Anthony Juliano is the Vice President of Marketing and Social Media Strategy at Asher Agency, a Midwest-based marketing strategy firm. Anthony speaks and writes about a variety of social media and marketing topics, with a specific focus on LinkedIn. Connect with him at AnthonyJuliano.com.
LinkedIn has a reputation for being… well, a little dorky. In fact, if social media sites were high school kids, Pinterest would be the prettiest girl, Facebook would be the most popular kid, and Twitter would be the cool, edgy dude with a knack for setting trends.
What would LinkedIn be? Remember the nerdy kid who got straight A’s but who didn’t go to the prom, mainly because it was on the same night as chess club? Yeah, that’d be LinkedIn.
This has certainly been perpetuated in the media. Tech Crunch has called LinkedIn “the boring social network that won’t find you a date but may land you a job.” CNN’s Victor Hernandez said on Twitter that “LinkedIn is boring’ is fast becoming its corporate motto.” And Business Insider took things a step further by saying that “LinkedIn’s lousy sex appeal could end up killing it.”
So, are they right? Is LinkedIn boring? The honest truth is that it can be–certainly as compared to the likes of Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. But is LinkedIn’s lack of “sex appeal” a bad thing? In reality, the fact that LinkedIn is boring may actually be one of its greatest assets. Here are a few reasons why.
1. LinkedIn’s audience is focused on work, not play.
If you want to talk about shopping, books, movies, hobbies, or you personal life, you won’t find much of an audience on LinkedIn. Most LinkedIn users, you see, are laser focused on their professional life, looking for resources that can help them grow as professionals or help them grow their business. That makes LinkedIn a lot like real-world business networking events–which can be, admittedly, a little boring (especially in comparison to the pool party that is Facebook). The advantage, though, is that if you focus your efforts on LinkedIn on how you can be a resource to your connections, your approach will likely be well received.
2. No photos or videos means more focus on words–including your words.
If you look at what generates conversations on Facebook, you’ll quickly see that photos and videos get more attention than text-only status updates. On Pinterest, of course, photos are the whole point. LinkedIn is much different. The only photos on the site, other than those in ads and stories, are users’ profile photos. The only videos are the rare few you’ll find embedded in company pages or member profiles (like this one). That makes text dominant–and presents a great opportunity to keep the audience focused on what you have to say, if you say it well and make it relevant.
3. Less activity overall equates to less noise–and a better chance for you to stand out.
Because relatively few LinkedIn users update their status, the news feed is pretty quiet–especially as compared to Facebook and Twitter. That presents another opportunity for you to stand out simply by being willing to share what you know.
4. Unlike Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, LinkedIn won’t likely lead you down a rabbit hole.
I’ve heard friends talk about getting “sucked in” to Pinterest, and losing “hours” on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone make the same statement about LinkedIn. From my perspective, one of LinkedIn’s biggest advantages is that users log in, get what they need, and log out. There aren’t a lot of people using LinkedIn just to kill time, and that means they’re more action oriented and intentional then they are on other sites.
5. No “wall” and no “tagging” means you have control over your message.
The great thing about your Facebook profile is that it’s shaped by the people in your network as much as yourself. It’s all about interaction, and letting others define the terms of the conversation by mentioning your name in status updates, for example, and tagging you in photos. But what if you don’t want others to chime in, or what if what they say isn’t helpful to you? What if, for example, you want to focus your Facebook page on your profession, but your friends mention you in statuses and tag you in photos unrelated to your work? That’s where LinkedIn users have an advantage. There’s no wall, and no tagging, so the opportunity for others to publicly engage with you are limited. Pretty much the only way they can jump in is by liking or commenting on your status updates, and it’s unlikely they’ll say something wholly unrelated to the conversation you’ve started. That makes for less engagement–but a more focused message overall.
The truth is, LinkedIn does offer a lot of things that are pretty exciting. A great window into your contacts’ world and the chance to make an impression on them every day. The opportunity to understand–and leverage–the interconnections within your network. An unmatched conversion rate. And just like that nerdy high school kid, a lot of untapped potential.
So, if you’re looking to hang out with the cool crowd, LinkedIn may not be for you. But if you want to focus your efforts and connect with an audience that’s equally as focused, you’re likely to get exactly what you want out of LinkedIn–as long as you’re willing to put up with a few yawns along the way.