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This article, updated July 17, 2018, was originally named,
What would it really take to beat LinkedIn at its own game?
I know you’ve thought about it. I have.
FIRST MOVER and MONOPOLIST
I mean, I guess I could survive without cable but my livelihood requires unfettered Internet access, so that’s out.
And I could delete my LinkedIn account, but that would have a material adverse affect on me. You see, I built one of these for myself:
I knew from the start, in 2011, when I literally inherited the Medical Devices Group, I was building a castle out of sand.
This Medical Devices Group I lead now has 350,000+ members and, while LinkedIn shares zero engagement metrics with me (why would they?), I know from personal correspondences and business connections that what I do there matters.
So I keep at it, moderating it, letting people in, blocking spammers, nurturing the group and faithfully writing a group announcement once weekly.
This, knowing LinkedIn could pull the groups plug at any moment, without notice, and it would all be gone. (Rumor says shuttering groups was a real possibility in 2017.)
Indeed, they could kick me off the system if they don’t like this article. Their terms of service make it clear: We’re here at their discretion. It’s their sandbox.
Groups deteriorate. LinkedIn looks away.
There’s a host of reasons why groups are a shadow of their former selves. And while we can’t place all the blame on LinkedIn, they deserve most of it.
For example, LinkedIn steadily stripped vital management tools away from managers. Why?
“Because LinkedIn.” Frustrated LinkedIn users figure I know what’s going on here because I lead this huge group. Surely, I can explain what LinkedIn is doing.
I cannot. Their decisions defy logic. So much so, I stopped trying and simply respond, “Because LinkedIn,” since only “LinkedIn” acts this way.
Can’t live with LinkedIn. Can’t live without it.
There are no viable alternatives to LinkedIn. (I’ve looked.) None seem to have a reasonable chance to the Tipping Point required to overtake them.
LinkedIn isn’t all bad. But my relationship with them? I made a picture to show you.
And while I and every serious group owner would love to migrate our groups to our own websites where we control how things work, it’s just not practical or scalable.
If there’s a way to migrate a group off LinkedIn, I’ve probably tried it. Now 6½ years into my Medical Devices Group reign of terror, more than 60,000 have logged into my companion site, MedicalDevicesGroup.net, and shared their contact information with me.
That’s one-in-six subscribers, to say nothing of how stale the names get.
So, that leaves us with this question.
As much as I’d like to, I can’t take them on. You probably can’t either.
Despite hemorrhaging money, LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. If there were a real competitive threat, I have to think they’d respond.
Despite bloated software, there’s a LOT of code to support present functionality to say nothing of the code we’d write if we created our improved version.
Despite frustrated customers, inviting millions of users to open a profile…? I don’t even know how to finish the sentence. I mean, how most users see their profiles – as a resume repository, only to be visited in times of great distress. Still, they are here, giving LinkedIn all the social proof it needs for the foreseeable future.
The only thing I can think of
The only thing I can think of dawned on me today.
I believe the only way to unseat LinkedIn is for a big player – nay, a HUGE player – to take it on.
I’m talking a Google (despite their Google+ disappointment), a Facebook, a Yuri Milner, Eric Schmidt, Amazon.
Someone that follows through on what they execute. Someone that would make you say, “Oh, SNAP, now it is O N!”
Do we have an alternative?
ADDENDUM: I was wrong. I can and have taken them on: MedicalDevicesGroup.net.
About the author: Joe Hage leads the world’s largest Medical Devices Group (350,000+ members), the industry’s only spam-free, curated forum for intelligent conversations with medical device thought leaders. Mr. Hage’s medical device marketing services help companies engage qualified prospects and his family of 10x Medical Device Conferences unites Medical Devices Group members in fun and educational forums each year.
Noam “N.G.” Gordon
Michael Zadrozny, MBA
😠 LinkedIn workaround at https://emojipedia.org/angry-face/ 😠
If you’re comfortable sharing it, how much time and money have you invested in your site so far?
When he still disagreed, I replied, “We’ll have to agree to disagree here unless there is a Linux-type or WordPress-type offering where money is made from those who rely on the system in a non-advertising way.
I reminded him of my one-in-six “conversion rate” to my personal https://MedicalDevicesGroup.net site. That’s why I don’t believe we small fries can each build little sites and extract a big enough audience.
Additional comments most welcome. (edited)
Gopan Joshi (GJ)
John English, HCCP
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