“The bird is freed,” tweeted Elon Musk on October 27, 2022.
But these days, the bird is not flying high with Gen Z. The recent Twitter acquisition has led to an exodus of Gen Z users flocking to other social media platforms—even to professional ecosystems like LinkedIn.
I know because I’m a member of Gen Z myself. As a recent college graduate looking for a job, I scoured the web (including Twitter) for professional guidance but was dismayed by the sensationalized career advice I found. Then, I found a community on LinkedIn and launched The Final Round, a podcast that helps job seekers advance past “the final round” interview. Over the past year, I have interviewed dozens of recruiters from leading companies like McKinsey & Company, Goldman Sachs, and Google and I have connected with other young workers who are turning away from Twitter towards LinkedIn, TikTok, and even newsletters
For years, Twitter has been the platform of choice for young professionals looking to make a name for themselves in their industry. However, in recent years, LinkedIn has emerged as a serious contender for the attention of Gen Z, who are now the fastest-growing global audience demographic on LinkedIn. Gen Z will soon become the largest generation of consumers, accounting for $143 billion in direct spending, says Lisa Sy from the Insights & Data Team at LinkedIn.
So, why is this shift occurring? I spoke with nine leading Gen Z content creators and “LinkedIn Top Voices” and here is what I learned:
TWITTER IS AT AN INFLECTION POINT WITH GEN Z
Twitter and Gen Z are having a falling-out, and if Twitter doesn’t fix this quickly, the younger users on the platform might never return.
“From an overall generational sentiment standpoint, Gen Z is far from a fan of Twitter,” says Jake Bjorseth, a Gen Z LinkedIn creator with 60,000 followers and the CEO of a Gen Z ad agency called Trndsttrs Media. “Outside of a small group of high-usage Twitter users, the majority looks down upon the platform as far too politically charged, argumentative, and toxic.”
Twitter usage has steadily declined among Gen Z and Millenials since 2016, according to YPulse Survey Data. Gen Z might spend a whopping four hours per day on apps, but how they spend that time across multiple platforms varies.
“Gen Z uses Snapchat to communicate, Instagram to keep up with friends, YouTube to laugh and learn, LinkedIn to find jobs and build personal brands, Facebook for groups, birthdays, and events, and TikTok because, well, it just brings us pure joy,” says Neal Sivadas, a Gen Z LinkedIn Top Voice and author of the Find Gen Z Series. “But there’s one mainstream platform that we don’t really know what to do with, and that’s Twitter.”
You’d think Gen Z would love Twitter, shares Sivadas. “It fits our 8-second short attention span,” Sivadas writes on LinkedIn. “But sadly for Twitter, we don’t… It’s the type of platform where you have an account, but only a select few use regularly.”
A 2019 Business Insider survey found that only 23% of Gen Z checks Twitter daily, compared to 65% who check Instagram daily, and 62% who check YouTube daily.
Let those metrics “sink in.” Totally unrelated side note: Remember when Elon Musk walked into the Twitter office carrying a physical sink and tweeted “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” when his acquisition of Twitter was complete? Super hilarious dad joke.
Stephanie Nuesi, a Gen Z creator with 200,000 LinkedIn followers, and a former member of the LinkedIn Accelerator Program, tells me “I don’t typically use Twitter as a Creator. I only go on the platform for the occasional news check.”
Some Gen Z users aren’t even technically leaving Twitter—because they never even created an account. Linda Le, a Gen Z corporate recruiter and creator with 350,000 LinkedIn followers, has never even made a Twitter account because it is “a platform that does not resonate with me.”
And then there is the most recent issue: Elon Musk’s takeover. Many Twitter users, especially Gen Z, are not ecstatic about the billionaire taking over the platform, with many using the #RIPTwitter hashtag that has been trending. Musk shook up the already precarious company with unpopular policies like implementing mass layoffs and enforcing 12-hour work shifts. “After the Twitter takeover, I really became uninterested in posting on the platform due to the conflicting beliefs of the people at the top,” states Gigi Robinson, a Gen Z creator that focuses on the creator economy and mental health advocacy.
