LinkedIn IPO just got sweeter

As the LinkedIn IPO approaches, the company appears to be trying to re-brand itself as something more than a glorified networking hub for the unemployed, and that’s good news.

Linkedin.com – a social networking site for professionals – is trying to sweeten the pot before the company’s IPO by adding a social news function to the site. Dubbed LinkedIn Today, the news aggregating service works by pulling in links to articles and blog posts a user’s connections have shared. The theory goes that the news your business associates are reading is probably the same sort of news you’re interested in reading, too.

The gambit is well-timed to boost traffic to a site that’s already the 12th most-visited site in the U.S. (per Alexa). More traffic = more advertising revenue and that should help drive up investor interest before the company’s IPO.

[Related: 3 reasons to buy LinkedIn shares during IPO]

As of the end of 2010, LinkedIn had more than 90 million registered users and attracted about 65 million unique users to its site each month. Facebook, by comparison, has more than 500 million users, and Twitter claims 190 million. If LinkedIn Today catches on, it could significantly drive up pageviews and the amount of traffic the site receives.

Right now, LinkedIn Today is still in beta, and it’s not readily apparent when you log in. You’ve got to hover over “More” in the site’s nav bar and click “News” to get to it, but it’s easy to envision that the feature could get integrated with the site’s landing page when users log in. If the feature gets more prominent play on the site, it very well could give professionals a reason to return more frequently.

[Related: The unofficial tech IPO calendar for 2011]

LinkedIn itself warned that a “substantial majority” of its members don’t visit the site on a monthly basis in its IPO filing. That means there are a lot of dormant LinkedIn profiles out there. After all, the site’s appeal is strongest for job-seekers, and the happily employed have little reason to spend time networking on Facebook, Twitter AND LinkedIn. Still, LinkedIn appears to be trying to re-brand itself as something more than a glorified networking hub for the unemployed.

In unveiling the new feature (and a number of other tools), Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, said he wants the site to become users’ “professional profile of record” – one that helps people who are hunting for jobs and helps people perform their existing jobs.

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