One of the most popular topics in the growth marketing forums I am on, regards the safest way of using LinkedIn automation tools. Amongst the deluge of advice is often the following statement:
“Cloud solutions for LinkedIn automation are safer.”
Be very careful over any detection or protection promises made by a vendor offering a cloud-based LinkedIn automation solution. It might surprise you to know that cloud solutions can still be detected by LinkedIn, and depending on the technology used, are often easier to detect than someone running a browser extension.
Myth – cloud solutions shield you from LinkedIn detection
Cloud systems claim to provide better protection against detection by LinkedIn. But this isn’t necessarily true. If you are always logging into LinkedIn from your workplace or home office then the network access is always going to be from your physical location. No issue there from LinkedIn’s point of view.
Likewise, if you are using a regular browser to access LinkedIn. You are not going to trigger any red flags. Cloud systems on the other hand, commonly operate the browser in what is called a ‘headless’ mode.
According to Wikipedia, “a headless browser is a web browser without a graphical user interface. Headless browsers provide automated control of a web page in an environment similar to popular web browsers, but are executed via a command-line interface or using network communication.”
If we break this down into simple terms, it means that the cloud platform is going to be accessing your LinkedIn account, and automating activity without running from a standard browser.
Here’s the kicker. The use of a headless browser can easily be detected by LinkedIn! This useful blog from Antoine Vastel explains the different ways in which headless operation can be detected.
In summary, LinkedIn can distinguish between a regular browser logging into the platform and a browser running in headless mode. That means that when using such a cloud-based LinkedIn automation tool, chances are that LinkedIn is aware of this.
Vendors, like all providers of growth hacking solutions will be involved in a game of cat and mouse. Every time LinkedIn deploys a measure to detect headless operation, vendors will respond with new counter measures. And, so the game goes on.
But the main question to ask yourself here is, “Am I any safer using the cloud solution for LinkedIn automation compared to a browser-based extension”. It would appear not.
3 more reasons why browser is best
Here’s a few more reasons why we think that browser-based automation still offers the best option for people looking for automated LinkedIn lead generation:
1. The user experience. There is no need to learn a new interface or system. You will be using the same familiar LinkedIn interface. This means you get the same user experience you have always received. It reduces the time taken to target users, set up campaigns and send out connection requests. If you can do that efficiently, you reduce the time it takes to get value back from your investment of time and money.
2. Access to all LinkedIn features. You can use all of the regular LinkedIn filtering features to narrow down your target audience. Many people tell us that LinkedIn Sales Navigator has great filtering capabilities and then combining this with Dux-Soup provides the best of both worlds. You can choose to select your audience by group members, Alumni, lead lists, people who liked a post, and more.
3. Keeping your login details secure. Running your own local LinkedIn automation means that you do not need to share your login details with a third party. And this, as we all know, is against LinkedIn's terms and conditions.
The reality is that the best way to stay safe on LinkedIn, is to follow the best practice guidelines that we have talked about before. Stay targeted. Offer something of value. Build relationships. Foster engagement. Use all of the great tools and techniques that we’ve talked about on this blog and that successful growth hackers like to use.
If you have a requirement to run LinkedIn automation campaigns at a higher scale, then it is likely that you will be using a more sophisticated approach involving aged LinkedIn accounts, VPNs, virtual machines, etc to prevent your location from triggering a flag. But that is a whole different ball game!
But the next time you read a comment that people should ditch their browser-based LinkedIn lead generation solution, remember that you are probably no safer by switching to a cloud-based LinkedIn automation solution.
I’d be interested in hearing more from our user community on this topic. Leave a post below and let me know your own experiences.
About the author
Adam Osman is Head of Marketing at Dux-Soup He is passionate about using the latest marketing techniques to help companies and brands grow. With two decades of experience in marketing technology products for international companies and startups alike, Adam leads the effort to spread the word about how Dux-Soup can benefit companies looking to turbo charge their lead generation.