LinkedIn Endorsements: Frictionless = Meaningless

LinkedIn seemed to have hit on a great idea: let members endorse other members for their specific abilities with a single click. Problem is, it’s so easy to do that endorsements have become meaningless. Everyday I get endorsements. Then dutifully I go and return the favor by endorsing my endorser. The result is a click-fest that distorts what people really do. Judging by my endorsements, I’m an expert in SEO and web marketing. These are things that I offer to clients, but our strong suits are design, technology, strategy and digital media (code for ‘video’), all of which appear at the bottom of the endorsements list on my profile. And because that list is so prominently displayed, visitors will totally misconstrue my business. Hopefully they’ll read the summary portion of the page, but does anyone read anymore?

There is a way to make endorsement relevant, however. Make them harder to give. The article below suggests a couple of ways to do this:

Right now, endorsing is way too easy. When you go to a connection’s profile page, there’s usually a list of categories in which they can be endorsed. If you click the “Endorse” button, you endorse that person in every category … remove that all-in-one feature and you’ll probably get rid of a lot of spurious or unintended endorsements. Second, when you endorse, give the endorser the opportunity to expand on the thought by citing a specific project they both worked on …

LinkedIn’s endorsements point out a greater problem, however, and that is how companies are, more and more today, creating features that benefit themselves and not  users. A solid endorsement mechanism could provide value if it reflected companies’ and individuals’ true worth. Something like that already exists: recommendations. But they take some effort to write. It’s easier for users to just click an endorsement. Yay! pop the cork and celebrate our brilliant feature. Everyone’s using it. But if there’s no meaning you just end up with lots of data signifying nothing. Unless what really matters is LinkedIn’s user engagement numbers.

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