Most people categorize social media platforms according to their capabilities and intended use. Instagram is for photos. YouTube is for videos. Facebook is for updates from friends and family. And LinkedIn is for business.
For many, LinkedIn functions as a living resume. As such, they limit LinkedIn interactions to job and hiring announcements, sharing blog posts from their company, or discussing challenges specific to their industry.
But in the past couple of years, regular users of the platform have noticed a major change.
The Facebook-ing of LinkedIn
In some ways, my own LinkedIn feed now resembles Facebook or Twitter. I’ve seen everything from pregnancy announcements to medical-related fundraisers shared by my connections.
At the height of pandemic unemployment, people shared the activities keeping them busy, from gardening to reading self-help books. As colleagues announced their own lay-offs, comments and advice poured in from those experiencing the same challenges, and connections bonded over their newfound time for growth.
Of course, posts about business, company blogs, and organizational changes are still front and center. But I’ve noticed the tone becoming a lot more casual and friendly. In fact, this shifting tone has sparked a trend many are calling “broetry”—a fragmented approach to LinkedIn storytelling that tends to result in a lot of engagement (though we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it).
I’ve seen spirited political discussions, TikTok videos, and plenty of memes, all on a platform designed for work. So what’s behind this personalization of professional social media?
A reflection of the new workplace reality
A more obvious merging of work and the personal has occurred in the past year. As the number of people working from home has multiplied, we’ve gotten a glimpse into the personal lives of coworkers, clients, and vendors alike.
In internal meetings and sales calls, we’ve heard babies cry and dogs bark. We’ve seen partners walk through video backgrounds, and Slack messages have been interrupted by cats jumping on keyboards.
We’re getting visual confirmation of something that has been true all along. People bring personal experiences, interests, and frustrations into the workplace—just as they do their professional expertise.
And to ignore this could be harmful to a company’s bottom line. According to Verb, a leadership development platform that helps managers develop the human skills that contribute to effective leadership:
“When people feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, employee engagement and retention improves greatly. In fact, a survey found that respondents whose companies ranked in the top quartile for high-trust workplaces reported having 106% more energy and were 76% more engaged at work than respondents from companies in the bottom quartile.”
On LinkedIn, people now feel empowered to share their “whole selves” on a traditionally work-centric platform. And as brands try to market themselves to a new kind of LinkedIn user, they’ll face an audience that is more tuned in to the personal aspect of a brand than ever before.
A new kind of decision maker
Millennials now have more power over the types of leadership positions they seek out. And according to LinkedIn, 86% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a job that shared their values (compared to only 9% of baby boomers).
As they dive into decision-making roles, this same demographic is looking to buy from value-driven companies.
A 2020 workplace culture report found that 83% of millennials prefer to purchase from organizations whose values align with their own. 65% of millennials have boycotted a company with an opposing viewpoint, and 62% like buying from brands that clearly define their social and political views.
LinkedIn is an easy starting point to quickly gauge these views when considering a new product or service. Prospective buyers can find out whether or not…
- Employees have pride in their company.
- A company has clearly stated values that are also reflected through its employees interactions on LinkedIn.
- An executive has endorsed a specific political or social viewpoint that conflicts with their own.
Marketing in the new age of LinkedIn
On LinkedIn, your company shares its expertise, qualifications, and product specs. But all of this can be overlooked if a competitor’s brand more closely aligns with what your audience values both personally and professionally.
In this new age of LinkedIn, how can you reach an audience that closely examines the experiences and viewpoints of your people?
- It starts with authenticity. Don’t just “talk the talk.” Before you can share your company’s views publicly, take time internally to define them. Moreover, “walk the walk” by ensuring your people have opportunities to practice these values in the workplace.
- Develop a people-first strategy around LinkedIn. It’s still important to share helpful resources, tutorials, and brand announcements on your company page. On personal LinkedIn profiles, however, encourage your people to interact (beyond sharing the latest blog post). Empower them to share what’s important to them: their successes, frustrations, and authentic selves.
- Find thought leaders within your organization. This is often a CEO, but it could be any one person or multiple people in your company. Post consistently (and authentically) to gain a following who will actually engage.
Paid advertising, expertise, thought leadership, and accuracy are still important to a social media strategy. But above all else, build a brand that reflects the lived experiences of your people.
Become more comfortable with the idea of your marketing strategy and your people strategy overlapping. In the end, your workplace will be better off.
Marketri crafts brand positioning strategies and messaging that clearly communicates your value proposition to connect with your target market.