TechDigits

Tech news
Monday, Apr 15, 2024

How LinkedIn is changing and why some are not happy

How LinkedIn is changing and why some are not happy

Social media is where we project a version of ourselves. And a pensive Dan Kelsall is nothing like his rowdy character on LinkedIn, the social media platform famously tagged "Facebook for suits".

In the online world the co-founder of Manchester marketing firm Offended makes sure his business lives up to its name. His posts stick out for the prevalence of profanity and no holds barred humour.

Offended specialises in guerrilla marketing, turning the world of corporate messaging and polished branding upside down. As the irreverent Mr Kelsall puts it: "We don't just get our own ads banned, we get ads banned for our clients too."

With 900 million of the world's professionals registering their personal CV and career attainments on the site, LinkedIn has become a valuable resource for head-hunters and human resources departments.

But over the last three years or so, this once staid community billboard of career updates and business launches has seen a change in tone.

Many posts have become more personal, featuring the emotional backstories of its members with accounts of childhood influences and admissions of failings and frailties.

This is a far cry from the hard-sell approach beloved of many corporate players and not everyone is happy. Critics murmur that these posts are more suited to the weekend musings of Facebook or the raucous tone of Twitter.

So what has triggered this change? According to Mr Kelsall, boredom with corporate marketing is one culprit.

It's hard to imagine, but Mr Kelsall once worked as a copywriter for a tax software firm, producing "some of the driest things I've written". He may not have enjoyed this time, but it did give him an insight into what pulls in readers.

"Consumers are less and less trusting of big brands. People are tired of boring marketing.

"The skill is to speak like your audience and be relatable to your audience. I've been on LinkedIn for seven years and I've got 66,000 followers. That's a really engaged audience."

Working from home during the pandemic brought home life into contact with work


Parry Headrick founded Massachusetts public relations business Crackle. He attributes his entire client base to introductions via LinkedIn. There his followers learn about his penurious childhood and his own children's lives.

It's not to everyone's taste, though. One LinkedIn user responded to his disclosures with: "Nice story. It doesn't belong on LinkedIn."

Mr Headrick disagrees. "Engagement is about telling a compelling story. Your parents didn't read you a press release at bedtime, they read you stories. I try to give an insight into who I am if you work with me."

He is scathing about the effort businesses put into "company pages on LinkedIn that get no engagement", pointing out that human tales work. "It's the personal element that engenders trust."

Mr Headrick sees his personal pronouncements as "part of a broader shift away from corporate speak".

So what changed to make businesses so informal? Azadeh Williams thinks she knows.

Speaking from the Sydney offices of her media and marketing company, AZK Media, she explains why she shares updates about her six-year-old daughter. "I was a journalist for 20 years and I can spot marketing rigmarole and a contrived script. You have to be your crude, authentic self to attract your audience."

She wouldn't have posted this material a few years ago, but with the pandemic Zoom meetings intruded into the domestic space. This has changed everything. "Before Covid families didn't exist for your work colleagues. Now they've seen the families and it makes us more interesting."

Covid changed LinkedIn, according to Azadeh Williams


She believes that while LinkedIn has evolved from being the home of CVs, many users retain the mindset that it's just a digital job interview.

Douglas Rode runs recruitment giant Page Group in the UK and Ireland. As LinkedIn is such an important tool in his world how does he view its new incarnation? "Even five years ago people didn't open up so much. Now there's greater awareness of people's vulnerabilities such as mental health and LinkedIn has magnified this."

As a job-hunting expert would he advise someone to bare their soul there? His response is very qualified. "It's a matter of individual choice. You are putting yourself out there so a future employer can see you. You're trying to get a balance and you want to sound human, not generic or automated."

Others are more pointed. Tom Skinner, of London marketing agency Go Up, fears LinkedIn's new emotional tone is merely a symptom of celebrity culture and "a society that celebrates people who can self-publicise above all else".

LinkedIn has a 200-strong team working on stories primed to attract attention and involvement, all grist to the mill of recruiting companies that pay it for the right to scour the CVs of its members.

