As of Monday, LinkedIn offers a new product aimed at making it easier for employers to share company- and industry-specific content — and help their employees do the same. Called LinkedIn Elevate, the stand-alone app focuses on content that has been preselected by curators — and sometimes algorithms — for employees to share on their own social media accounts on platforms such as Twitter and (of course) LinkedIn.
The way it works, according to a LinkedIn spokesperson, is that a company's "curators" (usually, but not always, a social media manager) can set up "topics," to which employees can subscribe based on their interests and duties. Elevate serves them content — mostly articles and blog posts — based on these topics, which the employees can then share with their personal social networks seamlessly and right from the app.
A LinkedIn spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that, in many cases, people want to share work-related content, thereby raising their social profiles and improving their work prospects, but they're not sure how best to go about it.
"Some companies don't encourage their employees to be social because they worry about what they'll say," said the LinkedIn spokesperson. "And lots of employees shy away from sharing because they fear they'll say something that will get them fired. We're really excited about Elevate because it overcomes those challenges by providing employees with content they know has their company's seal of approval."
The conceit is that providing a stream of easily shareable, company-approved posts is good for the employee, in that it raises the profile of his or her professional brand, and the employer, insofar as it's another way to get news about the company or the industry out to the public. LinkedIn points to data from the Elevate trial — participants include Unilever, Adobe, and Quintiles — to prove this point. According to a press release published Monday morning, "employees who participated in the pilot shared six times more often than in the months leading up to the pilot." Every Adobe employee who shared content via their participation in the Elevate trial "drove three to four new trial downloads for Adobe solutions," according to a quote from Cory Edwards of Adobe's Social Business Center in the press release.
Elevate also includes a suite of analytics aimed at helping employers figure out exactly how their employee's content sharing behavior is contributing to the bottom line.
There are a few ways to look at something like Elevate. On the one hand, it's a means of informing employees about good, industry-specific content; making it easy for them to share it; and enabling people to deepen their understanding of the field in which they work.
But Elevate is a paid product — something companies are, in theory, willing to shell out for with the express intention of harnessing the value of their employees' supposedly recreational use of social media. According to LinkedIn's press release, on average, "employees have 10 times more connections than their company has followers, and" — surprise! — "people tend to be considered more authentic than companies."
Elevate is fairly openly aimed at helping companies get a piece of that personal influence. The point is to push content to workers in the hope that they will spread messages their employer wants spread. Elevate is, in short, LinkedIn's answer to an internet riddled with "tweets do not reflect the opinions of my employer" caveats.
Though employers can't require people to use Elevate, or social media at all, they can make it difficult for workers to get ahead if they're not doing their best to enhance the reputation of the company via social media. LinkedIn hopes that Elevate will create a synergy, even a symbiosis, between employee and employer, in which sharing #Content is beneficial to both parties. But creating a pipeline between a worker's social media activity and the company they work for makes that activity work. Sharing is caring, but in this case, sharing is also labor, even if it's fun. With products like Elevate, your job is not just your job, it's to promote your job as well.
As of today, LinkedIn Elevate is available by invitation, but will be available to the general public later this year.
Caroline O'Donovan is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Caroline O'Donovan at email@example.com.
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