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LinkedIn tries again to keep people connected, with a redesigned app

IDG News Service

LinkedIn is trying again to build a service on mobile that helps keep people in touch, even when they’re not actively job hunting.

On Thursday the company launched a redesigned standalone app to do that, called Connected. It’s an overhaul of the company’s Contacts app, which launched last year but was not as interactive as the new service. People who have that app downloaded will be prompted to upgrade to the new app on Thursday.

The new app will focus on bringing updates about people’s connections to their mobile device. Events like job changes, work anniversaries or mentions in the news will show up as cards that people can swipe through left to right. Swipe up on a card to dismiss it. Reach the end of a series of cards, and LinkedIn might recommend some other people to connect with.

Users can interact with the cards like they might a Facebook post, such as with a “like,” a comment, or even a follow-up phone call.

The app is available in English for iOS, but plans are in the works for Android and international versions. People do not have to manually add again their existing contacts; they show up when they sign in with their LinkedIn credentials.

LinkedIn’s main service already provides updates on people in the feed on mobile and desktop, and through email notifications, in addition to content like news articles, sponsored posts, and job suggestions.

But the cards interface of the Connected app, and its singular focus on people, is different. The app won’t let users, for instance, edit their profiles, search for jobs, or follow companies. Think of it like checking Facebook or Twitter to see what your friends are up to, but in a professional context.

David Brubacher, head of relationships products at LinkedIn, called it a new way for people to invest in their network of connections. Specifically, LinkedIn hopes the app will give people an easier way to keep in touch with their connections, particularly if they don’t have time for a face-to-face meeting.

“This app helps you invest in your relationships today, so opportunities blossom for you tomorrow,” the company said in its announcement.

LinkedIn, in other words, is trying to make its service more of a destination like Facebook or Twitter, rather than a means to an end. That’s a tough goal though for a site aimed at professionals. Whether LinkedIn’s new service takes off may depend on whether people really want to check another app to stay up to date on people who may not all be close friends.

But the app also aims to provide some smarts, by letting people sync their phone’s contacts and calendar. If you enable notifications in the app, you can receive push notifications like reminder alerts before meetings, or prompts to follow up or connect with people on LinkedIn after.

Users will be able to adjust these notifications in their settings. “It’s not our goal to bombard you with push notifications throughout the day,” said Vinodh Jayaram, LinkedIn’s director of engineering.

‘LinkedIn falls flat on consumer engagement’

Marketing Week

The report, authored by Forrester senior analyst Kim Celestre, claims that despite its 300 million members LinkedIn has not gained traction as a tool for “social relationship objectives” that drive customer engagement such as loyalty or customer service.

The research found that 21 per cent of US online adults visit LinkedIn monthly, a significantly lower figure than for Facebook. Plus LinkedIn members are much less likely to engage with brands on the social network, with less than half doing so on LinkedIn compared to more than 70 per cent on Facebook.

It also has a lower engagement rate, measuring 0.054 per cent in terms of user interactions as a percentage of a brand’s fans or followers, behind Google+ on 0.069 per cent and Facebook with 0.073 per cent. The low engagement figures mean that just 13 per cent of digital marketers are using LinkedIn to drive engagement.

“When compared with Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn’s engagement rate does not stack up. This is because LinkedIn members don’t go to the social network to follow brands after they’ve purchased a product and don’t participate in the site often enough to deepen relationships with brands,” says Celestre.

Awareness Boost

However, Forrester believes marketers should not give up on LinkedIn, using it for brand awareness. When used in this way, says Celestre, LinkedIn has the potential to help “meet or exceed” social reach objectives, so long as a brand’s offering is relevant to professionals.

Brands can make sure they are relevant by using the site to solve a professional challenge, deliver a professional opportunity or help users develop their personal brands. Celestre cites examples such as Procter & Gamble’s Secret deodorant campaign, Citi’s sponsorship of a LinkedIn group called “Connect: Professional Women’s Network” and Microsoft’s custom API that analyses users profiles to provide job title recommendations as examples of how to market successfully on the social network.

LinkedIn has previously batted away criticism of its engagement rates, citing strong engagement following its move to open its publishing platform to any user in its latest quarterly results. Its marketing solutions revenues are also on the up, increasing by 36 per cent to $101.8m in the three months to the end of May and accounting for 22 per cent of its total revenue.

LinkedIn declined to provide a comment.

Communicating to a B2B audience

Tim Pritchard, head of social media at Manning Gottlieb OMD, questions comparing LinkedIn to Facebook, calling it an “unfair measurement”. This is because Facebook is used for more traditional brand metrics such as consideration and purchase while LinkedIn should be used more for metrics such as brand trust and respect, he adds.

“Communications are going out to a B2B audience which has completely different KPIs like trust, respect and share price rather than traditional brand metrics like consideration,” he adds.

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Social media faces doubts after latest round of results

USA Today

Social media, social outcast?

