In 2021, the business world is raving about creativity and personalisation. This year, in order to stay afloat and grow, businesses need to make sure they stand out from the crowd and bring more value to their customers than ever before.
A stone that can kill both of those birds is LinkedIn extensions. Just remember that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. So choose your birds and your stones wisely.
NetHunt will help you with that!
What Is a LinkedIn Extension?
A LinkedIn extension is a piece of technology, a small software module that can be added to your browser or even installed directly on your computer in order to expand the standard capabilities of LinkedIn.
The main idea behind LinkedIn extensions is to give you a chance to customise your user experience and enable some extra features that would otherwise be unavailable. The end-goal of these add-ons is to make your time on LinkedIn more productive, fruitful and overall exciting.
The market for LinkedIn extensions is truly vast: you can easily find add-ons for both average users and professionals. The latter, however, prevail - most LinkedIn extensions are focused on bringing additional functionality to sales reps and marketers exploiting the social media platform for their business-related activities such as lead generation, sales automation, or social media marketing.
What Are the Dangers of Using LinkedIn Extensions?
The very concept of LinkedIn extensions sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? Turns out, not for everyone.
LinkedIn itself has a huge problem with unofficial extensions, which has resulted in an extremely tenuous relationship with third party tools.
One of the most infamous peaks of the ongoing battle between the two sides dates back to the year 2017. Back then, LinkedIn filed a legal case against hiQ Labs, a software company that uses LinkedIn data to build algorithms capable of predicting employee behaviors, such as when they might quit, and demanded that their product stops scraping data. The court ruled against the social media platform and ordered LinkedIn to remove any technology preventing hiQ from accessing public profiles in 24 hours.
This, however, wasn’t the end of the saga. Although LinkedIn didn’t manage to outlaw the use of third party extensions on the national level, they stayed consistent with their views:
“We’re disappointed in the court’s ruling. This case is not over. We will continue to fight to protect our members’ ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn.”
LinkedIn spokeswoman Nicole Leverich
The case is believed to have implications beyond LinkedIn and hiQ Labs as ever since 2017, LinkedIn declared a war on the apps, tools and other add-ons that take advantage of the data stored on its servers.
What’s the beef, you might ask. After all, third party tools that expand the functionality of LinkedIn could encourage more people to use this social media platform and stay dedicated to it for longer. Only for a short period of time. The long-term consequences of enabling the use of such extensions are deemed harmful by LinkedIn for the following reasons:
- They encourage spam;
- They are detrimental for the health of the social media platform as they undermine the integrity of the platform by automating personal actions like endorsements or messaging, and;
- Third party LinkedIn extensions can deprive LinkedIn of revenue.
In an attempt to combat the use of unauthorised extensions, LinkedIn introduced the list of Prohibited Software and Extensions and pointed out that anyone using them would be breaking the LinkedIn User Agreement.
The most controversial points laid out in the updated Agreement are the ones talking about the ban of the ‘bots or other automated methods to access the Services, add or download contacts, send or redirect messages’; and a restriction on ‘copying, using, disclosing or distributing any information obtained from the Services, whether directly or through third parties (such as search engines), without the consent of LinkedIn’.
According to LinkedIn, those who violate the rules can face harsh punishments and put themselves at risk of having their accounts being restricted or even shut down. Besides, there’s always a possibility that these tools may become non-operational without notice.
But that’s only if LinkedIn finds a violation...
How Does LinkedIn Know You’re Using an Extension?
There are two ways in which LinkedIn can detect web extensions: through public resources and through behavioural changes.
Any asset e.g. logo or image that is built in within the extension and is publicly available is considered to be a public resource. If your extension uses any of the public resources, LinkedIn will easily identify it via the extension's manifest file.
Alternatively, you can get busted for using LinkedIn extensions if they modify the structure of the web page. That way, an extension that creates more functionality on the site or adds extra elements can be easily detected by LinkedIn.
There’s a list that contains behavioral traits related to different extensions, and LinkedIn looks out for those whenever you access the site. If it detects any changes, it will effectively identify the exact extension you use and potentially restrict or ban your account.
- Find the list of banned LinkedIn extensions here.
Does it mean you shouldn’t even think about using a LinkedIn extension?
Not quite. While LinkedIn is being salty about the third party tools, it’s foolish to deny that they can be very helpful and have an immense positive impact on your business. Sometimes, the prize is worth the price. Whenever you’re looking for an extension to install, you need to pay attention not only to the features it provides but also the way in which those features are enabled.
Top 5 Safe LinkedIn Extensions to Help Your Business
You already know which LinkedIn extensions can harm your business, now it’s time to find out which won’t. While a lot of add-ons get blacklisted by the social media platform, there are still that are safe to use and can help you reach your LinkedIn marketing and sales goals.
