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This article was published on May 30, 2011

How LinkedIn has started copying Facebook

How LinkedIn has started copying Facebook
Niall Harbison
Story by

Niall Harbison

Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the world and engage with their customers using the free tools available to them.

It’s always funny to see the big social networks copying features from each other and generally imitating the things that they see working elsewhere. Facebook has been especially good at it, copying everything from the @ symbol to jumping on Foursquare’s success with Facebook places.

LinkedIn has largely ignored these trends and chartered its own course– until recently– when it has started jumping on the success of Facebook and trying to copy many of the things that make Facebook the huge success that it is today. It’s smart to evolve and copy what is working elsewhere but also LinkedIn could see Facebook as a competitor one day due to its massive data collection and extent of its platform. Here is just how and why Linkedin is starting to copy Facebook in so many ways…

The Problem For LinkedIn

LinkedIn has an amazing platform but to a large extent people only go there for one of two reasons.

1. To get a new job

2. To look for business leads.

There are of course exceptions but when people mostly use your service for those 2 reasons it leaves them off on other sites most of the time. LinkedIn has been smart enough to realize that it needed to evolve from a static website into an open platform with a large focus on real time data and content. Recent initiatives like LinkedIn Today are helping keep users engaged but it’s from Facebook’s success that LinkedIs in taking most of its recent pointers…

Allowing Brands To Engage With The Platform

Unless you want to pay for standard advertising on LinkedIn the opportunities for brands to engage have been few and far between. It was a great place to recruit but in terms of reaching the 100 million business users on its platform brands had very few options. LinkedIn has however opened up the site in an effort to turn it into more of a platform in the same way that Facebook did. The early signs are good as brands start to develop campaigns around the data that the site can provide. This example from Volkswagen that shows the future of what brands will be doing on LinkedIn.

Focusing On Content Through The Wall

If you are a regular LinkedIn user you will have noticed how the site has changed in recent months. It used to be very static and you would simply head over to LinkedIn to search for people, but the new layout features a “wall” at the front and center of the site encouraging you to share content. Having an activity stream just like Facebook keeps users more engaged and gives the site a more real time feel. It’s not quite on the Facebook level in terms of engagement but that is where they are hoping to head.

Sharing Buttons Starting To Appear Everywhere

Just like the Like button on Facebook the new share buttons from LinkedIn have started to appear all over the web. Although they are not as popular as the Like button they do provide millions of links back to LinkedIn. The most important thing here is that users choosing to hit the LinkedIn share button are pushing content back into LinkedIn and bringing the site to life by providing relevant information for their own networks.

Giving Companies Their Own Pages

Facebook had huge success introducing pages for companies and LinkedIn has been quick to do the same. Brands and businesses can now allow people to “follow” them as well as sharing information with their users. The pages don’t have as much flexibility as Facebook pages but it is early days and they will no doubt expand them further soon.

LinkedIn Evolving Nicely

You can see how the LinkedIn site is evolving and clearly taking a lead from the huge success that Facebook has had. It’s all about getting more content into the site, making it more of a platform and hopefully having somewhere that the big brands can come in and target users based on the stunning data that LinkedIn has.

What do you think? IsLinkedIn copycatting Facebook or is this all their own innovation?

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