LinkedIn, On The Lookout For More Stickiness, Adds Channels With Curated Content On LinkedIn Today

Posted: May 8, 2013 in Enterprise, Social, Technology

20130508-210303.jpg LinkedIn, now at 225 million users, continues to
introduce more features to its site to keep people
returning to it and staying there for longer. Today it’s
the turn of LinkedIn Today, its social news page,
which is getting a new feature called Channels.
Channels is rolling out starting today to English- speaking users. LinkedIn says that it plans to
announce the service formally on Wednesday. Channels bring together curated content around
general subjects like technology, marketing
strategies, retail and healthcare — 20 in all, with more
getting added soon — with each one combining
popular posts from news sources with those from
selected people deemed influential (LinkedIn’s list of “influencers”) in the given topic. Channels will be replacing “industries,” a feature that
has been around since LinkedIn first launched
LinkedIn Today in 2011. Industries were both more
specific in terms of what they covered (eg, internet
instead of technology), and also geared at news that
was trending on LinkedIn, and specifically among your contacts. Channels, on the other hand, attempts to be more
interdisciplinary and less newsy. It makes use of the
idea that there will be people interested in “social
media” who are not social media professionals, and
who are using LinkedIn as a learning resource rather
than just a news source. “We believe Channels better represents the content
and topical conversations professionals are
discussing and sharing on LinkedIn, which go beyond
specific industries,” said spokesperson Julie Inouye.
“Topics like Entrepreneurship and Your Career are
applicable to more than just one industry.” It also gives some more mileage to the hand-picked
list of 250+ influencers that LinkedIn introduced in
October 2012, with their posts also getting rolled into
the channels mix. It looks like over time, this could also include added
multimedia such as presentations using SlideShare
and more. And that could also potentially leave the
door open for other kinds of additions, too. Although
LinkedIn has not said yet where it will be using the
technology/services that it picked up when it acquired the Pulse news aggregating app, you can see that the
channels section on LinkedIn Today is one place that
could become a natural home. (Another, which I’ve
pointed out before, is in a revamped LinkedIn iPad
and other native tablets app, which did not get
upgraded at the same time as the iPhone and Android apps did the other week.) Product manager Kevin Gu notes that among the
other new features that will come along with the new
channels will be the ability to see the updates from
channels on your own homepage stream; the ability to
sort content either by most recent news or most
popular features; and a look at the top influencer posts on a given day. On top of this, users will also
see channels making their way to their LinkedIn email
digests, which will now include influencer posts,
trending professional news as well as Slideshare
content. All of this, of course, comes back to how LinkedIn is
shaping itself up for its longer-term growth strategy.
Last week’s quarterly earnings showed LinkedIn still
beating sales targets and earnings estimates, but the
company’s stock still took a hit on evidence that
revenue growth is slowing down. In that sense, the move to enhance LinkedIn Today is
more about improving the time its audience spends
on the site. More time spent on the site could have a
subsequent positive effect on advertising, a key
revenue source for the company going forward — a
model followed by companies like Facebook and Twitter, which have also made moves to introduce
features that get users to linger on their pages for
longer. Conversely, LinkedIn has confirmed that
channels and influencers are not direct routes to
revenue in themselves for now. “Our influencers are not compensated to share their
unique insights on LinkedIn and we do not have plans
at this time to monetize our Channels pages or our
Influencer platform,” Inouye said. In the last several months, LinkedIn has introduced a
number of changes. They’ve included upgraded, more
media-enhanced profiles; a Contacts update to add in
more “personal assistant” life organizing features; new
iPhone and Android apps; an expanded search
engine; @mentions in status updates; Klout-style endorsements; and a Recruiter homepage redesign
for the site’s most dedicated user vertical. As with
many of these other enhancements, LinkedIn Today,
and its new channels feature, offer a more slick look
and more functionality.

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