LinkedIn Goes for the Youth as it Unveils University Pages

linkedin logoLinkedIn has been very successful over the years with its original market: professionals. The social media platform has always been seen as “the serious one.” It’s not as if employees at LinkedIn sit on their haunches though. They make improvements to LinkedIn regularly that enhance its usefulness for both businesses and users alike. This morning they announced the creation of University Pages and will open up access to teenagers 13+.

LinkedIn Expanding to an Important Demographic

Back near the end of May, a lot of reports were coming out about how Facebook was losing ground with teens. I even wrote a post about it for CEM. The youth demographic is important, especially for companies that rely on having lots of users.

LinkedIn told Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch that the new University Pages and access for teens over 13 years old “are really the first step[s] towards a longer vision to help students, parents, and university faculty get a head start on career mapping.”

It’s also a way to get users into the LinkedIn universe at an earlier age and to keep them around longer. Some people may be worried adding young teens to the service will take away from its value. Sure, kids can be crazy and rebellious at times, but I think LinkedIn’s design seems to prevent and discourage postings or actions that a teen knows would threaten their potential in the future.

“If I’d had this tool 15 years ago…”

Sure there are plenty of benefits to this for teens and universities. Anything that increases communication and helps form some kind of relationship is great. The University pages will act very much like dedicated business pages do. This means teens could look at these pages and find out information about alumni and the careers they actually ended up working in. As Jolie O’Dell admits on Venture Beat, “If I’d had this tool 15 years ago, I could have seen that my college was, in reality, a much better choice for music teachers than performers and nurses or biologists than writers.” Might we see better choices from teens with this tool? Maybe.

The Future Looks Good, and So Does the Present 

This is definitely a great move for LinkedIn to pursue. It won’t go into effect until September 12th, however, and will continue to grow moving forward. Mike Isaac over at All Things D reminds us that LinkedIn is “one of the few consumer internet company IPOs in recent times to consistently perform well financially.” I see adding teens as just another step in the smart decisions LinkedIn has made over the years.

There’s no doubt that LinkedIn will receive a swell of new users when this happens. The changes may also improve user interaction from alumni and professionals that have a relation with the hundreds (probably thousands) of universities that will be signing up for their own pages.

Most importantly, expanding their user base and encouraging more interaction further solidifies LinkedIn’s niche in the social media market. As Glenn Solomon writes for TechCrunch, “the heart of LinkedIn is its remarkably large data set of professional information on individuals and companies.” With the changes announced today this heart only gets bigger and better.

What do you think about teens using LinkedIn?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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