Is LinkedIn Cool now? What Next TBD explores the notion.
In the middle of last week, Lizzie O’Leary, the host of Slate’s What Next TBD podcast, tweeted (no, I’m not going to say X’d), asking thoughts from users of LinkedIn. The platform was the subject of last Friday’s pod. Lizzie explored the notion of, is LinkedIn Cool now?
What a concept! LinkedIn has always been the boring coffee shop of social media. You know, where you went for your BNI “one on one” meetings. I always liked the original concept that you needed someone to “connect” you to someone else. It’s how we do things in the real world, of course. The LIONs changed that, but that’s a discussion for another time.
LinkedIn as Social?
Social media platforms had specific niches, functions. We did direct messaging and full-on chat on AOL/AIM. That morphed into Twitter over time. Facebook was more about private circles of family and friends. Those boundaries blurred as competitors entered the market, looking for eyeballs. Instagram, and later, TikTok leveraged our oooh-shiny impulses and desires to watch video. And cats. Don’t forget, Al Gore may have invented the Internet, but the Cat Cabal was behind it.
LinkedIn has always managed to stay above this fray. The main reason for this was that the platform was “business.” Sure, we all have a profile on LinkedIn, but it’s “business.” It’s “serious.” I remember, in 2016, I received a message from a “connection” saying my LinkedIn content was “too political,” as if the platform was the online version of the break room on the second floor. Or worse, the Southern American dinner table, where religion, sex, and politics should never rear their ugly heads.Leave the dirty social stuff for the other sites.
What’s changed? Quite a few things in the industry. On LinkedIn? Not so much. It’s stable. Ever since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, it’s become quiet and stable. In many ways, it swallowed job recruiting whole. Sure, Monster and its successors are good when you’re looking for a gig, but LinkedIn is about the gig looking for you. The recruiters and entrepreneurs keep tabs on who’s doing what on LinkedIn. They pay for the premium packages to do deep-dive searches when seeking job candidates. Sure, a company can post listings on Indeed, Monster, or Glassdoor, but then they have to manage that presence. Hire a recruiter and you get one-stop shopping. The recruiter’s edge is they leverage LinkedIn.
All this is stable. It’s pretty boring, frankly. We all set ourselves up in the system, because the best time to look for a job is when you already have one. LinkedIn isn’t where we go to renew acquaintance with folks from a former workplace, school, or that kickball league you joined in your first year at the firm. We do that on Facebook.
Thing is, Facebook’s changed. Twitter’s gone bonkers. LinkedIn? It’s peaceful.
LinkedIn is peaceful because Microsoft doesn’t need to be innovative. They pull in a ton of cash annually from those premium packages. We’re all there to be searched by the recruiters. As the rest of social media goes bonkers, folks are starting to think, hey, what if I just want to have a conversation? Stable and boring seems like a good place to start. No misogynist “reply guys.” No insane comments as we see on YouTube. And less of the “entertainment” we see on Facebook (and no doubt will see on Threads).
Take a second look
It’s time to dust off your LinkedIn presence. Maybe find the alumni group for your school, or something related to hobbies and other interests. Let’s talk about what we find. Are we LinkedIn? Check to see.