Could it be time to reconsider LinkedIn?
LinkedIn has long been the place where job seekers go to network. People with jobs usually don’t go to LinkedIn much. There’s not much there to do.
So, when people ask me what our strategy is for approaching the “professional” social network, my response has been it’s HR’s territory. Maybe support cares to follow discussions in groups in case an issue comes up. But, no one has ever been indignant with anyone I know for not responding to their discussions on LinkedIn.
Excitement about LinkedIn has always been a red flag for me. As a marketer, I’m looking for sites where people are engaging with each other on a regular basis. Like most professionals, I dutifully update my profile on the site because it’s a valuable directory. Social network? Hardly.
But, that may be changing.
LinkedIn has just announced an update to Groups. At first glance, you’ll notice an update to the look and feel of groups, which now look like this:
While LinkedIn has had a discussion board style of interaction for some time now, they haven’t had the full suite of social media functionality to which savvy users are now accustomed. Now users can like, pass (a type of dislike), follow, and more. Here’s a quick video demonstrating some of the new features:
Is it enough?
Compared to the other social networks, LinkedIn has been slow to grow-only recently surpassing the 70 million user mark. While that’s paltry compared to the half-a-billion users Facebook sports, it’s still a significant user base. They have also done an interesting job of introducing features that appeal to a business network that are unique to LinkedIn, such as an added value leader board for discussions, professional networks, professional recommendations, etc.
I certainly don’t expect LinkedIn to be the largest, most popular social network; but I do think it will take its place on the social network stage as the top network for professionals. I’ve met many people who do not want to blend professional and private, which makes LinkedIn their social network of choice. Even for people who don’t mind the blend, LinkedIn is becoming an attractive place to network as the site’s features are well-suited for professional networking.
While these recent changes suggest LinkedIn could become a valuable source for lead gen marketing, it’s value is still yet to be proven (outside of isolated cases). LinkedIn has had the promise of marketing value with each new release, but it has yet to make a significant market impact. I am going to reapproach the network to see if these new features will drive the kind of engagement that leads to business (as compared to job seeking). Anyone else?