Critics of LinkedIn Endorsements or People Who Should Switch to Decaf.

Lately, I’ve been reading from people who are ripping heavily on LinkedIn for the new Endorsements feature, which enables one to endorse a colleague for certain characteristics they’ve listed. You can list in the neighborhood of 50 or so traits that someone can endorse you for.

The argument is that:

1) Endorsements take away from someone supplying Recommendations

2) They’re not of real value

3) LinkedIn is trying to be more like Facebook with their own version of a “Like” button

Only one of those has any possible validity and that’s only because I haven’t talked at length with the people at LinkedIn to know what’s in their brains.

Let’s take the first issue. If I ask someone for a Recommendation, they’re going to give it. Recommendations aren’t hard. Around 3-5 sentences should do it. If you really have a hard time writing 3-5 sentences about someone who has provided you exceptional service, I have questions about your ability to conduct business at all. It must not be important for you to write emails, letters or any other kind of communication. Because really, it’s only a nice note that’s needed here. You don’t have to write “War and Peace.” It’s the fact you are sharing a positive statement about someone. That’s it.

The point of me saying this is that if they’re asked explicitly and your service is good, few if any are going to say, “I’ll just give them an Endorsement instead.” What they will do if they’re not explicitly asked for a Recommendation – and if you’re good – is give you an Endorsement. Like me, you may have some Endorsements from some people who you’ve never even worked with. Some will say that’s a flaw and makes Endorsements less than authentic.

Sorry, is a bad thing if you’re a social media marketer to have many people endorse you for Blogging? No. Are you going to reject their endorsement? No. That’s stupid. And that’s the point some critics are missing. There are at times different sets of people who give Endorsements vs. the set of people who give Recommendations. The latter is often a person who has greater intimacy and knowledge of your services, the former is not. But Endorsements give the acquaintance an avenue they never had before. If you think that this means you can somehow game the system with having 100 people Endorse you, you’re giving far too much weight to this function.

Great for Our “At A Glance” World

I have a buddy who is so good at what he does, he has over 80 Recommendations. That’s certainly impressive and he’s earned every one of them. But do you want to know something? There’s no way in the world I’m going to read every one of them. It’s actually a deterrent to me reading much else in his profile after a while because fatigue sets in. You scroll and scroll and scroll and…we get it. Lots of people like you.

On the other hand, if I look at his Endorsements, I can get an ideal snapshot for what he does best. It’s not an accident that we’re often endorsed for the things we’re most known for. So anyone can check out his Endorsements, see what he’s strongest with and move on. If we didn’t have Endorsements, it would be more daunting for some of us to go through Recommendations alone. Let’s face it. We’re in a world of short attention spans. We need to get it quickly and now. Endorsements help us absorb one’s strengths in a few seconds rather than reading too much. You go to my page, you see Social Media Marketing, Creative Direction, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Marketing, etc. right away thanks to Endorsements. You get that that’s my thing. My core strengths. Easy enough, right?

The LinkedIn version of the “Like.”

Was the Endorsement feature absolutely necessary for LinkedIn to create? Let’s put it this way – do you find the Facebook “Like” button necessary? To me, I have a sense of what the Like button is and isn’t. I know it’s not hard to “Like” anything. It’s not a rousing endorsement. It doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s a little click of minimal commitment. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less and maybe some people noticed you Liked something along the way.

I have the same perspective about Endorsements. Does it have as much weight as someone going in-depth in a Recommendation about their challenges and how much they enjoyed working with me? Of course not. In that instance, they’re giving me a real semi-case study. The other avenue doesn’t. But is having another way for someone to express a positive sentiment about me a bad thing? Nah. That’s sort of looking a gift horse in the mouth if you ask me. It is what it is – a light thumbs-up. Which is better than no thumbs-up.

Better yet, Endorsements serves an “intro” section of sorts before we get into the other sections. Which makes it all the more important to put more energy into beefing up everything else in your profile. What video, eBooks, articles and PowerPoints can you attach to your summaries? Why do you have any hangups about asking for a Recommendation from someone you worked with 7 years ago (the relationship was good back then, wasn’t it?). These are the big credibility builders. And the elements that often get neglected.

Now, if you want to get into the true benefit to LinkedIn in competing with other tools?

That’s a whole other story. If I think Endorsements ramps up the functionality of LinkedIn and makes it that much better of a tool, the answer is I don’t. For all intents and purposes, it’s a fluffy section. It doesn’t rock my world or change the game. Kind of how I feel about the LinkedIn redesigned layout, which is perhaps cleaner but isn’t profoundly better. Does it make it identify prospects better, communicate with others more efficiently, find the best communities and encourage greater interaction, etc.? That’s what LinkedIn could do better.

And if it’s not careful, Google Plus will nibble away at it, bit by bit.

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2 thoughts on “Critics of LinkedIn Endorsements or People Who Should Switch to Decaf.

  1. nice article Dan!!
    I was looking for something completely different and was surprised at your eye-opener here (I very much enjoyed your angle of looking at endorsements). My personal impression is that it is their strategy to increase visibility of peoples online activity in relation to each other. E.g. If you endorse somebody they will receive an email notification … From an advertising perspective this great because it increases the engagement and brings people back to the platform. Having this coupled with LinkedIn-Today news aggregation is a great way of bringing people back and spending time on the site.

    I found your post by googling for “critics on LinkedIn”. Reason was that I have some beef with them (apparently silently) dropping the “export contacts” functionality, here is my rant about it: http://wp.me/p2ZJjM-r

    cheers,
    J

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the article and I appreciate the feedback on how you found it. Interesting piece of yours on the export contacts functionality. I feel like right around the time you had that experience, I had done an export of my contacts from LinkedIn into SalesForce. But I haven’t tried it since that time so I’ll be curious to see if it works now. If it doesn’t, that’s kind of dumb in my view. You’re making it harder for people to maintain a clean database or in order to do so, they have to somehow do it manually person by person, which is messed up. How does this exporting really hurt LinkedIn? We have to still maintain our relationships there and if they’re any good, they’ll keep adding to the service so we can return there regularly. This smacks of playing defense rather than offense, which doesn’t tend to work out well. Thanks for the heads up and I’ll keep an eye on it too.

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