What is appropriate (and inappropriate) content for LinkedIn?

Should you post stories about people dying, religion or bikinis on LinkedIn? That all depends on the business context.

Earlier this year, entrepreneur Candice Galek created a firestorm on LinkedIn when she posted a blog asking users, “Is this appropriate for LinkedIn?”

Here is the picture of the model in a swimsuit, which accompanied the post:

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Galek claims the blog had garnered more than 500 comments before it was taken down by the networking site. An updated repost has been viewed more than 50,000 times.

Galek sells bikinis. She’s also developed a reputation as a savvy digital marketer, featuring in Forbes, Fox Business and other social media and digital marketing publications.

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She’s grown her LinkedIn profile and social media presence with racy posts like this one:

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Which begs the question: Is this appropriate content for a business-to-business (B2B) social networking site like LinkedIn?

Comments to the post were mixed. Some applauded Galek’s marketing techniques. Others endorsed the product itself, while some felt this sort of imagery was more appropriate for platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

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Appropriate or not, these posts have helped Galek build her profile on LinkedIn. She is a LinkedIn ‘networker’ and has more than 36,000 followers.

Chris Reed, chief executive officer and founder, Black Marketing, says ultimately bikinis are Galek’s business, so why not post images of the product if it results in getting B2B buyers (i.e. retailers, wholesalers) to stock her product.

“I think she has been quite clever in deliberately – and I think it’s a very conscious thing – to post this and ask the question, is it appropriate? She’s doing it for the PR and shock value and doing very well at getting people either pro or against her,” says Reed.

LinkedIn is also a clever channel to target professional, affluent men who might go on to purchase these swimsuits for their wives and girlfriends. For this male demographic, LinkedIn might be a more effective channel than Facebook or Instagram.

Sex sells

Reed has built his business around helping organizations to market themselves on LinkedIn. In a recent blog, he uses Galek’s marketing strategy as an example to prove that blogs and posts about sex or images of beautiful, pretty, or semi-clad women, DO help push an influencer’s rankings on LinkedIn and increase views.

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Even the blog itself has had more than 1,000 views, making it one of Reed’s top performing LinkedIn posts.

Death, dying and terminal illness on LinkedIn

Reed has some strong opinions about content relating to death and dying on LinkedIn. A recent influx of such posts appearing in his LinkedIn feed led him to write a blog on the subject.

“I wondered why people would post about people who had died or gone to hospital or had cancer/illness on LinkedIn, a business platform. Why not on Facebook where their friends and family would care instead of a business platform where they are unknown on that level by most people,” he writes.

He said the format of these posts was often the same: “Apologetic words designed to pull at your heartstrings (apologies again if I am being cynical) and then a very large photo of the everyday people affected who could be you.”

There is no questioning that LinkedIn users respond to these posts. This post from NFL player John Bronson announcing the death of his wife Dawn, has been liked 10,000 times and received more than 5,000 comments.

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So is there a place for this type of content on LinkedIn? As one LinkedIn user wrote in response to Reed’s blog, yes, there is, if it has a business context.

“…In the case of someone announcing the reason of stepping down from their professional position due to illness or why there would be delays in business dealings due to terminal illness etc., I do not see an issue with it, including saluting and respecting people who died in the line of duty, serving the country etc. I think there should be a fine balance,” says Christina Kitova, associate partner, Hodges Media Communications.

Human interest stories

There’s also a lot of buzz around human interest stories on LinkedIn. Here is an example of an autistic artist who can recreate in minute detail a birds-eye cityscape after flying overhead in a helicopter:

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Does this have a business context? It certainly resonated with LinkedIn users who liked it more than 2,000 times.

Here’s another one which appeared in my feed this week, from Emily Kellett, HR manager at Asda. Kellett wrote about taking time out of her busy work day to join 86-year-old Patrick for a coffee and hear about his life.

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This may not have a lot of relevance to a professional networking site but the post has had more than 200,000 likes and 10,000 comments. In terms of branding however, Kellett clearly demonstrates the flexibility and the values integral to the organization she works for.

So is there a place for this type of content? Amanda Dumond sums it up well with this post. Is LinkedIn approaching an impending death as a professional networking site as an influx of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram related content starts to take over?

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Feel free to leave your comments below.

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