Dan Roth says LinkedIn does not encourage more personal posts


Dan Roth, Editor in Chief at LinkedIn, denies cultivating controversy to pull in readers. "We use algorithms to determine the right content for you but we do not steer people in one direction."

He too credits the pandemic with the shift in attitudes. "People found they got remarkable feedback when they talked about their mental health." He sets great store by LinkedIn users being identifiable in contrast to anonymous contributions on Twitter. Yet despite this public profile many members are unaware of how cringeworthy their stories can be.

Braden Wallake rushed to LinkedIn when he made two staff at his Ohio company redundant in August 2022, boasting of how "vulnerable" he felt when making this decision. He even adorned the post with a tearful selfie.

The first response to his post was a single word. "Muppet."

Furthermore, he was rewarded with the online title, The Crying CEO, and became the poster boy for what behavioural insights expert Helen Jambunathan calls the "LinkedIn cringe".

Ms Jambunathan says LinkedIn's algorithms reward posts that provoke engagement, even if this dilutes its recruitment industry origins. "LinkedIn is becoming more personal and generalised, and less about 'work' as we know it."

This trend comes from the top. Research group Kekst CNC analysed the LinkedIn profiles of chief executives across the UK, US, Germany and Sweden, noting that 77% of them post personal content.

Maybe the "Facebook for suits" is fine with its new knockabout tone. And the louder the criticism, the more people listen.

Back in Manchester Mr Kelsall is relaxed about making the odd enemy. "Sometimes you need detractors as much as you need fans."

Newsletter

Related Articles

TechDigits
0:00
0:00
Close
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The future of sports
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
UK Crypto and Stablecoin Regulations Become Law as Royal Assent is Granted
A Delaware city wants to let businesses vote in its elections
Alef Aeronautics Achieves Historic Milestone with Flight Certification for World's First Flying Car
Google Blocked Access to Canadian News in Response to New Legislation
French Politicians Advocate for Pan-European Regulation on Social Media Influencers
Melinda French Gates Advocates for Increased Female Representation in AI to Prevent Bias
Snapchat+ gains 4 million paying subscribers in its first year
Apple Makes History as the First Public Company Valued at $3 Trillion
Elon Musk Implements Twitter Limits to Tackle Data Scraping, but Faces Criticism for Technical Misunderstanding
EU and UK's Slow Electric Vehicle Adoption Raises Questions About the Transition to Green Mobility
Top Companies Express Concerns Over Europe's Proposed AI Law, Citing Competitiveness and Investment Risks
Meta Unveils Insights on AI Usage in Facebook and Instagram, Amid Growing Calls for Transparency
Crypto Scams Against Seniors Soar by 78% in 2022, Experts Urge Vigilance
The End of an Era: National Geographic Dismisses Last of Its Staff Writers
Shield Your Wallet: The Perils of Wireless Credit Card Theft
Harvard Scientist Who Studies Honesty Accused Of Data Fraud, Put On Leave
Putting an End to the Subscription Snare: The Battle Against Unwitting Commitments
The Legal Perils of AI: Lawyer Faces Sanctions for Relying on Fictional Cases Generated by Chatbot
ChatGPT’s "Grandma Exploit": Ingenious Hack Exposes Loophole in AI, Generates Free Software Codes
The Disney Downturn: A Near Billion-Dollar Box Office Blow for the House of Mouse
A Digital Showdown: Canada Challenges Tech Giants with The Online News Act, Meta Strikes Back
Distress in the Depths: Submersible and Passengers Missing in Titanic Wreckage Expedition
Mark Zuckerberg stealing another idea: Twitter
European Union's AI Regulations Risk Self-Sabotage, Cautions smart and brave Venture Capitalist Joe Lonsdale
Nvidia GPUs are so hard to get that rich venture capitalists are buying them for the startups they invest in
Chinese car exports surge
Reddit Blackout: Thousands of Communities Protest "Ludicrous" Pricing Changes
Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
×