LinkedIn is the absolute best platform for all things social - both social media marketing and social selling. It gives you an opportunity to grow your business by writing engaging posts and communicating with your audience.
The only thing it doesn’t provide you with is a powerful analytics tool. Which is a real shame - it’s essential for social media professionals to be able to access the data on their online performance and see what content drives the most engagement. Without it, you can end up never reaching your full potential. Thankfully, there’s a solution to your problem - Shield Analytics.
This Chrome extension pulls all the data regarding the content you share into dynamic dashboards and generates real-time reports on individuals or teams. You can measure the performance of individual posts, hashtags, content types, and even identify the best time and day to post based on how responsive your audience is throughout the testing period.
Price: Starts at $12/month, 10-days free trial period .
No matter how great the technology you use is, it’ll never be good enough if you fail to add some human touch to it. Money is above all a social construct, hence you market to humans, you sell to humans, you buy from humans. This means that at the end of the day, the success of all your business activities is determined by the quality of the interactions you have with the people involved in those.
As a businessperson, it’s your job to make sure those interactions go as smoothly as possible. In the past, it would require you to have a lot of soft skills and a psychology crash course to achieve that. Today, however, you can rely on Crystal to give you a relationship 101.
"Crystal uses Personality AI to accurately identify anyone’s behavioral patterns by analyzing text samples, assessment responses, and other attributes. It then uses that information to facilitate more effective communication, stronger one-on-one relationships, and better decision-making."
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Crystal is the app for those times when you stress over whether you should write ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ in your opening message - it makes that decision for you. Crystal Chrome extension shows you a high-level view of the personality, accompanied with a quick tip for interacting.
Even better, it offers the Conversation coach feature, which generates phrases that would have the most effect on your prospects. You can choose a means of communication (phone, email or messages) and the scenario you want to discuss (selling and influencing, working together, etc.) and the extension will suggest the things you should say as well as the do’s and don’ts of the conversation.
Price: 10 profiles/month for free, or $29/month.
Lead generation automation is one of the prime reasons why LinkedIn extensions exist. Everyone wants to automate their prospecting process and reach out to as many prospects as possible. That’s exactly what makes extensions like Linked Helper and DuxSoup so popular, but this is also what makes them so dangerous to use - LinkedIn doesn’t approve of that behaviour, and is after the accounts that turn to it. If you want to leverage the benefits of LinkedIn automation, you need to be smarter than that and find a safer alternative.
At the moment, the best one is Expandi. It’s a cloud-based solution for LinkedIn outreach automation that can’t be detected by the website. Therefore, using it won’t get your account banned. Apart from that, it also assigns a new proxy IP address to each account, with the Expandi algorithm mimicking human behavior. It generates random delays between actions to replicate human behaviour.
Price: $99/month per account.
Lusha is a little but handy LinkedIn extension for both marketing and sales teams - a powerful B2B information finder.
This add-on allows you to find the email address and/or phone number of pretty much any LinkedIn user that made this information publicly available. It reads the name of the contact and their job title, then scans through databases to find the most probable match.
While it can sound like Lusha is walking on the thin ice with all the data manipulations, it’s actually a safe extension to use. Here’s what the company says about how they find their information:
"In order to provide you with this service and match the relevant information from our database with applicable profiles you view on supported sites, we need to read certain words (such as full name and company name) from such sites you view when you use our service. We store the data in our servers temporarily and delete it after providing you with the service. This data is not added to our database."
NetHunt for LinkedIn
You saw this one coming, this is the big boy of the list, NetHunt CRM Integration With LinkedIn. This Chrome extension is all you need to automate your lead generation in LinkedIn and Sales Navigator, find new leads, automate data entry, and convert faster.
This LinkedIn extension allows you to capture leads in just one click and automatically bring them into your CRM. That way you can keep all your interactions organised.
One of the differentiating features that give NetHunt CRM integration with LinkedIn a competitive advantage is how safe this extension is. Unlike a lot of other similar products that can get your LinkedIn account banned the second you install the extension, the NetHunt one guarantees to improve your lead generation game without LinkedIn noticing anything suspicious. Here’s why:
- It doesn’t run any hidden mass actions on behalf of the user, including search or downloads of LinkedIn users information.
- It only adds one contact or company at a time and only when the user initiates this action.
- When adding a new Contact or Company to NetHunt CRM, the extension doesn’t scrape any profile detail that isn’t available to its users otherwise.
Price: $24/month, 14-days free trial period.
LinkedIn extensions can make or break your business. They can bring your lead generation and social media marketing efforts to the next level, or get you banned from using LinkedIn ever again.
It’s up to you to decide whether this onion is worth peeling, but if you do, stay safe and choose reliable extensions to use.
Like Rockefeller once said, “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.”