Professionally-oriented networking site LinkedIn has now opened up its exclusive ‘Influencer’ program to all its members and is encouraging all account-holders to publish content, gain followers and also follow other bloggers, along similar lines to Twitter.
World number one professional social network LinkedIn has in recent years moved away from its roots as a static CV library for head-hunters and job-seekers and sought to position itself as a social hub that aggregates news, links, and status updates from members. The acquisition of news reader application Pulse last year further demonstrates the determination of the Mountain View-based networking site to become the professional publishing platform of choice and to share more content in order to increase user interaction and boost engagement. Now, as of this week, LinkedIn is encouraging its members to produce and share information content, a feature that until recently was only available to some 500 influential personalities from the world of business, such as Richard Branson and Michael Bloomberg. On Wednesday 19 February, the site opened up its ‘Influencer program’ to its general membership and announced that it will use algorithms to identify articles that gain traction with readers according to their professions and interests.
Publish content and become a ‘LinkedInfluencer’
In opening up its content-sharing program to all its members, the platform hopes to generate a regular flow of shareable material of specific interest to business professionals, in similar vein to Facebook’s newsfeed – though this feature to a large extent comprises photos intended for the user’s network of friends. LinkedIn will be using an algorithm to identify articles likely to attract most readers, highlight them and disseminate them to a wider audience. In addition, users will from now on be able to follow people who are not in their own contact network and also to build their own wider group of followers for their blogs, along Twitter lines. This means that now anyone could become an ‘influencer’ on LinkedIn without necessarily being as famous as Bill Gates. Meanwhile, in the search for extra revenue, the site will also insert advertising into users’ newsfeeds.
Becoming “a better professional each day”
Announcing the decision, LinkedIn’s Director of Product Management Ryan Roslansky pointed out that even when the ‘Influencer’ program was only open to a limited number of well-known personalities, it increased network traffic significantly, with the average Influencer post receiving more than 250 ‘likes’ and 80 comments. He also explained that the company hopes more content will be shared and that he would be targeting certain areas in order to respond to members’ specific interests. The purpose of this new move to broaden influencing ability is to give the interface a more social dimension, making it a place where every member can publish interesting material and in turn, by learning from others, “become better at the job they’re in”, not just a means of looking for a new job or a useful source of recruitment information. The LinkedIn professional platform is however facing competition. In recent months users have been flocking to sites such as blog publishing platform Medium to publish content on a variety of subjects, including business-related material. Nevertheless, as LinkedIn has an established profile in the business sphere, its credentials are probably stronger in the eyes of users who wish to share content on business topics.