LinkedIn seemed to have hit on a great idea: let members endorse other members for their specific abilities with a single click. The problem is, it’s so easy to do that endorsements have become meaningless. Every day 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 actually do. Judging by my endorsements, I’m an expert in SEO and web marketing. We offer those things, but our strong suit is design, technology, strategy, and digital media, all of which appear at the bottom of the endorsements list on my profile. And because that list is so prominently displayed, visitors will completely 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 more significant problem, however. Today, more companies are creating features that benefit themselves rather than users. A solid endorsement mechanism could provide value if it reflected companies’ and individuals’ true worth. Something like that already exists in recommendations. But they take some effort to write. It’s easier for users just to 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. That must be it.