LinkedIn may be the nerdiest social network — but its strategy is working

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Making fun of LinkedIn is very easy. The network of experts is 18 years old — Methosera by social media standards. That claim to add Instagram-style features may seem persistent. Why do some people want to post a disappeared photo on their LinkedIn page? Who wants to be a LinkedIn influencer anyway?

Unexpectedly, the company plans more bells and whistles. Last week, we announced a $ 25 million “Creator Fund” to encourage users to post more content. A short video like TikTok is in progress. Soon, we will release our own version of Clubhouse. This is an audio chat room app that helped Silicon Valley last year.

Suppress your giggle. The most distinctive feature of these efforts is that they appear to be working. Over the last three years, LinkedIn has added about 200 million new users. Its annual revenue almost doubled to $ 10 billion. This is Facebook-level growth. Not bad for the most nervous social networks in the world.

Perhaps being a Dorkie explains some of LinkedIn’s success. A modest reputation is the ability to stick to the trust that is being wasted by other social media companies. One of my friends was asked for a potential date if he could connect via LinkedIn before the meeting and see if he was who he was. Her rationale was that no one forged LinkedIn’s profile.

The world is worried about the devastating impact of social media, but LinkedIn was able to attract 2.5 billion users without pushback. As I wrote this column, I noticed that I had more LinkedIn contacts than my Facebook friends, Instagram followers, and numbers stored on my phone.

What is less obvious is how valuable those connections are. It’s easy to click Yes in an email asking you to join the LinkedIn community. But if my contacts are gathered in the room, I don’t know who many of them are. They will probably say the same about me. LinkedIn may be the world’s largest platform for professionals, but it’s not addictive to updating Instagram feeds or scrolling through TikTok.

When Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $ 26 billion in 2016, it was considered a crazy amount to spend on unprofitable job sites. There was speculation that Microsoft was really chasing LinkedIn’s amiable founder, Reid Hoffman. Hoffman is a member of the PayPal Mafia, a group of former PayPal executives, including Elon Musk and Peter Thiel. He is well connected and I like it very much. Microsoft was on a mission to transform its business and needed his help.

While Hoffman joined Microsoft’s board of directors, LinkedIn was left to its own device. Based in a fairly attractive office in downtown San Francisco, it makes money from advertising, recruitment services and premium membership sales. I mainly use it to check people’s job titles.

Can we all spend more time on the site with audio chat rooms and short videos in TikTok style? Maybe. According to LinkedIn, public conversations between users have already increased by more than a third over the past year. This type of engagement is popular with advertisers. LinkedIn generated $ 1 billion in advertising revenue in the last quarter. That’s almost double the previous year, but when it comes to profits, it’s daunting.

Microsoft boss Satya Nadella is clearly intrigued by the content creation and online community. Therefore, Microsoft is trying to acquire the TikTok business in the United States, and there is growing interest in Pinterest and the chat app Discord.

To make LinkedIn more attractive, you need to make your content more interesting than celebrating your colleague’s first anniversary. There are many Tony Robbins aspirants who offer humble bragging and “rewarding” courtesy. The challenge for the company is to encourage people with valuable knowledge to share it. This has an appetite. The appeal of Clubhouse was that conversations were often held with professionals who provided insights into the industry, not just voice. This type of connection is underutilized on other social media.

If it succeeds, expect your rivals to provide a copycat version soon. Facebook has already broken into the territory of LinkedIn by encouraging users to look for jobs on that platform. This summer, TikTok launched a pilot scheme called TikTokResumes. US users were encouraged to find their “dream job” by uploading a video CV.

LinkedIn is off to a good start. If it continues to grow sales, it will prove to be a valuable purchase for Microsoft in itself. Think of Facebook as having a market value of $ 1 trillion, more than 11 times its annual revenue. If LinkedIn is valued in the same way, it’s worth at least $ 100 billion. After all, it may not have been so expensive.

elaine.moore@ft.com

LinkedIn may be the nerdiest social network — but its strategy is working Source link LinkedIn may be the nerdiest social network — but its strategy is working

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