Jonathan Frostick did not expect his social media post to go viral while he was recovering from a heart attack in hospital – but it did happen.
Five months ago, the British financial services manager wrote a LinkedIn post of the heart department. When he felt the pain in his chest, his first thought was, ‘F *** I had to meet with my driver tomorrow, it’s not comfortable.’ Later, he decided to change his working life, including no longer ‘spending the whole day on Zoom’, but ‘more time with my family’.
The post began, with 15,000 comments and 300,000 responses, as it resonated with pandemics hit by the pandemic, struggling with the porous boundaries between private and real life. “I felt quite anxious,” Frostick said over the phone. ‘I was not used to so much attention. It can be overwhelming. ”
While some commentators questioned the wisdom of writing a personal revelation on a professional networking forum, the response was largely positive, Frostick notes. “It opened up a conversation with other people who had life-changing events.
The focus on career and networking is what sets LinkedIn apart from competing social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Indeed ruthless self-promotion and humble boasting on the site has caused a number of parody accounts on social media, including Twitter handles @CraponLinkedIn and @StateofLinkedIn, which aim to expose ‘the worst. . . brown nose ”.
However, over the past 18 months, users have increasingly entered into personal thoughts, according to Dan Roth, editor-in-chief of LinkedIn. Users consider ‘what do they want to do, are they working on the right things, how are they dealing with the pressures of work and life?’, He says. Mental health hashtags have ‘grown exponentially’, he adds.
Recent popular posts include a woman describe steps out of her lead role to pursue her dream of becoming a mother. Three months ago, a man posted about how his partner as a transgender inspired him pursue a more fulfilling but less profitable career. And earlier this year, a young woman published a photo of herself in her graduation clothes with her father in a hospital bed before he died.
This is part of a larger increase in activity on the platform. There was a 38 percent increase in the number of feed updates viewed in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, LinkedIn says. Advertising revenue reached $ 1 billion in the last quarter – almost double the same as a year ago.
The personal content of LinkedIn also reflects a wider change in the corporate culture that rejects emotions that are knotted in favor of authenticity. Company health campaigns, for example, have encouraged employees to come forward with their stories about depression and other conditions. Social justice movements, such as #MeToo, also relied on professionals sharing personal experiences.
Yet the results of such participation are unequal. Authenticity can be attractive recruiters when it comes to high quality candidates, but not for everyone. When it comes to work, people tend to prefer stories about flaws and failures if it ends successfully.
Since the financial crisis, there has been a shift from broadcasting success to the sharing of virtue and vulnerability, says Will Storr, author of The status game: about social position and how we use it. “We are no longer in a time of greed. Authenticity and storytelling focus on struggles and dramas. Unless you are a celebrity, other people’s success makes us feel bad. People on social media are aware that they are broadcasting too much success, even on LinkedIn. ”
This can lead to an awkward marriage between work and personal, as shown in a LinkedIn of 2017 Post by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, who bought the social media platform last year. He wrote about his son Zain, who was born with severe cerebral palsy and became ‘the joy of our family’. Nadella then turns to a corporate reflection: ‘And I realized that the moments that change our lives so deeply can also be a catalyst to empower those around us. This is what I see in the many passionate people at Microsoft. ”
However, the personal touch helps to establish an emotional connection, something that was difficult to find in the lockdown. “If done right, it can help build a positive brand online,” says Sabrina Clark, senior marketing director at BrandYourself, which helps people manage their online profiles. ‘Just like networking in person, [personal details] can give them context in their lives. ”
Indeed, LinkedIn’s algorithm reward such posts by promoting those who receive many likes, comments and remarks.
But Clark warns against commenting on politics and polarizing topics. While LinkedIn tends to have fewer posts than Twitter and Facebook, users should ‘be mindful that everyone can see it’, she says. “You can share too much or share something that could be removed from your context and put you in a negative light.”
However, there are no set rules about what is considered judgment, and with such abundant content, the temptation is to cut through the noise with personal stories. “Everyone posts so much rubbish that they are invisible and need to post more,” says recruiter Jason Bandy.
He finds it increasingly difficult to find candidates on LinkedIn. ‘It did not solve the recruitment problems. That makes it harder. As a recruiter, if I were to spend 15 minutes talking to all my connections, it would take 4,000 years. This has created a haystack that is so time consuming. ”
Yet Bandy also posted about his personal life when travel restrictions prevented him from seeing his teenage son who moved overseas three years ago. “I do not know what motivated me. I just wanted to remind people that everyone has a Covid story. In part, I wanted my connections to remember me in a human way. ”
Personal stories from LinkedIn users increase the platform’s overlap with other social media businesses. It already has competition in the recruitment market. In 2018, Facebook posted job ads and this summer, TikTok took advantage of its #careertiktok content and launched a TikTok Resume launch, encouraging people to talk to employers with short videos. With so much convergence, Bandy asks, “At what point does LinkedIn become a personal forum with a little business?”
For Frostick, who previously posted on mental health, posting on LinkedIn was a way to address his often ‘overlooked’ relationship with work.
That was part of the reason JR Storment published a piece about the death of his eight-year-old son, Wiley. It started practically: he felt he had to explain his sudden absence to work contacts. “It occurred to me that this would be a conversation I would have over and over again.” He also wanted to raise awareness about a condition called sudden unexplained death due to epilepsy, which caused his son to die in his sleep.
But the article was a reminder to those who, like Storment, had to spend many hours at work, considering considering prioritizing their family. “For me, it was a shocking realization,” he says. “I know a lot of other people do the same thing, and it misses the obvious opportunity to spend time with those who matter.”
Storment received thousands of comments and messages, including some from people who read his post and then turned down promotions because of the hours it would take from their family. There have also been reactions from professional contacts who have revealed that their child has also died. ‘I feel like of all the things I did in my life, it had the most impact on most people. It was not expected, ”he says. ‘The terrible thing [that] happened had a positive impact: some peripheral people showed up [for us], we made new connections with people who got it. ”
There was a setback among those who did multiple jobs, without the luxury of reducing their hours to be with the family. “I felt for them,” he says. Storment is unhappy about the fact that if you google his name, the post is one of the first things that comes to mind. It was rather positive and provided the opportunity to talk about his son. “After the first year, people ask less.”
He returns to the post every few months and regards it as a ‘time capsule about what happened’. He wants to remember. ‘The memories disappear quickly. It’s so easy to put on [professional facade]. We are complex people with strange experiences. ”