LinkedIn has rolled out a steady stream of design, social and content enhancements over the last six months, as it aims to increase user engagement across the business platform. Its latest enhancement is the new Contacts app. According to Mashable, LinkedIn’s Contacts app is designed to help users stay in touch with important business contacts and build contacts with others by “email, mobile address book and calendar to create a one-stop shop of sorts,” centralizing LinkedIn users’ contacts in one spot that’s accessible online or via the app.
Brands Take a LinkedIn Pass
Many consumer brands tune out when LinkedIn becomes the topic of discussion. They rightly focus on the platforms where their audiences are most receptive to their messages. This usually means Facebook becomes a brand’s social media focus instead of the business-focused LinkedIn.
Social media may be approaching a point where brands can’t afford to pick between the two platforms. While the new Contacts app will certainly increase the odds that consumers will be connected to their entire contact database on LinkedIn, it could also signal a new trend of personal customer relationship marketing (CRM). If personal CRM comes to be, LinkedIn could transform into an always on, paid media platform that brands would be smart to consider for their media mix.
Adding Contacts to LinkedIn’s Community & Content = Social CRM?
LinkedIn’s recent focus on community, content and contacts shows it’s trying to give users more reasons to spend time on LinkedIn. And if you look at all of the LinkedIn enhancements in aggregate, it starts to look as if we’re being given a mix of tools used for “extracting, transferring and loading” data into a CRM platform.
There’s a distinct delta between a CRM platform and the functionality that LinkedIn currently provides. But it’s not so significant that it prevents the social platform from becoming a CRM platform with more than 200 million potential users on its first day of launch. What would happen if, within the next 12 months, LinkedIn started offering a basic and paid level of CRM functionality to its users?
- User base: Its user base would increase, and it would encourage all users to invest more time in the platform.
- Social business: Whether or not you consider LinkedIn a niche platform due to its business focus, by expanding into CRM it becomes the gold standard for social platforms focused on business. This makes it tough to impossible for a competitor to displace LinkedIn.
- Monetization: In addition to the revenue from its paid CRM services, the advertising potential would be significant. Consider a utility like email — it’s open all day. Turning LinkedIn into a CRM utility would increase the opportunities for a brand to connect with consumers through paid media. If I were a quick serve restaurant, would I want to get in front of this audience around lunchtime? Possibly.
LinkedIn CRM wouldn’t seemingly be able to disrupt the use of enterprise-wide CRM packages, but instead of displacing the large companies using CRM, it could usher in a trend of personal CRM. Like any idea, it’s fraught with potential and peril. But it’s safe to say we’ve only just begun to see the impact of LinkedIn’s steady stream of innovations, acquisitions and enhancements. And brands should keep an eye on this ever-evolving platform.