How College Students UseLinkedIn, Why Some Don’t Use It, and Why It Is Important Bela Florenthal Michael Dykhouse William Paterson University
Objectives & Rational๏ Provide an insight into (a) whether and (b) how students use LinkedIn - a leading Professional Networking Site๏ Rational: ‣ PNSs have not been examined as a distinct social networking category for usage by college students
Objectives & Rational๏ Suggest on-campus IMC program to increase LinkedIn usage by college students๏ Rational: ‣ LinkedIn possesses unique characteristics (e.g., posting jobs & resumes) ‣ Universities direct students to professional websites
Theoretical Background๏ Nielsen reports that: ‣ about 75% of online users, spend on average 22% of their time on social networking sites (Roberts and Zahay- Blatz 2012)๏ LinkedIn is a leading Professional Networking Site (PNS) that ‣ has more than 100 million subscribers with a median user age of 39 years (Sago 2010; Bradley 2011).
Theoretical Background๏ Proﬁles on LinkedIn are signiﬁcantly different from their Facebook or Twitter proﬁles (Bradley 2011; Buck 2012): ‣ members upload their resume to to establish a professional identity ‣ use LinkedIn recourses to ﬁnd employment ‣ build professional connections with past and present coworkers or classmates
Theoretical Background๏ Professional identity: ‣ deﬁned as “the perception of oneself as a professional and as a particular type of professional” (Bucher and Stelling 1977, p. 213) ‣ individuals should start investing in their professional identity early to build a stable and credible image of themselves (Ibarra 1999; Sweitzer 2008)
Research Questions๏ Park et al. (2009) identiﬁed four needs students fulﬁll when using Facebook: ‣ (a) socializing, (b) entertainment, (c) self- status seeking, and (d) information seeking.๏ Research questions: ‣ How generalized are these needs to LinkedIn? and ‣ Can other needs drive LinkedIn usage?
Research Questions๏ Universities direct students to career-related websites (Roberts and Zahay-Blatz 2012)๏ Universities’ IMC has on-campus communication tools that target enrolled students (Jensen and Jepsen 2006)๏ Research Question: ‣ Can LinkedIn partner with universities to develop campus-speciﬁc IMC program that target inactive student users?
Methodology๏ In-depth interview were conducted with 16 business juniors and seniors๏ Usage-based segmentation provided by Alarcon-del-Amo et al. (2012) guided our study and three group were sampled: ‣ Non-users: students who did not have a LinkedIn account ‣ Non-active users: students who have a LinkedIn account but rarely access it ‣ Active users: students who have a LinkedIn account and access it frequently
Methodology๏ The in-depth interview we conducted on campus for a duration of 20-30 minutes๏ Students were preselected based on gender, year in school, and usage๏ Examples of questions asked during the interview: ‣ How many connections do you have on LinkedIn? How often do you interact with your connections on LinkedIn? ‣ How often do you update your proﬁle on LinkedIn? What type of information do you post on your proﬁle?
Results๏ Non-users intend to open an account in the future ‣ 60% will open when they start looking for a job or an internship๏ Most active users (75%) access their LinkedIn account daily๏ 71% of non-active users access their account once or twice a week or a month
Results๏ Proﬁle Management ‣ 50% of non-users anticipate posting their resume when they open an account ‣ Non-active users • 43% posted their current and past experience, expertise/skills, and education ‣ Active users • 75% posted their resume information, in particular current and past experience • 50% posted expertise/skills and education information
Results๏ Connections and Discussion Groups: ‣ active users have between 40 – 88 connections ‣ non-active have between 0 – 20 connections ‣ all active users were involved in 4 - 9 discussion groups ‣ less than 30% of non-active users were involved in 1 – 3 discussion groups ‣ All active users were members of university- related discussion groups
Results๏ Recommendations and Mobile Application: ‣ 50% present of active users gave and received 1 – 2 recommendations ‣ 14% of non-active users gave or received 1 recommendation ‣ Almost none of the active and non-active users were aware of the mobile application
LinkedIn Beneﬁts๏ Four main beneﬁts were identiﬁed for LinkedIn users: ‣ Network and connect (70%) • “Facebook for professionals” ‣ Find jobs and internship opportunities (44%) • “Post, search, and get jobs” ‣ Build visibility and self-promotion (25%) • “Gain visibility and be able to market yourself” ‣ Access professional information (19%) • “Look up, follow, and learn about businesses”
Conclusions๏ PNS vs. SNS Segments ‣ The 3 LinkedIn groups resemble 3 segments of SNS user typology (Alarcon-del-Amo et al. 2012) : • SNS introverts are similar to LinkedIn non-users • SNS novel users similar to LinkedIn non-active users • SNS versatile users are similar to LinkedIn active users ‣ Our study shows that students can be very active on Facebook and Twitter but very inactive on LinkedIn
Conclusions๏ PNS Beneﬁts vs. SNS Needs (Park et al. 2009): ‣ Facebook socializing need is similar to LinkedIn networking/connecting beneﬁt ‣ Facebook self-status seeking is similar to LinkedIn self-promotion beneﬁt ‣ Facebook information seeking need is similar to LinkedIn access to professional information beneﬁt ‣ Facebook entertainment need is dissimilar to LinkedIn beneﬁt to ﬁnd jobs/ internships
Implications๏ On-campus IMC program to increase LinkedIn usage: ‣ Information sessions and seminars for greek houses and career advancement centers ‣ Setting up demonstration and registration booths during job fairs ‣ Support in career advancement centers for students that want to open a LinkedIn account ‣ Encourage more university-related discussion groups
Limitations๏ Sample size and the sample pool ‣ 16 business juniors and seniors were used ‣ A study with more diverse sample should follow๏ Only one qualitative method, in-depth interviews, was used ‣ Other methods should be implemented to validate our ﬁndings