Tomorrow marks another milestone for social media with LinkedIn’s IPO. You can catch up on the latest news here: Forbes, Fortune, Deal Journal, TRB, Term Sheet, Mashable. But as this story in Bloomberg details, LinkedIn gets “70 percent of revenue from business subscriptions, a model that’s similar to Salesforce.com.” So perhaps instead of treating LinkedIn like social media perhaps its future is more like the CRM model. With that in mind I wanted to offer my thoughts on how it can make improvements as a better resource for marketing and sales.
For those of you who read this blog regularly and know me, I am a long-time supporter of LinkedIn. The network, more so than other online platform, is a transparent resource for businesses — I can see your work history, your real name and what people are saying about you through recommendations. With a reputation for catering to recruiters and job seekers for so long, the company has really made some great improvements in the last two years to become much more useful to communicators. And they will continue to build these services out post IPO.
With a fresh round of cash in its coffers expected tomorrow — estimated at $340 million — what’s next for the social med…er…CRM company? Here are a few things I hope they are considering:
The company pages section in my opinion seems to be the most lacking in functionality for LinkedIn. You are fairly limited as to what you can do on this page and I would like to see that expanded. For instance, having our Twitter feed on this page would seem like an easy add-on given their partnership. As much as I understand this is a career networking site, the profiles they feature are not very useful. What would be helpful is if they could show those people’s status updates, groups they’ve joined and other relevant information. The space these profiles are taking up is valuable real estate. I would also like to see the ability to add more RSS feeds. Finally, I would to have the ability to customize this page — let me choose which items I add and where to put them. The analytics they provide to this page are excellent and I hope they continue to build that out for the benefit of recruiters and marketers.
We use the Group Pages functionality in many ways and I’ve written here about not overlooking groups for B2B companies. One change they made for groups that I wish they would use in Company Page is the scrolling headline of posts. This is extremely useful to see who and what’s been posted. And similar to my thoughts on the Company page, I would like to have the ability for more customization. One thing that Facebook has done really well with the company pages is just this — the ability to add and delete tabs and features. Facebook makes me feel as if our company page is our company page. On LinkedIn I still feel that our pages are us on LinkedIn. LinkedIn also needs to look for more add-ons to the group pages. I honestly feel like we could do so much more with polls, events and even careers. Finally, where they really need to step up is in analytics for group managers. This option is simply non-existent and the company needs to figure our a better way for us to analyze, evaluate and measure our group pages. At this point it’s a guessing game with no historical evidence or info to measure against.
Build a Dashboard
The company clearly does a great job at connecting people, but they need to do a much better job at connecting information. What I mean is that I wish they would do a better job connecting all of the things I do on LinkedIn. Not only do I manage several of our group pages, but I’m also a member of other communication groups, formers employers’ groups and university groups. I would like LinkedIn to figure out what all of this means not only to me but to the people and groups I’m connected to. For the most part, I feel inundated with information from LinkedIn — from email notices by groups and posts, connection notices, the stream on the site, the addition of the news feature — forcing me to make sense of all of this does no one any good. In reality, the company should build a dashboard that I can customize (e.g. think MyLinkedIn as your home page) and view with real-time information.
Make Me Pay
Yes, that’s right. I’d pay. Similar to the model for recruiters who have to pay for services this model should be used for marketers as well. If the company goes down the path of integrating with Salesforce.com, provide deeper analytics and gives me useful options to add content I’d pay.
What did I miss? Let me know what you think.
We’ll see how well the market receives the listing in 24 hours. And of course, if we aren’t connected on LinkedIn let’s do so. You can find my profile here.
If you enjoyed this you may also want to read:
Don’t overlook the power of LinkedIn Groups
What’s your “I” in social media?
Using social networking sites in B2B businesses
Finally, a comprehensive B2B social media study