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March 27, 2014

LinkedIn Looking to Curate Content from Its 277 Million Users

LinkedIn image — LinkedIn Offices.

LinkedIn is opening up its ‘Influencer program’ to everyone, which encourages members to generate a stream of shareable content.

To date, LinkedIn has only allowed a small, editorially selected group of contributors such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Barack Obama. This is now changing, however — the professional-networking site has opened up access to its publishing platform to all of its 277 million users. LinkedIn hopes users will generate a steady stream of shareable articles, similar to the continuous stream of pictures or links on Facebook news feeds.

The move is an attempt to generate more interest in the site, just weeks after the company disclosed that page views had slipped for the second consecutive quarter. The networking site had previously experienced several quarters of explosive growth, but the latest quarterly results suggest returning visitors are on the decline. The initial rollout will allow access to around 25,000 English language users of LinkedIn, with a worldwide release planned in the coming months.

LinkedIn’s Head of Content Ryan Roslansky said ‘Influencers’ has proved successful in boosting traffic and user engagement, with each post generating an average of 80 comments and 250 likes.

“It’s starting to bring a lot of people back to the site more frequently,” said Roslansky. “We want to get much more content in front of them and much more niche content about their interests.”

Much in the same vein as Facebook, LinkedIn wants to position itself as a viable platform for quality, sharable content, serving its own particular niche.

“One of our big, strategic bets for the company is for LinkedIn to become the definitive, professional publishing platform,” said Roslansky. “We do this because we want LinkedIn to be the place where members can become productive, successful professionals — not just when you’re trying to find a job, or search for another person.”

With Influencers now open to the general public, well at least partially for the time being, LinkedIn will identify popular articles and distribute those more broadly. As a reward to contributors for their participation, posts will appear on users profiles where they will ‘live forever’ as a part of your professional identity, explained Roslansky.

“One of the great things about LinkedIn is when you create a profile on LinkedIn, we know a lot about who you are, your industry, your function in your company, etc. – we have great insight into the interests you care about,” he said.

LinkedIn has moved away from its roots as a recruitment tool for business professionals in recent years, moving toward a social hub that aggregates news, links, and status updates from members, much in the same vein as Facebook. The reasoning for this is essentially down to the company wanting to pull in more returning users and pull in more advertising revenue. LinkedIn inserts targeted ads into its users’ timelines, an advertising model that has proved successful for Facebook and Twitter Inc.

Last April, LinkedIn acquired the news reader app, Pulse, for around $89 million. The app fishes out relevant daily news to users when they log in to the site. A spokesperson for Pulse said that articles published by LinkedIn could also appear in Pulse.

“Give us 15 minutes each morning and we’ll make you a better professional each day,” Roslansky added. “I definitely believe in this notion that man plus machine is the real key to content these days.”

In addition to written articles, members can also share photos, images, and videos using SlideShare, which LinkedIn acquired in May 2012.


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