How LinkedIn talks about itself

The fact that LinkedIn’s “about us” section of their website is somewhat hard to find speaks volumes about their orientation as a buisness. Like Facebook, LinkedIn’s website promotes the product and service that they provide – the means of connecting- and so you have to dig to the very bottom to chase an elusive link that says “about” to learn about who they are. Click it before your browser refreshes and this link gets buried under your “LinkedIn today” recent activity on your home page. LinkedIn first and foremost wants you to link.

Even when you get to the “About LinkedIn,” you will find one of the most pared-down, minimal company decsriptions out there. In fact, you are immediately directed to the “Company Page” within the LinkedIn system, which like any company page, starts with an “about” which also disappears down to the bottom of the page, showing you instead the recent activity, announcements, discussions, etc. that this organization has been leading. Well, since it is LinkedIn, they have been leading a few, so again, I found myself chasing the elusive “About,” but I did finally catch it!

This process of fronting the service over the company itself is mirrored in the language used by the organization in talking about itself in the “About Us”Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 10.32.09 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 
The first thing that I notice here is the “you” pronoun in the first sentence. While this section is supposed to be about who they are, instead, LinkedIn spends this precious real estate talking about what the organization does for the client, further personalized as direct address through use of the pronoun “you.” Compare this to Facebook’s self description: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” The difference here between the referring expressions: personal pronoun “you” and “people” is a world of difference. “You” pulls the reader in, placing them within the word of the story as a way of inviting them to engage on the site, modeled in the second sentence as well, where the organization shows how it itself was built by the same process of networking: “built upon trusted connections and relationships”.

It is not until we get to the third sentence that we are met with language more along the lines of how a traditional business might talk about itself – quantifying its success “Currently, more than 225 million professionals are on LinkedIn” supported by the referring expressions conveying important information about members: that they are drawn from executives at Fortune 500 companies, and are “household names” in major categories of industry.

The last sentence (and I find it remarkable that they are able to do so much with 4 sentences) is for me, a “noisy not.” The answer to a question that they suppose the reader to be asking, namely how do they make their money? Who would be asking this question? I was not asking this question. Which leads me to think that a major audience for this text are investors, corroborated by their being the second link on the top right hand coulumn on the “information for” toolbar, and leading back to my initial observation that this is one big NOISY NOT. The company wants you to think not about them, but about you as you engage on the site.

Next in my LinkedIn series, I will talk about the company practice of walking meetings (coming soon).

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