LinkedIn: tepid albeit successful?

20/10/21
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If I say “social network”, a vast majority of you will immediately think of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok. But why is that? Probably due to their impressive user numbers – i.e. TikTok just passed the one billion a month mark – but also due to the public scrutiny they are consistently under: most recently Instagram is suspected of having potentially detrimental effects on children’s mental health and Facebook is suspected of promoting violence against Rohingya Muslims. Most of the big social media networks have spent the last five years in a state of constant turmoil. Notable exception – LinkedIn- the most potent business social network in the Western world – generating over 8 billion of annual revenue and boasting 750 Million users.

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So what makes LinkedIn equally successful as tepid?

The lack of LinkedIn´s contentiousness can be accredited to its clear mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”. Indeed, LinkedIn has stayed in its wheelhouse since its founding in 2003: there’s a clear purpose, tone and type of content. LinkedIn users spend time on the platform for business reasons meaning they are in “work” mode when on the platform, showing up as they would for the office. It means that they are well aware that their current and future bosses and/or employees and peers will in probability not be impressed by deliberate polarization, extreme impulsiveness or heated emotional discussions rather than on work life facts – the bias is towards caution.

Over the past years, LinkedIn has significantly grown its ambitions from the pure networking and job hunting platform towards legacy media territory. In addition to employing a team of journalists and editors that write, edit and curate business content, it can also count on its LinkedIn Influencers program members: marketing pundits, global leaders and topic experts. While offering new features such as pulse, stories and an integrated employee advocacy function, LinkedIn provides serious business intel in a well rounded digital experience. While keeping with the same simple social network formula: pay more to get more: more access, more content, more business related relevant features.

Some may consider this refreshingly unpretentious, others may consider it sober or even bland – fact is, this very deliberate focus makes LinkedIn an effective tool for lead generation, employee advocacy and thought leadership. In times where no corporate leader should shy away from creating transparency and accessibility, LinkedIn is the network of choice for C-level executives. While still severely underutilized, LinkedIn is a brilliant platform to take a clear positioning, show original thinking and publish valuable ideas and insights. You can actively engage with communities instead of simply broadcasting content. Thus generating unique professional possibilities, piquing interest, building & maintaining relationships, and increasing visibility on search.

As far as content and tone are concerned, (or as far as modernity/being up-to-date is concerned) since corporate leaders are more and more advised to adapt to changing morals and cater to these new truths to remain relevant to their stakeholders, we predict that LinkedIn will soon find itself undergoing the same process. It’s necessary if it wants to remain relevant in connecting the world’s professionals successfully. Indeed, Linkedin has to work harder to stand out and remain viable. It must keep on proving that it understands that the border between professional and personal life is becoming increasingly blurred and that its wheelhouse is changing.

The recent update of the platform allowing the inclusion of maternity leave to your resume is a step in that direction but it’s not enough, if compared to the new platform Polywork. The rising importance of the gig economy represents another challenge to meet, with its self-employed workers and subcontractors paid by job – it certainly has impacts on how we should look at CVs. As expectations are rising, and as the crisis accelerates change, there’s a real challenge in remaining relevant and attractive to future generations of workers, who think, live and work in a very different way.

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Merve LiebeltGeneral Manager Europe & Vice President JIN Group

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20/10/21

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