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Sleeping Giant of Publishing

Why LinkedIn is a Sleeping Giant of Publishing
by Josh Sternberg. 18 February, 2013.
Digiday

Let’s say you were to construct the ideal business publisher from scratch. It would have a strong tech platform that doesn’t slow down because of too many users or ads. It would foster direct connections. It would also have writers who were the most influential people in their industries. It would be digitally native. And it wouldn’t be overly reliant on ads.

Now look at LinkedIn. Back to the ideal business publisher. Now back to LinkedIn.

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Over the last four months, LinkedIn, always living in the shadow of the sexier social platforms, has quietly built out a publishing platform. It is now a publisher in its own right, under former Fortune editor Dan Roth, with LinkedIn Today feeding aggregated articles from more than 1 million publications to LinkedIn’s 200 million users based on their preferences. It complemented that with an original publishing effort around “influencers,” recruiting a who’s who of business like Richard Branson, T. Boone Pickens and Ari Emanuel, and about 250 others.

“We went out to find the top people in various industries, folks who, universally, people wanted to know about and drove business conversation,” Roth said. “The internal frame was, if we put on the world’s best conference, who would you want? The idea you can ask top minds in business to share or reveal something about themselves in an authentic way, it’s important for us.”

The combination could become extremely powerful. LinkedIn already gets about 46 million unique visitors per month, per ComScore. Compare that to a Bloomberg Businessweek with a print circulation of about 1 million and about 6.7 million visitors per month. LinkedIn isn’t about to win Pulitizers, but its content is bound to expand. The hard part of a platform is the tech infrastructure, which LinkedIn has in place. How many publications wouldn’t kill for LinkedIn’s revenue model? Half of its $972 million in revenues for 2012 came from its recruiting services, which is one of its revenue streams. Selling ads and subscriptions are the other two.

The Influencer effort began back in October 2012 with the goal to go beyond matching stories with people and instead offer its users a window into the minds of business people at the top of their industries. For the Influencer platform, LinkedIn, for the first time, brought the “follow” option to the platform. LinkedIn also created its own CMS for this. Writers have their own login to the CMS and can see who their followers are, what industries they’re in, what seniority level.

The concept of a social network having a blogging platform isn’t entirely new or unique. Consider Tumblr or WordPress, even. Both platforms have social components to them. This platform is a move away from that notion, or even the “digital Rolodex” moniker.

When people post content on Twitter or Facebook, it’s usually flight-of-fancy information. In part, that’s because the ADD style of those social networks focuses on the stream of a feed. LinkedIn Influencers, instead, is an actual platform. The bigger issue, though, is how and why people use the different social networks. As Roth put it, “You’re not on LinkedIn at 3 a.m.” Translation: no drunken rants on LinkedIn.

The other benefit, Roth sees, is that there’s no anonymity on LinkedIn. Everyone’s writing — the “Influencer” and anyone who comments — is tied back to a professional reputation. If you make a comment, your employer, employees, future employers can see what you’re sharing. People are thinking hard about what kind of comments they’re making, so you see little, if any, trolling — a coup for a blogging platform.

And the posts do well. Take a look at Richard Branson’s most recent post about “Where I Work: surrounded by people (and swimming in tea).” It was shared 600 times on Twitter, 2,500 times on Facebook and 8,300 times on LinkedIn. Then there are the more than 2,000 comments. Roth said that some posts have crossed the million view mark, and the site has seen an eight-fold traffic increase to LinkedIn Today over the last year.

The underlying implication, however, is that LinkedIn wants its users to stay and get content they can’t get anywhere else. Through a business lens, this makes sense as the more often and longer people stay, LinkedIn can serve more job opportunities — which is where the company makes half of its revenue — and get advertisers to pony up more money on ads targeted at LinkedIn’s user.

This is all part of a broader plan for LinkedIn. In the last year, it redesigned company pages and introduced targeted status updates as ways to drive what it calls “engagement” — shares and comments.

