“…the definitive, professional publishing platform.”
LinkedIn has recently started allowing users to post long form blogs directly onto its site. This is not a new feature, but up until recently it was only very specific users that could post their thoughts.
Some notable contributors include Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Barrack Obama. Now, however, the feature is available to a further 25,000 members, allowing the generic user to post his or her thoughts and advice in a blog style format. This is a huge potential source of writers, as there are around 277m users on the LinkedIn network.
Roll Out Plan
LinkedIn has revealed a rollout style plan, with initial access to the new feature restricted to 25,000 English language users. The plan is to allow every user access to the blogging platform, with worldwide reach anticipated to arrive within a couple of months.
Ryan Roslansky, Head of Content Products at LinkedIn said:
“One of our big, strategic bets for the company is for LinkedIn to become the definitive, professional publishing platform. 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.”
Effectively it seems that LinkedIn is looking for a hook that will tempt users to visit the site daily, or weekly, rather than simply a professional social networking site where users update their CVs.
Influencer, LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform
The blogging network, dubbed Influencer, first came to specific users last autumn. Initially it was a small sample of 150 “thought leaders” however, this group has now grown to around 500 users. This model is unlikely to change, according to Roslansky, who said that the new open access to publishing on LinkedIn would allow the everyday user to become a member of the prestigious group.
To do this, Roslansky recommends that users who aspire to join the exclusive ranks should write posts which draw a wide audience, in order to gain engagement.
Roslansky argues that Influencer posts are very successful and receive high volumes of traffic. Many posts see well over 20,000 unique views, over 250 likes, and around 80 comments on average. For those aspiring Influencer writers, it’s likely that those are the stats you would need to join the group.
LinkedIn has started to add more users to the Influencer team, as it moves towards rolling the feature out to everyday users. Some of the bigger names that will soon be publishing content on the site include Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, Financial Expert and CNBC host Suze Orman, and Summly founder and Yahoo! Product Manager Nick D’Aloisio (and me!).
Share Your Thoughts
The Influencer platform allows users an unfettered place to share their ideas. Currently there is no word limit and users can share photos accompanying the text. LinkedIn promotes user contributions by pushing the content written to the homepage, ensuring higher impressions. Any post that is featured rotates on the homepage, amongst four posts considered to be in the top tier of contributions to the site.
Finally, LinkedIn further shares the content by sending it in an email digest to users of the site and it also uses the flagship LinkedIn application, Pulse. This is a newsreader feature that LinkedIn acquired last year.
The feature that benefits users the most is the fact that any post they write will “live forever” on their LinkedIn account, further enhancing their CV and professional identity. LinkedIn will also help the user target an audience that wants to read the type of content being written.
It does this by using its knowledge of user habits, industry background, and interests, ensuring that the right posts reach the right people.
“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 the company, etc. – we have great insight into the interests you care about,” says Roslansky.
Simply put, if you’re a copywriter and LinkedIn sees content that relates to you and your field, it will link you to the written piece.
High Quality Blogging?
Although LinkedIn has aspirations to be a place where professional blogs and copy is posted, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the content provided will be of the high quality it desires. There are many websites that share user-generated content and for every site that manages to make it work, there are many that are full of bad writing. For LinkedIn users though, anything that they write will be forever tied to their profile and they might find the “live forever’ feature haunts them.
Roslansky is not worried about bad content being posted on the site, as he argues that the context will ensure better contributions. Users will be sharing information based on what they do best, their professional careers, and Roslansky feels that it will provide insights into areas that have not been written about yet.
It is likely that this new feature, when it is rolled out fully, will work to the advantage of both LinkedIn and the user. By generating and posting potentially millions of blog posts, LinkedIn will become a site visited much more frequently and ideally, it will allow users a better chance to connect with employers.
Users sharing their thoughts via a blog post and linked to their CV will allow employers a much more three dimensional view of the person and allow them a better chance to get to know a user without meeting them in person.
Word of Caution
Some analysts have added a word of caution however, and are wary of a drop-off. Many have questioned LInkedIn’s motivation behind this new feature, suggesting that it might be indicative of the company’s growth becoming a little sluggish.
As of February 2014 LinkedIn has opened up the blogging platform to selected members and the number will be steadily expanding over the next few weeks and months. The initial English language limitation will not exist for long, as LinkedIn gradually starts to incorporate multiple languages into the Influencer network. For any current LinkedIn member interested in trying out this new feature there is an application form for early access.
Right now, there’s not huge scope for the everyday user jumping on the Influencer bandwagon; however, as the months pass expect to see many more people invited to join the club.
LinkedIn has managed to keep the blogging feature exclusive and it has so far generated very successful content. It remains to be seen if this high level of written copy will survive the everyday masses blogging about their everyday experiences.
In an upcoming blog, we’ll look at how potential thought leaders can use the platform to boost their online presence and as a part of their marketing, so make sure you check back!