LinkedIn Endorsements: Does It Get Any Cheaper?

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LinkedInEndorsements

Retweets, Likes, +1s, +Ks, repins, and now LinkedIn Endorsements. Which one is cheapest?

At first given LinkedIn’s credibility as a professional social network, one would think Likes, +Ks and retweets (see my TweetEsteem issues) would be lesser forms of social currency.

But as you dive deeper into LinkedIn Endorsements you see how easily they can be given without thought or consideration.

An algorithm sources key words for someone in your network and asks you to endorse them for that topic area. With a click you suddenly endorse them on a topic.

When I first heard about Endorsements I thought it would be similar to Recommendations, maybe Recommendations Light. But instead it’s as cheap as a Like, a click and even the dreaded K+.

What’s scary about Endorsements is the perception of topical influence and relevancy that it gives to unknowing employers, customers and business partners. Suddenly you are willing to trust someone based on opinion, and one that is elicited by an algorithm.

LinkedIn has received numerous complaints that the endorsements have degraded the network.

But I suspect as the new LinkedIn Profile becomes more pervasive, we’ll see endorsements become a critical part of a revitalized more socially engaging user interface.

That means a cheapened watered down referral system where he/she who inmost popular will garner the perception of savviness. Buyer beware.

What do you think of LinkedIn Endorsements?

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  • http://www.andreipetrik.com Andrei

    Your post is echoing a very similar sentiment I’ve heard from others; and I share same thoughts on this. You’re absolutely right, endorsements weaken the network.

    I love the recommendations feature. It carries way more legitimacy because it required more of a conscious decision, you have to indicate type of relationship you have with a person recommending you, and lastly recommendations are public. If anyone saw any BS recommendations, I’d expect they would call people out on it, or at the very least they’d see both the recommender and recommendee as hacks.

    From my own experience: recently, I got an endorsement from someone who has no idea about my expertise in certain areas, but they endorsed me. As much of an ego stroke it is, it clearly illustrates how easy endorsements can develop false perceptions. As you said, buyer beware!

    • geofflivingston

      There’s a real danger in this. I think most people and HR managers won’t be as discerning, and will look at the peaks in keyword endorsements as a sign of competency. Let’s hope that recommendations become/remain more important as time continues.

  • http://www.writerightwords.com/ Erin Feldman

    I find myself skipping the endorsements. Some people I know well enough to endorse their skills (and I did before I figured out that the endorsements were never-ending and made my escape); some I don’t. People have given me endorsements, and I suppose they expect reciprocal ones. I don’t work like that, though.

    Another issue with the endorsements is that they relate to topics the person has chosen, not ones I’ve chosen. I’m guessing a number of people will try to game the system by adding topics to their profiles in order to receive endorsements for those topics.

    • geofflivingston

      I don’t even think they chose them, LinkedIn told them which ones. Which makes another algorithm failure in a long litany of them. I am with you on reciprocating. It shouldn’t be expected.

      • http://www.writerightwords.com/ Erin Feldman

        Really? That adds a new level of absurdity. I thought the endorsements were at least based on the skills people list on their profiles.

  • TheTysonReport

    I think you’re basically right Geoff, they are cheap although of course we can exercise discretion: we don’t have to endorse people just because we can do so with one click. Indeed when confronted by this new option I declined to endorse a few connections and moved onto others who I felt I really could endorse in good conscience.

    So I feel LI endorsements may end up a problematic measure of competence but a mildly significant one nonetheless.

    • geofflivingston

      I do think they will be significant, if only that someone will index them and give us a score based on our endorsements, which in its own right is scary…. Well, what are we going to do? Guess we have to live with it.

      Thanks for coming by, sir!

  • http://twitter.com/JasonEng_ Jason Eng

    I’m not sure if I like this new feature of endorsements. Recommendations have to be thought out and written, and that means that someone is taking the time out to do that. Endorsements are given at the click of a button with or without any thought. My fear is that endorsements are given as a way to pay back others for endorsements or compliments received, even if they are not deserving.

