In a surprise move, LinkedIn has decided to lower the minimum age limit for its accounts, aiming to help students and broaden its appeal to advertisers. The change comes at a time when its business model is already in flux and on a day when it has suffered downtime due to an unexpected bug in personal profiles.
What is this Move Likely to Mean for Businesses and for the Networking Platform Itself?
The move, LinkedIn says, is related to its recent creation of university pages and is intended to enable high school students to explore college, university and career options. In business terms, it means a new audience is available, with potential opportunities opening up for some who could get little use from LinkedIn before. It means that some existing social media marketing campaigns will have to be redesigned to take account of the new opportunity, while new adverts might be targeted at younger users.
When thinking about this new user group, it is important to consider what it is there for. With Facebook and various youth-focused networking sites already out there, it is unlikely to be used much for social purposes; instead, these young people will be there to explore the world of work, make professional connections if they can, and examine their prospective academic opportunities. Advertising aimed at them is more likely to succeed if it relates to things they are likely to need in this context. Since their focus is likely to be serious, advertising that seems too flippant or patronizing is not likely to go down well.
The other big changes happening at LinkedIn recently have to do with its increasing shift towards a pay-to-play model. Users are now told that if they pay $30 when job hunting they can see their applications go to the top of the pile. This might seem like a good idea; however, this is likely to waste money for users while proving a nuisance for employers, making it harder to sift candidates by experience and qualifications. It is also likely to lead to a shift in usage patterns that does not map to any particularly useful demographic. How this will affect the site’s revenue over the long term is not yet clear.
Though it is not yet clear if today's downtime was caused by adjustments being made to enable these changes, LinkedIn say that the bug behind the downtime is now fixed and that profiles should return to normal.
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