LinkedIn May Become the Central Home for Collaboration

Did you read Lou Adler’s recent blog on LinkedIn posted May 2, 2013 titled, “There Are Only Four Jobs in the Whole World — Are You in the Right One?” More than likely if you’re reading this — you did. Consider these staggering statistics: according to LinkedIn as of May 6, Adler’s article has been viewed 380,000+ times, shared on LinkedIn 14,000+ times, liked on Facebook about 2,900+ times, and Tweeted 2,000+ times.

Since the late 1990s, we as a recruiting community have been following Lou Adler’s posts on ERE and other forums with well-deserved admiration. Adler has been an influencer in our industry for a long time and has earned our respect. However, I posit that if you were to take every article Adler has posted on ERE, and summed up the total amount of views and shares, that it may not match what his recent post has accumulated on the LinkedIn platform in less than a week. That to me is a seismic shift worth studying.

Adler was recently selected by LinkedIn to become what it calls an Influencer. In the few months since accepting his invitation, he has already amassed 173,000+ followers. When the campaign launched about six months ago, you could complete an application to become an Influencer. However, due to the overwhelming demand of applicants to become Influencers, it is now an invitation-only select club. This means Lou can write as long an article as he’d like, I believe limited to twice a month, and it will be pushed to his followers who can share it with their preferred social networks.

There is strength in numbers, and I haven’t seen the numbers which this LinkedIn Influencer campaign is drawing before. And as great as Lou’s number have been, they’re not the largest by a long shot.

The most popular LinkedIn Influencer is Richard Branson, who has amassed more than 1.7-million followers. In addition, the influencer list includes President Obama with 800,000+ followers, Deepak Chopra, Jack Welch, Arianna Huffington, Mark Cuban, and Meg Whitman amongst others. However, the list of content sharers is very small considering the 220-million profiles on LinkedIn. But this is only the beginning. It will grow.

Why This Matters

We are seeing the evolution of the LinkedIn platform in a move that is positioning it to become a central node of professional collaboration beyond an online identity. The company wants to draw additional web traffic, and by looking at the numbers it appears to have succeeded. According to the web traffic analyzer Alexa, LinkedIn now ranks as the 10th-most visited website in the U.S. and fourteenth internationally. Many of us in the recruiting industry have considered LinkedIn no more than a glorified resume database … granted, a very large resume database! But this influencer capability seems to be a game-changer to me that is drawing even more visitors to the site, and changing behaviors of how professionals interact. The effect has only sped up the rate at which unique profiles are being created to more than 200,000+ a day.

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I have always been troubled by Facebook attempting to promote the coexistence of both a professional and personal identity, the tension of which seems too much for most.  Many just aren’t comfortable with Facebook or Google+ being our professional and personal identity in one. Perhaps the recent moves by LinkedIn have cracked the code that will allow us to bin ourselves going forward. Your personal account can be on Google+ and Facebook. Your professional identity can be LinkedIn, and it can all co-exist with Twitter sharing all things.

I predict a future where influencers in every conceivable niche may gravitate to the LinkedIn platform as a central node to share information. Imagine if you were an atmospheric scientist or nuclear engineer and wanted to follow specific thought leaders in that research space. With its unprecedented profile numbers and well-positioned brand for professional identity it may be uniquely positioned to distribute information to niche fields like recruiting that can uplift entire capabilities due to sheer volume and numbers. The recent Lou Adler article is only one example. One recruiter with hundreds of thousands of views. One scientist, one engineer, or marketer or CEO or President. But the number of influencers will only increase in time — because we will demand it. As great a voice as Lou is, there are more recruiters clamoring to share a message and we want to read them.

In my experience the recruiting industry has been a collection of disparate blogs, trade shows, and personalities which have loosely tied us together, but even the largest ERE convention has never been more than 1,000. That may not change, but the fact Adler was able to draw such a vast amount of views and shares seems to me to create an opportunity to propel a niche capability forward in knowledge sharing.  No longer will Adler’s articles be shared a couple of hundred times, but his influence will be in the hundreds of thousands. That seems to me to be something worth celebrating in our industry, but also for every industry going forward.

So congratulations Lou, and take the numbers of his recent post as a shot across the bow that things are changing, and we should pay attention.

