Nine months after Microsoft closed the $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, we’re still wondering why the software giant wanted the social network so badly. It appears as though LinkedIn has only just begun to be integrated into Microsoft products; the LinkedIn business unit continues to cost more than it brings in.However, something unexpected has been happening – it looks as though they really are connecting to opportunity. LinkedIn has become more than just a place to park one’s digital resume; it has established itself as an essential destination for marketers looking to reach an executive audience. Over the last two years, LinkedIn has pumped up its publishing platform, tamped down the spam, streamlined its mobile and desktop apps, and introduced new lead-generation and targeting tools. In August, the network unveiled a posse of third-party partners to help marketers create and manage campaigns. At press time, the company had begun to roll out the ability to host native video directly on the site. It’s not exactly a head-to-toe makeover, perhaps, but not the same old LinkedIn, either. Less buttoned-down and more accessible, it’s become a real social network for real business people—a strategy shift that’s paying off for many publishers and brands.

LinkedIn has another big advantage over other, more social networks. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, it’s not besotted with fake profiles, fake news, and angry invective. As a result, it’s become a kind of refuge for real people who want to discuss ideas, not hurl insults or swap memes. Authenticity and polite discourse are two reasons why business periodicals have embraced LinkedIn as a publishing platform. Along the way, LinkedIn also enhanced its advertising and sales tools. Advertisers can install code on their sites that let them create richer user profiles and track conversions from LinkedIn, such as event sign-ups and white paper downloads. Marketing pros can create more precisely targeted LinkedIn campaigns, and users can now auto-fill lead generation forms with a single click

The social network has half a billion professionals who are happy to keep using what it’s best at—connecting talent to opportunities at scale—far from the turmoil and the trolls.

 

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Elle Toms

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