LinkedIn members will have the ability to post and distribute long-form content as the professional networking site extends its publishing platform to all users. In a related step, the company on Wednesday announced the further expansion of its Influencer program with the addition of new contributors, including CNBC host Suze Orman and Nissan CEO Carlos Green.
The moves build on LinkedIn’s efforts to enhance its content offerings and boost engagement on the site with everything from SlideShare presentations to celebrity bloggers to its own branded newsreader app. By tapping into the expertise of its 277 million users, LinkedIn aims to generate still more material to drive higher interaction.
To that end, LinkedIn said members will now be able to publish longer posts to their pages, which becomes part of their profile and are shared with their connections and followers. Others outside a member’s network can start following them from their posts. LinkedIn said it may also distribute user posts as part of aggregated content, like its “Best of LinkedIn” feature, as well as to trusted partner sites.
The new capability launches today with a group of 25,000 English-speaking users; eventually, it will be rolled out to all members in the coming months. Users will be notified by email when they’re able to publish longer posts. (The previous limit was 300 characters.)
In a blog post Wednesday, Ryan Roslanksy, head of LinkedIn’s global content initiatives, suggested expansion of its publishing platform was an outgrowth of its Influencer blogging network, started in fall 2012 with high-profile business figures. including Richard Branson, Martha Stewart and Bill Gates sharing thoughts and advice.
“The valuable Influencer posts and the wide range of professional content from millions of publishers that we currently aggregate on LinkedIn are powerful, but only the tip of the iceberg. Combined, our members have extremely valuable and varied experiences; however, their knowledge and expertise has not yet been captured and shared,” he wrote.
That said, LinkedIn is continuing to build up its Influencer blogging network with “dozens” of additional participants that also include Susan Lyne, CEO of AOL Brand Group. The average Influencer post gets more than 31,000 views, 250 likes and 80 comments, according to LinkedIn.
Increased activity on LinkedIn would also benefit the company’s transition from traditional display ads to Sponsored Updates, its native ad unit that appears in a user’s stream of updates. During the company’s fourth-quarter conference call, CEO Jeff Weiner said the in-stream unit account for 13% of total ad sales after being opened up to all advertisers in mid-2013.