    • geofflivingston

      Inherently gameable and lacking in substance. Perfect for Klout scores. Yeah.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katskrieger Kat Krieger

    I skip a lot of them, but the ones I have endorsed so far I feel to be accurate reflections for those people. It is a bit disheartening though, because I think most people will just click yes and be done with it. It’s still above K+ though because I will never get endorsed for “cats” because my name is Kat or “cookies” because I once shared a story about Girl Scouts. :-)

    • geofflivingston

      I’ll endorse you for cats!!! LOL, thanks for coming by, Kat. Glad you take your endorsements seriously.

      • http://twitter.com/ExtremelyAvg Brian D. Meeks

        All I really want in life is to get endorsements for cats or bacon. I don’t have a cat, but I’m a big fan of them, especially when they play with things around corners.

  • http://twitter.com/PamMktgNut Pam Moore

    I agree with you. Seems to feel like more of a game. One that I am not going to play or invest much time into, that’s for sure.

    I think this is the worst thing I have seen LinkedIn do. Up to this point they have been the one social network that kept the professional foundation of real networking with business leaders.

    I believe this will have negative impact to them in the long term if they continue on such a path. It makes it hard to much differentiate between Facebook’s Branchout etc.

    • geofflivingston

      I agree. While I am not a big LinkedIn fan, I think their differentiator was professionalism and seriousness. Now, this hurts that core integrity. We’ll see if they avoid more missteps or continue on their path towards Facebook Light.

      • test

        I agree with you

    • 123

      hello!

  • http://twitter.com/salliegoetsch Sallie Goetsch

    One problem I have with LinkedIn endorsements is that when you visit someone’s profile, LI shows you a whole cluster of skills. Suppose you can only endorse one of those skills? Do you click the “endorse” button anyway, or do you attempt to figure out how to narrow it down?

    • geofflivingston

      Gee, I really don’t know. I haven’t done enough homework beyond the endorsement engine itself.

    • http://twitter.com/write4unj Nancy Passow

      There are little x’s by each skill — if you click the x that skill will go away. Sometimes though they show you multiple people and have one skill by each person, clicking “endorse” only endorses that one skill.

  • http://www.swordandthescript.com/ Frank Strong

    I’ve just given you +k for LinkedIn.

    • geofflivingston

      Mission accomplished!

  • http://twitter.com/stuwillis Stu Willis

    Endoresements are terrible. I’m getting endorsed by people who have no freaking idea whether or not I can do the things they’re saying yes to.

    • http://barrettrossie.com/ Barrett Rossie

      I love it when it asks me to endorse people I worked with 20 years for social media strategy.

      • geofflivingston

        LOL!

    • geofflivingston

      Well at least they can’t complain about you with a simple click! It is a bit off, though.

    • Mark Schwanke

      I agree with you stu. The algorithm for picking skills is horrible. It suggests skills tge person didn’t pick for themselves. I’d rather pick a person that I know well and click through and endorse 15-40 of their skills than be served up the random suggestions. I know you can take that approach but it rarely works via my phone or tablet.

      • http://twitter.com/stuwillis Stu Willis

        Thats a great idea.

  • http://barrettrossie.com/ Barrett Rossie

    It’s like printing money, isn’t it? I suppose Dr. Friedman would have something to say about this, if he were still around.

    • geofflivingston

      Indeed. It’s so weak.

    • test

      +1

  • http://twitter.com/RichardPosey Richard Posey

    Frivolous, meaningless, irrelevant … and worst of all, like Klout, “game-able.”

    • geofflivingston

      Not good. I hope people smell this coffee coming.

  • Guest

    I think LinkedIn Endorsements are silly. They show your skills list (or at least the first few skills on your list) to any of your connections who visit your profile and ask them to endorse you. So my cousin the drummer in LA has endorsed me for my writing, business communications, and brochures — things he’s never seen me do. And because they only show part of the list, several of my students have endorsed various of my marketing skills but not my teaching skill. To me the endorsements are useless — I’ll continue to look at the written recommendations.

