Bill Gates, President Barack Obama, Sir Richard Branson, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, are among LinkedIn's (NYSE:LNKD.DL) impressive list of Influencers. Taking just six weeks to develop, the Influencers feature now stands out as a key differentiating product for LinkedIn. Even better, it gets the company one step closer to its ultimate goal of grabbing a larger chunk of your time.
What is Influencers?
The first eight years of LinkedIn's existence was about connecting people with each other. In the last two years, the company's focus has been to connect people with insights. With Influencers, LinkedIn has leaped onto the scene.
LinkedIn's Influencers product gives renowned professionals an outlet and an audience to publish original essays -- with no compensation from LinkedIn.
People are responding to the product. Every blog post gets about 100 comments, according to LinkedIn's executive editor Dan Roth, who spearheads the program. And these comments are of a rare type: With each user profile representing members' professional identities, comments are thoughtful and engaging.
Engagement is the goal
Influencers is just one facet of evidence behind the company's goal to become far more than an address book. Its more than 300 Influencers allow the company to contribute significant original content to the Internet. Even so, this content is still dwarfed by its 1.2 million publishers that feed into LinkedIn Today -- another effort by LinkedIn to drive engagement. Driven by algorithms built to match appropriate headlines to respective professionals, LinkedIn Today attempts to steal your attention, and keep you coming back to the website.
In an effort to grow engagement, the professional social network wants you to not only check in every morning, but eventually, rely on LinkedIn's content before a meeting or before you enter a business deal, Dan Roth explains.
"Unlike Twitter or Facebook, which are hives of message activity that attract constant monitoring, LinkedIn for years warranted little more than an intermittent update to a resume, or a check on a job search," said The New York Times journalist Leslie Kaufman.
LinkedIn's launch of LinkedIn Today, and the subsequent launch of Influencers, are among the company's responses to this problem.
LinkedIn's efforts to grab members' attention is paying off. Roth says that Influencers is helping transform viewer engagement, and traffic for all of its news products is up significantly..
In LinkedIn's first quarter, page views increased 63% from the year-ago quarter. Some of the prominent posts boast considerable traffic in and of themselves, with top posts regularly generating more than 100,000 views.
Increased engagement obviously offers a number of benefits. Here are two:
- Increased engagement makes the professional social network more useful -- that's the power of a network effect.
- Increased engagement will likely boost ad revenue and the sales of its services.
Unsurprisingly, the company's revenue was up substantially in the first quarter. At $324.7 million, LinkedIn's revenue was 72% higher than in the year-ago quarter. Though it's tough to gauge how much of this is a result of LinkedIn's successful launch of its Influencers product, it undoubtedly had a positive impact.
Fool contributor Daniel Sparks has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook and LinkedIn. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and LinkedIn. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.