These issues are not just plaguing creators but also brands. Ziad Ahmed, CEO of a Gen Z marketing Agency called JUV Consulting, shares that “even clients have an increased aversion to building a presence on Twitter. It was never really a priority for our clients, and it’s further down the list than before.”
Gen Z creators want stability, and many feel Twitter does not currently align with those desires, leading them to migrate to other platforms.
WHY GEN Z IS FLOCKING TO LINKEDIN
So, where is Gen Z turning to? LinkedIn.
Gen Z is one of the fastest-growing demographics on LinkedIn says Suzi Owens, a senior director of corporate communications at LinkedIn. She tells me the platform has seen a 74% increase YoY in student sign-ups.
One hashtag that has been gaining traction is #studentvoicesoflinkedin where people as young as middle school and high school are sharing their thoughts on the platform. “We’re not only seeing Gen Z adopt LinkedIn but become power users,” shares Nicole Fernandez-Valle, a recruiter and Gen Z creator.
Data from The Drum reveals that Gen Zers, who by 2025 will comprise 27% of the workforce, are increasingly turning to social media for professional development, learning, networking, and commerce opportunities. Gen Z Linkedin engagement is estimated to be more than two times higher than it was in early 2020. And with 78 million Gen Zers on LinkedIn today, the demographic already represents 10% of the platform’s total user base.
“I once upon a time was very active on Twitter but I have not tweeted for perhaps three years,” shares Ahmed. When he first joined Twitter, Ahmed thought it was great that could tweet at anyone and get a response. As the platform matured, that has become less true, and his voice became less heard. He now says he uses LinkedIn every day because LinkedIn offers him more purpose and utility.
LINKEDIN’S EMPHASIS ON BRAND TRUST AND SAFETY
“LinkedIn has largely dodged the social media backlash due to the platform’s focus on connecting members to opportunities, whether it is conversations around trying to hire or get a new skill,” Ryan Roslansky, CEO of LinkedIn tells the Wall Street Journal. “The platform is also changing to tailor to younger users such as adding a ‘no politics’ button and a Creator Accelerator Program.”
Moreover, LinkedIn has made a conscious effort to create a safe, inclusive, and trustworthy platform for its users. A LinkedIn survey found that 80% of Gen Z believes that LinkedIn is a brand they can trust, 73% feel safe posting content and interacting with other users, and 70% find LinkedIn content relevant to them.
And while other social media players like TikTok, face privacy concerns and legal issues, LinkedIn’s parent company, Microsoft, has largely remained out of negative headlines. Plus, LinkedIn has taken steps to address issues like harassment and hate speech, and has implemented features like comment moderation to help foster a positive community.
Sivadas agrees that “LinkedIn has done a great job of preserving a safe and friendly platform among text-first platforms.” Similarly, Bjorseth explains that “out of all the social platforms, it is hard to argue that anyone has a more safe and trusted brand than LinkedIn.” This is in stark contrast to Twitter’s hands-off approach to moderating content.
Twitter is “misunderstanding its relationship to its users,” says Ahmed. He argues that by charging for profile verification and removing safety features, Twitter has pushed users away from its platform and that even active Twitter users no longer feel supported.
AUTHENTICITY IS CRITICAL FOR GEN Z
I believe Gen Zers are also drawn to LinkedIn because of the platform’s authentic focus on professionalism, positivity, and productivity.
Unlike Twitter, where users can hide behind anonymous accounts and spew negative comments or “troll comments” without consequence, LinkedIn encourages users to be their authentic selves. This creates a more genuine community where users can build honest relationships and foster meaningful connections. And since your LinkedIn is tied to your professional image, users are incentivized to treat others with respect. Simply put: you’re less likely to post hate comments or bully others if it could affect your job, career, or livelihood.