The once-sizzling sector could be on the outside looking in for investors following a string of disappointing financial results and a sharp slide in stock prices the past two months. Shares of Twitter, Pandora and LinkedIn have sunk more than 30%. Even Facebook, riding a wave of mobile advertising growth, is off its March high nearly 20%.

Online recruiting site LinkedIn, until now a dependable performer, was the latest major name to deepen doubts among many on Wall Street. On Thursday, it posted a $13.3 million loss and its slowest revenue growth in four years.

LinkedIn’s results come amid questions about the immediate financial prospects for social media companies. Since early February, those stocks have sputtered after an extended streak from 2012, according to the Global X Social Media Index ETF.

“These stocks were winners,” says Arvind Bhatia, an analyst at financial-services firm Sterne Agee. “Invariably, as soon as they show any kind of slowdown, the momentum investors get out.”

Aaron Kessler, an Internet analyst at Raymond James, expects the fallout to last weeks, maybe months, before “momentum” investors come back. Many have been spooked by steep company market valuations that don’t match revenue projections, he says.

Bhatia framed the situation as being bigger than social media. The reverse stampede has also battered shares of Amazon.com, eBay, Yelp and Netflix, he says.

“It’s a re-rating of the entire sector,” adds Tom White, an analyst at market researcher Macquarie. The recent malaise extends to Internet and software stocks, including IPO newbies GrubHub and Rocket Fuel.

Yet the focus has been squarely on social media following a spate of earnings reports and the surprise resignation this past week of Google’s Vic Gundotra, who was the company’s senior vice president for social.

Days before LinkedIn’s first-quarter results, Twitter shares were eviscerated when it whiffed with middling user growth. It now has 255 million monthly active users. (Twitter shares tumbled another 18% on Tuesday after its six-month stock lockup was lifted, allowing major shareholders to sell their holdings.)

The future of social network Google+ is rife for debate after its leader abruptly quit. Its 300 million members, while an impressive figure, is light years behind Facebook’s 1.28 billion.

Indeed, the silver lining for social media is the social-networking giant, whose recent prowess in mobile underscores “solid fundamentals,” Bhatia says. (The average reported quarterly revenue growth for Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and Pandora was 82%.)

“You cannot find fault in Facebook’s results,” he says. “And yet its stock went down. It was a case of comparing it to good numbers (from previous results). It happens.”

Why LinkedIn is morphing from a social network into an online newspaper


On May 5th, LinkedIn will celebrate its 11th birthday. It announced last month that 300 million people had signed up for the professional social network. This evening, LinkedIn will report earnings for first quarter of this year, which analysts expect to surpass the company’s own guidance.

Despite all these positive signs, there is one question that has dogged the network for the majority of its history: What is LinkedIn actually for?
Establishing a clearer identity is crucial to LinkedIn’s future. While more than 300 million people have joined, LinkedIn’s most recent filings suggest that the number of people who log in at least once a month is probably closer to 200 million. Growth in US monthly desktop users and desktop pageviews both slipped into negative territory last year (though visitors from mobile are climbing). To many, LinkedIn is only a place to go when looking for a job. And despite LinkedIn’s exhortations to users to fill in their profiles to “100% completeness” and “endorse” each other, connections and endorsements on the network are essentially meaningless. LinkedIn needs a way to get users to come back more regularly. That’s why, over the past three years, it has morphed into a content platform.
“They would like guys like you and me to look at our LinkedIn newsfeed as part of our morning ritual, the same way some people look at Twitter” says Tom White, an analyst at Macquarie, an investment bank. Getting people to sign up is fine for one part of the business—selling database access to recruiters. But LinkedIn can’t capture ad dollars without a more captive, active audience. “Ads are probably the largest addressable market, a very high-margin revenue stream,” adds White.
“Content consumption is a daily use-case so we find more of our members visiting LinkedIn on a regular basis,” says Deep Nishar, who heads up LinkedIn’s product and user experience divisions. “When they are more engaged they are engaging not just with content on the site—they are engaging with all sorts of other things that we provide, including, but not limited to, recruiters trying to reach them and marketeers trying to pitch the right messages of their products.”

LinkedIn woos brands as publishers


LinkedIn is often the forgotten giant of the platforms world. With more than 57 million unique visitors in the U.S. in February 2014 and a healthy business, it is now ramping up its efforts to attract marketers to embrace “always-on” publishing there.

The business network hopes to encourage companies to create their own “brand journalism” initiatives — and then pay LinkedIn to promote and target their stories. The goal is to induce more companies to build brand publishing experiences that will live on and off LinkedIn, according to executives involved in the program.

“[LinkedIn] obviously wants to push this extremely hard since it’s having a lot of success from their influencer program,” said Sebastian Jespersen, CEO of digital agency Vertic, told Digiday.  ”Now they want to give the same opportunity to brands.”

Jespersen pointed to AARP’s Life Reimagined for Work website and corresponding LinkedIn group as an example of how brands should publish on their own and extend that experience into LinkedIn.

The moves are something of a mirror to what Facebook’s done with brands. It first encouraged brands to publish on its platform, then it rolled out a series of “certified” developers to help the brands, and it capped that with an ad program to distribute brand messages.

