Job’s a good’un: How LinkedIn turned into a Gen Z-friendly social media competitor | LinkedIn
IIf you’ve heard that there’s a social network that’s attracting 200 new users every minute, that its users are making 9,000 new connections, and that the often hard-to-reach Gen Zers are a growing share of that new business , you’d probably think it must be Snapchat, TikTok, or some new social network you’ve never heard of – but you’d be wrong.
Another official statistic from the company would make the answer obvious: the site also handles 4,500 job postings every minute and claims that six people also get a new job every minute. With that detail, it could only be LinkedIn – the social media network that many of us tend to forget about.
LinkedIn can be accused of many things, but being cool is rarely one of them. As a work-centric social network — and owned by Microsoft, still a wildly successful tech company but considered a 90s relic — it has a reputation for borderline seriousness.
TikTok and Instagram dominate the cultural conversation, Facebook still has the largest user base and Twitter is the social network journalists spend far too much time on – leaving LinkedIn often overlooked.
The flip side, however, is that as we’ve had a backlash against big tech and the dangers of social media, LinkedIn has almost entirely escaped the bad press. We might worry that Mark Zuckerberg is spying on us — to the point that he’s not just a household name, but the butt of jokes in comedy sketches around the world — but most surveillance on LinkedIn is done by other users, whether for genuine work-related reasons or nefarious purposes, such as finding out about someone you’ve been matched with on a dating app.
It helps that LinkedIn doesn’t need to track your activity on its site, app, and web in the overtly invasive way Facebook does to monetize your activity on its network. Because it has a clear work purpose, LinkedIn can make money directly from users, allowing it to message strangers, and it can make even more money from recruiters, because it is by far the most obvious tech platform to post jobs on.
But that need to appeal to Gen Z – a group we’re told wants a very different relationship with the world of work – is persuading LinkedIn to revamp its site, moving towards video and other new features. to attract young people. Can the professional social network have it all? Can it retain its old users while gaining new ones and continuing to avoid the backlash that hits other networks?
IIt’s certainly the case that messages that get through on LinkedIn are vastly different from those that land elsewhere – often to the point that they then go viral on other social networks for all the wrong reasons. Indeed, Reddit has an entire forum dedicated solely to LinkedIn posts.
Highlights include a post that opens with: “I never quite understood the concept of the 5-day work week. Why do we need a work stoppage that we enjoy? …there seems to be no rational explanation for the 5-day week.
Other “inspiring” content includes sharing memes of seemingly random acts of kindness, such as an exam paper with a handwritten note at the end that reads, “If you could, could you give my bonus points to the one who gets the lowest score? shared with the caption, “More of this please #kindness.”
Seriousness, in a sense, is part of LinkedIn’s strength: it is a professional social network, and therefore does not lend itself to strong opinions, trolling or abuse: people censor themselves much more on LinkedIn than on other networks, making it easier for moderators, but leaving people looking for things to post (hence the platitudes).
When the workforce still includes baby boomers, virtually all Gen X and Millennials, and now a growing number of Gen Zs, recruiting and even self-promotion can require speaking multiple languages online different.
Having come of age in the age of Snapchat and TikTok, Gen Z has an affinity for video unmatched by any of its peers, making it essential even for professional purposes. In an interview with the the wall street journalLinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky said he had to modify his site.
“We’re seeing a lot of Gen Zers joining the network right now,” he said. “They’re much more interested in showing up via video or through a much more robust profile than maybe the older generations.”
LinkedIn had previously experimented with a Snapchat/Instagram-style “stories” video feature, but unceremoniously abandoned it more than a year ago due to lack of demand. Its new efforts to integrate video are more focused on video profiles and longer-form video. If you saw Revenge of a Blonde, you may recall that Elle inexplicably applied to Harvard via video. LinkedIn video profiles are that idea come true — and often just as laudable. The site even offers “topic prompts” to help people record a memorable profile video.
Over the past year, the platform has added a number of features aimed at attracting and retaining users. None are particularly original, but they attempt to mimic the professional, professional content that users may enjoy on other services. A newsletter feature rolled out to eligible members in November and in February it added a podcast network, which will include a show from co-founder Reid Hoffman titled The start-up of you. In January, it launched a Clubhouse-like live audio feature and soon a new live video event platform is promised, allowing users to host conferences, “fireside chats” and the like entirely on LinkedIn. Meanwhile, adjustments are being made to accommodate changing attitudes, post-pandemic, to work-life balance. For example, to overcome the stigma often associated with career breaks, the platform now offers a dozen ways to explain gaps in their resume, from “pursuing a personal goal” to “full-time parenthood.”
Another feature designed to appeal to Gen Z is the ability to block any “political” content from users’ feeds, on an opt-in basis. But by using algorithms to protect its users from political or other content, LinkedIn risks getting tangled up in another set of arguments that can quickly turn toxic.
It’s a political decision in itself and another example of how navigating generational waters is a tricky task, even for an 18-year-old social network. Social media consultant Matt Navarra thinks LinkedIn did a good job keeping a low profile for a few years and then continued to adapt its features for the post-Covid world.
“There has been a change in the way the world works in terms of employment,” says Navarra. “LinkedIn had to adapt to it [but there is] a huge opportunity there. And so they have added many features to help freelancers, creators, people who work from home and boost their video output [is part of that].”
Chances are LinkedIn will become the first social network to be used in the same way by four different generations, giving it perhaps the most certain prospect of long-term success. That would make LinkedIn the hare’s turtle of Facebook. Now tell me that wouldn’t make for a good #inspirational LinkedIn status update.