Why LinkedIn’s publishing platform is a smart move

LinkedInVery smart actually…

 

It’s no secret that LinkedIn has been trying to diversify beyond its HR roots with mixed success to date. Based on their financial statements, they grew overall revenues at an 85% annual growth rate between 2010-13.

 

Their Marketing Solutions business however, grew by 66% outpaced by both Premium Subscriptions (71%) and Talent Solutions (103%).

The key driver to growing marketing revenues is by increasing user engagement. As a matter of fact, two of their key acquisitions, SlideShare (2012) and Pulse (2013) were clearly aimed at this.

Many studies have shown LinkedIn trailing in user engagement to all other major social networks. According to this eMarketer survey from last May, only 40% of US users log in daily as compared to Facebook’s and Twitter’s 76%. The results from a 2012 Mashable article show an even larger gap. According to the articlethe average LinkedIn user spent 17 minutes per month on the site, while Facebook’s figure was at almost 7 hours.

Which brings me back to this new feature….

LinkedIn launched their Influencers program in late 2012; from what I can tell it has been extremely successful. The program currently includes ~500 personalities and business executives such as Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Richard Branson. According to the company, each post receives more than 31K views on average. Quite a few have even received more than 1M views. These are impressive figures even for accomplished bloggers such as HubSpot’s Darmesh Shah.

So last month LinkedIn decided to gradually rollout the program to all of its 277M users.

LinkedIn is by no means alone in this. They are increasingly competing with many alternative content marketing platforms, some new (Medium) and some not so new (Tumblr). I believe Forbes is the one that should be watching this most closely. Forbes entered the content marketing business with its AdVoice pay-to-play program in 2010 and has received its fair share of criticism for blurring the lines between journalism and advertising. The program has since been rebranded to Forbes BrandVoice and appears to have about 20 global brands participating.

LinkedIn’s announcement also had a few critics who claimed the new program would decrease the overall quality of the content; I guess this is why LinkedIn is only rolling this out gradually. If you are interested in applying for early access to the platform, click here.

I will be watching this closely, but for now I remain optimistic. I believe LinkedIn had to do this to continue driving their user engagement higher.

Very smart move indeed, LinkedIn. What’s your take?

Photo credit (Darmesh Shah-LinkedIn, edited)

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn

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