Should 'thought leaders' swear on LinkedIn? - Showtime Digital

Should 'thought leaders' swear on LinkedIn?

12 April 2019 Read 3254 times

If your audience speaks a certain way, respond and speak in the same manner. There’s everything right with that.

But as we’ve seen the growth of personal brand video on LinkedIn I’ve noticed more video transcripts with the F bomb thrown in.

But if you’re swearing, be careful on which channels you use to find new audiences. With 1.8M subscribers on YouTube Gary Veenerchuk is a well-known online personality. His style is a little rough around the edges... and while he does swear a lot, he is at least authentic.

His video (Why do I curse so much?) popped into my YouTube feed.

In the video and to justify his swearing, Gary Vee says as a kid, he was brought up on comedians like Richard Prior and Eddie Murphy. That’s all and well, we all justify our actions, however extreme they are.

But let me ask you, if you’re watching Eddie Murphy with associates or family do you cringe when the F word becomes the only way to put your point across.

When you’re a child, you eat sweets. When you grow up you eat solid foods.

You may say, ‘well he has 1.8M subscribers so it must be ok’. This is no different to saying successful business people need to destroy others to get ahead. It’s a falsehood and unnecessary.

Looking past this, Gary’s language is fine on YouTube because the content is in the correct place. His videos will be viewed by subscribers to his channel, people who have viewed his content before and those who have viewed similar content.

But he also posts this content on LinkedIn and this is where there needs to be a line drawn. The challenge with placing this content on LinkedIn is people repost his content to everyone in their professional network, even employers and clients.

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Did she just say the C word!

Here’s an example of this. While investigating cybersecurity for a client I wanted to understand the proposed anti-encryption laws through the content tab on LinkedIn. I was expecting very professional…even dry content. Instead I saw the video below.

I won’t share the link with you for the reason I’ll explain in a second. And I’m glad I went to the trouble of watching it prior to resending the video because half way through the 2.20-minute video the female presenter says the C*** word. WHAT! I was flabbergasted.

How many of us ‘like’ content on LinkedIn and other social channels without reading or viewing it? Plenty of us.

Nothing says humility like a personal brand

Recently Jack Delosa of Entourage used the F bomb in his post – 5 Rituals to Optimise Your Performance in 2019.

I’ve attended Jack’s functions. His ideal client is aged 18-30, so his language is age appropriate.

The issue is LinkedIn is meant to be a professional channel, it’s not Facebook or Instagram. So, while the language is correct for the audience it’s inappropriate for the channel. As a strategy it’s a blanket approach and lazy.

The Entourage content in question was originally posted as an Entourage blog and was then placed on LinkedIn, but it wasn’t placed on the Entourage Facebook or Instagram channels, which would have been a more appropriate channel. Interestingly the transcript of the video didn’t include the F word. Maybe they felt it would violate LinkedIn’s acceptable conduct (which is very loose).

There should be a clear demarcation on what’s placed on a professional network like LinkedIn as opposed to social networks like Instagram and Facebook. They are very different channels built for different audiences.

You may not use the same language at a restaurant on Saturday night as you would during Friday night’s after work drinks because you’re there for different reasons and each venue caters for a different clientele.


Why do you have to swear?

But I’m also curious to know why more people feel the need to use profanity to get their point across. Great leaders of the past have not had to rely on profanity to express themselves. They didn’t need to tell everyone they were the leader either.

So maybe there’s a real difference between a leader like Martin Luther King or a Sir Winston Churchill and a self-promoting ‘thought leader’.

Should thought leaders keep their thoughts to themselves?

Maybe in their frustration and to break through the marketing noise some thought leaders see swearing as justified and acceptable and a means to an end.
But are ‘thought leaders’ more concerned about what others think of them to the detriment of the content of their character?

Do ‘thought leaders’ destroy the content of their character when they are more concerned about what others think of them.

In this case I’d argue they have compromised the content of their character in the pursuit of fame. Once again, it’s lazy and too simple an answer for the question, ‘how do I break through the noise’.

What are your thoughts? Is swearing necessary and would you swear on LinkedIn to your client base?

Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer is the Joint Founder and CEO of Showtime Digital. Steve has been in B2B sales since 1997 but influencing people and behavioural science has been a long-term passion.

The magic he brings to his clients is in knowing how to engage their audience. His goal is to help businesses understand the deeper reasons of why consumers convert online with them.