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Publishers vs. LinkedIn: Who Will Remain Standing? - 9/24/2014 -

Publishers vs. LinkedIn: Who Will Remain Standing?

Where would you put your money in this fight?

By Alex Schwartzwald

For those of you who have been waiting for part two of this series, you can continue where you left off and jump down to the Publishers vs. LinkedIn weaknesses. For those of you just joining us, you can catch the first part of the series, "Publishers vs. LinkedIn: The Next Heavyweight Fight?" before reading on.

Now that we have seen how these two contenders stack up against one another in strengths, let’s go to the most telling part of the bout and compare their weaknesses.

LinkedIn’s Weaknesses

  • Newcomer. LinkedIn has jumped headfirst into the publishing and content marketing arena and has now opened its publishing platform to all members. Although initial programs such as LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Influencer Program have been largely successful, LinkedIn is still relatively new to the publishing industry and publishing content.

  • Content overload. We all read blogs, watch webinars, and continually research for the next big platform, app, or tool. Just like other social networks, LinkedIn will eventually face the stumbling blocks others have encountered with publishing content. Facebook is currently dealing with the backlash from its continuous algorithm changes because of overcrowded newsfeeds. LinkedIn better have measures in place to handle the content tsunami that is about to hit.

  • Burning bridges. An interesting article on BuzzFeed titled, "LinkedIn Slashes Referral Traffic to Publishers", describes the downward traffic trend publishers were experiencing starting in January 2014 and continuing into July 2014. In making this move, the article said, "LinkedIn risks alienating top publishers in the world of business news…" To continue to get highly-quality content, you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds the content world.

  • Lost in the shuffle. LinkedIn is just the next shiny object everyone is chasing in social media. Eventually the trend will fade, and the masses will flock to something new. Now that the publishing platform has been opened to all LinkedIn members, it will be just as difficult to stand out in a crowd as it is on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Your LinkedIn feed will soon be filled with low-quality self-promoting content and articles.
  • Pay to play. With over 300 million registered users, there will be plenty of competition for customer’s attention. LinkedIn will eventually follow the suit of other social networks, and you will have to pay to play. LinkedIn has a bid-based system already in place for promoting sponsored updates. Expect to pay for a spot on the newsfeed as the amount of content being generated continues to increase.

  • Worth the time? A great question to ask in this world overloaded with content: Is adding long-form content on LinkedIn a good investment? As an association or an individual, you need to spend time accessing your target audience. Does your targeted audience spend time on LinkedIn? Is it the most effective and efficient way to reach them? Just because one website, blog, or webinar says it’s a good idea doesn't mean it's good for your organization. It may end up being be a waste of one of your most valuable resources: time.

Publisher's Weaknesses
  • Print focused. Many publishers are still stuck in the print- and ad-centric mindset and have had a difficult time transitioning into this new digital and audience-driven era. The tried-and-true techniques of the past aren’t effective with today’s readers, whose attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish’s. Your entire organization, may need to rethink its content strategy going forward.

  • Spam alert. Publishers are still losing one of their greatest assets — their audience — by abusing them with email and downstream clutter from legacy sales programs. The traditional CPM, lead generation, and batch-and-blast methods are showing their age and only shedding a negative light on the industry as a whole. What was once considered a targeted audience from a print perspective is now thought to be spam.

  • Disconnected data. The biggest weakness for any publisher is not having all its data consolidated into one centralized source. A data management platform can bring all of your audience data that was once disconnected into one unified database. Advertisers today want the ability to target and segment specific groups. LinkedIn is now another contender for the marketing dollars that publishers have already been fighting for with Google, Facebook, and other advertising channels.

Publishers may find that an experienced data management platform partner can help them maximize the power of unified audience data to ensure future financial success and competitiveness. Audience is the future for publishers. If you follow the audience, you follow the money.

Well, there you have it. Now that you’ve heard the strengths and weaknesses of both opponents, where would you put your money in this fight? Is LinkedIn the next contender for the publishing heavy weight title, or will publishers reign supreme? It’s going to be an ongoing battle and only time will tell.

Alex Schwartzwald is the marketing coordinator at Knowledge Marketing and is responsible for the company's website, content development, blog posts, and social media.


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