When the announcement came that Microsoft had acquired LinkedIn in a $26.2 billion deal, the tidal wave of questions wasn’t long in coming.
Questions around why they were choosing now to step into the social media arena. And, furthermore, why they chose LinkedIn to do so.
And what of the implications?
In particular, for us at least, the implications that the acquisition may have for insurance brokers who use the platform.
More than a recruitment shop window
Let’s take a look at LinkedIn and what it has offered brokers’ in terms of marketing and business growth.
It’s easy to think of LinkedIn as that social media platform for professionals looking to display their skills to prospective new employers. A fancy online shop window for new talent acquisition.
It might have been the way it was used in the early days – and there may be a degree of that which continues to this day – but the platform is so much more.
LinkedIn is a professional gathering place – the professional gathering place. A meeting of minds and a place to connect.
And it’s a platform for information; the aggregation of targeted content.
There are more than 400 million members of the LinkedIn community. And there are more adding to the site by the minute.
In fact, the user numbers for, let’s not forget, this professional forum, are pretty eye-opening.
- 2 new LinkedIn members per second
- More than 20 million users in the UK
- Used by members across 200 countries
- 45 billion member page views in Q1 of 2016
- 380 million professional skills listed
- 1 billion professional endorsements
- 67% of members who consider themselves ‘news junkies’
- Average visit time of 17 minutes
- 1 million+ professional post publishers
- 130,000 long-form professional posts (articles) published per week
- 90% of LinkedIn Users make household decisions
- 5 million users have published on Pulse
Take a closer look at these stats and what does it tell us?
Beyond the obvious point that there are a very large number of professionals who regularly use the site, there is the fact that this is a platform for information.
LinkedIn is an enormous database both of professional people and professional information.
Which would have enormous appeal for Microsoft
Microsoft have essentially acquired almost half a billion user profiles with which to marry up their own existing products and services.
This is the era of Big Data, of aggregating the enormous flow of information across the digital highways.
Does the future, for instance, hold a revitalised version of Office within its 365 package, offering contextualised information based on your work, or a particular project? Newsfeeds directly from industry INfluencers to your inbox, your Windows screen, your mobile. The possibilities of greater connections through groups with the integration of Skype?
How might this impact on Insurance Brokers?
Like all industries, LinkedIn has become an integral platform for many brokers across the UK and the rest of the world. For those who’ve grasped the nettle of social media strategies, that is.
The ethos behind LinkedIn, as a social platform, is not so much businesses dialoguing with clients or other businesses – but PEOPLE CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE.
Joining, and more crucially, contributing to groups relevant to your industry is a tried and tested format for increasing your profile, developing your name as an expert in the field. An authority figure, suitably backed up by the endorsements of your skills that your connections supply.
Writing posts, linking related articles and contributing blogs via Pulse – solving issues common among your clients or reacting to industry news, for instance – is a marketing strategy proven to increase connections.
And connecting is the operative word. LinkedIn connects people to other people within their industry. But beyond that, of course, it connects you to other professionals across all industries.
In other words, your clients and potential clients.
The Microsoft acquisition certainly has the potential to impact this going forward. Merging the content and data from LinkedIn with the technology of Microsoft must surely open new avenues for engagement.
Let’s look at the content being produced.
130,000 published articles on LinkedIn per week, to an audience where 67% admit to being news junkies. Presumably these members, when searching for health insurance, won’t object to articles you’ve posted on the subject appearing in their feed. Or their search results on Bing, perhaps? Or even when you’re connecting through 365?
Content creates connections.
Or what about the bread and butter of your LinkedIn account – your profile page?
The first rule of LinkedIn is optimise your profile:
- Your job details and company info
- Professional photo
- Links to company site, company page
Google Places, which morphed into Google+ and Google My Business has been an integrated service with Google Maps for some years now. Well optimised business pages offering a simple, free and effective directory style listing, linking location with services.
The acquisition by Microsoft offers an interesting possibility of something similar occurring with your LinkedIn profiles.
If your profile is fully written up and packed with endorsements, and you are regularly commenting or posting about the schemes upon which you work, develop and sell, then you are presenting yourself as an authority figure within LinkedIn.
Microsoft has the potential to broaden the scope, integrating this data across its platforms through the cloud-based 365. If someone near you has commented, searched for or written about the need for an insurance service that you have promoted, then it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that relevant profiles will be sent their way.
Your profile, perhaps?