LinkedIn May Become the Central Home for Collaboration

May 8, 2013
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Did you read Lou Adler’s recent blog on LinkedIn posted May 2, 2013 titled, “There Are Only Four Jobs in the Whole World — Are You in the Right One?” More than likely if you’re reading this — you did. Consider these staggering statistics: according to LinkedIn as of May 6, Adler’s article has been viewed 380,000+ times, shared on LinkedIn 14,000+ times, liked on Facebook about 2,900+ times, and Tweeted 2,000+ times.

Since the late 1990s, we as a recruiting community have been following Lou Adler’s posts on ERE and other forums with well-deserved admiration. Adler has been an influencer in our industry for a long time and has earned our respect. However, I posit that if you were to take every article Adler has posted on ERE, and summed up the total amount of views and shares, that it may not match what his recent post has accumulated on the LinkedIn platform in less than a week. That to me is a seismic shift worth studying.

Adler was recently selected by LinkedIn to become what it calls an Influencer. In the few months since accepting his invitation, he has already amassed 173,000+ followers. When the campaign launched about six months ago, you could complete an application to become an Influencer. However, due to the overwhelming demand of applicants to become Influencers, it is now an invitation-only select club. This means Lou can write as long an article as he’d like, I believe limited to twice a month, and it will be pushed to his followers who can share it with their preferred social networks.

There is strength in numbers, and I haven’t seen the numbers which this LinkedIn Influencer campaign is drawing before. And as great as Lou’s number have been, they’re not the largest by a long shot.

The most popular LinkedIn Influencer is Richard Branson, who has amassed more than 1.7-million followers. In addition, the influencer list includes President Obama with 800,000+ followers, Deepak Chopra, Jack Welch, Arianna Huffington, Mark Cuban, and Meg Whitman amongst others. However, the list of content sharers is very small considering the 220-million profiles on LinkedIn. But this is only the beginning. It will grow.

Why This Matters

We are seeing the evolution of the LinkedIn platform in a move that is positioning it to become a central node of professional collaboration beyond an online identity. The company wants to draw additional web traffic, and by looking at the numbers it appears to have succeeded. According to the web traffic analyzer Alexa, LinkedIn now ranks as the 10th-most visited website in the U.S. and fourteenth internationally. Many of us in the recruiting industry have considered LinkedIn no more than a glorified resume database … granted, a very large resume database! But this influencer capability seems to be a game-changer to me that is drawing even more visitors to the site, and changing behaviors of how professionals interact. The effect has only sped up the rate at which unique profiles are being created to more than 200,000+ a day.

I have always been troubled by Facebook attempting to promote the coexistence of both a professional and personal identity, the tension of which seems too much for most.  Many just aren’t comfortable with Facebook or Google+ being our professional and personal identity in one. Perhaps the recent moves by LinkedIn have cracked the code that will allow us to bin ourselves going forward. Your personal account can be on Google+ and Facebook. Your professional identity can be LinkedIn, and it can all co-exist with Twitter sharing all things.

I predict a future where influencers in every conceivable niche may gravitate to the LinkedIn platform as a central node to share information. Imagine if you were an atmospheric scientist or nuclear engineer and wanted to follow specific thought leaders in that research space. With its unprecedented profile numbers and well-positioned brand for professional identity it may be uniquely positioned to distribute information to niche fields like recruiting that can uplift entire capabilities due to sheer volume and numbers. The recent Lou Adler article is only one example. One recruiter with hundreds of thousands of views. One scientist, one engineer, or marketer or CEO or President. But the number of influencers will only increase in time — because we will demand it. As great a voice as Lou is, there are more recruiters clamoring to share a message and we want to read them.

In my experience the recruiting industry has been a collection of disparate blogs, trade shows, and personalities which have loosely tied us together, but even the largest ERE convention has never been more than 1,000. That may not change, but the fact Adler was able to draw such a vast amount of views and shares seems to me to create an opportunity to propel a niche capability forward in knowledge sharing.  No longer will Adler’s articles be shared a couple of hundred times, but his influence will be in the hundreds of thousands. That seems to me to be something worth celebrating in our industry, but also for every industry going forward.

So congratulations Lou, and take the numbers of his recent post as a shot across the bow that things are changing, and we should pay attention.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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