LinkedIn’s endorsement feature cannot be endorsed!
LinkedIn is a wonderful example of a brand that delivers on many great functional brand attributes, but is rather lame when it comes to emotional branding. You could argue who cares, when you have more than 225 million members in over 200 countries, with over 4million of those here in Australia.
Such a large network offers considerable benefits for seeking information about individuals and businesses, and for broadcasting information (eg reports, job opportunities etc) in a relevant and effective manner.
However, since LinkedIn introduced their ‘endorsement’ feature the over riding power of peer connection and recommendation has been undermined. In a social networking world where peer reviews have added greatly to our ability to resource ourselves, LinkedIn’s endorsement feature is making a mockery of any perceived value in having one’s skills endorsed by peers. To have people endorse you that have no true knowledge of your skills is insulting rather than flattering. Worse is the fact that for some reason it is possible to get several notifications a week, week after week, that a particular individual has endorsed you. From an emotional branding perspective I feel rather insulted by LinkedIn. They may have me as a member of their community, but they clearly do not get me.
The way in which their endorsement feature seeks to leverage the spirit of reciprocity simply serves to devalue every endorsement. Google LinkedIn endorsements and you will find there are a lot of individuals unhappy about the feature. The lack of a grasp of emotional branding is not only apparent in the manner in which the feature works, but also in how LinkedIn appears not to be listening. Below is a comment, one of many, recently logged by a frustrated member of LinkedIn’s community on LinkedIn’s ‘help’ site:
“Please fix this LinkedIn Skills Endorsements issue immediately. I have carefully selected which skills in which I have deep proficiency and you guys are totally watering down the value of what I am trying to communicate. These LinkedIn Skills Endorsements are quickly becoming my anti-brand, rather than buttressing my personal brand. Is anyone at LinkedIn listening?”
The above statement, finishes with a very relevant question. Is anyone listening? Emotional branding is not only about connecting, it also about empathy. There is nothing more potent in branding than for stakeholders to feel understood and valued. At the moment LinkedIn is more interested in network activity over network love.