When the conversation turns to social networking, Facebook and Twitter are the two most often discussed. For some reason, LinkedIn is often left out of the discussion. That might be due, in part, to its past lack of focus on sharing content. Sure, LinkedIn has positioned itself as a place to connect with other professionals and industries, but few have considered it a "social" experience on par with Facebook. That's about to change. And LinkedIn's prior reputation could actually be a great benefit to the company and users alike.
New sharing features have been announced at LinkedIn, and they closely resemble Facebook features -- such as sharing links with a click that include thumbnail photos and descriptions.
Some other features include:
- The ability to share updates and links with everyone, or to select groups and contacts.
- Editing of "sample text" (the descriptive text in the box where a link is shared) to whatever you want - including keyword-heavy text to appeal to members of particular groups.
- Share your update via Twitter with one click.
- A new short URL service, lnkd.in.
- The ability to delete and edit posts.
- A re-share function, giving the ability to share another user's update with your extended network.
Where LinkedIn's prior reputation comes into play is this: As a business network, LinkedIn has a head-start on avoiding updates and links you might find on Facebook, such as "Joe Smith had a burrito for lunch today". Instead, you're more likely to see something like, "Joe Smith blogged about mobile marketing for small business: lnkd.in/joesmith".
Convenient integration with Twitter makes sense here, too. While Twitter is undoubtedly filled with inane musings of people with too much time on their hands, when you have an active, business-oriented network it can be an invaluable tool for information gathering, branding, networking and traffic generation.
This is a new direction for LinkedIn, and it could be a very good one. One of the biggest gripes about Facebook and other social networks is the lack of focus - they often require a tremendous amount of filtering to get what you really want. As a business-focused network, LinkedIn can offer a targeted experience with a much narrower focus. Perhaps a separation of work and play is just what business networkers have been looking for.