Poor LinkedIn. In the world of social media, it’s like the class bookworm in the library while Facebook and Snapchat are out at the bars partying. Well much like the bookworm that eventually may become a CEO, we are about to witness LinkedIn’s coming of age. The social media site for professionals is in a unique position when it comes to the workforce. Whereas Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are how people share their personal stories, LinkedIn is becoming the way people share their professional stories. Where perennial giants like Facebook face stiff competition from whatever the newest social media platform is, LinkedIn is all but the official social network for professionals. Its purpose is clearly defined, and this ownership of the space will propel the site to be exceptionally important as the state of the workforce changes both at home and abroad. It’s imperative that brands are ahead of this shift. LinkedIn is moving away from simply connecting individual professionals, to connecting the workforce with organizations on a much larger and impactful scale.
By 2020, 40% of the workforce will be “freelancers”. Chalk up the change to millennials refusing a 9to5 (really an 8:30 to 5:30), and wanting to readjust a shockingly dysfunctional work/life balance. As this change occurs, recruiting the right people will be increasingly difficult. This is where LinkedIn gets its aforementioned CEO stripes. These freelance workers will need a place to show their work and their professional stories, separate from their personal social media accounts. Let’s look at China as an example, where this sector of freelance professionals is experiencing exponential growth. The middle-class in China, LinkedIn’s bread and butter and where it really differentiates itself from the competition, is growing at a rapid pace. With all of these workers job hunting, companies will be placing and increased emphasis on hiring the right people. In an effort to improve talent sourcing and acquisition for brands and businesses in China, amongst other initiatives, LinkedIn has just signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China International Intellectech Cooperation, a major Chinese human resources organization. Under the agreement, the two will team up to provide global talent solutions to Chinese enterprises. For now they’re exploring and growing this strategy where the demand for it is present, but we can expect to see LinkedIn make similar pushes outside of China.
As brands continue to ramp up their social efforts, they shouldn’t overlook LinkedIn so quickly. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is a “Best in Class” example of how an organization can capitalize on LinkedIn strategy. Although their Facebook page is populated with pictures of its most exotic hotels, on LinkedIn you’ll be greeted by happy and fulfilled Four Seasons employees, and write ups extolling the benefits of working for the organization. It may not be a place for marketing messages like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, but it will be where you can find the most valuable asset in your company, your newest hires. The question then becomes, “How does LinkedIn monetize this concept?” LinkedIn is making a concerted effort to expand its advertising solutions. LinkedIn has recently introduced a new offering for advertisers called “LinkedIn Account Targeting”, it’s the first part of the company’s “Audience Match” program. “LinkedIn Account Targeting” allows advertisers to target their Sponsored Updates and Sponsored InMail campaigns to specific accounts, accounts that represent meaningful results. Its value proposition to advertisers is “we can help you hire the right people (and buy some advertising so we can show your job postings to those people).”
In addition to the size of its user base, its unique and differentiated position in the social media space, and its expanded advertising solutions, LinkedIn can prove to be a valuable tool. Full disclosure, I used LinkedIn to get my job here at AMP!