How You’re Underestimating LinkedIn

By Theresa Braun At LinkedIn’s core is talent solutions: networking and recruiting. Brands--the big, the small, and the very big (HP, PepsiCo, and Starbucks, to name a few)--haven’t hesitated to acknowledge the social network’s knack for finding top talent. They’ve been ramping up their spending on LinkedIn, taking advantage of job ads, career pages, and the recruiter talent finder. Then: a curveball. In October 2012, the networking site branched out, launching its Influencer Program. Going beyond just sharing articles, LinkedIn chose a select group of professionals to write and post content directly on the site. Suddenly, we weren’t just in the HR department anymore; we'd entered the world of online publishing.

LinkedIn has found a way to give users a real window into the minds of those at the top of their industries with valuable insight to share. From LinkedIn’s Dan Roth: “The idea that you can ask top minds in business to share or reveal something about themselves in an authentic way, it’s important to us.” It should be important to businesses too. The opportunity for business execs to speak freely and directly to professionals in their field is a true game changer.

Transparency is the default. Because there are no usernames on LinkedIn, author anonymity is impossible--each user who writes or comments has a professional reputation. The lack of anonymity allows for increased credibility and authenticity. Your employer (or potential employer) and employees can see what you’re writing and reading--and with openness comes greater potential for thought leadership. By participating, you have the opportunity to build your reputation, portfolio, and audience.

LinkedIn’s targeting strategy is groundbreaking. With the program, influencers can target content to an entire industry--if you’re writing about education, for instance, you’re able to target all teachers on the site. Thanks to its targeting ability, as LinkedIn opens up long form content to more users, you better believe brands will be looking to the site as a serious content distribution channel.

You could be a business tycoon, but write a terrible post and you’ll still have terrible engagement. LinkedIn has done an incredible job of ensuring high quality content. It’s simple: posts that aren’t high-quality just don’t do well. And influencers have been getting competitive with their posts--they’re looking at how to make their content better and gain the most number of shares and comments. This goes for any publisher--good content always prevails.

LinkedIn offers a platform to discuss relatively serious issues in longer form; it’s where you can get down to business. Facebook and Twitter are focused on brand management, with real-time interaction, customer service, entertainment, and engagement. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is where users connect with leaders in their field and grow into thought leaders. No other social network is doing what LinkedIn is--and that just might be why The Wall Street Journals' "ugly duckling of social media" has been thriving lately,  outshining fellow social sites. The consumer-and-business hybrid has seen its page views, stock, and sales all on the rise, which is an anomaly at the moment. The proof is in the upward trajectory; don’t make the mistake of underestimating the potential of this network.

As LinkedIn strengthens its publishing muscle, expanding its content program and acquiring publishing-related companies, watch out for big things to come.

What do you think? When you look into your social media crystal ball, do you see LinkedIn as a rising star in online publishing? Share in the comments!