LinkedIn's AI: Because Who Needs Real Friends Anyway?

Remember when LinkedIn was about networking? Now, thanks to their fancy AI, it's more like net-notworking. Want to sound like a robot? LinkedIn's got your back! Dive into the hilarious world where Patagonia's realness makes them cool, and LinkedIn's auto-replies make you wonder if you're chatting with a toaster. In the digital jungle, where authenticity is rarer than a unicorn, can LinkedIn's new "tech toy" really replace the good ol' human touch? Spoiler: Probably not. But hey, let's laugh about it! 🤖🤣🔥

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LinkedIn's AI: Because Who Needs Real Friends Anyway?
How Pre-Written Replies Will Kill Authenticity...and Your Brand

By Jonathan Sankey, Brand Strategy (6min Read)

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LinkedIn, once the bastion of professional networking, has taken a curious brand-turn. The platform's semi-new (now totally overused) functionality, which auto-generates message replies using generative AI, might seem like a step forward in the age of convenience. But is it a step back for authenticity? Here's why I believe this new feature could be detrimental to the brand and its users.

‍

You're smoking some strong shit if you think you can build trust without authenticity

In the digital age, authenticity is more than just a buzzword; it's the currency of trust. When users interact on platforms like LinkedIn, they're looking for genuine connections, not AI-generated responses. Consider the success of brands like Patagonia, which has built its reputation on being genuine about its environmental commitments. When users sense a lack of authenticity, trust erodes, and with it, the value of the platform.

‍

Hyper-Personalization vs. Hollow Automation: The LinkedIn Conundrum

The digital age is evolving, and the future for brands is already unfolding, especially in the B2B SaaS space. Many companies are harnessing automation to craft hyper-personalization at scale. Take tools like SendPotion, for instance. They've mastered the art of making automated messages feel so tailored that even I've been duped by their cunning outreach.

The essence of online networking, especially on platforms like LinkedIn, is the personal touch. It's the subtle nuances, the shared anecdotes, and the distinct voice of the sender that make a message resonate. But LinkedIn's pre-written replies? They've stripped away this essence. We've all seen them - the generic "Interesting", "Thanks for sharing", or the ever-so-vague "Looking forward to chatting". It's like receiving a handshake from a robot – cold and mechanical.

Over the years, LinkedIn has unfortunately transformed into a breeding ground for spam. From SEO enthusiasts peddling backlinks, web developers pitching partnerships, to tire-kickers scavenging for intel for their COVID-era startups, the platform is awash with unsolicited pitches. And let's not forget the AI-based prospecting tools, which, ironically, outperform anything LinkedIn currently offers. Tools like Smarterwriter.ai are leading the charge, offering automation that retains brand voice and personality – a stark contrast to LinkedIn's robotic suggestions.

LinkedIn themselves state, "Messaging suggestions may use machine learning to suggest relevant additions to your conversation... Our analytical models and algorithms are improved over time based on member usage." But here's the kicker: if their machine learning is at play, it seems to have taken an extended vacation. The platform's attempts at automation have become glaringly inauthentic. When even their algorithms can't differentiate between genuine engagement and a one-word platitude, it's a clear sign that the brand's authenticity is waning.

Remember the uproar when Instagram influencers were caught using bots for auto-comments? The backlash was swift because users felt cheated by the lack of genuineness. LinkedIn's current trajectory feels eerily similar. Their machine-generated replies, rather than adding value, are diluting the very essence of what made the platform special. And once that trust is eroded, restoring the brand's image becomes an uphill battle.

‍

‍Keep It Real, Or Suffer the Conversion and Engagement Consequences

Engagement in the digital realm is a multifaceted beast. While numbers can paint a picture, they often don't tell the whole story. It's not merely about the volume of interactions; the depth and genuineness of these interactions play a pivotal role. Authenticity, in this context, becomes the linchpin that determines whether an engagement is fleeting or lasting.

In the world of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), authenticity's impact is evident. Sites like ConversionXL and OptimizeSmart have documented cases where genuine testimonials and unfiltered user reviews have led to significant upticks in conversion rates. A/B split tests reveal that when potential customers see real feedback, they're more likely to trust and engage with a brand.

Pepsi's 2017 ad featuring Kendall Jenner serves as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of inauthentic brand messaging. Their attempt to resonate with social justice movements backfired spectacularly, highlighting the dangers of insincere brand engagement.

