What's up with LinkedIn?
Last September, I wrote a summary of the major developments LinkedIn had implemented to that point in 2012. Entitled, "Is the LinkedIn Business Experience Getting Better or Worse," I suggested that most of the changes to that point were definite improvements, with the possible exception of the new Notification system that was sure to generate a lot of spam. Not long after writing that post, LinkedIn initiated the new Endorsement system and it seems like things have gone downhill from there. Let's take a look at what LinkedIn has done in the last five months and you can judge for yourself.
At the end of September, LinkedIn announced a new Endorsement system. Much like K's on Klout, LinkedIn users were given the opportunity to "endorse" other members by agreeing that they possess certain skills. Most of the time, LinkedIn would suggest a set of skills that a member might have and one would simply click Endorse to agree with all of them. Once you endorse one person, LinkedIn then proceeds to show you four other members and a skill for each, and asks you to endorse all four. Each time you agree, a new set appears, and this can go on for quite some time.
As a result, LinkedIn members are spending more time on the site endorsing each other. Each time you endorse someone, unless they've turned off their email notifications, they'll get an email telling them that you endorsed them.
In December, LinkedIn added a nice option to LinkedIn Company Pages which allows businesses to spotlight up to three Groups. A new box appears on the right side of your Company Page and you can put whatever groups there you want (as long as you're a member).
For businesses that have a Group strategy in place, this presents an opportunity to increase group membership, as well as highlight some groups that they're proud to be members of and participants. Many businesses have taken advantage of the group functionality to create their own group so that they can feature their own content and foster great relationships at the same time. Group Spotlight gives businesses a place to highlight their own group.
LinkedIn Surpasses 200 Million Members
While not a change to the platform, I thought it would be pertinent to include this milestone in our timeline since LinkedIn made a big deal about it. They announced in early January that they'd passed 200 million members and proceeded to break out a number of interested statistics about their current membership.
While membership may not immediately be of value to your business, the fact is, if you're using a social network to promote your business, the more members that network has, the better. The problem with this metric and the statistics they shared was that LinkedIn's growth now appears to be coming from outside the US. If you're a business in the United States that doesn't have a global reach, LinkedIn's growth should be less impressive. If you want to enter the markets of Brazil or India, your reach is expanding.
LinkedIn Company Updates with Images and Files
About a week later, LinkedIn implemented an improvement to Company Pages that allows businesses to share images and files as part of a status update. Previously, businesses were only able to share some text or a link. If they posted a link, the link would automatically grab a preview which might include an image.
With this update, businesses can post images and files like PDFs or presentations which the site will upload and automatically convert and actually display. I have been advocating for some time that businesses expand their content marketing to include more slideshows and images, like infographs, so this could be a nice feature.
Late in January, LinkedIn announced that it would be terminating the LinkedIn Answers functionality completely within the week. Like Quora or Yahoo! Answers, LinkedIn Answers was a tool used by many to ask questions, or answer other people's questions and demosntrate expertise.
LinkedIn's announcement simply stated that they were going to work on new and different ways to demonstrate expertise. There was no clear explanation of why LinkedIn Answers had to be removed in order to accomplish that. Unfortunately, since the feature was completely removed, all previous questions and answers are completely gone.
LinkedIn's Top X% Campaign
Which brings us to the most recent LinkedIn event - their "top x%" marketing campaign. As we discussed earlier, LinkedIn identified several different categories, like most viewed profile or most endorsed skill, and then proceeded to send emails to the top 1%, 5% and 10% of users within those categories, congratulating them.
Reception has been quite mixxed. Many saw it as a pure marketing stunt and dismissed it out of hand. Others saw it as pure genius for generating discussion and activity and probably even some sales of premium accounts.
Unlike last year, this roundup of LinkedIn activity seems to be leaning quite a bit more toward the "unhelpful" side. Group Spotlights were nice and being able to share images and files to your Company Page could be leveraged effectively, but what about the rest? Have you seen any value to Endorsements? Were you impressed with LinkedIn's membership or their email campaign? Did you use LinkedIn Answers? I'm interested in hearing what you think about LinkedIn, and if your impression of the network is getting better or worse. Will you be devoting more time to Google+?
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."