LinkedIn Hopes to Grow Audience with User Generated Content

Social network LinkedIn brought in $473.2 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2014. The company’s plan for the coming years is to increase the number of users and the frequency that those users visit the site by focusing on content posted by well-known professionals and everyday users alike. Currently, LinkedIn has 300 million people signed up for an account on their site, but during Q1, it had only 186 million unique visitors monthly via computers.

The content-focused strategy will not only help LinkedIn increase the size of its audience; it will help the company make more money through selling advertising space to advertisers and database access to job recruiters.

“Content consumption is a daily use-case so we find more of our members visiting LinkedIn on a regular basis,” said Deep Nishar, senior vice president of LinkedIn’s product and user experience, in Quartz. “When they are more engaged they are engaging not just with content on the site — they are engaging with all sorts of other things that we provide, including, but not limited to, recruiters trying to reach them and marketeers trying to pitch the right messages of their products.”

During Q1, LinkedIn grew its services for recruiters by 50 percent since last year, bringing in $275.9 million in their Talent Solutions. However, investors are more closely following ad sales, which totaled $101.8 million. LinkedIn recently began offering sponsored updates as a new advertising product, and the sponsored updates now account for 19 percent of total ad revenue.

Sponsored updates are part of LinkedIn’s expansion of content. Last year, LinkedIn acquired the professional news app, Pulse, while maintaining LinkedIn Today, a social aggregation of business news that appears on the homepage of every LinkedIn user. They also opened up their Influencer blogging platform to all users, not just well known business icons, so everyday users can write shareable articles, too.

More content will drive more people to the site and provide data that LinkedIn can use for monetization or curation of news. “What LinkedIn is really doing is they’re monetizing all the data that’s in yours, mine, and the other 300 million people’s profiles. They’re monetizing with recruiters through Talent Solutions, with advertisers in the Marketing Solutions,” said Tom White, an analyst at Macquarie investment bank.