Blog Post

Why I think LinkedIn’s move to woo students is smart

LinkedIn (s LNKD), the Mountain View, Calif.-based business-oriented social network today announced LinkedIn for Students, a new effort that will focus on actively wooing teenagers to join and use its service. LinkedIn for Students has two components:

  • From September 12, 2013, the company will allow anyone older than 13 to sign-up for the service.
  • It is allowing universities and colleges to establish, what it calls “University Pages” which will feature career-centric information, college specializations, news and status updates, notable alumni and other relevant data. So far 200 universities have signed up.

“We believe University Pages will be especially valuable for students making their first, big decision about where to attend college,” LinkedIn’s program manager, Christina Allen wrote  in a blog post on LinkedIn blog.

This is a smart bet by the company, and it shows that it is thinking about its future customers. This is a relatively easier way of bringing future members into the fold and forging a long term relationship. And it is doing so by providing the younger members value without asking for anything in return — yet.

How so, you might ask? High school students spend a lot of time researching universities, and this seems to make the process easier. Teenagers are quite familiar with following brands and keeping up with news via status updates, two behaviors that are now common amongst all social platforms — Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. So this seems to be a very low friction way of getting them to use the LinkedIn service.

And though it is a healthy start, LinkedIn will need to do a lot more to keep the teenage audience engaged and coming back. It is only a matter of time before LinkedIn launches an editorial operation that is focused on providing career advice to their “student” audiences. In the past, business magazines would publish special editions for schools and colleges. Some like US News & World Report publishes top-school rankings. Given the richness of data inside LinkedIn, I wouldn’t be surprised if LinkedIn builds something similar.

If there is one thing I have observed, it is that under the leadership of chief executive officer Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn has stopped being just a resume-centric recruitment service (though it makes a lot of money that way) and has taken a more holistic view to become a “career” oriented social platform. For instance, its fledgling media efforts are highlighted by aspirational (if somewhat cheerleading & self-serving) messages (mislabeled as blog posts) from famous and successful people — a neat way to increase engagement with their now 240 million members — are a good example of this focus on careers (and recruitment.) That focus has helped the company more than double its stock price in the past 12 months to about $227 a share; giving it a market capitalization of over $25 billion.


4 Responses to “Why I think LinkedIn’s move to woo students is smart”

  1. Wooing teens is about content and delivery. You can have the best pictures and quips but if the publishing platform is not tailored to a teen’s preferred device (or to their tendency to switch devices based on intent), then you’ve a losing battle.

    Right now I like the tablet format for researching and browsing passively as if I am reading the Sunday paper. The mobile view is a bit flat… and I am no were near my teens.

  2. Nicholas Paredes

    Great idea! But, if they continue with their current mobile technologies, which are central to the age group, they will fail. As a mobile experience manager, I find their tools to be quite horrible. Having used LinkedIn early as a sort of blog, it was interesting to see Linkedin move towards that use case. I have however deleted their apps on all of my devices, and refuse to use the website on an iPad or iPhone, which is most of my life.

    Linkedin quickly needs to address the issues that Facebook faced. I find it difficult to believe that they do not have the feedback or the resources to adjust. Personally, I’m not loading another of their apps until another person actually comments positively on the new experience.

    • Brent Ballatore

      Did you type all that on a phone? Well its unfortunate for those who are not on linked in, and i believe thats one of the major selling points, for Linkedin. So why not get them before they are in a company, let them feel they have some control over their career. For awhile everyone was talking about, then a generation happened. People need to show, they are active and smart, and that not just your resume or jobs. We could not do that before, linked in may have jumped the shark in a few areas, but overall its created a better conversation around getting work. With that said, i am ready for a better one, with more of a focus on building several careers at once so one can jump from career to career without starting over. Something like, a related skills, job search or something. Or even if you do this job, you would also like this kind of work. :)