On the flip side, Basecamp, a project management tool, offers a masterclass in leveraging authenticity. They've been transparent about their operations, often sharing real-time revenue metrics on their public dashboard. This level of openness has paid dividends. According to a report by Nathan Barry of ConvertKit, Basecamp's transparent approach has contributed to a consistent growth rate, with the company boasting over 3.3 million accounts by 2020. Their commitment to authenticity has not only fostered trust but has also translated into tangible business success.

Another brand that has authenticity at its core is Patagonia. The outdoor clothing company has long been a champion of environmental and social causes. They've taken bold steps, like donating their entire $10 million Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental groups in 2016. Their "Don't Buy This Jacket" campaign, which encouraged consumers to think twice before making a purchase to reduce environmental impact, is another testament to their genuine commitment. Such initiatives resonate deeply with their target audience, leading to a fiercely loyal customer base and robust sales. In 2019, Patagonia's commitment to authenticity and its alignment with its core values helped the company achieve a revenue of over $1 billion.

In essence, as the digital landscape becomes increasingly saturated, brands that prioritize and demonstrate authenticity are the ones that stand out and foster genuine, lasting engagements with their audience.‍

‍

AI's Authenticity Crisis: From LinkedIn's Blunders to Tay's Meltdown

AI's progress in recent years is undeniable. Yet, when it comes to emulating the intricate dance of human communication, it often stumbles. LinkedIn's message suggestions are a case in point. Presented with a query like, "How's the proposal coming along?" LinkedIn might offer up a generic "Good" or a nondescript "Fine." Contrast this with the warmth and specificity of human replies: "Almost there, mate! Just refining the last section," or "All set, fancy a look at 8pm?"

But to truly understand the limitations of AI in capturing human nuance, let's delve deeper into the story of Microsoft's Tay. Launched as an AI chatbot designed to mimic the language patterns of a 19-year-old girl and learn from interactions on Twitter, Tay was an ambitious project. However, within hours of her release, internet trolls took advantage of Tay's learning capabilities, feeding her inappropriate content. The result? Tay began spewing out offensive and inappropriate tweets, leading to a PR disaster for Microsoft and an eventual shutdown of the project.

Tay's debacle wasn't just about a machine being misled; it underscored a fundamental flaw in AI's current capabilities. While Tay could mimic and regurgitate information, she lacked the discernment and authenticity inherent in human interactions. She couldn't differentiate between genuine input and malicious manipulation, leading to her downfall.

This incident serves as a stark reminder: while AI can process vast amounts of data and even mimic certain patterns of communication, it still struggles to capture the genuine authenticity and depth of human interaction. Whether it's the glaring missteps of Tay or the subtle inauthenticities in LinkedIn's message suggestions, the gap between machine-generated and human-driven communication remains evident.

‍

Ai for Authenticity

As AI becomes as ubiquitous as those annoying pop-up ads, its role is set for a plot twist. Instead of being the wannabe human, it might just morph into the guardian of genuine interactions. Imagine a world where tech doesn't just pretend to be authentic but stands as its gatekeeper. We could be looking at a "Real Deal Seal" for interactions, kind of like those freshness guarantees on your morning avocado toast.

Now, with AI creeping into every digital corner, the challenge for brands isn't about how much AI they can shoehorn in, but how stealthily they can do it. The ultimate game? Ensuring users feel they're chatting with a buddy, not binary. It's the digital version of a sleight of hand, and the brands that can pull it off without anyone catching on? They're the true maestros.

So, as we dive headfirst into this brave new world, remember this: authenticity isn't just a buzzword to slap on marketing pitches. In the age of AI, it's the bloody backbone of brand success. And if you're not genuine? Well, good luck with that fuckface ;)

‍

Two Epic Fails to Ponder:

  • J.C. Penney's SEO Mess: They tried to game the system in 2011 with some shady SEO moves. Google caught on, slapped them down, and their rep took a nosedive. A masterclass in how not to do digital.
  • Facebook's Data Drama: Cambridge Analytica ring a bell? Facebook played fast and loose with user data, and it blew up in their face. A stark reminder that inauthenticity can bite you in the backside.