LinkedIn has also discussed introducing a sponsored content unit where companies pay to deliver content to its followers, though a spokesperson said this not related to Influencer content. In its fourth-quarter earnings call, CEO Jeff Weiner said last month it began a test: “working with some very large-scale enterprises, some blue chip marketers, folks like GE and Xerox, the Economist, BlackBerry. They are taking repositories of content that they’ve built up over time — white papers, expertise, customs-related practices — and they are now able to serve that content at a status update and target specific followers of theirs on LinkedIn.”

Roth said that LinkedIn is seeing high engagement around the posts precisely because people understand the value they can get by being seen as a productive member of a conversation started by a popular and influential person. And while LinkedIn can play a numbers game in the engagement arena — if there are 200 million users, even if only 1 percent are active, articles could get viewed 2 million times — Roth says that there’s no such thing as guaranteed engagement.

Read entire article and more at Digiday.

Post on Facebook, Go to Jail!

From Amnesty International USA

Dear Gabriel,

Arrested for posting a note to Facebook?! If there was ever a need for a “Dislike” button on Facebook, this is it.

When you log in to Facebook, you might expect to hear from long-lost friends or to see pictures from the latest family reunion. Maybe you follow Amnesty on Facebook and learn about ways you can make a difference for human rights.

But when you log off, you probably don’t expect the police to come knocking on your door.

That’s what happened to Jabbar Savalan, a 20-year-old Azerbaijani student activist framed and punished by his government for calling for a protest on Facebook.

The Azerbaijan government’s assault upon the right to freedom of expression is a travesty.

Tell the authorities that you “Dislike” injustice. Sign Amnesty’s online petition calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Jabbar Savalan.

Jabbar is one case in this year’s Write for Rights campaign, Amnesty’s annual human rights letter-writing marathon. Hundreds of thousands of people will be participating this year, writing letters of hope and solidarity to free prisoners of conscience and combat injustice worldwide.

Maybe this is your first time writing for rights, or maybe you’ve taken this action before. Now’s the time to pledge your participation in this event – starting with signing this online petition for Jabbar.

During Write for Rights, December 3-11, Amnesty will deliver the petition signatures along with a giant Facebook-inspired “Dislike” thumbs-down sign to Azerbaijan’s diplomatic offices in the U.S.

Jabbar’s case is deeply troubling. Azerbaijani authorities didn’t like his Facebook post, so they began following him. One day later, they arrested him without explanation.

Jabbar knew something was very wrong that night. Police never read him his rights. He wasn’t searched right away. He was manhandled in the police vehicle.

It was only when Jabbar arrived at the police station that authorities did an official search, and that’s when they “discovered” marijuana in his outer jacket pocket. It was all too convenient. Officials in Azerbaijan have a history of using trumped-up drug charges to smother dissent. Jabbar maintains he’s never used drugs in his life.

Jabbar was jailed for a Facebook post. If we don’t call out authorities on abusive behavior, wherever and whenever it happens, it will only get worse. They will crush and crush and crush, ever more recklessly, inhumanely and unlawfully.

If freedom is something we cherish, then we must defend it. Jabbar Savalan was jailed because of his beliefs, and as human rights defenders, we can’t let this stand.

Join thousands of others around the world fighting for Jabbar and other cases during this year’s Write for Rights campaign. Freedom for Jabbar and others like him is only possible if we take a stand — together.

Add your name to Amnesty’s petition calling for Jabbar’s release.

In solidarity,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Write for Rights is a powerful, inspiring event – the largest grassroots letter-writing campaign in the entire world. Put pen to paper and deepen your commitment to human rights. Find Write for Rights events near you and learn more by visiting amnestyusa.org/writeathon.

Write for Rights

Dear Gabriel,

If you think writing letters is passé, that touching pen to paper is meaningless in the age of Facebook and Twitter, remember my story.

My name is Birtukan Mideksa, and your letters set me free.

I once had no hope of freedom. A single mother and former opposition party leader in Ethiopia, I was arrested in 2005 after my political party participated in protests disputing the results of the elections.

Security forces responded to the public outcry with deadly force, shooting dead 187 people and wounding 765 others.

I committed no crime. I was targeted solely for peacefully expressing my political views.

