LinkedIn, the professional networking site, is inviting users to what it is calling “creator mode,” a setting designed to encourage users to post more of their own original content, perhaps with an eye to becoming influencers, or in corporate-speak, thought leaders.
One of a gaggle of new features, creator mode alters the presentation of profiles to emphasize the topics that users discuss most on the platform. Once creator mode is selected, a user can post hashtags on their interests, which will appear underneath their job title atop the profile. In essence, creator mode moves up the “Activity and Featured” sections, which highlight posts and links that a user shares, so they are displayed before the bio boxes called “About.”
Creator mode, which is being rolled out this week, will also allow people to “Follow” others using the new setting instead of adding the person to their professional network. The Follow button has always been available, but users had to hunt for it deep in the settings menu.
Networking on LinkedIn has evolved from a focus on finding a new job and engaging with other professionals to learning new skills, asking for career guidance and reading up on industry news, said Keren Baruch, group product manager for creator strategy at LinkedIn.
“As our ecosystem has been growing, and as we’re seeing the world of work changing, we’re seeing that content is now a core part of how professionals interact with not only their own jobs, but their industries, their peers and their communities,” Ms. Baruch said.
The research firm eMarketer estimates that adult LinkedIn users in the U.S. who log onto the platform at least once a month will grow from 62.1 million last year to 64.7 million this year, jumping to 70.9 million in 2024.
But LinkedIn is also facing competition from startups with a new edge, like the audio-only Clubhouse app and Upstream, which connects professional groups.
The changes to LinkedIn, which Microsoft Corp. bought in 2016 for roughly $26 billion, come a few months after the company redesigned the platform and introduced its own version of the “stories” posting format popularized by Snapchat and Instagram.
The new creator mode is likely to get more people to post on LinkedIn, said business professionals who already create content for the platform.
“It really democratizes the process, and makes it simpler and easier for a wider swath of professionals who may not necessarily spend a lot of time and thought on developing their personal brands and presence, but they’d like to do more,” said Dorie Clark, adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Ms. Clark has 188,000 followers on LinkedIn.
Unlike most social media platforms, LinkedIn is a place where business professionals can promote themselves and their successes, said Jason Lemkin, chief executive of SaaStr Inc., a business software event and content website. Mr. Lemkin has nearly 190,000 followers on LinkedIn and regularly posts commentary on industry news or reposts content from SaaStr.
“What LinkedIn lets you do—which is powerful—is you can become a micro-thought leader in one little space,” Mr. Lemkin said.
One downside of creator mode is the increased risk of spammy posts, users said. LinkedIn said users can report posts they consider spam, misleading or scams, which are then investigated by the company.
LinkedIn should also offer a way for users to make money from creator mode, said Jasmine Escalera, a career coach with nearly 5,000 followers on LinkedIn.
“I don’t think there’s any content creator out there that isn’t trying to also monetize the content that they’re putting out into the world,” Ms. Escalera said.
LinkedIn said it is listening to its users on the matter.
“As we continue to listen to feedback from our members as we consider future opportunities, we’ll also continue to evolve how we create more value for our creators,” said Ms. Baruch.
Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at firstname.lastname@example.org
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