  • http://twitter.com/write4unj Nancy Passow

    I think LinkedIn Endorsements are silly. They show your skills list (or at least the first few skills on your list) to any of your connections who visit your profile and ask them to endorse you. So my cousin the drummer in LA has endorsed me for my writing, business communications, and brochures — things he’s never seen me do. And because they only show part of the list, several of my students have endorsed various of my marketing skills but not my teaching skill. To me the endorsements are useless — I’ll continue to look at the written recommendations.

    • geofflivingston

      Oh no! Well at least you didn’t tell your students to endorse you the right way! LOL.

  • http://www.adigaskell.org/blog Adi

    It is all a bit peculiar. I seem to have amassed around 150 endorsements so far. Not sure if people are doing it on an expected tit-for-tat basis or whether they’re genuine shows of affection/appreciation. Suffice to say though, I’m not sure those endorsements have much in the way of value just yet.

    • geofflivingston

      You must be the LinkedIn Man!!! I agree on value, but as soon as someone taps the API…

  • http://alphaefficiency.com Bojan Djordjevic

    Endorsements are good, but I will stay pay close attention to recommendations. As I flipped through I was only endorsing the people whom I know carried quality and passion in their work. But that’s just me…

    • geofflivingston

      I cut out a few folks as well, but it’s too damn easy to say yes, yes, yes in this game.

  • http://twitter.com/annelizhannan Anneliz Hannan

    I have been waiting for your review since you teased us in an earlier blog and I am not disappointed by your thoughts or by the community comments.

    I think it is unfortunate that the premier professional network has joined in the gaming of our value as professionals with their simple ‘click’ to endorse measure. It reminds me of a bingo game or popularity lottery where currency is but a plastic poker chip. My concern is the value of the chip (click) becomes irrelevant with everyone passing them around without forethought or qualification. As with the perfunctory guidelines that you must have 500 followers to even be considered a viable player, I find it debasing to be measured in this type of currency.

    • geofflivingston

      I totally agree with you. I think it undermines LinkedIn’s credibility — it’s primary differentiator — on several levels. And that’s a shame. They are opening the door for a competitor with this.

  • http://twitter.com/neicolec Neicole Crepeau

    Yes, endorsements are very easy. On the other hand, recommendations require a lot of effort. Personally, I have been selective about who I endorse and what I endorse them for. Perhaps LinkedIn will go deeper with these. Maybe correlating endorsements to the keywords in recommendations for a person. Or using it’s knowledge of where a person has worked and with him, or who has been a client, to give more weight to endorsements from co-workers/clients. Then again, maybe they’ll keep it light and relatively stupid.

    • geofflivingston

      Seems like it’s going to be the latter…

  • colinstorm

    Couldn’t agree more here. At first I thought “cool, I’m getting all these endorsements all of a sudden”. However, only a select few are actually relevant to the topic endorsed, and they lack the full proof of testimony. I would rather have 3 great written recommendations than 50 endorsements.

    Also, my wife has experienced people she doesn’t even know giving her endorsements. The only explanation is that these folks are fishing for endorsements in return to boost their own “e-volume”. So, even finding someone with hundreds of endorsements may not be a trustworthy testament.

    • geofflivingston

      These examples definitely highlight a) how suspect the algorithm is and b) why it is too easy to give these out. I hope LinkedIn at a minimum revisits Endorsements and improves it to address these issues.

  • http://twitter.com/JonMikelBailey Jon-Mikel Bailey

    Rolling through the suggestions is a treat. Sometimes spot-on but most of the time WAY OFF.

    • geofflivingston

      Ha, I want sanitation worker as an endorsement!

  • http://uptownuncorked.com geechee_girl

    Endorsements are light fun, but depth offers real value. I prefer to get, give and look at real recommendations.

    • geofflivingston

      Recommendations are very interesting to read in that sense. They require thought. I wonder how Endorsements will impact recommendations, positively and negatively.

