Back in 2004, a coworker sent me an invitation to connect with him on LinkedIn. When I saw him in the hallway I asked him what LinkedIn was. He explained it and I quickly ignored the invitation. Brilliant move!
LinkedIn was launched in May of 2003 and has been growing at a steady clip; evolving as the interwebs have become increasingly more social. With 150+ million users, I feel as though they’re at a threshold where they need to expand their business. Here are some of my recommendations.
Strategic partnership with Twitter – Twitter is an information network. Information is power and business is all about power. Twitter has provided me every significant piece of niche news over the past 3 years. The Instagram acquisition. The Facebook valuation. The death of Steve Jobs. Everything. (Yes. I spend too much time online.) A Twitter handle has become a symbol of technical/business sophistication. LinkedIn Today already customizes your news feed but it isn’t real-time. Twitter would take care of that. They should also partner with wefollow.com to help LinkedIn members determine who, they’d like to get curated feeds from and then let them configure the methods of alerts: on screen, SMS, push alerts from the app. (I’d prefer an acquisition, but the valuations aren’t “right”.)
Acquire Quora – Quora is a Question/Answer social network that allows individuals to post questions to SMEs (subject matter experts). Sounds a bit like LinkedIn’s Answers offer, but far more robust . . . Quora’s site traffic has been growing steadily and the content that’s created is valuable because it’s niche specific and about as authoritative as you get online.
Partner with Klout & Kred – Klout is a measure of your online influence (or more so the potential capacity of your online influence according to @briansolis). Kred measures you subject matter expertise. These two measurements would create a great aggregate value combined with the number of questions on Quora you’ve answered. This overall aggregate would be a compelling way measure of someone’s online 1) sophistication, 2) impact and 3) subjet matter expertise. (Insert clever acronym here. SISME score?)
Acquire SlideShare – Along with generating a tremendous amount of site traffic, SlideShare enables SMEs to share their decks, outlining presentations they’ve given. This collection of real world experience/perspective is extremely valuable and would be a sizable addition to LinkedIn’s data set. Think of searching for trends provided by SMEs/thought leaders. Wow!
Acquire BranchOut – This upstart business network centric Facebook app has gotten a lot of attention over the last year. Buying BranchOut AND allowing people to stay on Facebook would be a valuable outpost and potentially provide some valuable data sets.
Acquire Meetup – Meetup calls itself the largest network of local groups and allows you to schedule/organize F2F events. LinkedIn also allows you to coordinate events but the adoption rate for Meetup is significantly higher. This would enable LinkedIn to facilitate these meetings with a new breed of LinkedIn tools. CardMunch and Rapportive are no brainers.
Go Freemium – There are many people that would add additional value to the network if they had a Business, Business Plus or Executive account. I think LinkedIn should allow members to get a business account for free in exchange for ads. (Hopefully ads that are VERY targeted. Freemium gives users the choice to self-select and allows LinkedIn to monetize members two ways.
Partner with Starbucks – I’ve shared my thoughts about what Starbucks with the new breed of professionals here and mobile influencers here. LinkedIn users and Starbucks caffeine addicts are the same target market and I believe there are some real opportunities to build digital products/experiences around those customers.
MMS Updates – When someone reviews your account LinkedIn should send you an MMS alert with an image, name & title of the person who viewed your account. Enough said.
I believe these strategies are in line with LinkedIn’s core business and would allow them to expand their presence in the online ecosystem similar to Facebook’s partnership with the 60 applications. LinkedIn, if you’re listening, call me and I’ll help you figure how this should be done!