself?

    • Wow, Google+! I’m all for it, G+ is a great platform for discussion. Looking you up over on G+ now.

      Thanks for the comment. I’m hoping LinkedIn makes some changes that will keep the more professional tone you mention.

  • Sadly I think hiring managers are jumping on this Klout bandwagon…I just heard again today that those hiring are indicating on postings (whether for full-time or freelance) for writers that if your Klout score is under 50 you need not apply. I’ve never given a rat’s a$$ about Klout but now I’m thinking I’m going to have to suck it up and cater to the ignorance if I want to play at all.

    • I just checked, your score is 52. Your set, but after logging into Klout again, I feel like I need a shower!

  • This is why I don’t connect with *everyone* on LinkedIn, and I don’t give recommendations to *everyone* on LinkedIn… because then, what’s the value of a recommendation from me? I’ve thought for some years now that LinkedIn has become very spammy, which is why I rarely participate actively in groups, discussions, etc. It can still be very useful for businesses, but I’ve seen so much SSP that it nauseates me.

    • Exactly! I really like LinkedIn still, but it isn’t for the “social network” features, that isn’t the core to so many of us that use it.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Josh Chernin

    Eric, you’re absolutely right. LinkedIn has gotten where it is because it stuck to its knitting: connecting professionals, for professional purposes. “Klouting” the service degrades the brand and reduces the value to its core users. If anything, LinkedIn ought to be tightening its brand and moving away from FB and Twitter… to a Blue Ocean. This is awful.

    • Very well said, and you are right, rather than looking for the new Blue Ocean opportunity, they seem to be moving closer to competitors that are more established in these spaces.

  • I’m glad that I closed my LinkedIn account. It started out really well but it’s just not refined enough any-more. I’ve always received far more job offers, etc. through my Twitter and personal online portfolio. You just get the feeling on LinkedIn that everyone is trying too hard; I bet half the data is inaccurate.

  • I’m with you and others on this, Eric. At first glance I thought it was cool, now, not so much. I would rather have a “written” recommendation than a “clicked” endorsement. For me, that holds the weight.

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  • Karla Williams

    I’m not sure this is a bad thing. Many people are reluctant to take the time to write a thoughtful, personal recommendation. This feature makes it easy for someone to give a “thumbs up” if they are so inclined. Since people like easy, it might actually benefit some users unless everyone shares the views that the ease of this tool makes it bad or less valuable. To me this is no more or less valuable than a formal “recommendation” as both are just one of many steps in qualifying a partner, connection, or potential service provider and determining if there is any basis behind either a recommendation or an endorsement. I guess time will tell.

    • Karla, thanks for taking the time to share a different perspective, I appreciate it.

      You have a very good point, any information, including a full recommendation, is just a very early starting point. It should not be what any of us use to evaluate someone.

      Hopefully, others will share your perspective and won’t see value in gaming the system. If so, I may look book in a year and wonder why it took me so long to see the benefits of this new feature!

  • O bother…. Everything on the internets is becoming gamified… More reason to realise the real world is what really matters, not our tools to shape it…


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  • Lily Sieu

    Although I have clicked away at the endorsements presented to me for people I know and know have the skill set mentioned, I agree with Eric Wittlake’s editorial on the value of such endorsements. They simply are not as trustworthy, and do not have the inherent integrity, as a written recommendation, no matter how short that written recommendation is worded.

    • Lily, thanks for the comment. My question for you is, if you don’t think they are trustworthy, why are you giving an endorsement rather than taking the time to write a short recommendation?

  • Similar to recommendations and connections, the value is in the people providing the feedback. If they are in a related field/experience, then it provides a stronger justification for the skillset. Recommendations take time to write well and thoroughly but this is a quick eyeball for recruiters gauge if a skill is plausible.

    I fought hard to keep from getting the 500+ moniker on my connections because I saw people marketing it as if it meant something 3 years ago and I agree with others that it lost meaning after that point. Similar to Twitter followers, I do not reciprocate for the sake of reciprocating. I actually use those I follow on LinkedIN and Twitter for my research so it is a waste to follow 1000+ people.

    Time will tell but I will make sure to delete any endorsements that are unwanted or low value because it will not help my profile either if it looks like I am loading up! 🙂

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  • I do agree LinkedIn is getting a bit to gamified. But I disagree with Eric’s POV on Klout.

    I know recruiters already look at Klout scores. I’m sure event organizers look at them before inviting a speaker to speak.

    You don’t get higher rankings in Klout simply by getting folks to give you +Ks. They use an algorithm to measure retweets, shares, mentions, etc.

    Some say it will become a metric in credit scores soon.

    LinkedIn should simply stick to their sidebar of “Who’s influencing” applet or figure a more thoughtful way to measure people’s true skills and influence.

    • Mark, you are right, gaming Klout isn’t as simple as asking for +K’s. However, the way you engage and the kinds of things you share can definitely impact Klout scores. Now you can impact perception through LinkedIn as well.

      Thanks for the contrarian perspective on Klout, I appreciate you sharing your view here!

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  • Kathryn Moen

    Thanks for the post Eric. I agree with you about these types of features having potential to compromise the value of LinkedIn endorsements.

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  • Timothy Cahill

    My first, and lasting impression was that someone had spoofed linkedin and was sending spam “endorsements”. I’ve wasted time checking headers and source for rootkits. How ironic that it is the linkedin management that has done the spoofing.

  • Eric, great post and I particularly like how you thoughtfully walked through this. We run a PR/social media agency and the LinkedIn endorsements feature has been out long enough that we can put together the experiences of clients and colleagues and conclude there are significant issues. I blogged about it today:

    • Thanks Paul! Yeah, I had an immediate negative reaction to it, and I’m seeing more of the predictions and concerns here played out each day.

      Thanks for commenting!

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