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The Millennial Question
I read a very interesting article this week from Allen M. Quinn titled 5 Reasons Why Millenials Aren’t Using LinkedIn.
I thought this was a very interesting subject and worth further consideration. As a father of two millennials (who are both nowhere near LinkedIn!) I have a particular perspective to bring to the issue and it struck me that you might also.
I contacted the author Allen and despite viewing my profile, he didn’t come back to me - Bloody Millennials!!!
To be fair, I only reached out yesterday so he may come back yet but I was unable to arrange to interview him for this episode - perhaps that might work for another episode.
I would urge to read not only the piece itself but also the comments, which include contributions from millennials and those of an older generation - it’s very interesting.
What is a Millennial?
Whilst there is no definitive birth date range, Most experts state that a Millennial (formerly known as Gen Y) is someone who was born between the early 1980s to the early 2000’s so effectively they range between age 15 and 35 although I think most people think of millennials as being in their 20s.
Earlier this year LinkedIn published some analysis showing that 87 million millennials were on LinkedIn. At the time LinkedIn had 433 million users so that is 20% millennials and not the 38% quoted in Allens article.
My first point is that I am not sure that's 20% is necessarily such a bad figure.
The US census of 2015 showed that millennials accounted for about 28% of the population so it could be better but it's not disastrous!
Allen details five reasons so I thought it would make sense to address each one individually.
Too many "rules"/ Too structured:
This really covered two subjects, Firstly it seems to be about etiquette with millennials being unsure about what to say and what is okay.
I think this is an issue created out of being a minority rather than a millennial, if you are only 20% of any community you are bound to find it intimidating!
My advice would be to encourage millennials to take more risks and not be intimidated by negative feedback.
Allen states that he has witnessed someone's update getting slammed by LinkedIn users and publicly shaming that person for it but surely this happens across all social media, In fact LinkedIn is significantly “tamer" than most - have you seen Reddit?!!
Millennials should aim to show humility in their posts and be open about their desire to learn more about online networking, this approach will inevitably lead to greater success.
Finally I think the 80% of users who are not millennials need to show a much higher level of empathy towards this demographic.
2. It's not a "Fun" Social Media:
Isn't that what Facebook, snapchat, Instagram and twitter are for?
I don't think there is anything wrong with having a bit of fun on LinkedIn but it is essentially a business network and therefore one would expect it to be less ‘light hearted’ than social networks that are focussed on your personal life.
Social media doesn't have to have a singular purpose (Fun), what about;
Learning and personal development
Network expansion and relationships.
These are all areas of great value to millennials, even if they might be perceived as "less fun”
3. It's neither private nor exclusive. EVERYONE can see your stuff
Why does LinkedIn need to be private?
As opposed to social networks that are more geared towards your personal life, LinkedIn is focused on your professional life and the biggest difference therefore is that your professional life is something that you do want people to see.
That said, If someone really does want to be more private they have settings they can adjust and in my opinion those settings are no more complicated than settings in other social networks.
4. No one to connect with:
This is a difficult one for millennials because by default they are bound to know less people but we all have to start somewhere and there is no rush to get to thousands of connections!
In the article he talks about the idea that it appears to be ‘weird’ to reach out to strangers with an invitation to connect - I couldn't agree more! It is pretty weird and millennials would be wise to not do it and that goes there every other age group as well!
5. Premium is way too expensive:
This is undeniably true, LinkedIn price their products for large enterprise sized organisations who are less cost sensitive.
That said, there really is no need to upgrade your account.
The jobseeker premium account is pretty much a waste of time in my opinion. Millennials can get plenty of use and value from Linkedin without having to upgrade their account.
Despite my comments above I do agree that there is a problem here, millennials are not using LinkedIn as much as they could and here is what I suggest could be done to resolve that;
LinkedIn could do a lot more to showcase LinkedIn to millennials, they seem far too focused on generating revenue from large corporates at the expense of their members including this cohort.
Earlier this year LinkedIn produced a Millennial Playbook which was a good idea implemented very badly. When you click on the link above you'll see that you have to sign up with your email and contact details in order to receive a free copy of the playbook. This is far too restrictive and not helpful. LinkedIn need to make this a simple PDF that can be downloaded without the need to enter any information.