LinkedIn currently has 900 million active users worldwide. 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.
What has triggered this change? According to recent research, boredom with corporate marketing is one culprit.
The new emotional tone is merely a symptom of celebrity culture and “a society that celebrates people who can self-publicise above all else”.
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.
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.
Please leave a comment below is LinkedIn turning to another Facebook like platform?