Founded in 2003, LinkedIn has grown well beyond its roots as an online resume and recruitment tool. The site claims that more than two new members sign up every second. LinkedIn boasts more than 170 million unique monthly visitors from around the world.
Of the many social networks constantly vying for my attention—Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and maybe YouTube—LinkedIn has won my heart. Here’s why:
They Keep It Strictly Business
Counter to the never-ending selfies on Instagram, food porn on Pinterest, silly GIFs on Tumblr, messy drama and rants on Facebook, the tone and presentation of LinkedIn maintains a rare social media decorum and professionalism. No annoying memes, cheesy inspirational quotes, or photo album creepers. No bashing, bigotry, racism, sexism, slurs or personal insults. Unlike the vitriol of YouTube comments or the one-upmanship of Reddit, LinkedIn commenters are civil, provide constructive criticism, and encourage open discussion.
No Nasty Spam Or Aggressive Ads
We all hate constant spam and in-your-face advertising. Before overzealous brand marketing, Facebook promised a safe haven from MySpace spam. Now, LinkedIn is my respite from the News Feed clutter. The desktop site and mobile app’s revamped user interface is quite attractive and smooth, free of visual tchotchkes; the only prominent ad unit is a fairly inoffensive medium square on the right sidebar.
LinkedIn also doesn’t generally assault your inbox, only hitting you up when someone adds you as a connection, endorses you for a skill, sends you an InMail, etc. If you choose to opt out of LinkedIn communiqués, the subscription options are easy to find and manage.
Friendly Contacts With Positive Feedback
LinkedIn's algorithms are scarily good at scanning email and phone contacts, existing connections, and extended networks to pick out people who you know, forgot you knew, and who know people you know. If you’re looking for a new job, or in the business of finding new business, these contacts are incredibly helpful. More than once, I have commented on a company’s update or link, and been invited to connect by someone who read my comment, viewed my profile, and realized we had mutual professional interests.
Based on my profile’s job history and skills, LinkedIn's powerful talent-spotting algorithm accurately suggests groups that I actually want to join, companies and people I want to follow, and jobs I want to apply for.
Brands And Influencers With Relevant Content
Facebook was long my primary discovery tool for news stories and articles, but my favorite companies and brands on Linkedin have replaced it as my de-facto aggregator. The majority of trending articles I read and share, I found from companies and people I follow on my Linkedin feed. Every day, I log in to LinkedIn to check out the tailor-made stories I want to read.
With eclectic content from high-profile figures like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Sir Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, and even Barack Obama, LinkedIn Today has become a high-traffic hub of thought leadership: 225 million users viewed 63% more pages in the first quarter of 2013 than they did in the same period in 2012. For the serious power user, LinkedIn has become the table where the cool kids sit.
It’s Not For Everyone
This is the best part. There is a distinct target demographic on LinkedIn. In contrast to the inclusivity of Facebook or Twitter, the LinkedIn folks wisely don’t try to be all things to all people. They know their audience and deliver precisely what it needs. If you’re not a businessperson, entrepreneur, creative professional, student or in an academic field, for instance, LinkedIn probably won’t appeal to you. You probably won’t get the point of it. But I like that. The element of exclusivity effectively filters out so much of the noise that pollutes other social media.
You will get out of LinkedIn what you put in. If you understand the platform, engage with it regularly and make full use of its features, it will inform you, educate you, kickstart your creative inspiration, propel your career path and connect you with awesome people in your backyard and across the world.
Lead image by Madeleine Weiss for ReadWrite
Editor's note: The author's firm has participated in an unpaid LinkedIn marketing survey, but neither he nor his firm have had a business relationship with LinkedIn.