LinkedIn is quickly becoming one of the biggest social media sites on the web. Earlier this year they reported their membership was up to 467 million users. This has led many in the tech sphere to wonder how this concentration of data can be accessed automatically for networking, or even marketing. As a result, there’s now a large number third party developed software designed to automate actions on LinkedIn, such as sending messages and connecting to prospects. However, before you acquire automation tools in your business, here’s five issues that might give you pause about the usefulness of automation tools.
LinkedIn Has an Aggressive Policy Against Them
LinkedIn continues to be crystal clear on what its purpose is. It is a site for bringing together people, not machines for business. As a result, LinkedIn’s terms and services make it clear that these third-party automation tools are off limits. Any profile caught using them can be blocked. Moreover, LinkedIn has several times gone after developers of these tools legally after spotting them using antispyware technologies. They have argued successfully in court that many of these tools are designed just to scrape, or copy to an outside source, their protected data. They view this as stealing. Anyone company who doesn’t want to be banned from the site should seriously think twice before using these tools.
Speeding Up Work Or Spamming
You should also think clearly about why you want to use these tools. A major reason these tools are so thoroughly banned by LinkedIn is they are the primary tools of spammers, looking to sell their products by clogging potential buyers with ads. While the effectiveness of spamming is dubious at best, it has no place on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is really designed to facilitate the sort of person to person connections we make in real life. You need to ask if you want to make a real connection to everyone your automated system will connect with, or are you just spamming.
Automation Can’t Replace Human Touch
At heart, LinkedIn is still to complex a system for an automated tool to crack, unlike Facebook statuses. Since LinkedIn is focused on already existing interconnections between people, a lot of automated responses will appear noticeable. The site also requires heavy users adhere to a 30K limit on connections. As a result having a human being managing connections, prioritizing some and discarding others, is essential to do volume work on LinkedIn and cannot at present be replaced with a program.
Best In Moderation
However, this is all not to say that you can’t make good use of automation tools within LinkedIn. They simply need to be part of a system that also includes humans. A good example of this is email curating. There are plenty of tools to send mass messages over LinkedIn, but don’t use them to send the same message to every connection you have. Instead keep several email lists going of connections that have similar interests or are connected to you in similar ways. This way you can control more carefully what gets sent to each. You let the automation spare you a repetitive task of sending email. While you use your knowledge to make sure each connection gets just what they want. In this way, man and machine benefit from the other’s company.
Rely On LinkedIn
LinkedIn understands that companies often need to speed up the process and have offered their own automated options in the LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This premium version of the sight features more targeted search tools to find connections. It also lets you see a slew of information associated with who’s been looking at your company’s profile to inform capacity planning strategies. These automated and expanded services allow you to use LinkedIn in a matter the site approves of and in perfect safety against being accused of violating their service agreement. Ultimately, LinkedIn understand what you may want to do on their site and are prepared to help.
Automation Tools for LinkedIn can help you and your company more efficiently use the site. However, they can only do so if you understand what LinkedIn is as a concept. The reality is LinkedIn is about making business connections, person to person. If you step into that thinking that automated tools will do all the work and leave you the benefits, you’ll be disappointed and possibly banned from LinkedIn. If you instead embrace the personal connections of the site and use the automation tools to help facilitate that, then they will help your business grow.