How to walk the fine line between LinkedIn automation and spamming

LinkedIn automation
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Does using LinkedIn automation make you a spammer?

Shockingly, John D. Rockefeller, the famous American oil magnate, can help us. Of course, the billionaire was born in 1839, and he didn’t live to see LinkedIn. However, his words apply to the issue. 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.”

That quote shows the value of communication, and it will come in handy later. However, it doesn’t answer your pressing technical questions about LinkedIn automation. Let’s explore the issue.

What Does LinkedIn Say?

LinkedIn has a tenuous relationship with third party tools. They sued a company called hiQ Labs because they built a tool that scraped LinkedIn’s data. They also tried removing hiQ’s access to LinkedIn by blacklisting their IP address. This was no small legal battle. It went all the way to U.S District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco. He went on to imply that if LinkedIn’s platform can benefit from the organization of their public data, then the whole internet at large should benefit too. The embattled company hiQ fired shots at LinkedIn too, saying they were breaking antitrust laws by trying to restrict their public data.

LinkedIn’s battle with automation goes far beyond hiQ. All you need to do is take a look at their website to see that. They have a page called “Prohibited Software and Extensions.” In brief, that page says LinkedIn doesn’t permit the use of any third party software that automates activity on LinkedIn’s website. The punishments are steep. In 1814, Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba when France determined he broke the law. Likewise, people who use automation software on LinkedIn can be exiled too; they can have their account restricted or terminated.

What Do the Third Party Tools Say?

Let’s explore the flip side of the coin. LinkedIn says that automation tools are banned from its website, implying these tools with get you removed from the website. However, there are numerous positive testimonials from clients who use LinkedIn automation tools. For instance, LinkedIn Helper charges $99 a month for their automation tool. There are a quite a few testimonials on their site. Gary Curtis from ABC News calls it an “amazing tool.” Maverick Blair the marketer notes it’s a fantastic tool for “building your connections.” Also, Stephen Stavrakis calls the automation tool a “pretty amazing program.” There’s no shortage of people who are pumping up LinkedIn automation tools. One of the more surprising figures is the famous marketer Neil Patel. He penned an article on his website called “The Top 12 LinkedIn Tools for Boosting Sales.” One of the tools he mentions, Crystal, allows you to automatically send personalized emails.

Why Does LinkedIn Preclude Automation Tools?

You may think that LinkedIn blocks automation to preclude their competitors. For example, companies like hiQ could scrape LinkedIn data on a mass scale, and theoretically use that information to start a new SaaS business. That may be true. However, LinkedIn is also worried about spammers and its own reputation. The Guardian recently wrote an article called “LinkedIn is the Worst of Social Media.” They slam LinkedIn, saying the website is infested with spammers. LinkedIn knows this is bad for public relations, and they’re cracking down on automation tools and other tools spammers use.

Is Using Automation Tools on LinkedIn Worth It?

Is LinkedIn automation a good idea? It’s one of the trickiest questions in the industry. One on hand, LinkedIn clearly says using these tools is against their terms of service. They don’t mince words about the topic on their website. Furthermore, they’ve taken automation tool makers to court, blocked them from their website, and banned their IP addresses.

On the other hand, famous marketers like Neil Patel endorse LinkedIn automation tools. News anchors, marketers, and other digital luminaries leave testimonials about them. Where does this puzzling confluence leave the regular business owner?

First off, LinkedIn can ban you for using automation tools. It’s right in their terms of service. If that’s a risk you absolutely can’t afford, you shouldn’t use these tools. Second, spamming doesn’t work, and it’s annoying. As the book Confessions of a Misfit points out, “Spam is a waste of the receiver’s time, and the sender’s optimism.”

More Thoughts About LinkedIn & Spam

In 2004, Bill Gates once famously mused that spam would be solved in two years. Gates has been right about many things over the years, but he definitely dropped the ball with this prediction. LinkedIn is a website that is hyper-focused on people and companies who want to build up their brand. Being perceived as a spammer runs at cross-purposes with that goal.

Why does this matter in a conversation about LinkedIn automation? It matters because as a marketer, you don’t just care about what LinkedIn thinks. You care about what your fellow users think as well. If people in your industry think you’re a spammer, it’s going to be harder to build connections, grow your company, and earn more revenue. When considering LinkedIn automation techniques, you have to ask yourself two questions. First, will LinkedIn disapprove? Second, will people in my industry disapprove? On the other hand, these risks exist, but there’s no need to exaggerate them. LinkedIn may disapprove of automation, but it’s unlikely their going to ban moderate automation tactics. They want members. Also, most industries have lots of people, and if you’re really sending helpful emails, it doesn’t matter what a couple of bad eggs say about you. Ultimately, as long as you’re using the best cold email/outreach practices, you should have little to worry about.

Final Thoughts on LinkedIn Automation

Just as John Rockefeller implied, the ability to communicate with people is incredibly valuable. Spamming is bad communication, and it doesn’t move the revenue needle. If you want to try cold LinkedIn outreach, use these handy tips from Hubspot. Automating or not automating is a matter of personal choice, but ensure you’re a good citizen on LinkedIn.

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Benjamin Shepardson is a web development guru and founder of www.LakeviewStudios.com. As the company's leader, Ben brings to the table an innate ability to help small businesses compete with larger competitors through content strategies and SEO.

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