- LinkedIn is boasting a record number of members, with Gen Z driving user growth.
- Creators build followings with strong insights, and brands are taking notice.
One of my favorite TikTok and Instagram creators is Jordan Davis (@jordanreviewsittt). His workplace humor videos hit home for me — a fellow corporate millennial who has experienced the highs and lows of in-office and remote work.
The clips that live in my head rent-free are his satirical videos about the weird world of LinkedIn.
I'm not alone (and, full disclosure, I am a LinkedIn Top Voice). "They're a crowd favorite," Davis told me via email. "I get messages nearly every day asking me to make more."
One video from April 2023 pokes fun at "LinkedIn influencers," part of a new-ish class of primarily B2B content creators who post career advice and other business-related content, which can sometimes be self-congratulatory and borderline ridiculous. It was captioned simply with the word "Cringe."
A few months later, Bloomberg gave the opposite assessment of the platform, declaring that "LinkedIn is cool now." Other news outlets followed, all citing LinkedIn's resilience amid the upheaval at rival social platforms and its content shift from professional to more personal.
Cringe or cool, there's no denying that LinkedIn had a banner usage year in 2023. In 2024, the platform is poised for more growth - and LinkedIn creators will play a major role in its development.
There's a lot to like about — and on — LinkedIn
At a time when people are posting less on social media, LinkedIn seems to buck the trend: Last year, the company hit 1 billion worldwide members, surpassed 500 million newsletter subscribers, and saw a double-digit increase in content shared.
Gen Z is driving LinkedIn's user growth, with monthly US Gen Z users expected to rise by 13.7% in 2024, per Insider Intelligence. It makes sense: LinkedIn is a must for job-seekers and older Gen Zers have started to enter the workforce.
Still, 72% of LinkedIn's 78.6 million US users are millennials or older, per Insider Intelligence, and it's their content that likely fills most users' feeds. As any platform with an older audience can attest to — I'm looking at you, Facebook — that inevitably means content younger consumers will deem cringeworthy.
LinkedIn's AI content tools, which have helped spur engagement, have unintentionally contributed to the weirdness: This week, LinkedIn prompted a creator economy expert to contribute to an AI-powered "Collaborative Article" titled "How Can You Use Quantum Computing to Optimize Conference Scheduling?" (What?)
But if you scroll past the virtual work high-fives, AI stumbles, or "crying CEO" videos, there's plenty of high-value content on the platform.
Most of that content comes from LinkedIn creators, many of whom have built strong followings and some of whom are monetizing their audiences. These aren't the "LinkedIn influencers" we love to hate, but rather industry experts who are sharing their takes on industry news, actionable professional advice, and AI tips and tricks.
The Microsoft-owned platform is investing heavily in surfacing that content through algorithmic changes that demote work anniversary posts and by featuring creators in the News tab and push notifications. The potential of a "Top Voice" badge encourages industry experts to keep churning out relevant content.
Some disillusioned "cool kids" from X (formerly Twitter) have also joined LinkedIn, albeit begrudgingly.
Last year, a well-known tech journalist considering leaving X asked me if he had to be on the platform. He's still not convinced, but many others are, helping LinkedIn pick up some of the users and business content Twitter was known for.
"Cringe" can be lucrative
Heavy LinkedIn users aren't just older, they're also well-educated. Per Pew Research Center, 60% of users who regularly get news on LinkedIn have a college degree, a higher share than on any other social app. In other words, LinkedIn's core audience isn't as young or trendy as TikTok's, but they probably have higher-paying jobs and more money to spend.
Marketers are taking note. While LinkedIn has long been central to B2B social marketing strategies, B2C marketers are increasing investment, driving up ad prices and spending. Insider Intelligence expects LinkedIn's US ad revenues to rise by 14.1% to $4.56 billion this year. That's a sliver of Meta's $62.70 billion in US ad revenues, but it's more than double that of Snap and over 4 times that of X.
Meanwhile, CEOs, CMOs, and even Snoop Dogg leverage the platform to build personal brands and elevate their companies.
Many companies are also courting the creators those C-level executives are trying to emulate with brand deals, speaking engagements, and by sponsoring their newsletters or online courses. Agencies dedicated primarily or solely to LinkedIn will crop up to facilitate those partnerships.
The foundations are there for an ecosystem of paid, organic, and creator marketing on LinkedIn that's set to surge in 2024. LinkedIn has a strong incentive for making it work: The company makes much of its revenue through subscription recruiting tools, but as hiring cools both due to AI and broader economic trends, marketing will play a bigger role in driving its business.
Still, the path to success both on and for LinkedIn has roadblocks. While Davis says he "doesn't dislike the platform", the popularity of his LinkedIn parody videos shows that the platform still has plenty for people to cringe at.