LinkedIn is the new place to go viral

LinkedIn has long been a place to cultivate a professional image and post strictly scripted job postings. But now, instead of drawing attention to their new jobs or impressive CVs, users are opening their hearts and personal lives to their feeds. Whether the topic is burnout, anxiety, or personal triumphs, LinkedIn has become a platform for oversharing, and possibly going viral in the process.

Lora Kelley of The New York Times wrote about this trend in the LinkedIn universe and spoke with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal about what it means for the future of the Microsoft-owned platform.

The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Kai Ryssdal: Look, I’m going to go straight to that. How was it that, as the owner of [your] piece says, how did LinkedIn become a place for excessive sharing? I mean, aren’t there a lot of places to overshare?

Lora Kelly: Yeah, that’s a great question, and something I was so curious about. Personally, over the past few months, I’ve noticed in my own LinkedIn feed people posting everything from crying selfies to posts about illnesses and personal challenges. And I think a big part of it was people were working from home, people were seeing their kids in the background of calls, so it’s really a game changer that people are posting about things like burnout and mental illness and some of the most personal. challenges that are affecting your work.

Ryssdal: I mean, I can get the post about exhaustion, right? Because that is completely pertinent and relevant to the professional environment these days. And you know, it happens everywhere, right? I guess the question is what are LinkedIn executives saying about it because, fundamentally, they have to run a business. And they must be in tune with how your users feel about their experiences on your platform, right?

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Kelly: Definitely. LinkedIn is walking a fine line here. Their executives neither encourage nor discourage personal posts. They’ve definitely noticed an increase in personal posts, but they’re not really encouraging or discouraging. Interestingly, one thing they are doing is trying to develop LinkedIn as a content creation site. They have this new program that they started last year called the Content Creator Accelerator Program, and they’re recruiting influencers and giving them support to post, ideally, on topics like leadership and things that are traditionally more relevant to LinkedIn.

Ryssdal: So, basically, they are looking for virality, just like any other user of any other social network, right?

Kelly: Good question. In fact, Daniel Roth, editor-in-chief of LinkedIn, told me that they sometimes worry when they see things go viral. Again, it’s kind of a fine line. With that said, creators and people on the site are realizing that they make a profit by going viral. One person who was in the Content Creator Accelerator Program, an influencer who goes by the name of Natalie Rose, told me that when she posted a selfie crying about the anxiety and stress of being an influencer, she went totally viral. She got millions of impressions and it led her to get some business opportunities.

Ryssdal: So it worked, right? I mean, in that case, I guess it worked. So it’s good that she did that, for her.

Kelly: Yes, it served its purposes.

Ryssdal: It’s okay. I should have done a little report before I went into the studio with you, and I should have gone to your LinkedIn profile and checked out what you posted. Where are you on the personal-professional boundary in this matter?

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Kelly: Personally, I basically only use LinkedIn to post about my articles. So it was definitely fun posting this particular article on LinkedIn when it came out.

Ryssdal: What kind of buzz did you get? Have you had reactions?

Kelly: I would say I have kind of a normal amount of commitment. You know, some people said congratulations. Some people at my high school liked it. That kind of thing.

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