In terms of age, LinkedIn is one of the older social media platforms that have been able to withstand the test of time, as opposed to platforms like Friendster and MySpace that were both vastly popular but couldn’t meet the demands of their users. It is roughly two years older than Facebook and also turned a profit three years before Facebook did. That, however, is where LinkedIn’s lead over many social media platforms ends.
On a global scale, LinkedIn falls behind platforms like Reddit and Pinterest in terms of popularity, i.e. active users, and it doesn’t even rank within the top 15 according to Data Reportal’s Digital 2021 overview. The mobile app also doesn’t rank within the top 10 according to active users. In South Africa the picture is slightly different. The mobile still doesn’t rank within the top 10. The platform in general, however, is ranked 7thwith 49% of internet users between the ages of 16 to 64 using LinkedIn in January 2021. This ranking places it behind WhatsApp, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter.
So, with LinkedIn’s popularity not being particularly impressive questions can arise as to the usefulness of the platform in both your personal and business portfolio. The statistics, however, only tell a small part of the whole story.
LinkedIn is utterly unique in its content and premise. Platforms like Facebook and Intagram put the social in social media. LinkedIn turns this on its head and fills the professional gap in the social media market. This fact in and of itself is old news, yet it cannot be emphasised enough. It greatly influences the demographics of the platforms with LinkedIn generally enjoying an older demographic of people that are often decision makers in their homes and businesses.
When cultivating your personal profile there is nothing wrong with sharing the same image, video, and text on both Facebook and Instagram, but it would often be very unwise to share that same post to LinkedIn. The platform is there to cultivate your professional image and as such it carries with it a measure of professional credibility that Facebook can only aspire to, despite its introduction of things like Facebook Marketplace. The same goes for Reddit. While it is a great platform to share opinions and discuss them – there is little professional credibility with any users being able to comment on anything without an indication as to their level of expertise. Again, this is where LinkedIn is unique – if a personal user, or a business, posts something you can very quickly see what their field of expertise is and if they actually have the clout to do so.
The professional nature of LinkedIn has also meant that interaction between users, be they personal or businesses profiles, have been more respectful. People might intentionally or unintentionally post derogatory, inflammatory, or abusive content on social media sites, but once their professional image can be compromised, many will think twice about what it is they post or comment. These characteristics of LinkedIn have led some to remove themselves from almost all social media platforms except for LinkedIn. It also provides the rational as to why it is imperative for any serious professional and business to spend time on cultivating an extensive LinkedIn profile with which you interact with your customers, clients, and industry.
Cultivating your LinkedIn presence means spending sufficient time on creating and updating your profile, connecting with the right individuals, sharing useful and appropriate information, building your brand, and taking the time write recommendations and support each other in our professional capacities.
While LinkedIn’s popularity might lag behind many other social media platforms with more users spending more time more often on other sites, it is arguably miles ahead in importance when it comes to your current and future career and success.