What Linkedin's new company pages means for publishers
Building brand reputation through social media just got a little easier. A new feature from LinkedIn, announced Monday, will enable member reviews and recommendations of products and services listed on Company Pages. Controlling social media is virtually impossible, but LinkedIn's new feature offers publishers a better way to manage their digital reputation as well as an opportunity to get valuable feedback from members within its Linkedin professional network.
Feedback to Company Pages coming from professionals with a strong personal brand will carry weight. A positive -- or negative -- product or service review from someone in one's professional LinkedIn network also carries along with it a certain level of trust.
Company Pages could conceivably be a great forum for publishers to get peer feedback about new content and products and initiatives. One drawback, however, might be if publishers, wishing to control their brand reputation online, simply delete rather than respond to serious critiques of, say, their new iPad app feature or new video on the Company Pages. Then again, it is usually a bad idea for any publisher to try to influence social media beyond simply establishing the conversation parameters of the product review.
Have you ever been influenced to see a movie or check out another web page by a Facebook "like" from someone within your network of friends? This will work along those same lines, except at the professional level. If a connection in your professional network recommends a service or network, their name will be included on ads by those companies -- and soon every company with a LinkedIn profile.
The Community Pages Product tab is clearly LinkedIn's most aggressive effort yet at becoming a major point of influence for corporate online reputation management. Forty companies -- including Microsoft, Dell and AT&T Business Solutions -- have already allowed their products to be reviewed. Many more will follow as LinkedIn, which likes to describe itself as social media for professionals, has over 80 million members and is the third largest social media site after Facebook (500 million) and Twitter (145 million). "Stay tuned!" commented Mario Sundar, a Trust Agent on the LinkedIn company blog. "We’ll be rolling out this feature to all users shortly."
LinkedIn, an increasingly global company with a just over 12% U.S. penetration, has been busy these past few months adding features and enhancements. Earlier in October, LinkedIn unveiled its Career Explorer Interface, which allows present publishers and future publishing recruits -- "top talent" -- to consume relevant information from news and status updates suited to particular interest and customizable by industry, country and region.
LinkedIn, though presently smaller than Facebook and Twitter, has its advantages. It is laser-focused on the professional market and though LinkedIn is broadly defined as social media, its product and service recommendations from professional peers involves far more trust than those on, say, Facebook. Because there is an element of professional as well as personal brand reputation involved in LinkedIn, recommendations will probably be taken more seriously than Facebook's whimsical "like." Recommendations will be a part of one's professional LinkedIn persona, of interest to future employers and professional peers, not simply a projection of a sensibility to a network of friends.
Recommendations -- which are essentially endorsements -- can be promoted and curated. A publisher's "products and services" are content, and LinkedIn's Community Pages Product tab offers an opportunity to highlight endorsed content to a very specific professional audience.
"Each time a LinkedIn member endorses your products or services, their recommendation becomes visible to all of their connections and could spread virally," Ryan Roslansky writes on the LinkedIn blog. And while the possibility of a publisher's content going viral on LinkedIn is significantly less than it is on Facebook, it is something a vigilant publisher might want to keep in mind.