If you are a member of LinkedIn, it’s possible that you have seen in your activity stream many back-and-forths and a fairly significant uproar over the founder of a certain bikini company and her postings.
While I am not connected to said founder (who I am not naming purposefully to not grant extra publicity for her stunts), my timeline just about every day has one or more people who I am connected with who have reacted to a variety of pictures posted by the CEO of the company.
Said pictures are of women scantily clad in the CEO’s company’s swim wear, as well as her post — later taken down by LinkedIn after racking up tens of thousands of views — entitled “Is This Appropriate to Post on LinkedIn?” The post, as you may have guessed, was accompanied by the backside of a beauty pageant contestant in one of her swimwear pieces.
As one who likes to push the envelope, I give this CEO lots of props for the public relations effort. It has been talked about ad nauseum and featured in many media outlets for the outrage it has created. And as a women who has witnessed the problem with many women, including myself, being taken credibly due to objectification, I also understand the outrage.
But the actual problem with the bikinis on LinkedIn goes to the root of using social media. You want to be not just where your customers are, but where they are having the relevant conversations about your business.
Now, you may argue that bikinis are this company’s business. And that’s fine — if the CEO wants to tout that her bikinis have been featured on a beauty pageant contestant as a way to get professional kudos, I can understand that. But, that clearly wasn’t the intent here.
LinkedIn is a professional outlet, where people are having business conversations, not making consumer purchases. While many users likely have an interest in swimwear for themselves or their significant others, those conversations aren’t happening on LinkedIn the way that they are in Pinterest and Facebook.
That’s what makes it inappropriate as much so as wheeling the girls in the bikinis into the middle of a church service. Many swimwear buyers are in the pews, but in that moment, they are there to pray, not purchase a bikini.
I can take my own business as an example. I have a lot of potential clients on Facebook, but they are having more personal conversations there. Twitter is a better outlet for my client-related postings as well as business punditry about things like the Federal Reserve, because that’s where my audience is comfortable having those conversations. And, at the end of the day, your business is about your customers — so you should be meeting them where they want to have the relevant conversation about your product.
So, to the CEO of the bikini company (and anyone else who may follow suit, no pun intended) no, your bikini adverts are not appropriate for LinkedIn, although not for the reasons that many think they aren’t.