As far as social media goes, LinkedIn is actually older than Facebook. Launched in May of 2003, it was conceived as as a social networking site for business professionals – which, of course, it still is. Yet, LinkedIn has come a long way since it first debuted. It is now a social media heavy hitter, with over 225 million users.
For a long time, LinkedIn was a simple networking hub, where you could display your resume or look for a job. It served its purpose, and was a great way to merge the age-old necessity of networking with the internet-savvy populace. Yet, you didn’t check your LinkedIn page like you would a Facebook page. There was no consistent interaction, especially if you were happily employed.
This past October, LinkedIn entered new social media territory, rolling out its own unique content called “Influencers,” written by a group of elite professionals. These “Influencers” indeed hold a lot of influence in their fields and include Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and President Obama. The contributors are not paid, and instead share random commentary on life, work, and happiness – posts that seem a little off beat for such high powered individuals, and yet work well to show them as normal individuals, who just happen to have become successful through determination and drive — a motivating influence for the under- or unemployed droves trolling LinkedIn on a daily basis.
The fun conversational tone makes these power players relatable, and fosters a more positive and interactive environment for LinkedIn users. Instead of hearing tales of unemployment, users are regaled with stories of success.
In addition to this new content, LinkedIn has also received another social media makeover – tweaks to its features which encourage interaction on par with Facebook and Twitter. “Who’s Viewed Your Updates” and “You Recently Visited” increase the visibility of user activity. In the former you can see two weeks worth of profile viewer information, including Facebook-esque “likes,” “shares,” and “comments” – and it also informs you if these viewers are in your second- or third- degree connections, which can serve as an alternative means of introduction.
Ultimately, LinkedIn has maintained true to its original purpose – a networking site for business professionals – but it has utilized the best and most efficient aspects of social media for its own ends. After all, the common interests shared by users can lead to more professional connections, new job opportunities, and career inspiration, ultimately making it a social media contender.