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Publishers vs. LinkedIn: The Next Heavyweight Fight? - 8/26/2014 -


Publishers vs. LinkedIn: The Next Heavyweight Fight?

Are you paying attention to the subtle changes in LinkedIn and how they are affecting your associationís brand in the knowledge marketplace?

By Alex Schwartzwald

If you donít consistently check your LinkedIn account, it would be easy for you to miss how LinkedIn has slowly, but steadily, positioned itself as a publishing platform. Ryan Roslansky, head of content products for the company, has flat-out denied LinkedInís shift into the media realm stating, "We are not approaching this from a publishing or media-company perspective.Ē

This shift into publishing began with LinkedInís influencer program. In the initial rollout of this program, a select few "influencers" and "thought leadersĒ such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and President Obama were allowed to contribute content. LinkedIn opened the publishing platform to 25,000 of its members on February 19th of this year, with the intention to steadily expand the publishing capability to all 300 million registered members. The publishing platform is still in beta testing, but you can apply for early access to this feature here. Whether they are trying to or not, it appears to me that LinkedIn is becoming a media company.

Either accidental or intentional, it appears that LinkedIn is throwing itself into the ring with traditional media and publishing companies. Letís see how the two stack up against one another.

LinkedInís Strengths

  • A trusted platform. One of LinkedInís biggest strengths is that it is a trusted and established social media platform, specifically targeted toward professionals. LinkedIn has always erred on the side of caution when it comes to privacy policy and advertising.

  • Built for professionals. Not only do professionals trust and use LinkedIn, they are now going to LinkedIn to highlight their own expertise on a particular topic. The publishing platform allows individuals and companies to display their expertise to a large audience of professionals that are eager to learn, educate, share, and interact.

  • Simplified sharing. Now that members are free to post on the publishing platform, there is no need to join a Group or share content as a status update on your personal page. Anyone can search and find the content you are posting on a specific topic and read the posts youíve written without being a connection or inside your network. If you write something that sparks enough interest, LinkedIn may even distribute it as part of its own aggregated content.

  • Free content. LinkedIn is different from other publishers because it pays nothing for its content. To avoid liability, it grants full ownership rights to its member-writers, while promising to remove, annotate, or edit posts that violate its policies. LinkedIn is making money off of content they donít pay for while never having to actually own any of it.

Publisherís Strengths

  • Distribution diversity. Publishers have collected vast amounts of audience data from members, event attendees, webinar registrants, subscribers, and website visitors. With all this audience data, publishers are at a distinct advantage because of the variety of channels they can use to distribute their content, whether thatís print, digital, websites, live events, or conferences. LinkedIn is only one platform, which limits overall reach.

  • Credible content. The content that publishers produce is more credible, serious, and better researched compared to what is considered news or content on a social media site. Publishers provide content that typically produces more traffic, higher engagement rates, and multiple reading sessions. Print has also been proven to increase readerís retention.

  • Complete control. As you may already know, you are at the mercy of any social network you are a part of. You have no control over the constant (and frustrating) algorithm changes from Facebook or how LinkedIn decided to just drop the Product and Services tabs from the Business Pages. Publishers have complete and total control over their own property. Your website and every piece of content that your association has created is building traffic and revenue for something that you own. Why would you send traffic to LinkedIn that could be used to rank in search for your own website?

  • Superior tracking and analytics. Giving up control of your content or giving it away for free is not always the best option. Not to say that all of your content should be gated, but we all know that tracking, testing, and being able to measure every aspect of your association is crucial. By the nature of their business, publishers have tracking and analytics built into their foundation.

Stay tuned for part two of this series where we will cover the weaknesses of publishers and LinkedIn as well as what this social media publishing trend means for the future of association publishing. As you can see, it definitely seems like a heavy-weight fight might be brewing.

Alex Schwartzwald is marketing coordinator at Knowledge Marketing, responsible for the company's website, content development, blog posts, and social media. Reprinted with permission: www.knowledgemarketing.com.


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