Did losing Twitter really make LinkedIn better?

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At the recent ‘TechCrunch: Disrupt Technology’ Conference held in San Francisco, LinkedIn co-founder and chairman Reid Hoffman rocked the audience when he revealed that “from a LinkedIn perspective, it improved the product to lose the Twitter connection.”

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Just three months ago, Twitter broke up its digital marriage to LinkedIn when it suspended its news feed link into the LinkedIn update reel — much to the ire of the global social networking community. Apparently the reason for this sudden departure from the world’s largest professional network was Twitter’s decision to encourage users to visit its own services rather than a different network. Said Greg Sterling, an analyst at Opus Research, at the time, “They don’t want people to consume and interact with Twitter in places where they probably have no ability to put ads.”

At the time, many analysts were left wondering just how bad this move would hurt LinkedIn, as the majority of the user updates consisted of their Twitter stream. Hoffman admitted as much when he spoke at Disrupt: “We were initially trying pretty hard to keep the relationship with Twitter, because we were concerned about the liquidity of the stream.”

That is, Hoffman and company could have been left dry and stranded without the Twitter feed, considering that most of the content flowing through users’ LinkedIn streams was made up of their Twitter accounts.

However, Hoffman’s take, 100 days on, is a different tune altogether. “When Twitter cut us off, we got better, business-focused conversation … From a LinkedIn perspective, it improved the product to lose the Twitter connection.”

It has now turned out that the prediction of Memeburn contributor David Graham was on the money. In his recent article “Are LinkedIn and Twitter becoming unsocial?”, Graham argued that “this move is good because we should be using the two platforms differently. It also discourages marketers that adopt a “spray and pray” approach with their content.”

Further on, in his opinion leader piece, Graham shared a personal story about the B2B reasons why LinkedIn users should keep their Tweeting separate from , saying that: “I am pleased in a way that this has happened, as it will thwart the spammers that broadcast continuously across all these channels.

It will also encourage users to manage their conversations independently too. LinkedIn users are generally different from Twitter users and the tone and content of the conversations differ too. I received a request from one of my LinkedIn contacts a while back. He told me that he found the links I shared with him very useful but he asked if I can strip out the “other” updates which he didn’t find useful.

Graham concluded that “upon investigation I discovered that the ‘other’ updates were my Twitter conversations which a LinkedIn professional user, who is not accustomed to Twitter, would consider gibberish.”

As Gary Halbert, the great copywriter and father of email marketing, used to say, “the riches are in the niches”. LinkedIn has certainly done a great service to the business community by cutting off the Tweeting noise and focusing on keeping conversations to the point. Since the breakup with Twitter, LinkedIn has been hard at work to introduce new functionality for its members:

  • Homepage redesign: Introducing a simpler homepage
  • New layout for LinkedIn Pages: Introducing a new look for company pages
  • College pilot programme: Introducing our College Pilot Program

    And of all the tech IPOs in the past year, LinkedIn has fared the very best: The company’s shares have more than doubled over the past 52 weeks, whilst others such as Facebook have nose-dived. Maybe it is time for the LinkedIn community to turn around to Twitter and thank the microblogger for walking away – after all, in a digital world full of noise and distraction, many a time less is more.

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