Has Linkedin Hit An Iceberg?

by Jay Deragon on 05/28/2008

Ninety percent of an iceberg is beneath the surface of the water. Similar analogy can be made for users of social networks. One individual may be seen and yet ninety percent of an individuals influence is below the “virtual surface”. If one individual “has” a bad experience with a brand the impact of sharing that experience with “communities” creates a rippling effect” below the surface.

Ripples can build steam and momentum depending on how many others join into the conversational swarm and add to the initial impact of a conversation. The conversational waves only get worse when a brand simply decides not to engage or respond to peoples issues.

Case in point: Vincent Wright, a long time supporter of Linkedin and whom managed the flow of communications reaching over 100,000 people through dozens of forums and groups centric to Linkedin abandoned Linkedin this week. Abanoned meaning he deleted his profile on linkedin and all the groups he had formed on Linkedin. Subsequently he made the announcement through all the forums he manages and the groups on Linkedin. Fours years of effort centric to Linkedin stopped at the click of a mouse and ten of thousands of individuals were informed and with an explanation as to why. The fundamental reason for his actions were relative to:

  1. Linkedin not responding to Mr. Wrights own efforts of four years to provide them with a forum for user feedback
  2. Linkedin making policy decisions and changing the rules of their network without consideration or feedback from the users.
  3. Fundamentally Linkedin actions or lack of actions implied that the user, the collection of users and their subsequent feedback was not of strategic importance.

The outcomes of Mr. Wrights decisions are yet to be known but likely to be felt for some time as the word spreads one to one to a million or more.

Lessons For Brands

Beware of ignoring your customer. The Titanic failed to see the tip of the iceberg as it forged ahead on its proclaimed historic voyage. The captain and the first class passengers were all giddy with excitement about the ship and their status as the “first passengers“. The ship builders were counting their money before the ship reached its destination. Then their world changed because the captain of the ship failed to see the approaching iceberg even though he knew the waters were filled with them. The iceberg sank the ship.

If your a brand and not good at responding to customers or if your marketing efforts are filled with false promises you may hit an iceberg. It may not sink you but it can cause you significant damages.

What say you?

{ 27 comments }

Ali Alavi March 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm

It is now 2011, linked in has 90MM members, and they still don’t listen to users, and their site is pretty weak even with all the facebook wannabe “improvements”. they hired a whole exec team in 2008, and it seems that they are just doing superficial things to get to IPO.

It is sad, really, as they have so much potential and their users have so many ideas, but they just don’t listen…

Greg March 29, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Iceberg? LinkedIn has something about it that just seems so cold.

So you’ve got over 500 connections. So what?!

JDeragon February 9, 2009 at 5:33 am

New blog post: Has Linkedin Hit An Iceberg? http://tinyurl.com/6klovz

Thomas Power February 9, 2009 at 5:33 am

Linkedin with just 21m members has become unusable, why? http://tinyurl.com/6klovz

Henry Hawse June 6, 2008 at 6:07 pm

That’s really worrying for you Tina. Is that why the post has been deleted? I assume of course that it would have been your IP address registered on the comment?

Really hope it gets sorted out.

Henry

Tina Jonasen June 6, 2008 at 1:27 pm

It has come to my knowledge that my post of the 29th of May – for some reason beyond my knowledge (program error, cookie or ??) – is followed by the photo of Mr. Thomas Power.
I would like to stress that the post is MINE, and has nothing to do with Mr. Thomas Power or his opinion on the matter commented on !!

So I would like the Web manager support of this site to straighten the matter as soon as possible!

Thank you,
Tina Jonasen

Mike Seidle June 4, 2008 at 6:42 pm

User generated content based business like LinkedIn should realize that their users are 2/3 of their business:

* They click on ads and browse the site generating CPM revenue.
* They create content that in turn attracts more users, page views and clicks.

Changing features with out feedback is arrogant and stupid. With LinkedIn, the “export group members” button dissappeared sometime last week. Because there is *no* way to communicate with members of a group you own, all that remains is a cool badge on your members site and NO COMMUNITY BUILDING. This makes other networsk more attractive.

Ian Millar June 4, 2008 at 11:58 am

Although It seems to me that there are an abundance of alternatives for power networkers, I had decided to have one place where my personal brand message was maintained. I was a LinkedIn stalwart until last week when I saw this unfolding for Vincent. His knowledge and expertise with LinkedIn has been extremely helpful in my use of their service and he is a major reason why I upgraded my paid status last year.

