LinkedIn used to be divided into two classes: Influencers and common folk. The influencers would rain down nuggets of business advice from the sky, while the rest of use shared, commented, and liked their posts. Now, LinkedIn is opening up its blogging platform to the entire community. Anyone will be able to post original, industry-related content which will be shared with peers and connections. Other people can follow you as an influencer, which puts you on par with Richard Branson.
The LinkedIn Ecosystem
Much like the floor of the rain forest, LinkedIn has multiple layers of life. From the bottom up, here are the types of users you will find there.
The Resume Updater
This user created a profile right out of college, and only signs in whenever he or she is job hunting. LinkedIn is nothing more than a digital resume for them.
This person has hundreds of connections who they only met once. Whenever they go to events, they add everyone they meet just in case, and are the first to say something like, “It’s all about who you know.” They don’t actually offer anything, but rather wait for amazing opportunities to fall in their laps with all of the connections they have.
The Casual Poster
He or she knows it’s important to update regularly, but tends to forget that LinkedIn exists. They’ll post “industry news” in order to seem like an influencer (like Facebook adopting hashtags) but the story is usually old.
LinkedIn is a glorified billboard for their articles. Anything they write ends up on this site. In their defense, LinkedIn can feel like a portfolio sometimes; however, it’s just like any social network where you shouldn’t just share your own content.
The Engaged User
This person regularly shares the content of industry experts as well as their own, then they take it a step further and contribute to various groups and discussions. He or she gives back to the community with discussion and valuable insights.
Previously, this name was limited to people like Ariana Huffington and Bill Gates. These thought leaders posted as often or as rarely as they wanted, and shared their thoughts on best business practices, leading a healthy lifestyle, and handling difficult situations. Now, anyone who creates insightful content can call themselves an influencer, and be treated as such.
You Might Have to Wait for Your Invite
Before the update, LinkedIn had 500 influencers who regularly posted original content. From David Cameron to Pete Cashmore, there was no shortage of big names. Currently, each influencer post averages more than 31,000 views and receives more than 250 likes and 80 comments.
Now LinkedIn will be opening up its influencer program to 25,000 members, which will then be opened to everyone on its site in the next few months.
Does This Change the DNA of LinkedIn?
Well, yes and no. LinkedIn has been trying to add some meat to its site for quite some time now. Unlike most social networks, it struggles to draw users in during their spare time. Previously, it has tried to emphasize news, and become a hub for breaking industry updates – think Facebook’s Trending section, except related to the business world.
Now, with this update, LinkedIn is trying to become a source for original content – a blogging platform, if you will – where the masses offer advice and report industry news.
LinkedIn is no closer to becoming the next blogger as Facebook is to becoming a breaking news source like Twitter. Giving everyone the ability to blog is simply LinkedIn’s way of acknowledging the value of long-form content. This move will hardly revolutionize the face of LinkedIn, but will definitely be another tool that marketers can play with.
Just Because You Can, Does it Mean You Should?
One of the most important benefits of creating content as an influencer is the extended reach. People outside of your network can follow your updates and comment on your posts. Your profile is similar to a Facebook page where anyone can see and comment on your articles.
LinkedIn frowns upon adding strangers as connections, so engaging with your audience through blog comments is a fun way to expand your network. Today’s readers become tomorrow’s friends.
Despite the opportunity for success, users should avoid creating content for content’s sake – just like any other blogging platform. If you have nothing valuable to add then drop the mic. You’ll only clutter up the space for the rest of us who want to share their unique thoughts and ideas.