“My personal goal is that within the next six months, no one in the business world starts their day without knowing what’s trending on LinkedIn,” said Daniel Roth, Executive Editor of LinkedIn, in a recent New York Times article about LinkedIn’s new Influencer program.
The program essentially gives top leaders across industries like tech (Bill Gates), politics (Barack Obama), entrepreneurship (Richard Branson) and non-profit (Beth Kanter) blogs to give advice and opinion about how to succeed in anything from personal to professional life.
According to LinkedIn’s earnings report, page views are up 63% in the first quarter of 2013 in comparison to the same quarter last year. As someone who’s contributed to that number, I must say that LinkedIn feels much more social now than it did in the past. As was the case with many people first getting started on LinkedIn, I’d created a profile, filled out the necessary categories, and invited friends, peers, and colleagues to connect. And that was it. The need to use LinkedIn’s status update or interact regularly never crossed my mind. Now, I make a big effort to add and comment on content when the opportunity arises.
Daniel Roth’s goal isn’t farfetched. People will flock to LinkedIn to find content that’s trending. But when users come across hotly debated or controversial topics like politics, war, or same sex marriage on LinkedIn, they’ll go elsewhere to discuss it.
When people join social networks, they join to converse freely. When people joined LinkedIn, that same open conversation style doesn’t apply because LinkedIn is still a professional site. LinkedIn allows you to create a web presence meant specifically for employers. It’s there for them to find. And that’s why LinkedIn will have a hard time building the social aspect of their platform. The stigma is that in a corporate environment (and on LinkedIn by extension) some conversations are best had elsewhere.
Some users won’t want to harm their job prospects by conversing about those topics in a forum meant for potential employers to see, but that doesn’t mean the content won’t still be offered on LinkedIn. Take Influencer and HP CEO Meg Whitman for example. She wrote an opinion piece titled, Why I Support Civil Marriage, which was somewhat controversial on the Influencer platform. This article was among the most circulated pieces of content when it was published, and it got much more conversation away from LinkedIn.
Sure, there are opportunities on LinkedIn to discuss work-related content, but outside of that, when popular (and controversial) content comes out, the amount of conversation on LinkedIn wont mirror the number of page views it gets.
What do you think?