Danielle Farage, a Gen Z futurist and a LinkedIn Top Voice, recalled that “three years ago I was questioning my mentor’s advice to post on LinkedIn. And now my mentor uses me as an example to his other mentees, pointing out what is possible when you share your authentic self and show up consistently.”
LinkedIn’s algorithm appears to be rewarding authenticity, and it impacts the kind of content you see on LinkedIn. “Gone are the days of people gloating about their new role and promotions. Here are the days of individuals sharing information to move their industry forward,” explains Robinson. “If you have gone through something challenging or something amazing, someone else likely has a parallel experience, and it’s worth sharing.”
So how important is authenticity to Gen Z? “It’s table stakes for our generation. We have lived in a diluted digital world and are constantly bombarded with fabricated information, edited photos, ads, and more,” says Bjorseth.
LINKEDIN OFFERS UNBOUND PERSONAL BRANDING OPPORTUNITIES
What’s more, LinkedIn is synonymous with personal branding and networking (especially in a professional fashion) and these are things Gen Z-ers are hungry for.
Most users start their LinkedIn journey by leveraging the platform to find job opportunities, and this is exactly what Fernandez-Valle did when she was laid off from Meta this year. Her initial LinkedIn posts documented how she was searching for a job from the perspective of being a recruiter. People resonated with her story and she quickly amassed 230,000 LinkedIn followers and a new recruiting job at Royal Caribbean.
There has “never before has there been a place where early career professionals can reach important people, build their professional brand, launch projects, and bypass the system to advance their career,” explains Sivadas.
Some creators are more intentional with their linkedIn content to generate ROI from their brand. For example, Kareem Abukhadra, CEO of Relentless, says he uses LinkedIn and brand building to generate inbound leads for his company.
In similar fashion, LinkedIn has been the number one source of new business generation for Bjorseth and his Gen Z Ad Agency, leading to “significant revenue growth, hundreds of podcast invites, dozens of speaking gigs, and more.”
Finding your niche on LinkedIn is essential to building an engaged audience. Take Nuesi who creates inspirational content. In a recent LinkedIn post, she revealed her very personal story about being “Gen Z, Latina, and first-gen and detailed how she built a six figure business and helped her parents retire and build their dream home in the Dominican Republic.
LINKEDIN IS THE IDEAL SPOT FOR PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING
While you might see the occasional “cringeworthy” post on LinkedIn, one thing is certain—there is no better place to build a professional network.
“In the U.S., younger generations are growing their network at a faster rate than older generations,” says Owens. “Gen Z added more connections per month on average in 2022 than any other generation group. They added 28.7% more monthly connections than Millennials, 54.7% more than Gen-X, and 143.5% than Boomers.”
“People don’t realize that LinkedIn isn’t just a platform for networking for job opportunities, but you can actually build quality relationships that are everlasting,” shares Le.
For example, Robinson uses LinkedIn “to meet people that can give her the keys to her next big thing, and discover a corner of the internet with young people who are proud of their careers and struggles.”
Even great friendships are being made on the platform. Both Bjorseth and Ahmed attest to the fact that some of their best friends and employees were found on LinkedIn
As a Gen Z Creator who uses all platforms, I have especially found value through professional networking on LinkedIn. I have been able to build a LinkedIn audience of 23,000 connections, and was invited to join the LinkedIn Learning Instructors community.
LinkedIn is not going anywhere, and its presence and utility are only growing. As Sivadas says, “LinkedIn will stand the test of time as people will always need a platform for their professional network.”
I believe it is clear that Twitter has some work to do to fix their “Gen Z problem”. If the platform does not adapt quickly, LinkedIn will become the clear winner for Gen Z, who are the next generation of professionals who will flock to a better “habitat”. Whether you’re looking for a platform that emphasizes brand trust and safety, amplifies authentic voices, helps you build your personal brand, or offers unlimited professional networking opportunities, LinkedIn could be a great option to boost your career.