LinkedIn Turns to Influencers to Enhance Publishing Efforts

Social media platform LinkedIn has been making the transition from a utilitarian network designed for business professionals to something much more dynamic. Since October, LinkedIn has been offering original content authored by a select group of “Influencers,” leaders from a variety of fields that post their thoughts on life, careers and success. Traffic to all LinkedIn’s news products has increased eightfold since the Influencers were introduced.

“Bill Gates, Jeffrey R. Immelt and President Obama are among the more than 250 contributors, none of whom are being compensated with anything other than access to the site’s 225 million members,” reports The New York Times. “In recent weeks, users were encouraged to read a post by Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, who asserted that a personal assistant was better than a smartphone.”

Other notable contributors include Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard, editor and analyst Henry Blodget, journalists Adam Bryant and Charles Duhigg, media entrepreneur Mark Cuban and many others.

According to Daniel Roth, executive editor of LinkedIn, “We have a long list of CEOs who are asking to get in.”

“Influencers is not the only step LinkedIn is taking to entice users to spend more time on the site,” explains the article. “More than half of the company’s income still comes from selling recruiting tools. To this end, LinkedIn has added features like rich media, which lets people include video and graphics in their profiles.”

Jeff Weiner, the company’s chief executive, told analysts in May that his goal was to make LinkedIn “the definitive professional publishing platform.”

The platform also features articles produced by other publishers, which are made available based on topics that are trending online and what the LinkedIn editors determine is appropriate.

“The hope is that users grow addicted to checking their news feeds, which are adjusted to their interests,” explains NYT. “The company will also weave sponsored content into feeds; it is already testing a pilot program that includes articles and videos from Shell, Xerox and American Express, among others.”