LinkedIn Stories are now a thing, rolling out in the United States, Canada, and a handful of other countries as of this week. And as far as we can tell, this is neither a joke nor another corporate shriek meant to startle some zoomers and let them know Microsoft exists. But to be fair, we’re getting a lot of mixed signals here. Especially given the still-fresh TikTok-shaped hole in Microsoft’s entirely figurative heart.
So, let’s start with the obvious, or perhaps its exact opposite: why? Just… what possible justification of LinkedIn Stories could a senior company executive recite with a straight face? Well, none, apparently. At least judging by the official LinkedIn Stories announcement.
To save you a click: imagine stories, but on LinkedIn. For your colleagues, revolving around stuff you usually discuss in your workplace. But with people from outside of your workplace. Who apparently don’t use any other avenue of casual communication, or have no meaningful rapport with you so that they’re willing to follow your social channels. That’s the gist of what LinkedIn Product VP, Kiran Prasad, said across five separate LinkedIn stories.
LinkedIn Stories: imagine Instagram or Snapchat, but with less incentive
Now, let’s assume this isn’t LinkedIn’s cry for help. That daddy Microsoft isn’t growing frustrated with its repeated failures at getting a piece of this hot new industry called social media. In that case, it’s possible LinkedIn is just desperate to humanize a portion of its user base. Any portion. Because even after all these years, the network is still pretty much just one giant spam gauntlet. No targeting allowed, mind you. Just a constant influx of copy-pasted messages from people who measure them in conversions.
If you aren’t a recruiter and don’t approach LinkedIn as a full-time job, even something as simple as exchanging experiences with colleagues from similar fields isn’t simple to accomplish. And usually requires constantly hunting for somewhat active private groups. LinkedIn Stories won’t change that, they’ll just add to the noise. Noise that we already have plenty of, thank you kindly.
And for every ten cold pitches, there’s one textbook example of a power user. The kind that you can only assume is deriving significant value from the platform. Because the amount of content they’re putting out pretty much constitutes a full-time job. That crowd will likely cheer the launch of LinkedIn Stories. But they’d cheer any other new avenue of building their brand. And the kind of people who’ll be launching LinkedIn to check on new stories? That probably won’t be anyone from the demographic that ever got hired on LinkedIn. Which happens every three seconds as of this year, according to the company.
Ephemeral messaging that LinkedIn itself says should revolve around stuff you usually discuss with coworkers, however? Isn’t that why people use Instagram? Or insert_app_name_here? Sure, it blurs the line between private and professional, but not any more than LinkedIn Stories do. No matter how you look at it, this just seems like preaching to the choir: app update edition.
Let’s just hope Santa brings Microsoft a social media startup for Christmas because LinkedIn seems to be one more uninspired quarter away from staging an international lip-sync contest under the guise of teambuilding. Anything but a better CV builder or something a self-proclaimed “professional networking” company might be expected to offer.