Over the last several weeks (and days) LinkedIn has been making social media news that’s going to be more influential than Facebook’s new Timeline design. Gone are the days when LinkedIn was considered the uptight friend of the social media inner circle. The site is proving to be so strategic and smart that it is–in this social media professional’s opinion–THE network to keep a close eye on. Here’s why:
1) Smart acquisitions.
While some of the bigger names in social media are purchasing the novel networks (i.e. Facebook and Instagram; Twiter and Vine), in May 2012 LinkedIn went forth and snagged SlideShare, an often under-utilized site by businesses–especially those with a B2B focus. SlideShare is essentially the Wikipedia of presentations, and for Likeable it’s proven to be one site that consistently drives qualified leads for the company. LinkedIn didn’t go after the shiny, new prize, but instead went after a network that yes, has been around a while, but enhances the best benefits LinkedIn already offers users. News is also spreading about the acquisition of Pulse, a mobile news reader app.
2) A better search.
LinkedIn might be the network to watch, but that doesn’t mean it’s doing things that other sites aren’t jumping into as well. So what sets LinkedIn apart? It’s all in the approach. Facebook made its announcement of Graph Search several months ago. There was a slick video to showcase the power of the new feature. But personally, I find Graph Search clunky and not inherent to my preexisting behaviors. I would NOT rather search “People named Mallorie who work at Likeable” instead of going to Google and entering “Mallorie Likeable” and finding my Facebook profile (along with dozens of other useful entries). LinkedIn, in one of its more recent announcements, has improved its search capabilities in a way that makes sense for the network and doesn’t try to teach this old dog new tricks. In a post from earlier this week, LinkedIn informed us that 5.7 million professional searches were performed on LinkedIn last year. So the site decided to get smarter about how it delivered results. New features include: auto-complete, suggested searches, smarter query intent algorithm, enhanced advanced search, and automated alerts. Check out the full post here for all the details.
3) Ads that actually make the user experience richer and more robust.
Not only is LinkedIn smart for acquiring SlideShare, but it’s also integrating it into the network in a way that not only makes the company money, but also makes for a better experience for the end-user (that’s us!). To make another comparison to Facebook, think about what’s changed since the company acquired Instagram: a whole lot of nothing except some pretty controversial updates to its terms of service. Not exactly user-first mentality, huh? In what I consider to the best most exciting of LinkedIn’s new features, it announced earlier this month the introduction of SlideShare Content Ads which will target content to users, allowing them to view the presentation without ever leaving the main LinkedIn page they were navigating when they stumbled across the material. Seamless and sticky. The perfect combination for a successful monetization strategy.