Progress Social Media Guru Becki Murison analyzes the social landscape in light of Microsoft’s big acquisition of LinkedIn, and the challenges and risks for MS.
Microsoft, as has been widely reported, just bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Like Progress, Microsoft is a powerhouse of great technology. Constantly making acquisitions of great organizations, great software and great people. The problem with all these acquisitions is sometimes that greatness can get lost in a massive company.
When Progress launched its new brand last month, we knew we had to act with real intention and have a solid plan or it wouldn’t work. Microsoft is not rebranding, of course, but such a massive acquisition requires similar considerations and goals.
As someone who works in social media every day I have to say I have my concerns for the very unique social network that is LinkedIn. However, I also think, done right, there is so much Microsoft can bring to the table.
Recently a similar type of acquisition failed. Facebook, then as now one of the top social media networks, decided to try its hand in the software development and hosting world when it acquired the company Parse back in 2013. However, in January of 2016 Facebook announced it would be phasing out Parse to end support in the following year, much to the chagrin of the developers who relied on it. They chose to move too far away from their traditional services without a solid enough plan. Will this be the case with Microsoft and LinkedIn?
There is also the worry we may have a Google+ situation on hands. Google is a fantastic tech company but they were not really ready for social when they launched, and the social network now gets lost within the larger company. Yes, both Google+ and LinkedIn traditionally succeed very well in certain markets, but LinkedIn had started to bust out of their shell while staying true to their audience.
Rather than just being an online home for your resume or a site to find talent, they expanded and created an environment for business sharing. They introduced an algorithm, so shares weren’t just time based and they expanded the type of content you could share. It has become a place to keep in contact with old coworkers, find out what companies are up to, and more importantly find out what is relevant to your business life in a variety of ways. After the acquisition, will we continue seeing these sorts of innovations out of LinkedIn, or will the focus shift to integrating with Microsoft?
Microsoft has little to no experience with a public social media network. Yes, they own Yammer, an internal tool, but that’s very different, as it’s dependent on a skilled in-house implementation to be successful, and not nearly as natural to use as anything that’s public. Does Microsoft understand the kind of constant, 24/7, instant response, quick fix needs of social media service? Are they prepared to give the LinkedIn backend the makeover it has definitely needed for years, and which is currently being held together with tape and chewing gum?
If they are, LinkedIn could soar, and they could take social media for business to the next level. Or we could have another Skype, where they “update” the system and apps only to end up stripping features and the brand personality, even as the technology lives on. Whether Microsoft can pull off something big here with social, only time will tell.
Rebecca Murison is a Social Media Marketer with Progress, who is passionate about advertising, marketing, social media and technology. In her personal time she is a self-proclaimed geek, a gamer, as well as an artist, who dabbles in a number of different mediums including digital art, painting, writing music, and video.
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