LinkedIn and the art of boasting self-promotion

Live entertainment posts oozing fear and group isolation

Harry Barnes has a Twitter account called “ LinkedIn Country ” with over 100,000 followers. There, he uploads selected fragments from the most selfish, jargon-filled posts from LinkedIn authors, often blissfully unaware of their true face.

Among recent masterpieces - from boastful statements like “You call it luck, and I call it an 80-hour work week” to confusing ones like “How easy is it to hire me?” I myself conducted an interview with myself, ”as well as frightening reports about a daily routine like“ I wake up. Instantly. From foggy dreams to readiness and in full consciousness. ”

Bragging is also regularly shown stealthily, including Barnes' favorite trick, when the photo shows a man playing billiards, and in the background, as if by chance, a parked supercar is visible.

Barnes worked in the field of social networks, but his account is just a hobby, and says that its purpose is to ridicule the ridiculous world of self-promotion in the workplace, and not individuals. “All the content is sent to me by users,” he says. “I'm not combing LinkedIn.”

Barnes is not the only person to enjoy this easy side of LinkedIn. There is also @CrapOnLinkedIn and parody accounts on the social network, such as, for example, “demotivation speaker” Mike Winnet. But, unlike other social networks, for LinkedIn, humor is not the norm; it has always been a more professional place for mature people. And this state of things, for good or for worse, may be changing.

In 2017, LinkedIn added the ability to post videos. Now millions are using it, and the network says community members are most likely to start a conversation with this type of content. LinkedIn recently introduced “reactions” as a “more expressive way” of communication. Now users can mark the post as “interesting”, state that it was “curious”, just like, “glorify” or “adore” the post.

Alex Mitsu, digital director of the brand agency Hue & Cry, says that since these features have brought LinkedIn the feel of other social networks, users may want to act like they do on Instagram or Twitter. However, he explains that it is worth considering the “culture of hustle and bustle” and self-promotion existing in many workplaces. All together, this can create a culture of performative narcissism that is unique to this platform. “Sometimes I look at all this, and it seems to me that the network is like a gym. There are so many people flexing their muscles, ”he says.

Mitsu points out that sometimes people use non-standard language and overly flowery descriptions intentionally, aiming at search engines. Sometimes it’s better to use a 20-word phrase that advertises your person instead of a single word to ensure that your profile appears in search engines.

Will Storr, author of Selfies: How the West Has Been Obsessed With It, says social media is a vehicle for basic human aspirations. “There are two types of aspirations. We want to get along with our group, establish a relationship with her, but also get more status within the group. So, as soon as we organized the connection, the competition for status begins. ”

In the case of working groups, he adds, the motivation for obtaining status can be especially strong, since high status here is closely related to material wealth. That is, more successful people at work usually earn more, live in better homes and go on vacation to better places. Status in the social network, he explains, can quickly become a high-tech arms race, feeding on primitive fears.

Success stories sound convincing. Business titans and self-help course gurus often thrive on social media, especially on LinkedIn. In the heat of the battle for influence with rivals, an unexpectedly large number of people start posting a video where they unsuccessfully imitate a self-help guru or detail their activities in the same way as directors of companies from Silicon Valley do.

Self-promotion is not a new thing, but the spread of Facebook and Twitter means that impromptu comments, which only a few colleagues or friends would have heard before, sometimes spread to a global audience. Poorly crafted LinkedIn self-promotion posts in one click can reach your entire professional network.

The risk that the form or content of the post will not play as desired is high. According to Darain Faraz, head of the LinkedIn brand in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America: “Since 630 million people from 200 countries sit on LinkedIn, you will not always be able to see 100% agreement on how to“ correctly ”talk about yourself ". And he adds that "we advise network members to sincerely share personal stories and experiences."

It is also worth remembering that technology is never used exactly as the inventors intended. These unexpected options may not be part of the conspiracy, but at the same time demonstrate more serious problems. Last year, BuzzFeed reported that active Donald Trump supporters migrate to LinkedIn, leaving Facebook and Twitter after their posts on those sites were blocked for being too aggressive.

Unsuccessful self-promotion is not such a dangerous, albeit discouraging, phenomenon. The phrase “when was the last time you“ penetrated one of your clients? ”May sound rude, but, as Barnes says,“ often there is something from Alan Partridge ”[character of the English comic actor Steve Coogan, who is engaged in shameless self-promotion / approx. transl.].


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