“I wasn’t active on LinkedIn and I was posting stuff once every four months”: Nikhil Narayanan

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A quick chat with TCS’ new Chief Creative Officer, Internal + Social Communications and former Senior Creative Director at Ogilvy about his astonishing success as a writer on LinkedIn.

There are writers in general and writers in general. Nikhil Narayanan is the latter. Who is it? He is the thrower of truth bombs, the scourge of bad publicity, the destroyer of useless polls and the chief plagiarism checker. All this in his realm called LinkedIn India.

Phew. Writing that paragraph almost sounded like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson cutting a promo at WWE’s biggest pay-per-view ‘WrestleMania’.

With over a hundred thousand followers and every post’s likes and shares in the hundreds and thousands, it’s hard to miss Nikhil Narayanan on LinkedIn despite your best attempts to hide under rocks and behind polls. ‘he hates.

Narayanan has been a career publicist with over fifteen years of experience. He has worked at Ogilvy, Origami Creative Concepts, Gray Group and McCann. Now he leads creative, internal communication and social tasks at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Add countless awards and a book to his name and you’ve almost summed up the guy.

Her LinkedIn adventures need a whole new story and that’s why we’re here. Over the past two years we’ve seen his posts address industry practices that are in serious need of a rethink, his views on advertising and marketing that are smack in your face and yet we fail to grab them, and quite often it introduces us to things that make us feel smart.

What’s surprising is that Narayanan’s prolific work on LinkedIn was almost non-existent two years ago. “I wasn’t active on LinkedIn and I was posting stuff once every four months,” he tells us.

This is not the speed you would expect from one of LinkedIn India’s most popular ‘content creators’ or columnists of our time. He tells us that during the early stages of confinement, he lost a former colleague to cardiac arrest. “The night before, I was on a Zoom call and a co-worker friend glorified the toxic culture of advertising. The next day when I heard about her death, I was livid at my friend.

Narayanan tells us he wanted to vent and get the industry noticed. “It only affects you when it hits near you.” At that time, he didn’t know much about LinkedIn and its ability to attract readers. “I didn’t know much about its social media feature, and thought it was just a networking platform,” he reveals.

The post for lack of a better word has gone viral. It has, to date, more than 31,200 likes, 1,200 comments and 1,600 shares. Seeing the response to the post, Narayanan felt that LinkedIn could be a platform “where people can read and voice their concerns about the industry. Another nice thing about LinkedIn is that it’s a place where people still read.

It’s not just LinkedIn where his writing prowess is on display, he also writes on Instagram, but he accepts that “only a few people have managed to crack the code” of the Meta-owned social media app. LinkedIn worked for Narayanan because of its “algorithm and support for long writing. People were making an effort to read on LinkedIn and I took advantage of that.

Whether it’s a marketing move, great publicity, a story about the misadventures of office culture, scroll through its posts and you’ll notice a good number of current happenings.

“I don’t plan what to write,” reveals Narayanan, then tells us how he works. “If something strikes me, I first ask myself if it’s acceptable on LinkedIn because I don’t believe it’s a platform for everything. I’m not the LinkedIn police, but some things should be sacred.

He doesn’t like kids being used in content and hates polls because people can use them for anything and make it sound and appear like LinkedIn. What Narayanan loves about LinkedIn is the company’s attitude of being willing to learn from its mistakes. “They saw how ineffective the stories were and canceled them. The same goes for polls because their frequency has decreased.

Narayanan has moved from the agency world to the brand/client side, this does not mean that he will start buying costumes and his creativity will give way to spreadsheets. His LinkedIn universe too, like time, will not stop just because of this change. There’s no stopping this “general writer” except himself.

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