LinkedIn launches "followers" feature

LinkedIn

LinkedIn knows there's value in industry-focused content, so it has organized a network of industry professionals who have agreed to blog for the social network at no charge.

LinkedIn rolled out a new feature today, letting users follow selected industry leaders who will post original content to the site.

It may sound like LinkedIn is taking a page from Facebook, which (taking a page from Twitter) allowed subscriptions a year ago, but LinkedIn is doing it in the measured, grown-up way it's known for.

The social network has limited the number of people who can have followers to a select 150, but there are plans to expand that number. Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn's head of content products, called these industry superstars "influencers."

"We're got all these phenomenal influencers on LinkedIn and we see it as a natural evolution to let people follow those influencers," he said.

These "influencers" - chosen based on how much interaction they have with their connections previously or how well-known they are - includes household names like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, to those who are well-known within their sectors, such as chef Marcus Samuelsson, former Merrill Lynch President Sallie Krawcheck, and of course, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.

In addition to getting followers, these influencers will publish original content for LinkedIn. The posts won't be edited, but there is a team of editors "to help review and give feedback," according to LinkedIn.

These post may include entries such as one from Virgin CEO Richard Branson titled: "Five top tips to starting a successful business," or the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski's "The coming spectrum crunch? It's here and we have to move fast."

LinkedIn wants everything you read to give you a leg up in your industry, no matter what it is, Roslansky said.

Samuelsson plans to write about the intersection of poverty and nutrition. He said it was LinkedIn's network of 175 million members that makes him want to engage with followers.

"I wanted to work with LinkedIn because they are a respectable guide for job seekers," he said in a statement. "With so many followers and users, I thought this would be another great platform to find out what's needed in my industry as well as learn what's new in the field."

Followers can communicate with influencers by commenting on posts, which allows the influencers to add photo, videos, links and SlideShare files (LinkedIn acquired SlideShare earlier this year).

Rolansky expects these interactions to be less spammy or irrelevant (i.e. no trolls) than other social networks because people know it's a site for professionals.

"Your LinkedIn profile is becoming more and more your professional identity online - people know that," he said.

This article originally appeared on CNET.

  • Donna Tam On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Donna Tam is a staff writer for CNET News and a native of San Francisco. She enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail, and reading on her Kindle. Before landing at CNET, she wrote for daily newspapers, including the Oakland Tribune, The Spokesman-Review, and the Eureka Times-Standard.

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