Time for a weekend rant – gotta get this one off my chest! I’ve heard a bunch of people previously discuss whether it’s still worth building your own website, or whether Facebook can actually replace it (indeed, the digital specialists andSoMe made the move a while back and the homepage redirects straight to Facebook). I’ve seen arguments rage on whether it’s still worth investing in careers tech, or whether LinkedIn will replace that. In Matt Jeffery‘s words “Within three to five years there will be no need for a traditional ATS. LinkedIn will have made them defunct.”
I’ve built things myself previously which have been entirely dependent on other platforms (TweetJobs, 2009-11) and it’s not something I’d do again – and there are some changes going through with some of the big platforms now which illustrate precisely why I believe a firm needs to be able to exert more influence over it’s core digital asset.
For some time now, LinkedIn have been encouraging companies to build up Product and Service tabs on their company pages. I see many firms I know, respect, and work with building up a great portfolio of what they do – and even reaching out to clients (as per LinkedIn’s guidance) and gaining recommendations to show to others. This takes time and effort. Now though, LinkedIn are retiring these tabs. LinkedIn are clearly offering an alternative (which no doubt fits better with the long term monitisation aims) – and there’s an option there to reach out to a customer service rep and help you move those recommendations.
Reality is though, unless you’re spending a good sum with LinkedIn already, your best hope is to screengrab those recommendations or lose them forever. Clearly, more than a few users are unhappy with this! I’m hearing rumours the groups will change drastically in the near future too. SWAM is already making a difference, but I understand paid-for premium groups are not that far away – and once they exist, I would expect free groups to be down-graded in featureset to persuade people along the paid-for route.
So how about Facebook? Just about the biggest social reach on the planet, fan pages can be used for branding, marketing, career pages etc and there’s the option to spend money on advertising if you want to bring in more folk. Well, yes. But just because someone Likes your page, doesn’t mean they will see your posts. Indeed, the percentage of fans who see your content has been dropping steadily for the last few months – and it’ will continue to do so. Sure, you can up your game on the content side – but growing content volume from your competitors means you’ll have to keep working harder, and Facebook’s algorithm will continue to work against you, gradually reducing visibility in order to persuade you to pay more. As a Facebook spokesperson said “the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it”.
Other sites like Twitter, YouTube et al will no doubt continue with this… and let me be clear, I don’t disagree with them doing so. They’ve provided free service (in exchange for us promoting them and/or giving them valuable data), and we’ve all received the benefits of use. They absolutely have a right to make back the money they’ve invested, and more. They absolutely have the right to change those platforms over time. However, talk of moving one’s core hub onto a platform over which you have no control is dangerous. Never think for a second that sites like LinkedIn are in business to serve you as a user. They have a fiduciary duty to deliver the best possible returns to shareholders – which means when there’s an opportunity to increase revenues, the opportunity WILL be explored: at your expense!
I’ve long been an advocate of social sites of various flavours and remain so… but ONLY as an additional channel, not as a replacement for something which should remain core.