I have my own theories on the future of LinkedIn, so I thought the Green Umbrella blog would be an ideal place to voice those thoughts and to see what other people think about this topic.
In June 2017, I was speaking at an event that was held at the LinkedIn offices in Oxford Street, London. I got talking to the other speaker (from LinkedIn) and it was an ideal opportunity to ask him all those questions that you cannot ask in written format. A year later, I feel that it is safe to publish those answers in a blog, so here goes.
Question 1 – What is the future of scheduling posts into LinkedIn?
My biggest question was about the future of scheduling posts to LinkedIn. Literally the day before my visit to LinkedIn's offices, the platform had removed the ability to enable users to schedule posts into LinkedIn groups. This means if you are using social media management services such as HootSuite, Tweetdeck, SproutSocial, Eclincher, MeetEdgar, etc. then as of June 2017 you can no longer use these services to post into LinkedIn groups. My question for the LinkedIn expert was “Does this mean that we will no longer be able to schedule into LinkedIn profiles or company pages in the future? Is this a sign of things to come?”. He just smiled at me and said “sure, you will be able to schedule posts, you just need to upgrade to the Sales Navigation package and the feature will be available in there”.
Question 2 – Will LinkedIn become a paid only platform?
Now that Microsoft owns LinkedIn, how do they see the future of their new(ish) purchase? Will LinkedIn become a paid only platform? His answer was quite frank. Microsoft does not see LinkedIn as a social networking platform. They ideally want LinkedIn to be a product that is purchased off the shelf. Over the next few years, you will see less and less integration with external software and more integration with other Microsoft products. LinkedIn's focus is on the job seekers. He looked at me when I raised an eyebrow and said: “Surely recruiters and employers are their main revenue stream?”. He shook his head and replied that the job seeker platform is growing day by day and this is where LinkedIn's focus lies. They are making money from people who are looking for a new job and they want to be the go-to place where job seekers search to learn new skills, look for a new vacancy and enhance their reputation by connecting with others. In LinkedIn's eyes, they win twice over. If job seekers are paying for the product then they will spend more time on the platform. This then gives LinkedIn the power to push advertising for employers and brands. Double whammy! (my words not LinkedIn's).
Question 3 – Will there always be a free version of LinkedIn?
It is great to have a presence on LinkedIn, and I was keen to know if there will always be a free version of LinkedIn. His answer was a very confident “yes,” there will always be a free version of LinkedIn. He mentioned that having a profile on LinkedIn will probably never be charged for, but you will already know that many features that used to be free are now part of the paid package. Features such as notes, the reminder function, etc. that were previously free, are now chargeable. So yes, it will be free, but the functionality will be minimal unless you are a premium user.
I left that event feeling rather deflated about the future of LinkedIn. I completely understand that Microsoft needs to monetise the platform, but I feel for the smaller businesses. Some SMEs simply can not justify the £40+ a month, per employee to be an active member on LinkedIn.
Fast forward twelve months
We have certainly seen the demise of features available for the employer and we are seeing more enhanced services for job seekers. So the guy I was talking to was spot on.
Lynda (the e-learning platform that was purchased by LinkedIn a few years ago) has gone from strength to strength and is now the go-to place for many job seekers who are wishing to enhance their skills. You can learn about anything on Lynda.com
Many external integrations have now been removed and no longer work. For example, the plugin called Hunter.io (previously known as email hunter) is no longer compatible with LinkedIn. Dux Soup was a fabulous tool that also plugged into LinkedIn, and that now has limited functionality. Even the infamous Buzzsumo.com no longer works with LinkedIn, so you can not see what content works best for your topic on LinkedIn.
Even today, I went to connect a new Twitter account to my LinkedIn profile and I received this message:-
Is LinkedIn removing Twitter integration from the platform? Time will tell.
There is no doubt that LinkedIn is a fantastic professional business networking site. If you are a recruiter or work within the HR sector, then it is certainly an essential platform for you and you should consider upgrading to a premium platform to get all the extra benefits. If you are not within these industries then perhaps you will find better networking opportunities on other sites such as Facebook, Quora, Twitter, etc.
What do you think? What is the future of LinkedIn in your eyes? Are you using the platform more or less in recent months? I would love to hear your views. Please comment below.