Let’s get this out of the way: I hate LinkedIn. It exists in this weird interzone of social media – ostensibly for ‘professionals’ yet sharing the feature set of a ‘friends and family’-style social network.

I mean, I’m not stupid. I get the point of it. For better or worse, ‘networking’ is part of any industry. I’m just more likely to do that through actually working with people, or following interesting folks on Twitter. The idea of coldly ‘connecting’ with someone on LinkedIn does nothing for me, and I get almost no value from it.

For me, LinkedIn is mostly a distraction

People add me EVERY DAY, and 99% of the time they fall into three categories:

  1. Marketers trying to sell me some tool I don’t want or need
  2. Other people in my industry who want to meet up for a coffee chat
  3. People I actually work with

The colleagues I don’t mind so much, happy to have them on board. And sure, maybe three years down the line I’ll need to contact some mutual connection. But the marketers are just annoying – I’m happy with my tooling! If I wasn’t, I’d be looking for some? Woe betides anyone who is subscribing to new products and services off the back of a LinkedIn connection. And the coffee chats are fine, it’s good to meet and talk with fellow folks – but it’s usually me giving them advice and just parroting the same topics. So I’ve had to revert to a less involved “here’s my work email, just send me your questions” approach.

Enter the influencers

What I’m not using LinkedIn for is the personal brand-building stuff. I’m not trying to post content on there for other people to like – I’m strictly a passive user. But there’s an interesting breed of people on the site who are active content publishers. Chief among them: Oleg Vishnepolsky.

Oleg is a LinkedIn rock star. He’s posting pretty much every single day, and everything he posts gets tens of thousands of likes. For example, here are the last few days:

Like, wtf? It’s pretty much the most extremely bottom-of-the-barrel content you could possibly imagine. Empty epithets with all the depth of a “live laugh love” embroidered pillow. Yet people lap up this supposed received wisdom.

Worse than these mere bagatelles are the STORIES he posts. Stories of employees doing extraordinary things, bosses that have made some incredible display of compassion, an inspirational interviewee who changed the world.

It’s weird, right? And people lap this up! The comments below it are always like “totally agree”, “yes so true!”. I can’t even tell what’s going on here – is it some weird echo chamber? A cult of personality situation? A sheep mentality? I just can’t see how people find this kind of content at all meaningful or engaging.

Who is this guy?

And Oleg himself is a bit of a mystery. His profile says that he’s the Global CTO for both DailyMail online and Metro.co.uk. That seems like a pretty big job! If I had that job, I’m not sure I’d have time to be posting made-up stories on LinkedIn several times a day. I’m also not sure what I’d get out of doing that if I did. (Unless it’s all ironic?). That said, both those websites are horrible to use so maybe he’s just not working very hard at his job?

Weirdly, I could only find one clip of the man actually speaking anywhere online. It’s this weird clip of him starting into not-the camera.

What can we learn from this video? Erm, to be kind and trust people. Wow, such insight!

I thought CTOs did things like speaking at tech conferences. I’m sure lots of people would love to hear about the technical infrastructure of DailyMail Online (surely one of the most visited sites in the UK, if not world). But does he ever post about CDNs, DDoS mitigation, or DNS resolution? Nah. Oleg knows to give the people what they want: pictures of Denzel Washington with quotes on them.

It’s no surprise that some people don’t even think that Oleg is a real person. People have written conspiracy theories on the guy ranging from him being a creation of LinkedIn, to an actual alien. (Frankly, I’m convinced).

But is there anything we can learn from Oleg?


ps. Follow @CrapOnLinkedIn for daily examples of the worst the site has to offer.