Teens on LinkedIn: Is it a Good Fit?

Posted on September 5th, 2013 by True Media

LinkedIn is great. We connect with colleagues, start professional discussions, and share an array of industry news with our followers. LinkedIn is practically fixed into my daily routine; make coffee, wash face, eat waffles, check my LinkedIn – my morning in a nutshell.
As of September 12, LinkedIn will be lowering the minimum age from 18 to 14. University Pages are also being launched, which are similar to Company Pages. From what I gather, they are being created to help high school students connect with university administrators and alumni, and help them learn more about potential post-secondary schools.
This all sounds great – after all, social media is all about connecting – but do teens really belong on LinkedIn?
Does a Younger Audience Belong in a Professional Space?
LinkedIn is where I go to get my morning dose of work-related content. It’s a relief to log on and not be bombarded with Amaro-filtered pictures of what my connections had for dinner. I am also fairly confident that I will never see a picture of my old boss celebrating #SelfieSunday. Right now, there is an understanding that personal lives stay off of LinkedIn. It’s a beautiful thing to have one dedicated social space where the clutter has been eliminated, and users can be efficient and maintain focus.
I’m not entirely sure that a younger audience will appreciate this, or should even have to think about it. I find it difficult to understand what kind of professional insight/content a 14-year-old could possibly offer their followers. Better yet, when someone is 14 and has only been exposed to the playful side of social media, will LinkedIn be something they even want to use?  I’m looking forward to seeing how younger users will engage with the platform.
Is LinkedIn Cheapening Its Brand?
When I buy media, LinkedIn is often a “must have” for B2B campaigns. Because we can target specific industries and job titles, it’s a buy that usually gets clients excited. But once young teens are allowed on LinkedIn, will advertisers still think of it as an efficient way to reach professionals?
Opening up LinkedIn to young teens is a risky, yet fascinating move. Frankly, it has potential to cheapen the LinkedIn brand. Allowing users who are about 8-10 years away from beginning their careers may affect the way people think about LinkedIn. If LinkedIn shifts away from being a professional environment (let’s remember that young teens are not professionals yet), will advertisers still be comfortable with the hefty minimum spend? Only time will tell.
Wait and See
Overall, I think this is a really interesting initiative from LinkedIn. There are so many different ways this could turn out. It could be a fantastic move, or it could be horrible; I have a feeling it will not be in the middle. I will definitely be keeping a close watch on the outcome of this bold move.