Will Copycat Features Help LinkedIn Get Social?

LinkedIn unveiled enhancements to its sharing features this morning that make it easier for users to post links and images to their LinkedIn groups and others that are connected to them on the service. Now when users post a link, an excerpt and any image attached to the item are automatically added, and other users can see who shared the content when it shows up in their streams. Links and content that others have shared can also be “re-shared,” and the service has launched its own URL shortener.

If these enhancements sounds familiar, it’s probably because they’re virtually identical to the way sharing and re-sharing works on Facebook and other social networks such as Google’s Buzz. They may be nice additions, but at this point, how much is copying Facebook really going to help LinkedIn?

The business-oriented network has been trying to get more social over the past year or so, by adding Twitter integration, as well as opening up its application programming interface (API) so that outside developers can integrate LinkedIn content. But for the most part, it still feels like a place where people primarily go to check the work history of a contact or possible hire, or if they’re looking for a new gig, to post their own. Despite LinkedIn’s best efforts, it doesn’t seem like a place where users are going to be sharing a lot of links.

Will these new features and enhancements change that? Perhaps. But it feels more like a copycat move than anything really revolutionary. Why not provide more ways for people to enhance their profile, by doing things like hosting discussions around an issue, or providing content in some way that helps illustrate their expertise in a subject? That seems more like something in which LinkedIn’s core user would be interested. It’s not that sharing links isn’t a good feature to have, I’d just like to see the service focus on the things that make it different, rather than duplicating those of Facebook.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): Can Enterprise Privacy Survive Social Networking?

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user ryancr

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