LinkedIn Convinces Successful People to Produce Free Content

Posted by · October 2, 2012 11:50 am

Image: Nan Palmero

Today LinkedIn launched a feature for their users to gain career and life advice from leaders they have dubbed “INfluencers.” They convinced 150 top names in media (Arianna Huffington), politics (Barack Obama and Mitt Romney), finance (Adam Lashinsky of Fortune), business (T. Boone Pickens), and other industries to blog on their site to share career and life advice. The blogging platform is only available to this small group of people and enables them to share essays, photos and videos. Unlike the hundreds of other ways that any of these people could access for free to produce content and spread their messages on the internet, LinkedIn has a heavy hand in the editorial process to ensure their high standard of quality content.

As of this morning, each of the INfluencers already has one essay-style post with an attention grabbing headline. Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite’s first blog is “Are You Leaving $1.3 Trillion on the Table? Why Fortune 500 Companies Are Racing to Social Media.” Marcus Sammuelsson, recognized as one of the greatest chefs in the world currently, blogged about “Eating and Unemployment.” Jeff Selingo, Editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education, give his input on a topic on the mind of millions of young adults, “Measuring the Real Value of a College Degree.”

By participating in this program, the INfluencers are performing a great service for LinkedIn. They are generating content and lending their endorsement to the social network, yet none of them are being paid. Any one of these INfluencers could take to the internet at anytime to share these ideas, and some of them are editors or owners of huge media outlets which they have at their disposal. So it begs the question, “Why would anyone start blogging for LinkedIn for free?”

The social network got them to participate by promising them the benefit of measurable engagement of LinkedIn’s user database. Executive Editor of LinkedIn Daniel Roth told Forbes, “We’re always trying to answer the question, how can you get the right news to the right person on a massive scale?” Each blogger will have access to all the metrics pertaining to the performance of their posts- shares, comments, etc. Since LinkedIn users’ profiles are filled with personal information on their careers, the bloggers will be rewarded with organic data about how various industries react to them.

The experience for the user is fairly non-invasive. I logged in to LinkedIN and was greeted with a header above my news feed inviting me to follow Richard Branson’s updates. I accepted since I recently read that Branson gave some kids $400,000 for their startup after connecting with him on Twitter. The suggestions continue until you close the header, and you can click away to see the entire list. The integration of follow suggestions feels similar to Twitter’s “Who To Follow” sidebar, but these aren’t just solicitations for you to expand your social network by connecting with that old coworker you haven’t spoken to in three years.

It’s a refreshing element for a social network that I usually only spend time on when I am job hunting. If they are able to keep up the quality and quantity of the blogs, LinkedIn could very well become a much better destination, not just a tool, on the internet.