Content Discovery Smackdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. KloutContent Marketing Minds: Ingredients of the Tastiest Content [Nutrition Label]From the Corn Field to the Digital Era: Content Marketing Starts with TrustContent Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?
Your Customers Aren’t Listening! How to Create Consumer Dialogue that Converts4 Tools for Nonprofit Social Listening and Reputation ManagementThe Promising Role of Social Listening in Treating Health IssuesThe Importance of Social Listening for Brands
- Public Relations
Facebook Testing a Way for Users to Buy Products on the Platform7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your PagesHow eCommerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Redefine the Retail ExperienceSearch Query Analysis to Increase eCommerce Website Conversions
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Startups: Bizible Connects All the Dots from Marketing Contributions to RevenueCreating the Perfect Profile for Your Social Media Marketing EffortUsing GPS and Localization for Social AnalyticsAnalytics and Prospect Intel: Discovering Your Ideal Prospect
- Big Data
- Tech & Innovation
3 Security Risks You’re Taking Every Day While Using Social MediaShould the President Have the Power to "Pull the Plug" on the Internet?How Safe is Your WordPress Website From Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
- Software & Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Celebrating the Grand Re-Launch of Social Media Today! SBH Podcast Episode 8Why Should You Care If Your Employees Are Thought Leaders?Beyond Engagement: The Art of Managing Social-Media Risk in Employee Advocacy
Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer ServiceWhat You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual ExperienceSurging into Q3: How to Make It Better Than Q2Is How You Serve Your Customers Costing You Business?
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
Content Shock Therapy: A Completely Biased Diagnosis of LinkedIn's Publishing Platform
Posted on April 3rd 2014
It’s been a few weeks since LinkedIn first opened their publishing platform to the plebs. The blogging soapbox was previously limited to influencers like Richard Branson but now anyone with a LinkedIn account can be elevated to the same threshold (or is the reverse true?). I was lukewarm about the release initially and after a few weeks, my views have not changed but have been reinforced. As of the end of last year, over 1.5 million unique publishers already publish on LinkedIn’s platform, reaching 277 million professionals in 147 different industries. If content was already being shared effectively on LinkedIn, what is the rationale for the publishing platform? To answer that question, we have to diagnosis the problem LinkedIn is solving. Let’s visit the patient’s history.
Tell Me Where It Hurts
In the last quarterly investor analyst call, LinkedIn saw a 50% increase in organic engagement. The company attributes this growth to their emphasis in growing their publishing platform with acquisitions in SlideShare and Pulse and the introduction of features like Influencers. In spite of these developments, LinkedIn engagement continues to underperform compared to their social media competitors like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Nevertheless, it’s clear LinkedIn has made incredible strides since this report by the Wall Street Journal two years ago, where the average minutes per visitor for LinkedIn was 17 minutes compared to Facebook’s 405 minutes. LinkedIn knew it had an engagement problem and they expertly made large moves to cure this malady.
We Got a Pulse!
In 2011, LinkedIn Today launched with the strategic hiring of Dan Roth, Fortune’s former editor. Dan and his team of editors worked with machine-learning algorithms to deliver relevant content to LinkedIn members. To bolster engagement, LinkedIn then acquired SlideShare in 2012 for $119 million, the pre-eminent platform for online presentation sharing. LinkedIn wasn’t done with acquisitions. Recognizing a need to deliver a high-quality mobile/tablet experience, LinkedIn acquired Pulse for $90 million in 2013. Pulse’s incredible value proposition was simple: they could deliver relevant content from more than 750 leading publishers to their 30 million users. LinkedIn Today re-branded as Pulse and LinkedIn members could now get content from anywhere on the web delivered to them through the web or mobile app. But engagement still lagged.
First Do No Harm
The question I’m dancing around is even with the best professional content properties, the best machine-learning algorithms and the largest professional network, why is LinkedIn having a tough time increasing their engagement numbers? Let me revisit the last quarterly call. When asked why user engagement was down two consecutive quarters, CEO Jeff Weiner and CFO/SVP Steve Sordello gave some great answers, but one stood out:
“[The Endorsements product] has reached a very large scale and there was an effort to improve the quality on endorsements, which impacted transactional volume somewhat. So part of the delta, for example, our unique visitor growth was around 31%. That probably would have been 40%, 41% without that change.”
LinkedIn had to throttle back on some of their engagement levers to maintain the quality of their feed (sound familiar?).
LinkedIn’s biggest problem is a product of their success. As a platform for managing your professional profile, LinkedIn is without parallel. Their most successful application continues to be their Talent Solutions product, which represents 55% of their revenue. The primary use case for most LinkedIn members is still getting a job. In addition, as you may notice from your LinkedIn network, it includes connections from all walks of your professional life. I work at an Internet startup in the b2b content space, but because of my work and academic history, I have connections to solar engineers, doctors, teachers, chefs and even one celebrity. Pulse’s machine learning algorithm has to balance delivering me content that is relevant to my industry while serving me updates from my professional network, most of which is not relevant to my work. LinkedIn has built a wildly successful professional social graph but it does not yet have a comparably successful interest graph. This is the very same problem Facebook (another victim of its massive success) is facing and trying to solve with their mobile app, Paper.
The Doctor is In
Which begs the question: Do we need another publishing platform? LinkedIn users could already post their content from their Wordpress, Tumblr or Medium blog and receive relevant analytics on engagement. However, by posting content from their own site or other publishers, LinkedIn loses the coveted “time spent on site” engagement metric to the source. In fact, because professional content tends to be higher-quality and long-form, LinkedIn already has a history of delivering great engagement post-click. However, if LinkedIn hosted the content, engagement on LinkedIn would increase. To boost their own engagement metrics, is LinkedIn creating a direct competitor to their publishing partners by taking away from their referrals?
I readily admit as the founder of ShareBloc, I’m completely biased. We believe in content curation and sharing, which means our content links directly to the publisher, similar to StumbleUpon or Reddit. My opinions are completely my own, speculative and not substantiated by LinkedIn. But if I ran a $22 billion public company with 277 million users and I needed to increase engagement, I’d do exactly the same thing.