linked in signAs Patrick discussed on the CEM blog earlier this week, LinkedIn has announced that it will allow users as young as 13 years old to join the ranks of its professional elite. Supporters of this change argue that it provides career-minded adolescents and young adults with a way to start their network and learn how to become a professional. Additionally, businesses may benefit from increased access to a younger market and a wider talent pool.
Despite the benefits, preliminary reactions to this change are inciting a bit of unrest in the professional community. Although it won’t roll out until September, the changes to LinkedIn may have some impact on the current culture of the site. Let’s take a look.
Will Businesses Still Love LinkedIn?
When thinking about LinkedIn, numerous adjectives come to mind: professional, business-oriented, networking. A few of the top reasons businesses use LinkedIn are: to gain exposure to professionals and consumers, recruit new talent, and increase credibility.
- Increase Visibility: Joining LinkedIn and actively using the site are great ways to gain exposure by connecting with other businesses, professionals and consumers. Some are wondering how the addition of underage users will affect their visibility to a target audience.
- Recruit New Talent: LinkedIn has commonly been used as a top resource for professionals seeking to hire qualified individuals. Many businesses are already bombarded with employment requests and recommendations. Some argue that the addition of adolescent LinkedIn profiles will add to the volume of requests without providing much of a result.
- Credibility: LinkedIn has become synonymous with professionalism; thus, many business owners and professionals rely on LinkedIn to help build their credibility in the professional realm. Some businesses are concerned that the addition of adolescent users will devalue formerly established credibility by adding an element of naiveté. For LinkedIn lovers this is hopefully not the case, but certainly something to consider.
Can LinkedIn Maintain Its Reputation?
Only time will tell on this one. Reinvention is sometimes a necessary aspect of business that can result in success and increased brand awareness. For other companies, it spells disaster. So far, LinkedIn has done well with a 59% increase in revenue for this year’s second quarter. For the sake of LinkedIn, the internet community is pulling for the company to keep its reputation as a professionally-oriented site and not buy in to the wave of traditional social media.
What do you think of LinkedIn’s expansion to teen users? Will it affect the site’s professional respectability?
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