Robert Dromgoole is an executive search consultant specializing in delivering retained-style recruiting techniques for the past 12 years. He has worked with a retained search firm, an Internet start-up, a large financial institution, and for the past several years has worked with Battelle & Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


12 Comments on “LinkedIn May Become the Central Home for Collaboration

  1. Hard to say how those numbers relate to actual movement in the real world. Do even 173k views of a piece move that needle?

    Keep in mind even local TV newscasts in small markets draw bigger numbers every night, night after night, and people can barely remember the presenter’s names.

    LinkedIn Lou has a good thing going, but what it’s able to actually do remains to be seen. There is also the still significant fact that most meaningful collaboration by nature will occur within one’s own organization and group culture… will LinkedIn support that before organizations internal social systems do?

    There is a lot of content in the world, more every second of the day, which has an obvious impact on the value of content as a generic matter….

  2. Martin, I agree that skepticism and questions are warranted. But in the world of recruiting blogs, the numbers don’t lie. 100 shares would be worth celebrating. I look at ERE, Fistful of Talent, etc. as the various recruiting centric local AM radio shows. Lou is our first ‘syndicated’ recruiter who has gone worldwide. But Lou aside, I imagine that reach capability for every influential person in every industry. I think that ties us close together is what I posit, and it creates more stickiness to their web site (LinkedIn).

    How many recruiters ARE there? And to have 173,000 followers has to be a good chunk of recruiting marketing share (granted there’s random others in there).

    This just seems a shift to me. I think LinkedIn is walking toward becoming the Facebook/Google+ of the professional identity world.

  3. Rob-

    Funny thing about Lou’s musings is that “we’ve” been talking about this stuff for years; as Marty wondered, has the needle move much?

    IMO sadly not. I’m using the very unscientific “ocular test” and my eyes see the gap between really great HR/recruiting and really average (or worse) widening. Personally, I believe the reliance on shortcuts and instant performance being the core culprits.

    Garnering expertise takes time and society seems to find time in short supply…

  4. Sure, but the power of a syndicated radio program vs. an ERE, FOT etc. may carry more weight. Lou may now be the most popular and well known recruiter on the planet at least for a short time. I think it’s a move away from the Balkanization of recruiting into a node like LinkedIn where it will draw us together more.

  5. Congratulations on your thought provoking article. Like you, I knew about Lou before LinkedIn; he was well known then, but nothing like his “rock-star” status of today. But your point is not really about Lou or LinkedIn Lou, it is about how LinkedIn is evolving.

    What I find interesting is that LinkedIn is cultivating a number of Web 1.0, broadcast oriented posts, as opposed to creating a discussion platform which is what Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 say is important. If you look at some recent work of Richard Millington (author of Buzzing Communities), he suggests that gaining influence consists of be an expert, be likable and reciprocate. In order for Lou and other experts to become more influential, being able to reciprocate may be part of the process. And the most important lesson of the social media revolution is to be social; so our favorite experts may have to become more social.

  6. Marvin, I agree 100%. However, I see Lou is giving a webinar etc. But for LI to evolve they need that reciprication mechanism that allows for easy discourse. There’s the comments section like ERE, but I’m not sure how much is there. LI is going to have to create that as a next step.

  7. The LinkedIn channels has the space for conversation, it may be that their expert authors may need to engage in the conversation? LinkedIn may evolve….

  8. Thanks Robert. I say congratulations to Lou!
    1) Good to be famous
    2) Better to be famous and right
    3) Still better to be famous, right, and have people do what you recommend
    4) BEST to famous, right, have people do what you recommend, and have people pay you lots of money to recommend things to them.


    Keith “Hopes for All Four Someday” Halperin

  9. I agree Keith, all 4 indeed. Marvin, to your point, without the engagement, it’s like a massive ‘Bullhorn’ of a recruiting article. No one is uplifted without that ….

    I’m fascinated at the stickiness and reach though. Lou is up to 422,000 views on that piece.

  10. Rob, just saw this! Thanks for the comments. For some background, just estimating the mix of followers based on those who attended the follow-up webcasts, about a third are active job-seekers, about a third hiring managers and passive job seekers, and the balance in recruiting or HR. Most of my LinkedIn posts get 30-40,000 reads, and a few have topped a 100,000. This one did real well. The best one though is almost up to 1mm now – The Best Interview Question of All Time. This was a rewrite of my first post for ERE! Which I think is still pretty high up on the ERE all time list.

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