Stop the tweets and Facebook status updates! LinkedIn has taken yet another step toward making its professional platform more social by introducing the “follow company” feature. The professional network announced the breaking interesting news today.
I’m not writing this to tell you what you can and can’t do with this new feature (check out articles on TechCrunch and this screencast tour on Read Write Web for details). I’m writing this because from a PR/marketing perspective, I’m interested in what doors the “follow company” feature opens for companies on LinkedIn.
Tom Nixon and I were discussing this today. Is this new venture for LinkedIn huge news, or more like who cares? Will companies be able to use this feature for marketing purposes, or is it more for helping to bolster recruitment efforts? Will this equip marketers with another example of why those clients who are teeter-tottering on the edge of creating a LinkedIn profile need to get on there…and stat?
I’m flushing out my thoughts as I write this, but I think I’m leaning toward agreeing with what Shiv Singh from Razorfish said in this MediaPost article. “I see the biggest value on the recruitment side versus the marketing realm for my clients. I believe following a company is less about brand affinity versus am I interested in it for some professional purpose whether that be jobs, competitive insights or as a business partner.”
Shiv makes another good point in the article. The “follow company” feature could very well gain some ground if companies use it as a method to target advertising toward users who follow competing brands.
I thought about the possibility of PR agencies using it as a way to stay updated on who competitors are hiring and promoting, or how many professionals on LinkedIn follow competitors. But it seems SO blatantly obvious that if I start following a competing agency, I’m clearing doing it to keep tabs on that company. Is that obtrusive, or strategic?
Regardless of whether or not you personally think LinkedIn made a smart or silly move, we need to understand how this and all the other new features social networks roll out impact our clients from a marketing standpoint.
What are your thoughts? Is the “follow company” feature a game changer? Is LinkedIn trying too hard to become Facebook or Twitter?