LinkedIn may not polarise opinions as much as Twitter but the data shows a struggle to grow their regular user base. Users tend to dip in and out of the platform depending on their personal circumstances, for example whether they are searching for a new job or not! LinkedIn’s new designs takes steps to improve the user experience and “place conversations and content at the center” which may help with increasing their regular user base. The new face is a marked improvement, making the network easier to navigate, but will this help increase the number of users returning on a regular basis? In part 3 of this series we look at the areas of LinkedIn that may aid this quest, which are not directly related to making connections or finding a new employer.
In 2013 LinkedIn acquired a popular content platform called Pulse for a reputed $90 million and it was quickly integrated into the LinkedIn platform. In layman’s terms, Pulse acts as an article database for LinkedIn allowing users to publish and read content. It has proven to be a rather useful content marketing platform for certain businesses, especially considering the types of users that LinkedIn have. Pulse gives businesses and individuals a highly focussed marketplace in which to hawk their content based wares. Articles can often gain far more engagement on Pulse than on company blogs where the reliance is upon website traffic navigating the blog or promotion of the article via email or social.
The new design incorporates Pulse into the news feed, rather than it sitting as an almost separate entity. A canny integration, this should serve to increase the amount of people who scroll through the news feed. However, it relies upon desktop users who do not have the Pulse App to be curating their news feed (by liking, unfollowing, sharing) in order to see the most relevant content to them. LinkedIn could be accused of not capitalising on Pulse enough and integrating it into the main platform; call us crazy but this would make sense if one of two main objectives is to focus on content. You cannot even navigate to Pulse via ‘Interests’ as it has been removed. Instead we must rely on LinkedIn’s ability to curate content on our behalf – a hard task with most users being infrequent users…
In 2015 LinkedIn splashed out $1.5 billion on Lynda, an online learning platform. The purchase of Lynda’s considerable database of content and the integration with the main LinkedIn platform is a smart move. The content is available free for one month to all standard users and completely free for all Premium subscribers, therefore lending persuasion to those on the fence as to whether they should sign up to LinkedIn’s fairly costly Premium subscription. Yes, we have been somewhat critical over LinkedIn’s strategy with their new design but this is great. We wondered why Pulse and LinkedIn Learning had been kept separate yet it is obvious now; LinkedIn want to position LinkedIn Learning as a premium service for premium subscribers. The content is high quality and tailored towards learning, rather than the potential for more flippant material from any user on Pulse.
It’s early days so there is no telling whether LinkedIn Learning will be a hit or not. One thing is for sure, that it is aligned with a lot of LinkedIn’s objectives (whether they openly shout about these objectives or not): putting content at the heart of the platform, increasing the regularity with which people use LinkedIn and the generation of revenue via premium subscribers.
All social networks are useful for connections in their own way. LinkedIn allows for connections to be made on a professional basis, focussing conversations on business rather than more trivial matters. However, as social networks have evolved over the years they have become much more than just connections. LinkedIn’s redesign shows how as a platform it is evolving. Pulse and LinkedIn Learning are testament to an ever changing strategy and social media landscape.