LinkedIn University Pages just launched.
Seems like a great tool for students. They can shop for colleges, network, and gain an edge in preparing for the job market. They can even see what recent graduates are making and see the profiles of alumni working for top Fortune 500 companies. It’s like a Rolodex for the pre-workforce population [Note for Millennials: A Rolodex is a clunky old desktop card file with names and phone numbers.]
It’s a great tool for Universities, too. Besides having yet another point of contact with past, present, and future students, LinkedIn for Universities opens up new ways to support fundraising, promote events, cross-market programs, and reach out to potential speakers, sponsors, and faculty.
But what about us marketers?
There’s an old saying: “Academia is a dog eat dog world. But in the business world, it’s just the opposite.” So how will LinkedIn University pages put food on our plate? Our initial take:
Demographic insights. College students are consumers. The more we know about them, the better. LinkedIn’s business groups offer some interesting stats on the composition of each member base. If they offer the same reporting on University page usage, it might shine some meaningful light on the makeup of the student user base. The issue: How willing will LinkedIn be to share data without linking it to an ad buy?
Professional networking. University pages enable you to find fellow alums, and view that universe by where they live, the companies they work for, and what they do there. These functions were possible without the University page product, but the new functions make it easier, and organize the content more cleanly.
Recruitment ads. LinkedIn offers to help you “reach the right students,” and “be the employer of choice” as they pitch recruitment ad placement. But it’s not clear yet whether the new U-pages will actually connect employers with qualified candidates. Our advice: Wait and see.
Research. We at drinkcaffeine have long maintained that social media is as much a research engine as a marketing tool. LinkedIn University pages are no different. Observing the type of content being posted will say a lot about how universities are branding themselves, how students perceive them, and how social and professional networking will converge.
LinkedIn is tapping into a younger market but staying aligned with their initial goals of professional networking. They are also creating huge opportunities to increase their revenue by focusing on an industry (for-profit colleges) that spent nearly $4.2 billion in marketing and recruiting in 2009.
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