  • Guest

    I
    viewed Endorsements as LinkedIn’s attempt to increase engagement and to
    encourage users to “revisit” their contacts’ profiles. The method is
    only as cheap as you make it. If you hand out endorsements without thought or
    consideration then that is all of the “worth” that those endorsements
    will be given.

    IMO,
    it correlates to people who collect contacts with no idea whom they are
    connecting to so their numbers look good – like FB Likes and Twitter followers.

    Have
    we not all read about the success of “gaming” aspects of social media that increase
    participation and engagement? Are not HR professionals touting the positive
    aspects of gaming to get the message out and read by office participants? What percentage
    of updates in LinkedIn go without a like or a comment? Is this not just another
    example of employing a simple ‘gaming’ methodology to get a response?

    Additionally,
    I think it has proven interesting to see what others think of your skills and
    strengths, and how much they know about you, what keywords others relate
    despite what you have peppered into your profile. Perhaps it is an indicator of
    what self-promotion might be necessary?

    It has been said repeatedly by social media
    pundits and gurus – “Social Media is about engagement.” Perhaps the question might be, “Is this as good as engagement gets?”

  • http://twitter.com/pmswish Patty Swisher

    I viewed Endorsements at LinkedIn’s attempt to increase engagement and to encourage users to revisit their contact’s profiles. The method is only as cheap as you make it. If you hand out endorsements without thought or consideration then that is all of the value that these endorsements will be given
    IMO, it correlates to people who collect contacts with no idea whom they are connecting with so their numbers look good, like FB Likes and Twitter followers.
    Have we not all read about the success of “gaming” aspects of social media that increase participation and engagement? Are not HR professionals touting the positive aspects of gaming to get the message out and read by office participants? What percentage of updates in Linkedin go without a like or a comment? Is this not just another example of gaming methodology to get a response?
    Additionally, I think it has proven interesting to see what others think of your skills and strengths, how much they know about you, and what keywords others relate to you despite what you may have peppered into your profile. Perhaps it is an indicator of what self-promotion might be necessary?
    It has been said repeatedly by social media pundits and gurus – “Social Media is about engagement.” Perhaps the question might be, “Is this as good as engagement gets?”

    • geofflivingston

      Well, it is attention is what we want to judge our decisions by. Personally, I think attention has a role, but we need substance to back it with. Thanks for flipping the funnel on this conversation and adding context!

    • http://twitter.com/Michele_Welch Michele Welch

      Hmm, with Patty on this one I think. I can absolutely agree how this can dilute it’s reputation to some extent. But I guess for most “serious” users, it’s a validation of sorts that others perceive you having certain skill sets and vice versa.

      As Patty stated, “Perhaps the question might be, “Is this as good as engagement gets?” I think this is the real concern. Is LinkedIn adding feature in the hopes to increase user participation, yet not seeing the true value of an endorsement? That is, someone taking the time to write out a personalized recommendation for someone. Written recommendations will always trump these endorsements.

      My biggest concern would be (thinking about it now), is will this affect search results? Can someone use giving endorsements in the hopes of getting them back as a method to increase search results for a particular keyword? Hmm…

      Overall, I think it’s fun. But I’m careful to only endorse for those skill sets that I know the person possesses. If I’m not sure, I opt for editing the “suggested” key terms show. ;-)

      • geofflivingston

        I think this may be a response to Twitter putting up a gate on Tweets in the stream. They needed something to spark traffic and page views.

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Yeah…the endorsing thing has already gotten pretty out of control. I am unsure how to proceed – there are people who endorse me 2-3 times a day. It’s like…”Thanks, but…erm…” Then LinkedIn says, “Oh, and do you want to endorse this person? And this person? And these 20 people?” Click, click, click. I’d find it hard to believe employers would find these valuable. it’s kind of like Pac-Man eating up those little berries. Munch munch munch :)

    • geofflivingston

      Yet another valueless time suck on social media that we will end up having to participate in because some god awful search result will happen to us if we don’t. Then again, we can’t be at every party.

