When Microsoft announced it was acquiring LinkedIn for $26 billion last December, the tech world responded with a collective “Huh?” Since that purchase, LinkedIn has become more than just a place to park one’s digital resume; it has established itself as an essential destination for marketers looking to reach an executive audience.
Over the last two years, LinkedIn has pumped up its publishing platform, tamped down the spam, streamlined its mobile and desktop apps, and introduced new lead-generation and targeting tools. In August, the network unveiled a posse of third-party partners to help marketers create and manage campaigns. The company had begun to roll out the ability to host native video directly on the site.
We all know that LinkedIn is not in the same league as Facebook for consumer marketing. The platform is increasingly part of the conversation among top brands, he adds. One reason is the sheer volume of data the social network collects. LinkedIn’s half a billion users share a lot of information—not merely their digital CVs, but endorsements, recommendations, blog posts, comments, likes, shares and follows.
But LinkedIn has another big advantage over other, more social networks. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, it’s not besotted with fake profiles, fake news and angry invective. As a result, it’s become a kind of refuge for real people who want to discuss ideas, not hurl insults or swap memes. Authenticity and polite discourse are two reasons why business periodicals have embraced LinkedIn as a publishing platform.
Many of these improvements can be traced to changes LinkedIn began making well before the Microsoft acquisition. Two years ago, the network decided to abandon “shallow growth tactics,” which led to aggressive email and endorsement campaigns, in favor of boosting its value to members.
Instead of only displaying posts by people within one’s network, LinkedIn tweaked its recommendation algorithms to share content based on members’ interests. It’s also begun to use “sessions”—clocking each time members use LinkedIn more than 30 minutes after their last activity—as a key metric of user engagement. Over the last nine months, the number of sessions has increased by more than 20 percent each quarter,
Along the way, LinkedIn also enhanced its advertising and sales tools. Advertisers can install code on their sites that lets them create richer user profiles and track conversions from LinkedIn, such as event sign-ups and white paper downloads. Marketing pros can create more precisely targeted LinkedIn campaigns, and users can now auto-fill lead generation forms with a single click.
LinkedIn will never match Facebook for volume, Twitter for notoriety, YouTube for eyeballs, and Instagram or Snapchat for fun. In the meantime, the social network with half a billion professionals is happy to keep doing what it’s best at—connecting talent to opportunities at scale—far from the turmoil and the trolls.