LinkedIn’s recent design change that featured target content pages was probably a good indicator of what was coming up next. Now, LinkedIn hones in on thought leaders by offering these “influencers” a blog platform. The current (but soon to be expanded) pool offers 150 curated coveted personalities whose blog posts can be liked and shared.
The move gives influencers a new reason to flock to LinkedIn. These cream of the crop entrepreneurs aren’t likely to rely on LinkedIn the way Average Joe does, but they do have a coveted following. Their “tribe” makes it worthwhile for the social platform to carve a nook where these thinkers can connect with their audience – which everyone wants and needs to do no matter their background differences. Naturally this attracts vibrant personalities like Richard Branson, HuffPo’s Arianna Huffington and even the presidential candidates to a platform that now lets them use LinkedIn in a way that benefits them.
Content hungry LinkedIn users, who may not already have been converted by the content publishing shift the platform undertook this year, now have two big reasons to make LinkedIn part of their daily social browsing. Connecting followers with viable entrepreneurs in all sectors also helps LinkedIn re-emphasize its purpose, and that’s connecting professionals in a way that matters to them professionally. Moving beyond just networking, these changes signify an interest in educating professionals; notably, all curated blog posts have a business spin despite being sourced from personal and even lifestyle thought leaders. The phrase “it’s not who you know but what you know” has regained some life in light of the number one professional social network’s interest in information networking.
There’s a downside. Critics are complaining, and rightly so, that content from top influencers is cliché, tired and has perhaps too much of an advertisement feel. However, this isn’t LinkedIn’s fault. The blame lies with the failed creativity, interest and engagement of press secretaries, PR reps and other agents that are writing the content on behalf of the thinker. (Since the content is associated with and by a thought leader, they should really up the quality of writers paid to think for them in many cases).
So what does this say about LinkedIn that we don’t already know – or moreover, how does this compare with trends and other social platforms? For one, the fact that LinkedIn is relying on curating content shows that curation is bigger than we imagined. It might even lead to other social sites doing the same (and there’s definitely a sizeable portion for additional sponsored ad revenue to gain from it). Like Klout, LinkedIn is capitalizing on thought leaders. While it’s not scoring them like Klout does, the fact that a personality has been selected as a thought leader is ample testimony to an individual’s capacity as an influencer. The move also challenges Facebook’s “fan” pages since LinkedIn now offers another way to engage with fans and followers. And finally, the idea can be seen as a response to Twitter cutting its ties with LinkedIn; as you might recall, users can no longer stream Twitter content onto their LinkedIn pages, forcing LinkedIn to become relevant and engaging in other ways.
Companies that don’t qualify as thought leaders just yet, but who are interested in adding some dynamics to their company page, can take advantage of the featured updates option where they can promote select content. It’s a great idea but LinkedIn still has a long way to go when catering to brand or company pages, as those are still hideously dysfunctional and obtusely designed.