I recently met for drinks with a friend of a friend who works at LinkedIn. At the time, I was working on a consulting assignment where one of our challenges is to design a compelling, social media inspired, intranet experience. During the conversation, I had an idea that brought these two things together: LinkedIn should encourage organisations to host LinkedIn discussion content embedded within their intranets.
The idea is straightforward. LinkedIn work with (larger) organisations to identify relevant industry groups, and then allow the discussions within these groups to be embedded into their intranets. These groups will have to be preselected to suit the interests of the “host” organisation. Also, they need to retain LinkedIn branding as users should still need LinkedIn profiles to participate on them. Most importantly, the discussions aren’t exclusive to the host organisation, they are regular group discussions which are available to Joe Public on LinkedIn’s site and to Joe Employee on their intranet.
There are three drivers for LinkedIn. Firstly, the capturing of target audiences – members of the host organisation who are not LinkedIn members will likely join. Secondly, and perhaps of greater interest, the groups function is driven by user generated content and the use of relevant captive audiences will hopefully drive more relevant content into the groups discussions. Thirdly, by embedding themselves into their audience, LinkedIn further entrench themselves as the premier professional networking site.
For host organisations there are two immediate benefits. Host organisations will immediately have compelling intranet content which will should drive increased participation – a key measure of intranet success. Additionally, by participating in public discussions, the host organisation’s employees build their credibility as recognised practitioners in their professional fields which, in turn, builds the hosts market credibility.
There are cultural and organisational barriers to overcome. LinkedIn need to be a little more comfortable about lowering the walled garden they maintain around their site. Organisations need to be confident about their employees participating on LinkedIn as effective representatives of their organisation. That said, my sense is the benefits outweigh the risks and I would be interested in seeing this type of industry integration from LinkedIn.