  • http://twitter.com/intel_chris Christopher F Clark

    If one looks closely, there are at least two ways to give endorsements.
    One is relatively game-like. LinkedIn shows you a list of 4 people with one skill per person and you can endorse each one individually, endore all four together or ask LinkedIn to replace one of the people with another “random” choice. If you are connected to people you don’t know well and they have skills you aren’t qualified to judge, endoresements at this level are relatively useless. Personally, I just skip them unless I see a person/skill combination I actual do want to endorse. Of course, not everyone will do this.
    The other way to endorse a person is to visit their profile. If you do that, you will be shown a list of their skills and you can endorse each one individually. That, of course, is more work and more like a recommendation. Still, it is only a few clicks and doesn’t require one to be qulified to actually give that endorsement.
    The question as to whether these endoresements have been gamed or not can be seen when one is looking at the profile. I actually shows the little avatars of the endorser’s by which skills they have endorsed. I presume if one was so inclined and was looking for a particular skill, one could check each of the endoreser’s and determine whether they were credible for judging said skill.
    I think there is some likelyhood that for technical skills they may not be so easily gamed. The reason for this speculation is that while I have a fair number of endorements on my more general skills, some of my more obscure skills have not been endorsed. Thus, while people may generally believe that I am technically astute, they are not willing to guess which exact technical skills I am most proficient in. And, of course, that is a good thing.
    However, I would take most assessments of good “speaking ability”, “marketing skills”, or “social media savy” with a grain of salt, and that’s despite the fact that I try to be very reticent in handling out those endorsements and would hope others would too, but truly expect that many do not. Moreover, despite my reticence, I’m not sure my endorement of social saviness is that well tuned, and I may just be supporting “friends”. Perhaps high-school is the perfect metaphor for life after all….

    • geofflivingston

      I think the level of sophistication you outline is interesting. The question is will the casual uneducated observer be able to discern the difference. Unless LinkedIn educates folks I fear not.

      • http://twitter.com/intel_chris Christopher F Clark

        I agree that most people will not make that distinction and either blindly accept endorsements as valid or discard them as rubbish.

  • http://redgirls.wordpress.com/ Rosanna Y. de la Cruz

    It is a very good point you make but..trust the community, some of us will not give out endorsements unless we feel and know the person has the skill set. That said, i am a recruiter who places people so, maybe I am more discerning about skill set than the average person.

    • geofflivingston

      You would know as a recruiter. Now, would you take endorsements seriously in your review of profiles? That’s the $1 million question!

      • http://redgirls.wordpress.com/ Rosanna Y. de la Cruz

        Probably not but I also do back door referencing on candidates, get paid to judge people and generally, am more mindful of what folks with credibility might say about a candidate vs what a profile online might be tweaked to say….I view these endorsements as another way to be social online vs a rigorous way to judge someone’s skill set.

  • http://twitter.com/ExtremelyAvg Brian D. Meeks

    I wish I’d thought to write about giving a K+ for Linkedin, but Frank Strong was more clever than I.

    I just noticed these endorsements a couple of weeks ago and immediately felt they were cheapening the brand, but I can understand how they want to play with FB and Twitter, so it sort of makes sense.

    In truth, I think of LInkedin as being a bit more upscale, but I also don’t use it that often. I guess Twitter and FB just fit me better. Who knows, maybe this cheap ploy will win me over, even though I don’t like it. I’m easily swayed by glitz…and bacon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/agentcyceo Jasmine Sandler

    In that I am currently writing a book on LinkedIn and a piece on creating strong relationships within, I tend to agree, Geoff. Recommendations to me mean (they are my) references – I sweat and toiled on a project to over-achieve for a client or made a real difference through my efforts. You can contact them and ask them about my work. In other words, the recommendation came from some form of hard work and quality of service. Endorsements to me, as having done NYC restaurant reviews and marketing for years, are more like the star without the review. In the end, in my opinion (and as you will see if you read my upcoming book) any real business professional will check the facts (have a conversation with the person and his/her references) before hiring them. Ok that’s my rant. By the way, just followed you on Twitter -

    -Jasmine

  • http://cirquedumot.com/new-readers/ Susan Silver

    What worries me is if these sorts of things get baked into Linked In’s search function. I don’t mind if someone makes a decision based on my lack of endorsements. Getting buried in search is a far worse fate.

