Why We Aren’t Using LinkedIn’s University Pages More

It’s been several months now since LinkedIn launched their University pages. At first, I was pretty excited. LinkedIn is a huge, successful social network and the ability for colleges and universities to reach out to alums, students and more was an interesting proposition.

Now, several months down the road, our LinkedIn University page is not at all a part of any of our social media plans, and we post there only occasionally, mostly as an afterthought.

Why? No engagement. Our most liked post there has 6 likes. Since anyone can post on the page, it’s been overrun by people posting about jobs, other LinkedIn groups and all sorts of annoying things.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 11.44.23 AM

What’s also strange is that even LinkedIn doesn’t seem to have things figured out. We have a University page, but on that page is a link to our “company page.” So we have a group, a company page and a University page. Why can’t I link those all together to have one page to rule them all?

The biggest frustration to me, though, and I’m speaking as a content person, not as the official voice of my University, is that the damn thing just doesn’t work. Every time I go to add content from any page in our WordPress-powered CMS, LinkedIn’s page scraper fails to get any content from my site. Without fail. I don’t understand it.

Here’s a news story on my site. It has all sorts of meta data, OpenGraph data, images and much more. Here’s an example of some meta data in there, generated by Yoast WordPress SEO plugin as well as code we wrote.

<title>Metres and Bilgere Receive Prestigious FellowshipsJCU Newsroom</title>
<!-- This site is optimized with the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin v1.4.22 - http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/ -->
<meta name="robots" content="noodp,noydir"/>
<meta name="description" content="Two faculty members of the JCU Department of English have been named 2014 Creative Workforce Fellows by the Community Partnership for Arts &amp; Culture."/>
<link rel="canonical" href="http://sites.jcu.edu/newsroom/2013/12/17/metres-bilgere-receive-prestigious-creative-workforce-fellowships/" />
<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary"/>
<meta name="twitter:site" content="@johncarrollu"/>
<meta name="twitter:domain" content="JCU Newsroom"/>
<meta name="twitter:creator" content="@johncarrollu"/>
<meta name="twitter:image:src" content="http://webmedia.jcu.edu/newsroom/files/2013/12/e21b9eaad6fe8a1c05af20fa5215f250.png"/>
<meta name="twitter:description" content="Two faculty members of the JCU Department of English have been named 2014 Creative Workforce Fellows by the Community Partnership for Arts &amp; Culture."/>
<meta name="twitter:title" content="Metres and Bilgere Receive Prestigious Fellowships"/>
<meta name="twitter:url" content="http://sites.jcu.edu/newsroom/2013/12/17/metres-bilgere-receive-prestigious-creative-workforce-fellowships/"/>
<!-- / Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. -->
<meta property="og:title" content="Metres and Bilgere Receive Prestigious &#8220;Creative Workforce&#8221; Fellowships" />
<meta property="og:type" content="website" />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://sites.jcu.edu/newsroom/2013/12/17/metres-bilgere-receive-prestigious-creative-workforce-fellowships/" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Two faculty members of the John Carroll University Department of English, George Bilgere, and Phil Metres, have been named as 2014 Creative Workforce Fellows by the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture (CPAC)." />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://webmedia.jcu.edu/newsroom/files/2013/12/e21b9eaad6fe8a1c05af20fa5215f250-150x150.png" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://sites.jcu.edu/wp-content/themes/JCU2011/JohnCarroll-FB-Icon.jpg" />

Here is an extra snippet from a different WordPress site we run, where we get the same result (i.e. nothing.)

<title>Campaign Leadership &raquo; Forever Carroll</title>
<!-- This site is optimized with the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin v1.4.24 - http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/ -->
<meta name="description" content="Meet and learn more about the Forever Carroll Campaign Co-Chairs and Honorary Chairs."/>
<link rel="canonical" href="http://forevercarroll.org/campaign-leadership/" />
<meta property="og:locale" content="en_US" />
<meta property="og:type" content="article" />
<meta property="og:title" content="Campaign Leadership - Forever Carroll" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Meet and learn more about the Forever Carroll Campaign Co-Chairs and Honorary Chairs." />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://forevercarroll.org/campaign-leadership/" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Forever Carroll" />
<meta property="article:published_time" content="2013-04-30T11:49:25+00:00" />
<meta property="article:modified_time" content="2013-05-15T15:51:12+00:00" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://d1c70yad66l392.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Kramer-final-300x200.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://d1c70yad66l392.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Frate-final-300x200.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://d1c70yad66l392.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/short-final-300x200.jpg" />
<!-- / Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. -->

When I add that URL to LinkedIn, I get this:

Click for full sizeScreen Shot 2014-02-17 at 1.57.30 PM

How is that useful at all? Even though the title of the page is in their several times, including the title tag in the HTML, LinkedIn can’t find it. They also can’t find a description, which again is there, twice. And it did not find any images, even though we specify several (og:image). There is no ability to upload an image independently.

Let’s see what happens when I use the same page on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 11.56.00 AM

Perfect. It got everything it needed, let me choose which of the two og:images I specific and if I don’t like it, I can upload my own. Super helpful, and I rarely have to make any edits.

Let’s see if Google+ can do it.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 11.59.36 AM

Now, that’s embarrassing. Google+ can do it, and LinkedIn can’t.

I’ve tweeted to LinkedIn, submitted tickets, even made a video showing them what I’m seeing. I’m not sure if something is wrong on my end, on my WordPress pages, or if its something on their end. This is happening on several JCU sites, on separate servers, using separate WordPress themes and plugins.

Regardless of where the problem is, the larger problem is usage. We are seeing little to no engagement coming from that platform, and part of that may be due to the confusion of users when it comes to University pages, company pages, groups and so on.

LinkedIn is great at making people to people connections, but I feel they need to really figure out what they’re doing when it comes to higher ed. They need to streamline pages for colleges and universities and combine the pages they want us to manage and promote with their “company” pages for a cohesive experience for not only our users, but for us as page administrators.

There’s a ton of potential there, and I know that LinkedIn is full of really, really smart people. I have faith they’ll be able to get it figured out and make a dent in this market.