LinkedIn announced Tuesday the release of a new feature allowing users to “follow” top influencers.
The feature isn’t new to social media. Twitter was built with the ability to follow other users, as was Google+ later, and Facebook incorporated public follows when it introduced the subscribe button in 2011. But of course, LinkedIn has taken a different spin on following.
How LinkedIn Follow works
Whereas most social networks including Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ allow people to follow any user’s public content, LinkedIn has limited the follow feature to specific users designated influencers (or INfluencers) by LinkedIn. They are starting with 150 select users but have referenced plans to add more INfluencers in the future.
The 150 INfluencers are a diverse group including people with broad name recognition such as President Obama or Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney as well as industry specific influencers such as Danny Sullivan and Caterina Fake.
INfluencers are able to access unique features when making updates on LinkedIn. They are allowed to make longer posts and have much better multimedia abilities. Their posts end up resembling blog posts more than social updates.
You can see the current list of INfluencers as well as their updates on LinkedIn.
What does this mean for Linked In?
In recent months, we’ve seen several updates from LinkedIn. Most recently, we saw them follow the lead of other top networks by incorporating more visuals into company pages. This new feature also follows a trend seen in top social networks of allowing public follows, suggesting that LinkedIn is trying to reestablish the platform among social networks.
From its origin, LinkedIn has essentially been a virtual Rolodex. People went there with a specific purpose in mind: to find a job, to find or offer business services, to establish professional connections in their field, to find business opportunities, or to network with other professionals.
The follow feature could be a way to influence users to spend more time on the site. Last August, LinkedIn’s U.S. users spent an average of 20.6 minutes on its website. To put that into context, Facebook users averaged 402.9 minutes on Facebook. If users view the site as more of an information hub, they are likely to frequent the site more often and to stay for much longer.
How do you think follows will affect LinkedIn? Let us know in the comments!