Publishers vs. LinkedIn: The Next Heavy Weight Fight?

This guest blog submission is from Raisa Guillemette of Knowledge Marketing, a sponsor of ABM/SIIA’s Business Information and Media Summit.

If you don’t 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 LinkedIn’s shift into the media realm stating, “We are not approaching this from a publishing or media-company perspective.”

This shift into publishing began with LinkedIn’s influencer program. In the initial rollout of this program, a select few “influencers” and “thought leaders” 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. Let’s see how the two stack up against one another.

LinkedIn’s Strengths

A Trusted Platform
One of LinkedIn’s biggest strengths is the fact they are a trusted and established social media platform, specifically targeted toward professionals. LinkedIn has always aired on the side of caution when it comes to their privacy policy and advertising. Personally, I have never felt like I was being assaulted with ads, or I was secretly being studied as part of an experiment without my knowledge.

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 who 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 you’ve 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 their own aggregated content.

Free Content
LinkedIn is different from other publishers because it pays nothing for its content, and 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 don’t pay for while never having to actually own any of it.

Publisher’s Strengths

Distribution Diversity
Publishers have collected a vast amounts of audience data from 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 that’s print, digital, websites, live events or conferences. LinkedIn is only one platform which limits your 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 produce content that typically produces more traffic, higher engagement rates, and multiple reading sessions. Print has also been proven to increasereader’s 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 is 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 & 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 business is crucial. Publishers by the nature of their business have tracking and analytics built into their foundation. From personal experience I can say I have never been overly impressed with social media sites tracking and analytic features.

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