LinkedIn creator mode.

LinkedIn creator mode
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Creator mode is a profile feature that LinkedIn started offering in April 2021. It’s part of a rollout and so you might not have the option to enable creator mode yet.

Creator mode is meant to support creators on LinkedIn. I’m not sure it does that but here’s a look at what you get. You decide.

Turning on creator mode.

When your profile is given the ability to enable creator mode, you will see a new option in the dashboard on your profile.

This will appear on desktop and mobile at the same time, and you can use either version of LinkedIn to enable creator mode.

LinkedIn creator mode dashboard
Profile dashboard in creator mode

Topics/hashtags.

When creator mode is turned on, you’ll be prompted to select or enter up to 5 hashtags to feature at the top of your profile. LinkedIn refers to this as “topics” even though the rest of us know them as hashtags.

LinkedIn creator mode hashtags/topics
Hashtags/topics in creator mode

When displayed on your profile, the hashtags are automatically reordered by LinkedIn in terms of relevance. That’s according to their support team – I don’t really believe this! The order seems totally random to me.

LinkedIn creator mode hashtag display
Hashtag display in creator mode

The hashtags are automatically displayed in lowercase, which isn’t good for readability. And the hashtags are not clickable links. LinkedIn isn’t helping us here.

If you don’t have a hashtag of your own, I strongly recommend creating one. Here’s my best advice on creating a branded hashtag.

Follow button.

With creator mode on, your profile automatically displays the Follow button instead of the Connect button.

This option has been present for some time. I changed my profile to Follow first mode in October 2018, and that’s been responsible for the significant difference between my number of connections and my number of followers. I talk about this more in followers versus connections.

Turning on creator mode forces you to have Follow first mode on as well.

I think if you’re a genuine content creator, this shouldn’t be a problem. And note that people can still connect with you via the More | Connect menu option on your profile.

Follower count.

With creator mode on, your follower count is displayed near the top of your profile instead of being shown further down the screen.

LinkedIn creator mode follower count
Follower count display in creator mode

Your follower count should always be higher than your connection count – unless you’re really putting people off and they’re unfollowing you without disconnecting!

As such, it looks more impressive to show people your follower count instead of your connection count, and that could prompt more people to follow you.

With creator mode on, the Featured section moves up the profile. This is where you can showcase your best LinkedIn posts, articles and external content, including videos.

The Featured section itself isn’t any different from that found in non-creator mode profiles. Only its position changes.

LinkedIn Featured section
Featured section (no change in creator mode apart from position)

The upshot of this position change, along with the movement of the Activity panel, is that the About statement is moved much further down the profile.

After your headline, the About statement is probably the second most important part of your profile. I don’t like that this valuable content is being de-emphasised in creator mode profiles.

It would be best if we could choose the ordering of our profile sections instead of LinkedIn making those decisions for us. LinkedIn used to allow this. Not anymore. Boo!

Activity panel.

Normally, the Activity panel displays your last 3 posts or shares and your last 3 likes and comments.

With creator mode on, the panel moves up the profile to just below the Featured section.

It also changes to display your last 6 posts or shares. It shows none of your recent likes or comments.

LinkedIn Activity panel in creator mode
LinkedIn Activity panel in creator mode

If you post in a private group, that activity will be shown in your Activity panel, but only you and other members of the group will see that. Everyone else will see your last 6 public posts or shares.

Can I use follow first mode without creator mode?

Yes, and this used to be the way it was before creator mode came along.

To show a Follow button on your profile without being in creator mode:

1. Go to this screen:

linkedin.com/psettings/allow-follow

2. Set the Make follow primary slider to No. This turns off creator mode.

3. Set the slider to Yes.

That’s it. You profile will now prompt non-connections with a Follow button but without any of the other features of creator mode.

Cover story.

Cover story is the 30-second video slot that you can use to add some personality to your profile. This was originally going to be part of the creator mode “package” but LinkedIn separated it so that you could have one without the other.

If you see an orange ring around a person’s profile photo, they’ve recorded a cover story video (up to 30 seconds). Click their photo to watch the video.

If you don’t see the orange ring on anyone’s profile, then the feature hasn’t arrived for you yet and you’ll need to be patient.

When you have the ability to record your own cover story, you’ll be prompted by the LinkedIn mobile app. You’ll also see a + button in the bottom-right corner of your profile photo.

Cover stories can be added only via the mobile app but they can be viewed (and deleted) on the desktop version of LinkedIn.

You can pre-record a video and upload it in the LinkedIn mobile app via the camera roll, so you don’t need to create the video inside LinkedIn.

To optimise the space, use portrait (9:16) format for your cover stories.

LinkedIn cover story orange ring
LinkedIn cover story orange ring

Examples of good cover stories.

In no particular order, here are some good cover stories that have been recorded in portrait mode. Some of these get extra brownie points for including captions:

Here’s a quick screen recording of the above cover story examples, for the benefit of those who can’t view cover stories inside LinkedIn:

As of September 2021, you can add closed captions (CC) to cover stories. Here’s a quick explainer:

Does creator mode generate more visibility?

When I published this article, my profile views didn’t seem any different from how they were before I enabled creator mode on 4 May 2021:

Creator mode profile views

I did a tiny data analysis soon after making the change:

Average stats for 14 non-video posts BEFORE creator mode activated:
👀 views: 8186
💚 reactions: 101
💬 comments: 118
🔄 shares: 1

Average stats for 14 non-video posts AFTER creator mode activated:
👀 views: 6656
💚 reactions: 100
💬 comments: 99
🔄 shares: 2

I do think that Follow first mode is a good idea for creators, but you can already turn this on without creator mode. See the Followers preferences panel and set Make follow primary to Yes if you want to do this.

LinkedIn Follow first
Make follow primary option

My September 2021 experiment was to turn off creator mode for a month, and that led to a small reduction in the visibility of my content. I compared my stats with the previous 4 months, when creator mode was on. Here are the results.

86 posts between 4 May and 30 August with creator mode ON.

51 Text/Image/Doc posts
👀 Avg views 5524
💚 Avg reactions 92
💬 Avg comments 88

35 Videos
👀 Avg views 1410
💚 Avg reactions 86
💬 Avg comments 91

19 posts between 1 September and 25 September 2021 with creator mode OFF.

13 Text/Image/Doc posts
👀 Avg views 3700
💚 Avg reactions 70
💬 Avg comments 62

6 Videos
👀 Avg views 855
💚 Avg reactions 75
💬 Avg comments 89

Some additional info:

When I turned off creator mode on 1 Sep 2021
36,608 followers
8488 connections
1908 #LinkedInLearnerLounge followers
78 SSI

When I checked again on 2 Oct 2021
37,121 followers
8650 connections
1942 #LinkedInLearnerLounge followers
81 SSI

Due to my drop in visibility during the September 2021 experiment, I turned creator mode back on in October 2021.

Let’s wrap up.

The best feature of creator mode is cover story – and that’s now separate from creator mode anyway!

I’m not convinced that creator mode actually helps creators that much, but I’m leaving it turned on. Why? Because my profile was already in Follow first mode and it’s good to have my follower count and content showcased more prominently.

If LinkedIn puts some cool new features in that are dependent on creator mode being enabled, that’s where things will get interesting.

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John Espirian.

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