LinkedIn today is adding some new features to its “Influencer” program, the company’s Klout-inspired network of experts and leaders in different fields launched in October 2012, who regularly publish posts that get extra special syndication on LinkedIn’s network.
Now, users can start conversations around Influencer posts with threaded comments. And with more than 300 people in the Influencer program — some like Richard Branson with nearly 2 million followers — users can now search for them and their posts specifically through LinkedIn’s search box.
The expansion of the Influencer program is an example of how LinkedIn continues to roll out new services on its platform to get people using the site more as a social network and information hub, and less as just a place to check in only when they are looking for new jobs or people to hire. The company, at its last quarterly earnings in May, noted 225 million users but slowing revenue growth, so any more movement it makes to increase time spent on the site — either to boost advertising sales or to promote more premium, paid products — is a positive.
Other recent examples of that are the company’s enhanced infographics service on SlideShare, announced last week, as well as the many changes LinkedIn has made to its home page, and bigger acquisitions like that of newsreading app Pulse, to make the site more focused around news streams and information discovery.
The new features. Today, LinkedIn is starting to roll out threaded comments — meaning that users who reply to a post by an Influencer will now be able to start conversations and debates with people who are also reading that post. This will include the ability to mention other people to draw them into the mix, and notifications when a comment of yours has received a response. This is not unlike what Facebook introduced in March of this year with threaded comments earlier on Page posts, and is therefore an example of how LinkedIn is also hoping to get more people spending time in these posts and on the site in general. It will also make for a more useful experience for those interested in debating things like the strongest leadership qualities.
Then, taking a page from the mammoth power of Google, search is another area where social networks see some of their biggest potential for more discovery (and therefore engagement on the site). The company earlier this year revamped all of its search algorithms and at the time told me that this was laying the groundwork for introducing a lot more features. Today’s expansion to be able to search by Influencer is an example of that.
Now, LinkedIn says that users can search by Influencers, and they and their most recent posts will appear in the results. This should also help get more Influencers, who by their nature are probably not shrinking violets, interested in posting more to the site.