Sahail Ashraf posted on 2 June 2020
LinkedIn has had a very interesting journey over the last few years. It has changed from being a professional and slightly dry network to a more open and friendly place where people can relax and have a little more fun.
It isn’t quite Tik Tok as regards levels of fun, but it has definitely become more relaxed. However, it has surprised the online world yet again with an apparent move to bring a ‘Stories’ experience to the platform.
Back in 2018 the platform actually had a version of Stories. The whole thing was aimed at College students, and was clearly just an experiment to see what would happen if they tried the Stories format. The channel was called ‘Student Voices’ and it wasn’t without its merits.
LinkedIn has that professional feel to it, and it seemed that having Student Voices made it easier for younger people to get involved. On top of that, it was a clear nod to the demographic of LinkedIn itself. Young people in a college environment often have career paths that lead into areas and industries that LinkedIn covers as regards its own users.
So LinkedIn having a Stories style set up for that younger demographic showed that it was definitely interested in trying out the framework.
But wait. There is one possible problem here.
LinkedIn may well have a challenge from the industry as regards integrity. Bear in mind that LinkedIn has, for the vast majority of its lifetime, claimed it is a truly professional network. And this claim has allowed it to have some sort of superiority over other social media networks.
Whether LinkedIn believed it was better than other more ‘trivial’ networks is something we will never find out. But LinkedIn did have this stuffy, professional feel, and still has much of it today. Ask anyone who isn’t a professional and in need of a networking meeting, and they will say they pretty much leave LinkedIn alone. It is not exactly a fashionable social media platform to be on for young people.
Maybe the new Stories format will change this. Pete Davies of LinkedIn has touched upon what he thinks may be the outcome of the new experiment.
"Stories first appeared on Snapchat, with other platforms like Instagram and Facebook adopting them soon after. They spread for a good reason: they offer a lightweight, fun way to share an update without it having to be perfect or attached to your profile forever. Does that exist in the business world? I’d hope that most of my interactions in the break room or passing people in the hall are similarly ephemeral and light."
Anyone who has used LinkedIn will certainly agree that the platform is not ‘ephemeral and light’. It is more focused on serious and professional conversation.
We can’t tell you, to be honest. It will make an impact though. And we think it will have more of a home on the mobile screen than the desktop screen so many LinkedIn users are familiar with. It’s going to be a little strange to see a live feed of things that happen in user’s lives on the desktop.
However, something Davies said recently kind of makes the whole thing a little more palatable.
"We’ve learned so much already about the unique possibilities of Stories in a professional context. For example, the sequencing of the Stories format is great for sharing key moments from work events, the full-screen narrative style makes it easy to share tips and tricks that help us work smarter, and the way Stories opens up new messaging threads makes it easier for someone to say, “and by the way… I noticed you know Linda, could you introduce me?”
Yes, LinkedIn still seems to think that the Stories feel will help the platform maintain its original goal of helping professionals network.
However, we think everything could go wrong in an instant. Imagine updating your Stories one day and seeing a cute LolCat image further down the stream you’re using to secure a business deal. It could happen, Stories are about fun after all.
"We’ve learned so much already about the unique possibilities of Stories in a professional context. For example,
We would love LinkedIn Stories (or whatever it’s called) to allow people to share work tips, but is that something we will want to do during our working day? Stories seems like fun, it always has whichever platform it is on. And unless LinkedIn legitimately becomes ‘fun’, we can see Stories looking like a gatecrasher.
We shall see.
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