Internal communicationsrecruitment marketing

New LinkedIn messenger: Idle chat or all-out engagement?

By September 3, 2015 No Comments

Word to the wise – it may be time to start revamping your LinkedIn recruitment marketing strategy. You’ve probably heard that the company this week updated its famously clunky private messaging service into a new ‘LinkedIn messenger’ / chat feature, à la Facebook or WhatsApp. The news is welcome for the social network where it’s OK for your boss to see your photos, and spells a new dawn for a service which above all needs its users to start getting a bit more involved.

LinkedIn is playing a long game

The messaging service opens new doors for the way LinkedIn’s users approach recruitment marketing, internal communications and employee engagement. In essence, it’s a case of “take off the ties and let’s rap”.

A long game

There’s been a measured reaction to the news – LinkedIn is playing a long game. Given the amount of time it’s taken for LinkedIn to bring in this much needed, competitive update, you could say it’s been a very long game. Indeed, following the news on Tuesday, LinkedIn stock closed nearly 3% down on Monday trading (though it seemed to recover somewhat yesterday) suggesting investors are still reserving judgment.

LinkedIn was trading at an all-time-high in February after beating analyst expectations with its fourth quarter results and providing a grand full-year outlook and visions of future growth from CEO Jeff Weiner. However, the share price has continued to decline over the course of the year, reaching a year-low in mid-August.

Why is the stock underperforming? Why is the market still hesitant to put its confidence in LinkedIn? Financial commentator The Motley Fool suggests that the fundamental problem LinkedIn faces is one of engagement. The analyst says LinkedIn’s recent foray into China has been a catalyst in its rapidly increasing user base, yet investor reaction is still muted, as yet unsure about how engaged this new audience will prove to be. Basically people use the social network to connect on a superficial level, yet do little to actively engage with one another. LinkedIn’s interface seems likely to be at least a contributing factor to that.

People use the social network to connect on a superficial level, yet do little to actively engage

Twitter wins the conversation

That’s a fact reflected in B2B Marketing’s 2015 Social Media Benchmarking Report, which this week revealed that B2B professionals regard LinkedIn as the most effective social media platform, yet Twitter is their most used. So it’s LinkedIn’s features and potential that appeal most to the professional networker, but it’s Twitter’s ability to simply have a chat that wins out in the functionality stakes.

Now, however, LinkedIn has opened up the conversation, and this could mean that the top talent you seek aren’t just there in spirit anymore.

It could be that LinkedIn starts to turn into the HR system we always dreamed of

Total engagement

LinkedIn is going for total connectivity, modernity and engagement across the board – it’s almost a complete content strategy, hence the long game. We’re only seeing the green shoots right now. In addition to updating its chat function, not too long ago LinkedIn updated its Pulse blog to accept valuable user-generated content from people from all walks of life, connecting creative writers, creating thought leaders and boosting its original content quota immeasurably. It also recently launched Lookup, an interactive app to replace dull and tired company directories

Alongside those changes, LinkedIn has been on an acquisition spree. Recent additions to the family include online training course provider and mentorship platform – directly addressing that Millennial need for more professional learning – and data-driven jobs site Bright. The latter has increased jobs listings 10-fold since 2014. LinkedIn is trying to squeeze out more than just your presence on its books.

What’s more, LinkedIn uses open source technology known as Kafka to process messages and user updates. LinkedIn said this week that Kafka, developed by its own engineers, processes a whopping one trillion messages a day. Kafka is reportedly set to be a fundamental processor behind the ‘internet of things’. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your connected toothbrush will let you know when your blog on Pulse has received a new ‘like’, but it’s likely to mean that Kafka will be inherent to many a corporate infrastructure moving forward. LinkedIn could literally be woven into the fabric of the business of the future.

The platform is changing into one big interactive beast. What will be particularly interesting is how the other social networks respond

The chat-style messenger is of course a sign of the times. It reflects the mobile revolution, as job seekers spend more time on their phones. It means that informal, more engaging conversation can take place between recruiters and potential recruits. It also opens up new recruitment possibilities by introducing the option to attach voice messages, videos, gifs and introduce emojis.

Of course with the new chat feature and the addition of Lookup, internal communications on LinkedIn could get a bit of a boost too. Employer-to-employee, and employee-to-employee chats are all possible, and with a few new add-ons it could be that LinkedIn starts to turn into the HR system we always dreamed of.

I’ll admit these are all grand claims that have yet to bear fruit, hence the uneasy share activity. But financial analysts reckon there’s long-term growth here. As I mentioned, LinkedIn’s stock has seen some recovery from the initial slump, following the announcement of its revamped messenger feature. At the time of writing the stock is trading at $179.62 and analyst consensus sets a confident price target of $257.42. Things are on the up.

Twitter might yet be the more usable social network for professionals, but the tides they are a-turning. The interface has evolved and indeed the face of the platform is changing into one big interactive beast. What will be particularly interesting is how the other social networks respond in kind, but in the meantime keep your ears pricked to what LinkedIn’s doing. The chat might have just got a lot lighter, but the talk got big.

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