Why LinkedIn Is the One Good Social Network
What the professional social network gets right. And what others can learn from it.
LinkedIn is something of an enigma as a social network. Despite its massive size — nearly 800 million members — it isn’t filled with the same type of misinformation, trolls, and engagement-baiting algorithms that define its peers. The tone on LinkedIn is, actually, kind of friendly. It’s a place, as Scott Galloway recently put it, where people assume you’re engaging in good faith, not bad. “I no longer respond to people on any platform except LinkedIn,” Galloway said. “People are much more civil.”
LinkedIn’s built a friendly, productive, and scaled network by developing the right incentives and taking genuine action when things go wrong. It’s not perfect, of course. But given that the network’s peers seem to live in perpetual scandal, there’s a lot we can learn from it. Here’s a brief rundown of what LinkedIn gets right:
Real consequences for being a jerk
On most social networks, you can be a jerk with little consequence. Twitter is filled with anonymous, bile-spewing users who corrode the network’s tone. Facebook may require you to use your “real name,” but being a jerk can mostly cost you Facebook “friends,” and since you likely have more of those than friends in real life, you can spare a few. On LinkedIn, being a jerk has consequences. It threatens your ability to get your next job, strike your next partnership, or find your next customer. You use your real identity there, and what you say has ramifications. This encourages people to pick their fellow users up, not tear them down.
Long term product health > engagement
LinkedIn’s product team makes substantial changes to address bad things on its product, even when it costs the company “engagement.” While I was at BuzzFeed News, for instance, my colleague Ryan Mac and I wrote about a phenomenon called Broetry. At the time, LinkedIn’s feed was flooded with “broems,” or stories written line by line with spaces in between, often by cringeworthy growth hackers. LinkedIn prioritized these posts in its algorithm because it believed that when people clicked “see more” to expand posts in their…