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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.

Muslims, Words and Dr. King

A Muslim Reflection on Dr. King’s Legacy of Peace Through Words
by Najeeba Syeed-Miller. Posted 1/21/2013.
Follow Najeeba Syeed-Miller on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NajeebaSyeed

The shaykh with whom I studied ethics would speak nearly perfect Arabic throughout the day and address everyone in his path with great respect, even in the grammar of his speech. I asked him why he put such care into his choice of words, he would say, “Najeeba, most importantly, in the form of our words, we should pursue beauty and elevate discourse.”

His words and monumental effort in expressing himself in a way that was sublime has always stayed with me. In essence, he was establishing a confluence between the choice of words he used, their elegant arrangement, his affect and the cognitive functions of communicating. He rounded these together in every utterance so that each sound he made was calibrated to increase beauty in the world and create a relational quality in the way he spoke with others.

As I reflect on why Dr. King so profoundly affected my journey as a peacemaker, it is because he also exemplified that capacity to elevate discourse by harnessing the resources of language to move the level of discussion deeper and higher. In this process, his prose and speeches resonated particularly with those who knew his context. At the same time, they echo in ways that are illuminating with a universal radiance because they appeal to the heart, mind and soul at the very same time.

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As a Muslim, I have been taught the Qur’anic principles of engagement: To speak with the best words and with words of goodness when I am in a state of difference with another. Often in the past, I thought of this injunction as emphasizing the idea of persuasiveness. I have since found that there are other important aspects to these teachings that emphasize generosity and respect for the other in exchanges.

In thinking about the language of my teachers and Dr. King, I have come to recognize that one major element of constructing conversations that are beautiful in both form and process is this encompassing eloquence that can integrate emotional and cognitive approaches to social change.

It is easy to separate thought and emotion, to parse out the heart from the head. What makes Dr. King’s words drum in our hearts and minds far after we’ve first read them or heard them is the genius of his understanding that social justice is not merely an externally focused pursuit of rights;it is a rearrangement of the interior human landscape in how we see and feel about ourselves, the world and one another.

There is an element of slowing down, appreciating his text and speeches because of their sheer beauty. It causes me to listen both to the content and the orchestration of his language. I am engaged with the ideas and the emotional quality. He speaks of the greatest ugliness manifested by humanity in ways that push me to see that internally, I too, may be capable of such monstrosity if not for the vigilance necessary to keep my heart, mind and actions intertwined to actualize dignity and peace. He behooves us to respond with an ethical approach not just in action, but also in insuring that even (or especially) an enemy is never demonized nor dehumanized in our depiction of them.

So perhaps one lesson to glean from our celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is how we can move beyond competitive modes of talking, into a state of communal conversation that solemnizes an oath to speak with such careful thoughtfulness, so that the very act of forming a word is a sacred exertion of our highest sense of self.

Tweet To Jail In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

Is tweeting a crime in Bahrain?

Ask @NabeelRajab. After tweeting a sentence shorter than the one you’re reading right now to Bahrain’s Prime Minister demanding political change, Nabeel Rajab was arrested.

Is protesting a crime in Bahrain?

For taking that same message to the streets through organized protests, Nabeel was once again charged and this time, sentenced to 3 years in prison. In fact, since May of this year, Nabeel – a prominent leader of the human rights movement in Bahrain – has been kept in a small, dark cell.

Tell Bahraini authorities to free Nabeel Rajab now! Send a message by Tuesday and we’ll amplify your voice during our upcoming demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, we know that Bahraini authorities aren’t just after Nabeel Rajab. They want to tear down everything he stands for. They want to intimidate others so that no one will stand with him. They want Nabeel Rajab to sit in that small, dark cell and feel alone.

But that won’t happen. Nabeel Rajab will never sit alone in darkness because Amnesty International will always be there to shine a light. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

Nabeel’s peaceful actions for freedom in Bahrain — from tweets to marching in the streets — exemplify why he is a signature case for Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights event. That is because whether you show solidarity by writing and mailing letters, updating your Facebook status, organizing rallies or taking any solidarity action in between, you can make a difference in the lives of this year’s 10 Write for Rights cases.

Mark your calendars, because from December 5 – 16, we will build upon Amnesty’s 51-year tradition and incredible history of writing letters to save lives. Thousands will gather in classrooms, coffee shops, community centers and more; united by the power of the letter and for the cause of writing for human rights.

But we start building momentum today. Your action for Nabeel Rajab right now will fuel our special demonstration in D.C. on Tuesday to draw attention to Bahrain’s disgraceful treatment of Nabeel Rajab and its crackdown on human rights. For every 100 actions taken, we will hold a special place so that we can represent our full force — that means you! — when we hit the streets.

You’ll just have to stay tuned to see how your actions will add power to our work to free Nabeel. Take action to free Nabeel Rajab now so that we can add your voice to Tuesday’s special demonstration.

The spark for this year’s Write for Rights begins with you, but the flame that burns for Nabeel Rajab and others who defend human rights will last forever.

In Solidarity,

Beth Ann Toupin
Country Specialist, Bahrain
Amnesty International USA

Chickens Home to Roost

From ROP Stories on Twitter

Cluck cluck cluck. Check out our newest residents! Soon they’ll be popping out eggs to improve the boys’ nutrition. Raising chickens not only supplies protein for the students, but also teaches them how to care for livestock and perhaps even sale some of the eggs for future revenue.

Please support The Rwandan Orphans Project Center for Street Children
Kigali, Rwanda

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