LinkedIn cannot be everything to everyone

Businesses and LinkedIn cannot be everything to everyone.  And nor should they try.  You see we don’t venture into a 5 star Michelin restaurant to order a fast food burger or take a camping holiday expecting a gilded infinity pool in a caravan park.  Nor do we expect a bookstore to sell a TV or a pharmacy to stock scotch whiskey.

These seemingly peculiar examples demonstrate how overarching needs are solved with divergent options to meet hunger, holidays, communications and remedies.  Horses for courses and each attracts a unique market. They are staying in their lane and not trying to be everything to everyone.

Experience Promise 

Social media platforms are akin as they foster unique value and the ‘experience promise’.   The bells and whistles of each social media attracts users and marketers which align to specific goals, target markets and communication nuances.  The experience promise of each media attracts and also repels.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and now TikTok hold quite distinct market and brand positioning with good reason.    Their experience promises are part trust and anticipation to deliver with value and engagement expectations.

As we all bear witness at present, life and how we communicate can change on a dime.  We are deluged with media and content at break neck speed.  Where do we go to consume and digest information and build networks that are relevant and  in a manner that is meaningful to us?

Each social media platform has a value offering of not just the content type but what, how and when it’s distributed. Multimedia variables and preferences are part of that promise and choice.  And within that choice is the question every small business owner asks “where do I invest and spend the bulk of my social media time?”

The simple answer is to be where the majority of your ideal clients congregate.   Pretty straight forward.  And then dabble in the other medias as needed. Generally as a rule of thumb 70% in one core social media, 30% in others (but not linear and business and market segment driven).

But it comes back to really understanding your market and their media consumption preferences.  For example, you as a reader of this article have chosen Smart Company as a news site of choice.  The content and cadence of editorial coverage of topics that matter to you are delivered in a way that relates. Likewise, I’ve written this article to match the experience promise of value.

FOMO & Shiny Objects

Staying in your lane and value is a growing concern in 2020.  We see this on social medias who are drowning in the FOMO mindset and trying to be everything to everyone!    Mind you this is not just a conundrum for social media but for many businesses as they grapple with their lanes and  market niche.   I observe that  holding court and strengthening the business sweet spot, valuing unique value propositions and staying in delineated lanes is a juggle for so many. Yet  we just cannot be everything to everyone.   Businesses end up being nothing to no one or simply vanilla Joe or Joanne to a just a few.

There is a long line between improvement and remodelling.  When big and critical issues seem too bloody hard to fix, many businesses ignore and jump on the next new shiny object.   In the new shiny object space the deflection fills up the action cup.

A new shiny object is not always what is needed when bigger beasts need to be assuaged.  We are seeing this on all mature platforms apart from TikTok being relatively new.

Social Media Stories

LinkedIn at 675M global members is the global champion of professional business networking Platform changes and adaptations are part of the game.  Most times, LinkedIn add, remove or update a new feature without any prior warning or fanfare.   Suddenly something has changed, disappeared or added.   Changes and updates are rolled out randomly.  Often it’s met with great applause, other times disgruntled disapproval.  So far this year there has been some awesome new updates, especially Features to highlight top content on profiles.

So it was most  unusual that LinkedIn announced  in February they are  trialling and rolling out Stories to ‘add  greater conversational opportunities’.  Stories are an ephemeral visual feature which disappears in 24 hours, Stories first appeared on Snapchat then took Instagram by storm.

Indeed as Instagram is a highly visual platform with significant product brand engagement and users wanting some ‘more fun’ content, it fits well.  Facebook also rolled out Stories  but  Instagram holds court.   Twitter are planning to roll out a similar called ‘Fleets’.  Gee that lane thing again.  Each of these platforms is truly unique and audiences engage in different ways and with different needs.

Age demographics, industry sectors, client focus (B2C or B2B), content preferences all sit in the melting pot of social media experience promises of value.  LinkedIn is a whole different beast than the other medias. With significant C suite and professional organisation members the needs and predilection of users of LinkedIn are very different.

LinkedIn’s Lane

As a gauge of what is consumed a review of the Top 100 LinkedIn hashtags is a good indicator of the topic trends and content sought.  It’s a platform for higher dwell, deeper information, learning and conversations of commercial value.  Sure there is the fun and tickle.  But posting exact video and alike content from Facebook or Instagram onto LinkedIn isn’t a great idea.

Just like car videos… fun on Instagram & TikTok but LinkedIn?  LinkedIn is not a movable feast of tick and flick 24 hour sound bite?  Also remember that 40% of members log in weekly and Stories may have gone up into the cloud heaven days before your connection tunes in.

Whilst generational can have digital penchants I’m not sure if that is 100% relevant to LinkedIn core.  Currently the spread of age demographics is diverse but with a higher leaning to Gen X and 40’s and 50’s. But that is an organic outcome given the platforms maturity. .  The push for more active Millennials and Gen Z will again be organic based on industry, educational and professional needs and changes.

Staying in the lane of value experience will cement a stronger foothold on LinkedIn as the unique lane of being “the world’s premier professional and networking site’.  Other sites have their lanes and they do it well.

I believe that LinkedIn and all social media platforms need to hold their nerve and essence and stop trying to be everyone to everyone and stay in their lane.

LinkedIn  Feedback

But I was curious to review how LinkedIn  members viewed the potential roll out of Stories and how and if it was welcomed.  In a post I put up recently I asked if Stories on LinkedIn is a Yes, Maybe or No?  I also had many private conversations and emails.

The feedback publicly and in private was circa 65 NO, 30% YES 5% Don’t know.  The feeling from the Yes group  was it’s an evolving platform and why not as content needs to be viewed dynamically.  Some of the affirmatives commented they love Instagram stories and would love to see it on LinkedIn also. There were some very passionately shouted NO’s and from a range of ages too, as was the YES. And some just thought the concept bonkers and will dilute the value.

A few marketers felt it was a good idea as and many concerned that the video quality currently quite poor and that great content of all genres on LinkedIn needs to well considered and strategic.  Overall there was a sense that not a great idea.

Bec Derrington the founder of PR resource, Source Bottle strongly believes social media platforms must evolve in line with changing audience trends and demands but doesn’t believe they should become carbon copies of each other. She is not a fan of the proposed addition of Stories on LinkedIn which vanish in a day.  She also is concerned about an adverse effect on platform use by further segmenting users and actually diminishing features loved by rusted-on fans.

Summing Up

So should LinkedIn and social media platforms stay in their core lane and not always look for a shiny new object?  Should businesses not try to be everything to everyone?  Is social media giving us too many choices and content shock and strain in times of change and upheaval?     And will pharmacies ever sell whiskey and camping grounds have gilded infinity pools?

We are going to be truly overwhelmed for most of 2020 with news, content and data so it’s more important than ever to trust and hold onto the experience promises of social media and your  lane.

 

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