Something Has Changed At LinkedIn

If you were to invoke fairy tales in the world of social media, you might compare LinkedIn to Cinderella.

While the step-sisters Facebook and Google Plus have been preparing for the Prince’s big party, LinkedIn has been quietly going about an incredible overhaul of its system and is building up a larger and larger user base.

Many business owners and marketers are still thinking about LinkedIn as it was a year ago – a nice place to get a backlink for the business and a great place to build up one’s own personal brand.

Surprise! Things Have Changed

If you haven’t been paying attention, you’ll probably be surprised to discover it’s become a robust social media platform with many features that trump even the others.

If you’ve missed these changes you mustn’t be too hard on yourself. LinkedIn’s engineers have been as busy as the fairy godmother getting ready for the ball. Users often find that a feature that was there yesterday, like LinkedIn Answers, is gone today, and that other features have been completely changed.

If you’re in the middle of writing a book or making a training video on LinkedIn, you have my sympathy: all those screenshots need to be redone.

To keep your head above water with all of these changes, consider LinkedIn as an eco-system.


In its easiest form, LinkedIn has four main “worlds:”

  • Personal Brand
  • Company or Organization
  • Content
  • Relationships

Personal Brand

Everything in LinkedIn revolves around the contact: you develop your own profile and connect with others. If you compare what can go into a personal profile with those of Google Plus and Facebook, you can see that LinkedIn’s is by far the most robust.

The personal profile component is where most individuals are active on LinkedIn. Several features have been enhanced, such as publications and projects, wherein you can add others that participated with you. Not only does this create a cross-connectedness of relevance, it reminds those individuals of your own existence as you add them.

Many people aren’t just adding a book they wrote, or a particular blog — but individual articles and blog posts, too. Each of these additions is another opportunity for keywords to be introduced that increase your chance of appearing in search results.

While many of us only have a handful of different jobs over decades, the projects feature allows you to add individual projects. Perhaps you worked on an e-commerce implementation for a client? You can add that project, and, like publications, include the names of other participants. When you add others, they are notified, and can allow that project to show in their own profile.

Companies Or Organizations

Companies are, of course, made up of people. As each person adds their various jobs, projects, and publications, the system creates connections with the appropriate companies along with everyone else who is connected with the organization. Companies can add services and products, various images, connect with groups, and can share updates.

When it comes to search, LinkedIn has a long way to go. Many have discovered that it isn’t difficult to apply techniques that have long been considered black hat SEO, by stuffing their profiles with keywords.

What’s the benefit to businesses? Josepf Haslam of DragonSearch recently said, “I’ve received over half-a-dozen inbound sales leads just in the past three weeks.” I, myself, have received several inquiries from journalists and conference organizers. LinkedIn also lets you know who’s been looking at your profile.

With that information in hand, you can see when and if potential or existing clients have been doing their due diligence.

If you are like many, you might still believe that LinkedIn is a place where you seek out or are found for your next career. Its human resource value is powerful, but quickly taking a back seat to the potential of a mighty social media platform connecting individuals and businesses in even more ways.

The dusty housekeeper has grown up, and is now a beautiful princess.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | LinkedIn | Social Media Marketing Column


About The Author: is the author of the DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual and Social Marketology (McGraw Hill 2012) and the ceo/co-founder of DragonSearch. He is a regular speaker for Google at their Get Your Business Online seminars. Dragon frequently speaks about the convergence of social media, process, information architecture, and sociology.

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  • keaner

    yeah no thanks, these guys cant even keep their data safe, or does no one remember the hack?

  • Ric Dragon

    But Keaner – WHAT data are you afraid of having stolen? It’s an open social media platform, yes?

  • Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe

    What concerns me about changes like that is the investment of time people might put into a certain feature, like LinkedIn Answer, just to see it gone in the future.

    I do understand that every platform needs to adapt, adjust, and evolve, but it also reminds me that there’s really only one platform we should REALLY invest into: our own sites.

    Anything else should be viewed as a vehicle to drive traffic back to our businesses.

  • Ric Dragon

    I do agree with you, Ana, that your own site should be the center hub of the circle – but the promise of these major social platforms is that they enable you to make connections that otherwise might not be feasible. So – I’m not sure that I would only REALLY invest on our own sites – but spread out that love.

  • Gregorio Martinez

    They had 6.4 million unsalted password hashes stolen so I’d be afraid about that data being stolen for one. Especially since most people use the same password for many different platforms.

  • Paul Sonnier

    Thanks for one of the better analyses of LinkedIn, Ric.
    I was hoping you would have expanded on groups and content, however, as I curate a 15,000+ member group named Digital Health. It provides quite a bit of accretive value to the LinkedIn ecosystem. In fact, it provides value beyond LinkedIn by catalyzing digital health innovation and adoption around the globe.

  • Ric Dragon

    Thanks, Paul. You’re right – and I need to spend more effort really looking at groups. The groups I’ve been a part of aren’t as robust as the one you describe – so my view has been skewed a bit. Thanks for the readjustment.

  • David Dino Maiolo

    I’ve written several blog posts over the years on the “uselessness” of Linked In. It was an interesting idea to develop a social network for business, but what Linked In never got until now, was that business is based on relationship and trust, not unfamiliar market connections. It was so disappointing to watch a platform with so much potential continue to be so useless. Businesses were much better off using Facebook to draw customers.

    I’m pleased to see this changing and have had a new Linked In blog post on my to do list for some time now. Glad to read this one.

  • John Ludike

    Purely from Resourcing perspective we have benefited tremendously from LinkedIn in having reduced time to fill, cost to fill and quality of hire as domino effect from internal referals with LinkedIn has been great. We also use platform to great effect to support other collaboration and knowledge sharing/mangement initiatives.

  • Ric Dragon

    All of the major social platforms have been guilty of making large sweeping changes without testing. Let’s face it – there is no rulebook for the making a large social platforms. They’re all learning on the job.

  • Ric Dragon

    Thanks, David – much appreciated!

  • Ric Dragon

    Sounds like a great case study!

  • Sharon Doyle

    I just opted out of a group because of that
    very same problem. I didn’t join the group to be bombarded with ridiculous weight loss offers and cell phone upgrade offers.

  • keaner

    eeeeexactly, the fact that ANY company doesn’t salt there passwords says more about the company then press or PR ever could. Ric get it now? :)

  • keaner

    “All of the major social platforms have been guilty of making large sweeping changes without testing” I can only assume this is some attempt at humor. Wow

  • Paul Sonnier

    Ric, Unfortunately, I think the experience you’ve had with LinkedIn groups is the norm. While my group and my efforts with it have received media coverage, including Forbes, Huffington Post, and VentureBeat, plus a quote in Scientific American (, I think what I’m doing is anomalous, so don’t feel bad for missing it. In that sense, it may not even be noteworthy in a review of LinkedIn since most groups aren’t delivering in the same way. I’m not trying to brag, but I do put a lot of work into what is a fundamentally a social entrepreneurial endeavor.


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