Why LinkedIn “Smart Replies” Aren’t Really That Smart.
If you’re one of the 660 million people who have a LinkedIn profile , you’ve been prompted with pre-drafted copy to accompany invitations to connect or recommended messages for interacting with existing contacts. According to LinkedIn, the goal of these “smart replies” is “to make it easier for you to respond to messages in a timely manner.” LinkedIn’s algorithm has analyzed millions of messages and uses machine learning to recommend typical replies for the message at hand. However, these conversational recommendations are anything but smart for digital communications strategists or networking professionals. AS DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGISTS: In a social media world that aims to make us more connected and allow us to understand what our followers want and who they are, automated interactions negate these benefits entirely. As communications strategists, it’s important to understand the narrative behind our metrics, such as engagement, where LinkedIn is boasting a 50% increase. This metric is undoubtedly important—you need to know how often followers are engaging with your content to understand how to optimize your social media strategy. Engagement rate when paired with metrics like Cost per Click and frequency begin to tell the story of who your followers are and what they care about. Sending InMail to your LinkedIn followers as part of your digital strategy and having them actually respond is great. Theoretically, how followers respond and take action following a direct message would tell us how effective our tactic, copy and call to action were. However, if our followers have the option to use a smart reply, which takes virtually no effort or commitment, we risk understanding far less about our engagement, even if engagement rates improve. In this scenario, it’s entirely possible that your reported engagement rates are strong, but your actual goal of downloads, signups, transactions, etc. remains stagnant. This leaves us with the tough job of providing teammates or clients with a misleading digital narrative rife with holes and inconsistencies. AS NETWORKING PROFESSIONALS: LinkedIn’s ultimate purpose is to effectively connect professional universes; it has become an important tool for the modern professional. Automated messages have had a negative effect on this aspect of our platform usage too. Yes, automated messages make it easier to set up a lunch or keep a conversation going with a potential business contact. However, the AI is not remotely sophisticated enough, even two years after its 2017 launch, to fool most networking professionals into thinking they’re actually speaking to a real person. Further, the language they’re actually able to convincingly automate consists of simple phrases such as “Sounds good!” or “Thanks.” Phrases that, in reality, don’t save us time or effort, nor do they further connections with other professionals in a meaningful way. If you’re working to build a professional relationship to grow your business, get a job, or expand your network, you need to put in real time, effort, and dedication. Showing someone that you’re worth their time is important and an awkward smart reply or a simple, short response will more than likely just ruin your chances of furthering that relationship.