Help free other prisoners of conscience like me. Join Amnesty’s 2011 Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon. There are 15 urgent cases of abuse and injustice in need of your action.

The government in Ethiopia thought it could quell dissent by locking opponents away forever.

I was serving a life sentence in Kaliti Prison when Amnesty International members came to my defense. When my case was featured in the 2009 Write for Rights campaign, thousands of people called for my freedom.

Your letters were my protection during the months I spent in solitary confinement. You were my voice when I had none. Your letters kept hope alive at the darkest hours of need.

Thanks to Amnesty International, I regained my freedom in October 2010.

I am so grateful that your letters and action worked for me. Now I urge you to keep up your good work by taking action for others. I offer my voice for Amnesty International, and I hope that you will do the same.

Write with me. Join the 2011 Write for Rights campaign today.

In peace,
Birtukan Mideksa

Facebook and Hate Speech

From Change.org

Dear Gabriel,

Facebook says that hate speech and incitements to violence are banned and will be removed from their site. So why are they maintaining a page called “Riding Your Girlfriend Softly Cause You Don’t Want to Wake Her Up”? And another page about “throwing bricks at sluts” that includes a photo gallery of portraits asking “Bang or Brick”?

There has even been an organized effort to use Facebook’s own reporting system to flag these and other pages that encourage rape and violence against women so they’ll be taken down. But Facebook hasn’t done a thing.

Now, Change.org member John Raines is going straight to the top. He started a petition on Change.org telling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take down these pages and take a stronger stand against violence against women.

Will you sign John’s petition to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg? Sign on, and tell Facebook to remove pages promoting rape and violence against women now.

When 1 in 3 American women will be sexually abused and/or assaulted in her lifetime, pages like these — and the reactions they elicit — are downright scary. Tens of thousands of people have “liked” these pages. Some people even use them as platforms to share rape fantasies and receive explicit tactics for how to carry them out.

John has seen the devastating impact of sexual violence and rape firsthand, on his own family. That’s why he created this petition on Change.org to get Facebook to enforce its existing policies and to make it clear that content promoting rape and violence against women violates Facebook’s Terms of Service and won’t be tolerated.

Please sign John’s petition. Tell Facebook to stop providing a platform to promote rape and violence against women.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

– Shelby and the Change.org team

So Far and Yet So Close

What a difference a few decades make. It seemed like just a few years ago, the only way family or friends connected with one another while traveling was by postcard or letter. The messages usually arrived 2-3 weeks after sending them, so you could have had a zillion things happen in the meantime or be back home by then. My parents must have worried quite a bit while I was gone to England and Ireland to visit hospices, back in the 70s.

Now, there is wi-fi, internet, cell phone, Skype and text messaging. Our youngest son Shona is presently in Paris “on our way to the Louvre” and is able to keep us up to date with their travels and even send photos. Of course, he’s not sharing “everything” with us, but quite a bit. The first night they were in Barcelona, his traveling companion Genna was sick. The day before they were to leave for Paris, Shona got sick. Luckily, the 3rd person on their adventure, Mariah, has been fine the entire trip, so far. Even though we worried, it was such a relief to be able to hear from him when he wasn’t feeling well and then finding out this morning that they are all doing great.

Other than the discovery of penicillin; Galileo’s confirmation that earth is not the center of the universe, but simply one of many planets; the invention of the telephone, solar energy, waste treatment and access to clean water; women’s liberation and human rights; the invention of the internet has got to be included in the list of world-changing developments.

Well, I’m going to move from this technological marvel of instant publishing called the blog and go see if there are any new messages from Shona on Facebook.

And The Winner Is!

Jocelyn Tyrrell correctly answered the question asking which famous book and author the excerpt was that I posted the day before yesterday (Friday – April 1). It was a section from Beloved by Toni Morrison. As a result Jocelyn is receiving a free copy of the novel Buddha’s Wife.

Jocelyn is married to Michael Tyrrell and says, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Loreena McKennitt is one of her favorite musicians and the Wizard of Oz one of her top 2 movies. How can you not like a woman that has such good taste? Here is her profile picture from Facebook.

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