When it became clear that they are unwilling to even communicate with him and discuss his concerns, after all that he has done to build their brand, I realized that my tiny contribution would also not be valued and therefore not serviced.

It has made me realize that I should not allow myself to be captive to a single service. I’m now beginning to answer and review all of those annoying requests to add me to this or that network.

This is what I think is the true concern for LinkedIn: The Digital Sea changes rapidly and this has revealed there is a storm of discontent brewing. No, Vincent’s move won’t rupture the hull for LinkedIn, but storm conditions are definitely brewing and a rapid Sea Change appears to be under way. It isn’t likely to sink LinkedIn, but it may re-write the map for the Social Networkers and where they decide to land for the long term.

Henry Hawse May 31, 2008 at 10:19 am

I’m confused? Why is there a picture of Thomas Power next to a post by Tina Jonasen?

Shurely shome mishtake?

Michael VanDervort May 30, 2008 at 7:18 am

I was rather stunned when I read the email from Vincent about his decision. As Jay points out so well, it is not the good experiences that customers usually remember, but the one bad event. In this case, Vincent has gone from being self declared (and I always thought, wonderfully enthusiastic, and diplomatic) for LinkedIn to a sort of competitor. This is what happens when a large organization loises focus and fails to pay attention to its customer base. Someone comes along who will do what they are failing to do.

LinkedIn is a goliath, and one which was my own personal entre into the world of socail networking two years ago. Recently, I find myself going there less and less. The experience has changed, and the “buzz” has died for me a bit.

LinkedIn is still a very powerful and useful tool with many capabilities, and I think, if owners would listen to their customers, many possible future uses yet to be created.

Right now, they feel like they have lost their way, and soon, others will swim into the pond, if they are not already there to fill the needs LinkedIn is creating.

I hope this changes, but I am not optimistic today. And I agree, of all the competition, Ecademy has the most potential to jump into the space, especially in the United States. Thomas Power has a vision under development looking out to 2020, and constantly seeks inout from the clients. Some could take a lesson from this Best Practice!

Michael VanDervort
Tampa Florida USA

Susanna Cesar May 29, 2008 at 10:19 am

Anyone following the Vincent Wright/Linkedin story? There has got to be two sides to this… http://tinyurl.com/6klovz

Vladimir Dimitroff May 29, 2008 at 9:16 am

I am particularly glad to see that all 3 points (reasons for VW to quit LinkedIn) contain the keyword ‘feedback‘. The company that manages that popular platform apparently lacks one key component: a CLO.

The concept of a Chief Listening Officer has been around for a while, the wording attributed to David Jackson of Clicktools ( http://www.e-consultancy.com/news-blog/363313/introducing-the-chief-listening-officer.html ).

It is wrong to sympathise with VInce for not getting due recognition or reward for his effort (although he WAS badly undervalued by LinkedIn). He never complained about that, note – reward and recognition are not mentioned at all in his reasons for leaving. Listening (feedback), however, is in ALL three reasons he gives.

I dropped a Club membership with ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’ (was a Gold Card frequent flyer) not because I was unhappy with the rewards – they were giving me more airmiles that I could ever spend. But attempts to draw their attention to improvement opportunities, that I tried hard to communicate through various channels – fell on deaf ears.The channels weren’t too many, those available were closed or dead silent, and the only response I ever got was along the lines ‘You are not right, Mr Customer – the Customer is always wrong, and WE are always right!’ Not that their rivals are any better in listening – but at least they don’t pretend to be ‘the world’s favourite’ and there is always hope theymay learn 🙂

This reminds me of countless churning employees who the employers try to ‘bribe’ with bonuses, salary increases and extra benefits. They still leave, often for a lower paid job. The invariable reason they give in exit surveys and new job interviews is ‘No one was listening to me’…

The lesson for brands is, therefore, just one word: LISTEN !

Listen AND hear, AND take ACTION on what you’ve heard.Or you will sooner or later meet Mr Iceberg.

Tim Kitchin May 29, 2008 at 6:29 am

I’m really not sure I buy the iceberg analogy. I don’t know Vincent, but clearly his networks are not actually attached to him. Their mass is not his mass and connecting through LinkedIn doesn’t make it so. It’s just not that sticky as a medium.

