At the inception of social media, sharing the details of your personal life—be it a birth, a death, or what you had for breakfast—was the whole point. Then LinkedIn arrived, notably setting itself apart as “Facebook for suits,” where users were encouraged to check their personal lives at the login screen—but are they?

It’s not so clear lately. One study found that last year, eight in ten CEOs globally shared personal content—which received the highest level of engagement when compared to non-personal posts. Our experts say that factors like the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and rising interest rates have created heightened uncertainty, and people are looking for relatable leaders to offer solutions.

The question still remains as to how much vulnerability is too much, but slipping on the social media straitjacket may no longer be good for business. “Hybrid work has brought people into our homes virtually,” says Tamara Rodman, a Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner in the Culture, Change & Communications team. “People are now expecting a little more humanity from their leaders.”

Our experts say posting more images is one way that HR leaders can build greater connections with employees and candidates alike. In the first quarter of last year, more than half of LinkedIn posts reportedly contained photos. Indeed, LinkedIn has reported that including images in posts leads to a 2x higher comment rate.

However, in most cases, photo content should still ideally have a connection back to your job, says Sarah Jensen Clayton, a Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner who leads the firm’s Culture and Change capability in North America. If, for example, you’re sharing a photo of your long walk on the beach, maybe include that you’re reflecting on the recent win or breakthrough in your role. “That way it’s not random and people say, ‘oh that makes sense,’” says Clayton.

Culture, Change and Communications

Crack the code on organizational behavior change through a blend of art and science

Rodman urges leaders not to rest on their laurels after posting a picture but to track engagement, i.e. how many people liked, shared and commented on your post. One engagement-boosting method is to share your own perspective on an issue but then ask a question to open up a conversation—for example, ‘do you agree or disagree?’

A study published by a team at Harvard University, “It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: Question-Asking Increases Liking”, found that people who ask questions are better liked. Rodman adds that asking for help, in particular, is like kibble for social media audiences. “Asking people how they would solve an issue is innately flattering,” she says.

Firms looking to attract top talent should also be applying the same personal touch to their LinkedIn company page, say experts. Clayton cites Glassdoor as a formerly humdrum platform that significantly improved user engagement after it allowed employers to add imagery, videos, and personal testimonials that colorfully articulated a company’s employee value proposition. Now almost one in two jobseekers reportedly visits a company’s Glassdoor page before applying for a job.

Gen Z’s insistence on authenticity is perhaps the strongest argument for getting more personal on LinkedIn. A reported nine in ten Gen Zers say being true to oneself is extremely or very important. “Sharing personal content makes you more human, more accessible,” says Clayton. “It gives you things to talk about and bond over.”

Taking employee engagement one step further, one firm even hands its non-LinkedIn social media accounts over to employees for the day, charging them with capturing the essence of the company’s culture. “Could we similarly hand over the reins of our company LinkedIn pages to employees?” asks Clayton.

For more insights on Gen Z talent, check out Korn Ferry Institute’s four-part research series on what companies need to know about attracting, developing, retaining, and rewarding Gen Z talent or contact one of our experts today.