“[LinkedIn] has always seen that content is creating more engagement than anything else. The issue for the brands is that they don’t have the infrastructure to create this content,” Jespersen said.

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LinkedIn tackles China with a startup approach

IDG News Service

China has been a tough market for U.S. Internet companies to crack, but LinkedIn has high hopes it can buck the trend and increase its user base in the country to as high as 50 million over the next five years.

“This is a very long-term investment, it’s not an experiment,” said Derek Shen, head of LinkedIn’s China operation on Friday.

The social networking site officially entered the nation’s market back in February, and is targeting China’s growing number of working professionals, numbered at over 140 million, according to the company. To reach those users, it launched a Chinese language site called Lingying.

LinkedIn, however, wants to avoid the same fate as other U.S. Internet companies that have struggled to take off in the nation’s competitive market. Google, eBay and Groupon have all come up against local roadblocks, including stiff competition from domestic rivals, and China’s notorious online censorship.

In LinkedIn’s case, the company studied the Chinese market for four years before finally deciding to enter the market, Shen said at China 2.0 Forum, an event in Beijing organized by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Currently, the site has about four million users in China.

The failure of some international companies in China may be due to their structure or lack of incentives for the operation to succeed, Shen said. “So we decided in China, we wanted to do a startup,” he added.

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LinkedIn Hits 300M Users, Pushes Mobile Options


LinkedIn on Friday announced it has surpassed 300 million active members worldwide, up from 277 million at the end of 2013. The roughly 36% growth rate in the first quarter from a year ago is on par with 2013. The professional networking site said 67% of its users come from outside the U.S., with more than 100 million in the U.S.

“While this is an exciting moment, we still have a long way to go to realize our vision of creating economic opportunity for every one of the 3.3 billion people in the global workforce,” stated Deep Nishar, LinkedIn’s senior vice president of product & user experience, in a blog post.

Mobile has become a growing focus for LinkedIn in the last couple of years, as more users access the service on devices. Later this year, Nishar noted that LinkedIn will hit the point where more than half of its global traffic comes from mobile.

“Already, our members in dozens of locations, including Costa Rica, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, use LinkedIn more on their mobile devices than on their desktop computers,” he wrote.

Overall, the site each day gets an average of 15 million profile views, 1.45 million job views and 44,000 job applications in over 200 countries through mobile. As the company expands its mobile portfolio, with new releases such as its slideshare app, LinkedIn plans more strategic partnerships with major mobile players like Apple, Nokia and Samsung.

LinkedIn made a splash earlier this year with its push into China. In his post, Nishar said the goal now is to connect more than 140 million Chinese professionals with each other and the worldwide work force.

In a research note on Monday, however, analyst Michael Purcell of Stifel Nicolaus pointed out that LinkedIn still monetizes international users per member at one-third the rate of their U.S.-based counterparts. That translates to average revenue per user (ARPU) of $3.76 abroad versus $11.30 in the U.S.

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Google+ and LinkedIn drive few, but more engaged social referrals compared to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

The Next Web

Social discovery and sharing platform Shareaholictoday released its first report examining engaged social referrals. Since many of us spend an egregious amount of time using social media, the company was interested in answering the question “What is our behavior post-click, when we actually interact with a link one of our friends shared socially?”

As such, it was necessary to examine the average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate for each of the top eight social media platforms. Here’s the breakdown (data is from September 2013 to February 2014) from Shareholic, which tracks 250 million users visiting its network of 200,000 publishers.

We already know that LinkedIn and Google+ drive very few referrals compared to their competitors. Yet it turns out the traffic they do drive, is actually quite high on the quality scale.

Google+ users spend more than three minutes diving into links shared by their circles, view 2.45 pages during each visit, and bounce only 50.63 percent of the time. LinkedIn users meanwhile spend over two minutes on each link they click, view 2.23 pages with each visit, and bounce 51.28 percent of the time.

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Infographic: The best times to post on social media


Do you post social media updates when your audience has the highest chance of seeing them, or just whenever you think of it or happen to have a free minute?

If you aren’t posting to a social media site when most of your audience members are on it, all that time you spent crafting the update goes to waste. And you’re a busy person. You don’t have any time to waste.

An infographic from Fannit.com lists the best and worst times to post to all the major social media sites: Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and your blog. While all audiences are different, you can use these times as a general guide. Here are the best times to post to each site:

Click here to see the best times and the infographic


Three months of data from media brands on the social web

The Media Briefing

Social media represents one of the core distribution networks for online publishers, and it’s a battleground on which they compete to get their content seen by digital audiences.

Thanks to data from Newswhip, who kindly gave us access to the last three months worth of social media interaction data, we can see the total social interactions on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for each of the top 100 publishers in November, December, and January.

January drops for the NYT and Upworthy

Upworthy’s total sharing interactions dropped 36 percent from November to December, and 47 percent from December to January. Figures-wise, in November they were getting 16.8 million total social media shares. That dropped to 5.7 million in two months.

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