The fact that LinkedIn users can now publish what are essentially blog posts directly in the network’s platform is both a boon for professionals and a counter-intuitive head-scratcher for many. The boon is simple: This is where professionals go to network, find new hires, new jobs and new connections and such. Publishing on LinkedIn can put you in front of more people, show off your expertise and attract leads and the like.
The head-scratcher is why would LinkedIn add blogs to a network long after blogging’s explosion, when most bloggers feel like owning the content on their own site is important and other networks like Facebook have seen less than ample use of similar features.
It’s like LinkedIn added a CD player when the market already moved to MP3 files.
But it’s also incredibly smart for the user, which makes it smart for LinkedIn. For the user, especially those that don’t want to blog or don’t have the technical skill to set one up and so on, LinkedIn is giving them an easy platform to share their knowledge. Sharing it on a network with like-minded connections and industry colleagues can bring more benefits to the user, provided the content they share is useful to that network.
If the user gets more out of their connections on LinkedIn, they’ll use it more, see more of the sponsored and advertising activities and so on. That drives LinkedIn’s bottom line.
My main question, however, is whether or not publishing to establish credibility and thought leadership — something marketing bloggers have been keen on for years — will sway the marketing community’s bias against LinkedIn. Mind you, the bias is subtle. But the only marketers who swear by LinkedIn above Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are the B2B type and hyperactive sales folks who find the most fruitful connections there.
LinkedIn is not a B2C play, for the most part. It’s where business people do business with other business people. That doesn’t mean it’s less than Facebook or Twitter or any other destination. But it does mean that if you’re marketing consumer goods, trying to reach audiences of scale and the like, you’re going to ignore LinkedIn a great deal.
I, for one, have always leveraged LinkedIn because prior to my current role at CafePress, my primary audience has been brand marketers and business owners, not the general public. I’m about to return my focus to that audience and, thus, take more advantage of the publishing features on LinkedIn. The questions for me are these:
- Will other marketers follow and take advantage of the publishing features?
- How quickly will it become very noisy?
- How quickly will the InMail spammers realize they can’t do the same crap as blog posts and get traction?
A penny for your thoughts. Here or elsewhere.