LinkedIn now allows you to 'follow' important people

Steven Loeb · October 2, 2012 · Short URL:

Influencers include Barack Obama, Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson, and Mitt Romney

I know that LinkedIn counts as social media, but it always felt a little outside the group of traditional social media websites to me. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, there really is not going to be a lot to update on a site where you list your career moves. How often do things really change that much in our professional lives? You will update it once or twice a year, at most, unless you are really, really unlucky. So there was not all that much incentive to go on there, unless someone connected with you.

LinkedIn seems to have recognized this problem, and has taken a cue from other social networks, allowing for more updates, without losing its core functionality as a place to network with other professionals.

As of Tuesday, LinkedIn is allowing members to follow “150 of the most influential thought leaders on LinkedIn who will be sharing unique knowledge and professional insights.”

These thought leaders include Barack Obama, Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson, Mitt Romney, Reid Hoffman, T. Boone Pickens, Cory Booker, Ben Smith, and Deepak Chopra.

“Everyday we are focused on helping our members to be great at what they do and today marks another exciting step towards making this possible for millions of professionals. For some time, you’ve been able to follow news by industry and sources, companies, and groups — these updates have seamlessly become part of the discussions you’re having everyday on LinkedIn with your peers. And now, you can follow other professionals on LinkedIn,” Ryan Roslansky, Head of Content Products at LinkedIn, wrote in a blog post.

Users who follow these people will get their status updates, as well as original posts that they have written, with videos, photographs and Slideshare presentations. Users are able to like and comment directly on posts, and share them with their network.

This is not the first time LinkedIn has added a follow feature to its site. In April 2010, LinkedIn began allowing users to follow company profiles. This is the first time, though, they that can follow other users.

Each thought leader has already put up one post.

For example, Barack Obama has put up a post called “A plan to move us forward,” in which he talks about why he should be re-elected, along with a YouTube link to one of his campaign commercials and a link to his plan to fix the country.

Mitt Romney has put up a post called, “5 Point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class,” in which he outlines his plan to create jobs. With each point, there is a link to a longer post about each one on Mitt Romney’s campaign website.

The list of thought leaders will be expanded over the next few months.

“We know millions of conversations take place on LinkedIn everyday. Today, we’re providing another way for you to get even more value from LinkedIn by accessing the incredible insights and information directly from some of the most recognized and influential professionals on LinkedIn,” says Roslansky.

LinkedIn has to be hoping that by including original content it will drive up its user engagement.

LinkedIn's U.S. users only spent an average of 20.6 minutes on its website in August, according to comScore, compared with an average of 402.9 minutes for Facebook users,. LinkedIn users made an average of 5.4 visits to its website in August, compared with 35.6 visits by users on Facebook.

LinkedIn’s recent moves

Twitter decided back in June that it would no longer allow Tweets to be posted on LinkedIn. Instead of taking this lying down, though, LinkedIn seems to have doubled down, making changes that allow other websites to take Twitter’s place.

First the company cleaned up its homepage, redesigning it to promote all of the features and investments it has made. The goal was to make the professional network even more social and share business-related news.

Then the company announced in August that it was releasing updates to its Developer Platform.

In order to make network integration easier, the site made updates to its Sign in with LinkedIn Experience, overhauled its API, has simplified its developer website and updated its terms of service.

LinkedIn’s offline Sign was given a new design, reminiscent of Facebook, which allowed developers to request the e-mail addresses, as well as specify certain permissions, from people who want to sign into LinkedIn through its website. The goal was to make the professional network even more social and share business-related news.  

The new API offered attribution to developers on LinkedIn’s update stream, in the event that their users do choose to share their content with the LinkedIn network. This content will then link back to the developer’s website.

LinkedIn's growth

In a previous article, Vator compared LinkedIn to Facebook and this is what we found:

While LinkedIn is behind Facebook in number of users, 995 million to 174 million, it has seen higher user growth in the past year: 50% to 29.2%.

LinkedIn lagged behind in revenue for the quarter and for fiscal 2011, again it is growing at a faster rate than Facebook, with 89% growth year to year, compared to 32.3%.

LinkedIn is a website on the grow.

LinkedIn stock is currently up .4%, trading at $118.41. The stock is well above its IPO price of $45.

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