‍

Wrapping It Up

LinkedIn's on thin ice with this AI move. In the digital game, authenticity isn't just a nice-to-have; it's the whole damn point. As for LinkedIn, they better watch their step. The digital graveyard's full of brands that thought they could fake it till they made it. Spoiler: they didn't make it.

‍

LinkedIn's AI: Because Who Needs Real Friends Anyway?

downwards arrow

LinkedIn's AI: Because Who Needs Real Friends Anyway?
How Pre-Written Replies Will Kill Authenticity...and Your Brand

By Jonathan Sankey, Brand Strategy (6min Read)

‍

LinkedIn, once the bastion of professional networking, has taken a curious brand-turn. The platform's semi-new (now totally overused) functionality, which auto-generates message replies using generative AI, might seem like a step forward in the age of convenience. But is it a step back for authenticity? Here's why I believe this new feature could be detrimental to the brand and its users.

‍

You're smoking some strong shit if you think you can build trust without authenticity

In the digital age, authenticity is more than just a buzzword; it's the currency of trust. When users interact on platforms like LinkedIn, they're looking for genuine connections, not AI-generated responses. Consider the success of brands like Patagonia, which has built its reputation on being genuine about its environmental commitments. When users sense a lack of authenticity, trust erodes, and with it, the value of the platform.

‍

Hyper-Personalization vs. Hollow Automation: The LinkedIn Conundrum

The digital age is evolving, and the future for brands is already unfolding, especially in the B2B SaaS space. Many companies are harnessing automation to craft hyper-personalization at scale. Take tools like SendPotion, for instance. They've mastered the art of making automated messages feel so tailored that even I've been duped by their cunning outreach.

The essence of online networking, especially on platforms like LinkedIn, is the personal touch. It's the subtle nuances, the shared anecdotes, and the distinct voice of the sender that make a message resonate. But LinkedIn's pre-written replies? They've stripped away this essence. We've all seen them - the generic "Interesting", "Thanks for sharing", or the ever-so-vague "Looking forward to chatting". It's like receiving a handshake from a robot – cold and mechanical.

Over the years, LinkedIn has unfortunately transformed into a breeding ground for spam. From SEO enthusiasts peddling backlinks, web developers pitching partnerships, to tire-kickers scavenging for intel for their COVID-era startups, the platform is awash with unsolicited pitches. And let's not forget the AI-based prospecting tools, which, ironically, outperform anything LinkedIn currently offers. Tools like Smarterwriter.ai are leading the charge, offering automation that retains brand voice and personality – a stark contrast to LinkedIn's robotic suggestions.

LinkedIn themselves state, "Messaging suggestions may use machine learning to suggest relevant additions to your conversation... Our analytical models and algorithms are improved over time based on member usage." But here's the kicker: if their machine learning is at play, it seems to have taken an extended vacation. The platform's attempts at automation have become glaringly inauthentic. When even their algorithms can't differentiate between genuine engagement and a one-word platitude, it's a clear sign that the brand's authenticity is waning.

Remember the uproar when Instagram influencers were caught using bots for auto-comments? The backlash was swift because users felt cheated by the lack of genuineness. LinkedIn's current trajectory feels eerily similar. Their machine-generated replies, rather than adding value, are diluting the very essence of what made the platform special. And once that trust is eroded, restoring the brand's image becomes an uphill battle.

‍

‍Keep It Real, Or Suffer the Conversion and Engagement Consequences

Engagement in the digital realm is a multifaceted beast. While numbers can paint a picture, they often don't tell the whole story. It's not merely about the volume of interactions; the depth and genuineness of these interactions play a pivotal role. Authenticity, in this context, becomes the linchpin that determines whether an engagement is fleeting or lasting.

In the world of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), authenticity's impact is evident. Sites like ConversionXL and OptimizeSmart have documented cases where genuine testimonials and unfiltered user reviews have led to significant upticks in conversion rates. A/B split tests reveal that when potential customers see real feedback, they're more likely to trust and engage with a brand.

Pepsi's 2017 ad featuring Kendall Jenner serves as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of inauthentic brand messaging. Their attempt to resonate with social justice movements backfired spectacularly, highlighting the dangers of insincere brand engagement.

