The value of communication has been well known for a long time. John D. Rockefeller, the American oil magnate, is famous for many quotes, but one in particular relates to this topic of communicating with people. Rockefeller says, “The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee, and I will pay more for it than any ability under the sun.”
He showed that he valued the ability to communicate well with people higher than anything else. However, this doesn’t solve the issue of how to tread carefully between LinkedIn automation and spamming.
LinkedIn previously sued a company called hiQ Labs, because they had developed a tool that utilised LinkedIn’s data. Part of their battle was to try and remove hiQ’s access to LinkedIn entirely by adding their IP address to a blacklist. The case reached the US District Judge Edward Chen, who ruled that LinkedIn couldn’t stop anyone, in this case hiQ, from accessing their data. If LinkedIn benefitted from this data, then the greater public should benefit from it too. This is in keeping with hiQ’s belief that public data must remain public, and that LinkedIn were breaking antitrust laws with this attempt at restriction.
This is not LinkedIn’s first encounter with automation, as they have previously tried to limit third party software that automates activity, from being used on their website. This has met with little success.
Third Party Tools’ stance
If we look at this issue from the other perspective, LinkedIn automation tools receive a large number of positive reviews from clients who use them. Salesloop is one such tool and for €34 or roughly $39, we help our customers automate much of their manual Linkedin outreach.
Despite LinkedIn saying that automation tools are banned from its website, there are plenty of people who use them and value them. Neil Patel, the famous marketer, has also written about LinkedIn automation tools. The article – The Top 12 LinkedIn Tools for Boosting Sales – includes a mention of Crystal, that makes an assessment of a prospects personality to guide your outreach.
Why are automation tools precluded from LinkedIn?
A common theory is that LinkedIn precludes automation to block their competitors. For example, if hiQ or other companies are able to scrape LinkedIn data, in theory they could use it to start a new SaaS business. That theory might be true; however, LinkedIn is also trying to protect its reputation. The Guardian recently published an article – LinkedIn is the Worst of Social Media – criticising the website and highlighting the fact that it is ridden with spammers. This type of article is bad for PR and LinkedIn knows that, which is why they are cracking down on tools spammers might use, which includes automation tools.
LinkedIn automation tools – are they worth it?
Considering all this, is it worth it to use a LinkedIn automation tool? LinkedIn have been very clear about their views on automation tools. The use of them goes against their terms of service and they have taken action against those to defy their rules. Automation tool makers have been taken to court, blocked from the website and IP addresses have been banned.
Conversely, famous marketers and journalists publicly endorse LinkedIn automation tools. Others leave glowing testimonials about them and write articles praising them. This obviously leaves the average business owner in a tricky situation?
The first point is that LinkedIn can and will ban you for using automation tools. The fact that it is stated in their terms of service means it carries a high risk and if this is something you can’t afford, then just don’t use these tools. The second point is that spamming doesn’t work and everyone finds it annoying. As is brilliantly pointed out by Confessions of a Misfit, “Spam is a waste of the receiver’s time, and the sender’s optimism.”
Further notes on LinkedIn & spam
Bill Gates often gets things right but he famously, incorrectly said in 2004 that the issue of spam would be solved in two years. LinkedIn is a website with laser focus on users that want to build their professional brand. Being considered a spammer goes against their goal.
Why is that important? It’s important because, as a marketer, you don’t just pay attention to what LinkedIn thinks, you also pay attention to what your fellow website users think. If your peers think you are a spammer, you won’t be able to build connections as easily, growing your company will be slower and earning more revenue will be more challenging.
When you are debating using LinkedIn automation tools, you should consider two questions. Firstly, is this compliant with LinkedIn’s terms of service? Secondly, will my peers approve of this? Another thing to consider is the scale of the use of automation tools. LinkedIn clearly disapprove of automation in theory, but they are unlikely to ban moderate automation tactics. Likewise, if you receive negative comments from a couple of people in a huge industry, when you really are sending helpful emails, then that doesn’t really matter. As long as you are using the best outreach practices, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
The ability to communicate well with people is a highly valued skill, as highlighted by Rockefeller. Spamming isn’t considered good communication and it doesn’t increase your revenue. If you do want to try using LinkedIn for cold outreach, there are some useful tips on Hubspot to get you started. Whether to use automation or not is your personal choice, but make sure you are acting as a good member of the LinkedIn community.