The danger in all the codswallap around social media is that we misconstrue a list of conditionally interactive people for a community. The more we project unrealistic expectations onto these tools the more disappointed we’re all going to be. Surely we got over this in the dotcom days? LinkedIn’s challenge is to try and navigate its way down from the hype cycle without too many Vincent’s jumping ship.

Ultimately Linked in is just a GREAT (but doubtless improvable) communications backbone.
Disconnecting your telephone line only disadvantages you, unless of course, you have another way to dial-in. And therein lies the opportunity…

I hope, for remaining users of LinkedIn, that Vincent proves to be a piece of flotsam and not anything more sinister. We’ve found two stellar employees through it…and hence saved £000s.

Tina Jonasen May 29, 2008 at 1:23 am

Dear Lorraine and all others,

there IS a competitor to LinkedIn;

Ecademy

an extremely qualified competitor I might ad,
with a board and members who has understood
the meaning of social business networking.
On top of that its much more open to other
networks, and is even functioning offline.

Have a look through my profile there, to get
a glimps of all the tools and interesting
people you will be able to connect with,
much easier and open than in for example
LinkedIn:

http://www.ecademy.com/user/jonasen

I will even give you a 3 months free Power
Networker trial – so you can interact, and
see for your self if this is not the best
alternative – sign up through this link:

http://www.ecademy.com/account.php?op=signup&xref=151233&edit%5Bpromote_passwd%5D=blackstar

Happy networking everybody,
see you around !

John S Veitch May 29, 2008 at 1:19 am

Vincent Wright is one of the people who encouraged me to make much more use of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is one of only FOUR networks I know of where the members have developed help pages, e-books, user guides, and training programs to help new users become confident users. Vincent has been a leading player doing that for LinkedIn.

When leading members of a group lose confidence in the group and withdraw their support, as many Of the top LinkedIn members have, it’s probably already too late to save the main group. TRUST is a very fragile thing.
John
This url is appropriate
http://www.openfuture.biz/bethechange.html

Lorraine Williams May 29, 2008 at 12:06 am

Very good analogy, indeed.

Not ironically, I became frustrated with Linkedin myself and have to be reminded to log on every now and again.

I truly wish there were a decent competitor to turn to. I would have done so a couple of months ago.

Given the stats you quoted (and I suspect they are reasonable), wouldn’t said competitor be poised for a decent chunk of the market share right now?

Michael Pokocky May 28, 2008 at 11:48 pm

This is not the End of Vincent Wright.

I know this man on such a personal level that I feel like we are soul brothers and I am sure he feels the same way.

When I was in sadness, or angry, or in a tough bind in the years since I met Vincent he would gently pick up the telephone and call me and say,”Michael are you alright? Is there anything I can do? Do you want to talk?”

This is the person I know.

Do the math, and if you have experienced this then there is much more to Vincent than is represented here on this post and comments.

Vincent is a man that cannot be bought. He has a deeper understanding of human nature than most and acts on his gut feelings which he trust. He does not have to analyze nor plan nor be cunning. He simply knows things and he does things that only one man I know can do this and it is Vincent.

That is his gift and it is beyond words and beyond understanding, but oh how his actions affect the nightingale at night and the tides on a full moon lit night.

How can one know if one is true north.

Just look at the number of post here, the most on any of Jays posts ever.

Why because Jay honored Vincent Wright in the manner that is appropriate for a man unlike anyone I have ever known.

Thanks Vincent for the late night calls and the fact you worried about me.

Thanks Jay for writing this post about my friend Vincent.

Cheers Bro,

Michael Pokocky

Ganesh Srinivasan May 28, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Vincent Wright did play a crucial role in ‘branding’ LinkedIn – by promoting it in various forums – may be he using the word ‘LinkedIn’ in all the forums was objectionable to LinkedIn, neverthless Vincent did promote the ‘Brand LinkedIn’

Ganesh Srinivasan

Wayne Mansfield May 28, 2008 at 8:28 pm

What most people seem to miss in all of this is that LinkedIn have been seduced by the value of each “member” on the platform which is set by the “IPO gurus” at somewhere between $500 and $1,000 a member.

