Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
Twenty years ago in May of 2003 there was no such thing as Facebook and MySpace (which is now Myspace) wouldn't spread its wings and fly until Aug. 1. (Did you know that Myspace is still a thing about which some people care whether or not you capitalize the S? Because we did not realize that until, er, quite recently.) For a hot second (as the kids like to say), a startup social media network named LinkedIn was about to have the internet all to itself.
So to speak, we mean. Yes, of course there were other things on the internet before social media networks. And yes, we remember that prehistoric stuff like Geocities used to have some of the properties of a social media network. For a brief shining moment, however, LinkedIn and no one else (OK, fine, Friendster launched in March of 2003) was in a revolutionary pole position.
From the beginning, however, LinkedIn had a unique approach to bringing people together. While most other proto-social networks focused on being hip gathering places for casual social interaction, LinkedIn came out of the gate focusing not on leisure, but on that other thing that lots of people spend time engaged in with other people: work.
LinkedIn realized early on that there was and would be an appetite for employment-based social interaction. Add in the farsighted realization that employment research and job hunting was quickly becoming an activity carried out almost exclusively online and, well, you've got the seed of a powerful business idea.
Eventually, people would get around to using other social media platforms to pursue work-related interactions and most job search sites would attempt to bottle up at least some of LinkedIn's social media mojo. But there's a reason that Linked in has 930 million members and counting in 2023.
One of the topics that we ask about in the Salary Survey each year is social media engagement. We keep it simple: As touched on in this space last week, all we're really asking is where certified IT professionals go for leisure interaction on social media, and where they go for professional interaction. This week, we're turning our attention to professional engagement on social media.
Here's what we learned:
Q: Which social media platform do you use most for professional engagement?
I don't do social media. — 7.5 percent
LinkedIn — 53.6 percent
Facebook — 20.2 percent
Instagram — 7.8 percent
Twitter — 5.4 percent
Reddit — 3.1 percent
Slack — 1.5 percent
Other — 0.9 percent
As we saw last week, there are some certified IT professionals for whom social media is a clearly demarcated "no fly zone." Interestingly, however, there are only about half as many cranks telling us to get off their lawn when it comes to social media engagement for professional purposes.
And then, oh boy, did we mention that LinkedIn is a big deal when it comes to social media interaction that is centered around work and employment? LinkedIn is the clear frontrunner, and it's not even close. LinkedIn (which has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft since 2016) is running backwards with its shoelaces untied and still lapping the field.
It's kind of surprising that Facebook and (to a considerably lesser extent) Instagram did so well here. We would have expected a much stronger showing out of Twitter — or X, or whatever we're supposed to call it. Kind of a bummer what's happening there: The self-proclaimed internet's town square is coming apart at the seams before our eyes.
Slack is not really a social network, particularly since it's not open. That was a bad call on our part. Reddit is Reddit, and we kind of figured that most people wouldn't settle on TikTok for professional interactions, so we didn't even include it as an option. The tiny "Other" crowd didn't even fight us on that: They're mostly still on about WhatsApp.