    We should make judgments based on accomplishments instead of perceived knowledge. We can verify the former and the latter ???

  • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com Cendrine Marrouat

    To me, the problem is not endorsements, it is how people will very quickly start using the option.

  • Online Movies

    I really appreciate the way you write

  • http://about.me/JakolienSok Jakolien Sok

    I think you are making too many assumptions… Everyone knows that there will be favoritism involved in giving references. In any form given. You wouldn’t give a name of reference to a potential new employer when you are not sure that they are going to sing your praises, right?

    I am sure that popular people will get more likes, RT’s, +1 and yes also recommendations and endorsements. But I am also sure that there is a pattern that can be detected in the given recommendations and now the additional endorsements.

    And let’s be frank, if you hire someone without doing a thorough background check then who is the silly one ツ

  • http://techkik.com Amrita Mathur

    Yup, exactly. It is now turning into a model where popularity overruns capability and potentially actual smarts.
    The endorsements feature is a neat idea if applied properly i.e. only coworkers or bosses can endorse you – not random people whom you happen to be connected to.

  • Pingback: Social Search & Influence Games: Why Did You Do It LinkedIn? | The Marketing Nut

  • Pingback: The New LinkedIn Endorsements: Are We Being Gamed LinkedIn? | The Marketing Nut

  • Robert Peres

    Hi Geoff,

    I agree 100% with you on this. People have sent me endorsements out of the blue for areas they don’t even know I am qualified for. Now everyone on LinkedIn will be “forced” to endorse one another just so they don’t look lame…?

    • 123

      hi!

  • Open Endorser

    Personal Branding And Profiling Your People Skills:

    The most important and the most highly paid form of intelligence in America is social intelligence, the ability to get along well with other people. Social intelligence is also known as human engineering or “your people skills”:

    Example:

    Imagineer, problem solver, open minded, change leadership, never considers failure, sense of urgency, unshakable optimist, meaningful specifics, resourcefulness, open networker, takes initiative, encourages others, critical thinker, team synergy, shares knowledge…and the list keeps going.

    “Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot; others transform a yellow spot into the sun.” -~Pablo Picasso

    “Even in lines such as technical engineering about 15% of ones financial success is due to technical knowledge and about 85% is due to one’s skill in human engineering.” ~ Dale Carnegie, Carnegie Institute, “How To Win Friends and Influence people.”

    Most skills belong to skill sets. You have the ability to list up to 50 skills on your profile.

    The “85%” or so of your people skills should be listed to highlight how you go about orchestrating your technical skills.

    “True effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset (the goose).” ~Stephen Covey

  • Fedor Dostoevsky

    hello!

  • Fedor Dostoevsky

    123133

  • http://twitter.com/IncomeTrue Ed Brophy

    Saying YES to Endorsements on LINKEDIN

    Have you tried getting Linkedin or God on the phone lately?

    Humans don’t come with instructions, neither do skill endorsements. I don’t feel bad though, even Dorothy from Oz was never told about the magic of the ruby red slippers because, “she had to learn it for herself.”

    This is my view on personal branding and endorsing people on Linkedin:

    A complete stranger from a resume service will beef up or ‘reframe’ your skills and qualifications on your professional resume. Why?

    …Because, unfortunately, people from professional resume services have seen from the people they sometimes fail to help get hired that:

    Employers don’t hire employees, they hire certainty. They hire trust and likeability, they hire perceptions and reputations.

    How you are known to employers is your most valuable asset when seeking employment, not necessarily how good your work or skills really are.

    Like marketing Coca Cola or Pepsi, personal branding often works the same way for why people choose one employee and not the other.

    Do you suppose Britney will ever join and endorse people on Linkedin?

  • POWG

    Endorsements are livign proof that LinkedIn has “jumped the shark”

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