So, using LinkedIn’s own estimate of 21 million members they could be worth between $500m to $1,000 million ( $1 B ) to $2B.

If, as any power user of LinkedIn knows, Vincent influences up to 100,000 members directly and possibly half the membership indirectly, his value to the founders of LinkedIn, if and when they go to IPO is in the hundreds of millions. Without him there would have been mass defection a long time ago.

I have been a member for a couple of years and the ONLY reliable source of information and customer suport has been from Vincent. My direct links are 4,925 and supposedly my network extends to 11.5 million. I will let them know that the real value of LinkedIn is themselves and NOT what LinkedIn will or won’t allow them to do.

More power to Vincent.

reinkefj May 28, 2008 at 7:05 pm

>The outcomes of Mr. Wrights decisions are yet to be known

Where the analogy (with the Titanic) breaks down is that there is no LinkedIn competitor waiting in the wings to take on their disgruntled Customer base.

Vincent and I often joked about “nIdeknil” (linkedin backwards) where LinkedIn turns into it’s evil clone of itself in Bizaro world. Or a real competitor shows up.

The impact of VW’s action is that everyone is sensitized to LinkedIN’s shortcomings and looking for alternatives.

What I always point out IS that LinkedIn is NOT networking. An aid, a tool, an elbow joggle, … but … it’s not networking by any definition that I know.

imho

Andrew Wilcox May 28, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Hope you like this analogy about Social Networks and the Management-Member relationship http://is.gd/ngu See my comment.

Andrew Wilcox May 28, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Management are standing on a rug.

The customers or members are all holding onto the edge of the rug.

When they pull in different directions the management sometimes gets a rough ride.

When they all pull in the same direction suddenly, quickly and with conviction. The management falls on to a hard surface. The customers momentum takes them somewhere else and they get away with the rug of interwoven relationships.

Thomas Power May 28, 2008 at 5:25 pm

This is very sad to read for Vincent.

Vincent has contributed hugely to Linkedin and received nothing and no recognition in return.

Reid Hoffman knows this is not the way to treat members. I sense he will do something about it.

Martha Sue Yeary May 28, 2008 at 4:12 pm

This is a beautiful explanation of losing touch with what is important. If the owners of the ship had been paying attention to the course they were on instead of “how great they were” the first passengers could have told the world of the largest and best vessel in the world.

It’s sad when greed gets in the way of relationships. No one wins!

Martha Sue Yeary

Bill Austin May 28, 2008 at 12:09 pm

This is a great analogy Jay.

“The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.”
– E(dward) E(stlin) Cummings

and the iceberg doesn’t give a thought to what it crushes.
– Bill Austin

We do a lot of work cleaning up after managements that did not heed the iceberg and destroyed their brand online. Online Reputation Management is best done ahead of the voyage, rather than from the bottom of the ocean.

Vincent Wright May 28, 2008 at 11:44 am

Jay,
You may also want to take a look at this post: On Linkedin Answers at: http://www.linkedin.com/answers?viewQuestion=&questionID=10605&askerID=2484700,

Guy Kawasaki asked the following question: “What should I write my
next book about? (I’d like to learn what my buddies on LinkedIn think
I should cover in my next book. All ideas considered, but I don’t want
to write about the venture capital business. The real test is, “What
book would a vp of marketing or sales of a consumer brand read and
then want to hire me as a keynote speaker?” “Guy’s Guide to Venture
Capital” obviously fails this test.)”

That’s a good, healthy question and a great use of Linkedin Answers.

But, what’s of greater interest, indeed, of greatest interest to me is
an answer to Guy Kawasaki’s question provided by Reid Hoffman, a
Co-Founder of LinkedIn: “- Why the standard “control the brand on the
internet” advice is silly ”

To me, that’s an astonishing thing for the Co-Founder of such a
brand-sensitive company as Linkedin to want to have such a
well-established brand expert as Guy Kawasaki write about and perhaps even serve as a keynote speaker on.

“- Why the standard “control the brand on the internet” advice is silly ”

For the rest of the story, see: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/MyLinkedinPowerForum/message/32788

Keep STRONG!
Vincent

Vincent Wright May 28, 2008 at 11:34 am

Outstanding analogy in “Lessons for brands”, Jay! I share your sentiments.

Keep STRONG, Jay!
Vincent

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