by Dennis J. Pitocco, Publisher & Executive Editor
Many of you had the opportunity to read my Article published on this Site last month – and directly on the Linkedin publishing platform (subsequently featured on “Pulse” due to the significant number of views & comments). For those whom may have missed it, please do take a moment to read it here: Are You Linkedin or “Locked Out?”, as it will provide you with a necessary perspective before continuing here.
As a Member and fan of the Linkedin platform virtually from day one, I was fortunate to have launched dozens of Groups with aggregate membership approaching 45,000 professionals across 128 countries. Along the way, I, like many developed invaluable relationships and indeed friendships – all thanks to such a remarkable networking platform. Our Group Rules were definitive, out Group Moderation was diligent and our Group Managers were simply unparalleled. Our growth surpassed all expectations, as we became one of a number of “select” Groups known for quality, spam-free content coupled with constructive Discussion Boards and thoughtful member engagement.
Soon after publication of the above Article, I was compelled to begin working on a ‘sequel,’ sparked by the shear ‘avalanche’ of supportive feedback received from all corners of the Linkedin Membership ranks. Unsurprisingly, not only did I discover that my burgeoning Linkedin challenges were not unique, but trumped by the widespread issues, obstacles, responsiveness and particularly problematic Customer Support “attitude” experienced by thousands upon thousands of Members across the platform. And yes, the dreaded “SWAM blue moderation box” was at the top of the list of complaints, not simply because of the erroneous ‘accusation’ of “spam” content, but because of the remarkable “ambivalence” conveyed by Linkedin Customer Support.
SWAM refers to a policy implemented by LinkedIn which stipulates that if you are “blocked and deleted” from one of your Discussion Groups, all of the posts in the rest of your Groups are automatically put in “marked for moderation.” Since a majority of Groups are not actively moderated and are generally open to the public, often times these posts lay in the purgatory of moderation queue for eternity.
When first “announced” in January 2013, SWAM went very much under the radar; – nearly two years after its implementation, people are still unaware of its existence. I use quotation marks around “announced” because it could barely described as an announcement; it was actually a single post on an obscure Discussion Group (ironic?) called LinkedIn Groups Product Forum, a Group that has fewer than 6,000 members. Just to give you some perspective, LinkedIn has over 300,000,0000 users and nearly 61% of them say that Groups are in their list of top five most valued LinkedIn features.1
The Final Chapter
Well my planned sequel has regrettably become a “final chapter.” Following publication of my Article mentioned earlier and the encouraging response by fellow Members and Group Owners, I was determined once again to establish a constructive working dialogue with Linkedin at whatever level necessary simply to “get in the door.”
Don’t Call Us – We’ll Call You
Well, as many have discovered, it is virtually impossible to contact LinkedIn by phone — even if you’re trying to buy advertising on the site and want to talk to a sales rep. When asked, a LinkedIn spokesperson confirmed that phones just aren’t a medium that LinkedIn uses: “We take a members first approach to everything, and that includes how we build our various customer service channels. We provide our members a number of ways they can resolve issues including email, live chat, a self-service Help Center and a Twitter channel dedicated to customer support.” 2 Did he really say “dedicated customer support?”
A Ray of Hope?
In the midst of my renewed efforts, I was delighted to receive a seemingly random direct Email from Linkedin “Consumer Marketing:”
My name is XXXXX and I work in Consumer Marketing at LinkedIn. In a recent survey, you indicated a willingness to talk with us. We continuously strive to deliver world-class member experiences so it is important for us to talk with members—like you—about our products and services.
I would like to schedule a brief phone call to hear about your experience using LinkedIn. The purpose of this call is to better understand how our members use LinkedIn Groups.
Finally an open door an open minds? Not so fast. My call was scheduled for last week, with a specific “window of time” arranged for me to be expecting a call. In fact, one-day prior I received a “friendly reminder” re-confirming our arrangements, and asking for a link to my Profile so their “team” would be well prepared. Well, the agreed two-hour time slot came and went with no call. One day later, an Email arrived from my friendly Program Coordinator:
Hope this email finds you well. On behalf of LinkedIn, I wanted to thank you again for offering to participate in yesterday’s marketing calls for LinkedIn Groups. We really appreciate your time and regret that we did not have enough time slots to accommodate everyone who wanted to participate. Should you have any comments on your experience as a group moderator/admin please feel free to send them over via email. We want to draw from your experience to improve our apps and better serve our members. We look forward to having you as a lifetime LinkedIn member!
Although quite disappointed, I quickly dispatched the following response:
Thank you for the courtesy of your follow-up here. Despite my/our significant challenges over recent months with Linkedin on both a Group and personal level, your diligent, professional approach/courtesy here has been impressive. That said, I am hopeful on my behalf and that of Group Owners and Managers across Linkedin that your colleagues will first; take the time to read my serious, documented concerns within the following published Article, and second; open an avenue of constructive dialogue to effect positive change, particularly from a Customer Support perspective.
Here is a link to my Article: Are You Linkedin or Locked Out?
I should emphasize that the trigger for the above Article was my inability to establish a constructive dialogue with Customer Support, despite repeated good-faith efforts. I look forward to hearing back from you/your colleagues in hopes that my Article “Sequel” (now under development) will be a complete contrast to that published above.
Thank you again for your consideration!
Just one day later, the following response arrived:
How are you? Thank you for submitting your thoughts via email. I will forward your email to my team today as we’re discussing issues with members and collecting data. We hope to be able to address your concerns as soon as possible. Please let me know if you have any further problems using Groups. We will definitely reach out to you in the future to share your experience with LinkedIn.
In Linkedin Trust & Safety We Trust?
While awaiting further response from Linkedin Consumer Marketing, I renewed by previous attempt to resurrect a dialogue with “Edward” (or an appropriate colleague) from Linkedin Trust & Safety, asking again that we establish a dialogue to ensure that past challenges would not resurface – the very same Edward whom responded to my previous attempt to reach out by eloquently informing me “This is your final warning, there will be no further discussion or back and forth at this time.”
This time around, his response was slightly less empathetic:
We’ve terminated your LinkedIn account effective immediately.”
And so it ends here. Needless to say, we should all take comfort that Linked is “continuously striving to deliver world-class member experiences.”
Yes, I’ve reached out to Linkedin Consumer Marketing, expressing genuine disappointment that my legitimate concerns presented within my Article were so quickly and effectively ‘addressed’ by receipt of a notice that my Linkedin Account has been terminated – and from the very same Trust & Safety individual (Edward) whom refused to deal constructively with the issues sited within my Article. A coincidence perhaps?
And yes, despite it all – I’ve responded to ‘Edward’ not with any form of appeal, but simply with a respectful request for the opportunity to preserve our many Linkedin Groups by transferring “ownership” to one or more valued colleagues. Because not only has the “termination” brought my Linkedin Membership to an abrupt close – but this unfortunate action has “suspended” all of our Groups indefinitely. In other words, when it comes to our Groups Members, they too are no longer “Linkedin” but now “Locked Out.”