LinkedIn’s Obsession with Guarding its User Data will Alienate its User Base

LinkedIn was never very transparent. Although they offered up a LinkedIn API to developers in June, 2007, I can’t name one developer-based LinkedIn API built application (I can name partners like NY Times), while I can point to hundreds of Facebook and Twitter apps. (Google LinkedIn API for confirmation). I’m not a developer, but I’m guessing LinkedIn keeps its user data too close to the vest. Without access to the user data (think of the automated CRM and social graph analytics possibilities), LinkedIn just doesn’t have anything else to offer a developer.

LinkedIn Groups made LinkedIn a more communal experience and extended its utility beyond being an online resume. Here’s one more way LinkedIn’s obsession with proprietary data will hurt its user base (I received this email today from a LinkedIn group organizer):

LinkedIn Groups

  • Group: Social Media Marketing
  • Subject: New policy changes at LinkedIn are negatively affecting your Social Media Marketing group! Speak up for us!

“Hello, everyone – I am using a new feature on LinkedIn to contact you about something very important to all of us – social networking. I’m sure you joined in order to find information and resources, get feedback and network with other people interested in Social Media Marketing. But LinkedIn has just made some policy changes that have severely restricted what group managers can do and makes the functionality of this group much more limited.

What they have done:

  1. Taken away my ability to send you the monthly email newsletter that I have produced in the past. I can no longer access the group’s email list.
  2. Taken away my ability to send you individual welcome letters or direct correspondence. I can’t even view who is a member of this group, it is limited to seeing only 500, not the entire 15,000+.
  3. Forced advertising onto profile and other pages – but the group managers do not profit. There is no revenue share. I don’t make a dime from any of the work I put into LinkedIn.
  4. By disabling the email list download, I now have ZERO visibility into group performance reports that I used to have through my email management system. I can’t tell how many people are unsubscribing, how many undeliverable emails there are, etc. etc. LinkedIn has NO reporting capabilities whatsoever.

They claim they had to do this because some unscrupulous managers were building lists for spam. Their response is penalize all the legitimate group managers for the actions of a few bad apples. There are far better ways to deal with this issue. I pride myself in moderating and managing this group to the best of my ability. For almost a year, we have grown at 25% a month. LinkedIn overall has grown almost at much. The fact is, it is groups like ours that makes LinkedIn successful. But now they are biting the hand that feeds them. My ability to interact and network with you as individual members has been completely hamstrung. This is the only way to reach you individually. I URGE YOU TO TAKE ACTION AND VOICE YOUR OPINION. Ask them to rescind this heavy-handed and totally unnecessary tactic. Send an email directly to the Founder, Chairman and CEO of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman. You can send an in-mail from his personal page:*1_*1_Reid_Hoffman_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_Y_us_94901_*1_*1_*2_*2_*2_Y_Y_*1_Relevance#h274-147 Thanks for taking the time and for participating in Social Media Marketing. Let’s keep growing and improving it, and that means growing and improving LinkedIn, too.

Cheers, Mike Crosson Moderator

About Pat Kitano

Patrick Kitano works with brands in developing hyperlocal engagement solutions and is administrator of the Breaking News Network, a national hyperlocal network devoted to community service. He is the author of The Local Network on Street Fight, and is reachable via Twitter @pkitano and email

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