On the flip side, Basecamp, a project management tool, offers a masterclass in leveraging authenticity. They've been transparent about their operations, often sharing real-time revenue metrics on their public dashboard. This level of openness has paid dividends. According to a report by Nathan Barry of ConvertKit, Basecamp's transparent approach has contributed to a consistent growth rate, with the company boasting over 3.3 million accounts by 2020. Their commitment to authenticity has not only fostered trust but has also translated into tangible business success.

Another brand that has authenticity at its core is Patagonia. The outdoor clothing company has long been a champion of environmental and social causes. They've taken bold steps, like donating their entire $10 million Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental groups in 2016. Their "Don't Buy This Jacket" campaign, which encouraged consumers to think twice before making a purchase to reduce environmental impact, is another testament to their genuine commitment. Such initiatives resonate deeply with their target audience, leading to a fiercely loyal customer base and robust sales. In 2019, Patagonia's commitment to authenticity and its alignment with its core values helped the company achieve a revenue of over $1 billion.

In essence, as the digital landscape becomes increasingly saturated, brands that prioritize and demonstrate authenticity are the ones that stand out and foster genuine, lasting engagements with their audience.‍

‍

AI's Authenticity Crisis: From LinkedIn's Blunders to Tay's Meltdown

AI's progress in recent years is undeniable. Yet, when it comes to emulating the intricate dance of human communication, it often stumbles. LinkedIn's message suggestions are a case in point. Presented with a query like, "How's the proposal coming along?" LinkedIn might offer up a generic "Good" or a nondescript "Fine." Contrast this with the warmth and specificity of human replies: "Almost there, mate! Just refining the last section," or "All set, fancy a look at 8pm?"

But to truly understand the limitations of AI in capturing human nuance, let's delve deeper into the story of Microsoft's Tay. Launched as an AI chatbot designed to mimic the language patterns of a 19-year-old girl and learn from interactions on Twitter, Tay was an ambitious project. However, within hours of her release, internet trolls took advantage of Tay's learning capabilities, feeding her inappropriate content. The result? Tay began spewing out offensive and inappropriate tweets, leading to a PR disaster for Microsoft and an eventual shutdown of the project.

Tay's debacle wasn't just about a machine being misled; it underscored a fundamental flaw in AI's current capabilities. While Tay could mimic and regurgitate information, she lacked the discernment and authenticity inherent in human interactions. She couldn't differentiate between genuine input and malicious manipulation, leading to her downfall.

This incident serves as a stark reminder: while AI can process vast amounts of data and even mimic certain patterns of communication, it still struggles to capture the genuine authenticity and depth of human interaction. Whether it's the glaring missteps of Tay or the subtle inauthenticities in LinkedIn's message suggestions, the gap between machine-generated and human-driven communication remains evident.

‍

Ai for Authenticity

As AI becomes as ubiquitous as those annoying pop-up ads, its role is set for a plot twist. Instead of being the wannabe human, it might just morph into the guardian of genuine interactions. Imagine a world where tech doesn't just pretend to be authentic but stands as its gatekeeper. We could be looking at a "Real Deal Seal" for interactions, kind of like those freshness guarantees on your morning avocado toast.

Now, with AI creeping into every digital corner, the challenge for brands isn't about how much AI they can shoehorn in, but how stealthily they can do it. The ultimate game? Ensuring users feel they're chatting with a buddy, not binary. It's the digital version of a sleight of hand, and the brands that can pull it off without anyone catching on? They're the true maestros.

So, as we dive headfirst into this brave new world, remember this: authenticity isn't just a buzzword to slap on marketing pitches. In the age of AI, it's the bloody backbone of brand success. And if you're not genuine? Well, good luck with that fuckface ;)

‍

Two Epic Fails to Ponder:

  • J.C. Penney's SEO Mess: They tried to game the system in 2011 with some shady SEO moves. Google caught on, slapped them down, and their rep took a nosedive. A masterclass in how not to do digital.
  • Facebook's Data Drama: Cambridge Analytica ring a bell? Facebook played fast and loose with user data, and it blew up in their face. A stark reminder that inauthenticity can bite you in the backside.

‍

Wrapping It Up

LinkedIn's on thin ice with this AI move. In the digital game, authenticity isn't just a nice-to-have; it's the whole damn point. As for LinkedIn, they better watch their step. The digital graveyard's full of brands that thought they could fake it till they made it. Spoiler: they didn't make it.

‍