How to Identify Bots on LinkedIn: Fake Sales Representatives

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LinkedIn is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world today. The Microsoft-owned company is something of a “black swan” in the social-content-media space, however, was selected as the third most important social media site for marketing, behind Meta’s Facebook and Instagram respectively. It placed first in job-related networking, edging out Glassdoor in March 2022. Yet, along with organic, real traffic coming to the site, there are also swathes of LinkedIn bots that flood the site.

A “bot” is a computer program that operates and impersonates a human on the internet. They feature artificial intelligence to varying degrees and are not always necessarily a bad thing. Google and Bing use bots to comb the internet. It’s part of how organic SEO is constructed.

LinkedIn bots work similarly but not entirely to the same ends. LinkedIn bots are often used as part of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and are sent on full automation to comb LinkedIn for leads. Here is an almost nearly comprehensive article breaking down the best consumer-grade bots to let loose on LinkedIn.

However, if you are not in the lead generation mess that is CRM you could fall prey to getting combed by a fake sales representative looking to peddle who knows what to you unwittingly. Here are some helpful tips to help break down who or what exactly you’re talking to on LinkedIn.

Account Frequency and Activity

LinkedIn bots can post frequently and without fault. A normal person may post often, however, it is unlikely they will be posting excessively, multiple times over the course of a day. Given the hours and nature of the content, it can reveal much about the nature of the entity on the other side of the screen.

The higher the frequency, time of day, and subject matter can give you clues. Yet ultimately, the higher the number of posts the more likely an automated response software or bot is behind the account.

The Flow of the Conversation

Bots are typically punchy, short, and to the point. While they have gotten their hold on more capable AI in recent years, they are often still clunky and repetitive. They tend to pull from a list of discernible targeted responses and will lack the nuance to have a slight change.

The greater the similarity of the individual’s comments may indicate that you are dealing with an automated response bot. Try asking the same question in a slightly different way. As the program has to elect to operate any given number of responses to filter into a given answer it is likely the entity – if it is a bot will respond with the exact same answer.

Two-Step Disassociation

Have question a, lead to question b. And have the context for that second question rooted in the first. Think,

Q: Where are you working?

A: Seattle

Q: What is the weather like outside?

A: Can you please rephrase the question?

This is indicative of bot behavior; a human would likely understand the nature of the question and comply; however, a bot cannot logically jump between the two at this point.

The Profile

It is unlikely that bot profiles will detail a rich and well-lived history. Most people give at least a general overview of their life. Where they’ve worked, their professional accolades, and so on. A bot will typically only have a profile image and a company, with maybe a school they went to or so on. Bots typically only have the most essential necessities to appear passable. Again, think of nuance and personality to discern humanity.

The more the “life” feels “lived” and the greater the personality the account has, the more likely it is in fact a real person. With bots, it can be handy to revert to the overall feel of the conversation. Once again, think Justice Stweart’s, “I know it when I see it.”

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