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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Unpaid CEO Bloggers Spike LinkedIn Traffic 63% 06-20

Unpaid CEO Bloggers Spike LinkedIn Traffic 63%

SAN ANSELMO, CA - JANUARY 27: In this photo illustration, the LinkedIn logo is displayed on the screen of a laptop computer on January 27, 2011.  (Getty Images via @daylife)
LinkedIn has discovered a valuable formula for online media success — if you tap into CEOs’ egos, you can get them to write for free — and spur a spike in traffic.
That formula is the domain of Daniel Roth, the executive editor of LinkedIn, who runs Influencers — musings that LinkedIn started posting in October 2012 of “a select group of people in leadership positions on life, careers and the secrets of success in both,” according to Bits.

Influencers has profoundly boosted user engagement for LinkedIn. Its 225 million users viewed 63% more pages in the first quarter of 2013 than they did in the same period in 2012. Roth said that “traffic to all its news products had increased eightfold since Influencers was introduced,” according to Bits
And with Influencers including “Bill Gates, Jeffrey R. Immelt and President Obama,” it’s clear that getting invited to blog at no pay is a club that lesser luminaries are craving to join. Roth told Bits: “We have a long list of  CEOs who are asking to get in.”

LinkedIn’s ambition is to challenge online publishers in the advertising market by making its users addicted to checking their news feeds and then hiding the peas of sponsored articles and videos from the likes of Shell, Xerox XRX +0.66% and American Express AXP +1.19% in the mashed potatoes of personalized content — including Influencers.

Why would someone write for free? Bits says that they like connecting with a large audience of business professionals while their content is lightly edited and LinkedIn “trades on the executives’ vanity.”

Online real estate platform, Redfin founder, Glenn Kelman, is an Influencer mostly because he likes the ego boost he gets from highly-trafficked posts. He told Bits, “It created a feedback loop that has turned me into a gerbil turning on the wheel. I have met other CEOs and we ask each other whether we have better things to do, but if you want people to know about your company you have to be there. It is just a new competitive weapon.”
Tapping CEO ego could be a profitable way for LinkedIn to boost its advertising revenues while keeping its content production costs in check. But the strategy’s success depends on two factors: LinkedIn users find enough Influencers who produce must-read content and LinkedIn can sell enough sponsored content that does not turn off those users.

With LinkedIn’s stock down 12% from its high — and trading at a P/E of 516, Roth will have to do better than 63% growth to justify the stock’s valuation.

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