LinkedIn – can I learn to like it?

A new year brings the inevitable questions: what do I need to change about what I do on social media? How well did I do last year? Should I be on different platforms from the ones I am doing now? For me, it also brings the annual LinkedIn crisis.

Things is – all the experts say that I should be on LinkedIn. I know that I must be on LinkedIn. I am on LinkedIn.

But I really don’t like it.

Every time I go there to check notifications, and “do engagement” and see what’s happening in my feed, my heart sinks. All that cheerfulness! All that motivation!! All those opportunities!!! All those “I am so proud” posts, those “way to go” posts, those long sets of hashtags, those posts promoting something while trying to appear that they are not promoting something.

I’m not the only one.

An email newsletter (now, those I like) from Adam Tinworth pointed me in the direction of an article by Australian writer and comedian Patrick Marlborough, who takes aim at those LinkedIn posts where someone has been fired, and yet has to use LinkedIn “dialect” to suggest “that the face of Christ himself has appeared in the recently fired person’s… chair to tell them that they are in fact the second coming, that only by dying can one be reborn, that only by being fired can one truly be promoted.”

Marlborough has more in this vein, and it’s worth a read. For instance, there’s this devastating description of LinkedIn: “the world’s saddest puppet show performed at a philosophical gunpoint, the bastardisation of our true selves to better lubricate our passage down the gastrointestinal tract of late capitalism on our way to its one inevitable end”.

So, what to do about LinkedIn?

I asked this question on the platform itself, but got no responses. That’s predictable, since my engagement stats are pretty dismal – not surprising since I obviously just don’t “get” the platform.

But I’m willing to try again this 2023, importing some tricks that I use on Twitter. I’ve been there for years, and am hanging on with reservations as it endures Elon Musk. I have some long-tested ways of doing things on Twitter that may or may not work on LinkedIn.

The first thought is to find ways to beat in the platform’s in-built algorithm (the hidden coding that serves you the things Twitter or any other social media platform predicts that you want to see).

On Twitter there’s a simple way to do this, but you have to know about it. In the current incarnation of Twitter in a web browser, there are some tabs at the top of the feed. One is marked “For you” and one is marked “Following”. Twitter will try again and again to have you look at “For you”, which is algorithmically generated. “Following” on the other hand, gets you a chronological feed of posts from people that you have chosen to follow. So you can control what you see by curating the people you follow. Because I doggedly select “Following” I have just not seen the changes for the worse in Twitter that other people are reporting.

I notice that LinkedIn has a similar, slightly hidden choice: in the desktop browser version, you can elect to sort your feed by “Recent” or by Top (there’s a small dropdown at the top of the feed). I’m going to try switching between those two options to see how it affects what I see, in the hope that my irritation levels will subside.

But, more crucially, I am going to try looking at who it is that I follow, and seek out people or organisations who might provide me with some more substantial fare.

And I am going, this year, to be posting about my actual working life, warts and all.

Perhaps 2023 will be the year I learn to like LinkedIn.

Main picture: Ivan Radic, Flickr, (CC BY 2.0)


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