LinkedIn’s post-IPO offerings and opportunities

A month after its debut as a public company, Wall Street seems to love LinkedIn, as evidenced by analysts predictions this week. Nor is the professional social network resting on its laurels post-IPO. The company has introduced several new initiatives over the past six months, and in June, it made moves that include testing a new, social ad format, hiring a journalism pro to help with content initiatives and adding syndication features to its jobs platform.

These moves are geared to increase member usage and value for advertisers, and here’s what each might bring to LinkedIn’s overall growth strategy:

  • Social ad format: Borrowing an idea from Facebook ads, LinkedIn is testing a new format that uses information from a user’s network connections and activities to serve them more targeted ads. An example of this might be a recruiting ad that includes contacts at the company that could refer the user. With this initiative, the company is smartly tapping into its professional contact information to raise its advertising value — and presumably price. LinkedIn is, however, being pretty sensitive about potential privacy concerns here: It enables users to opt-out of these ads and it hides the data from the advertiser.
  • News and content: LinkedIn hired Daniel Roth, Fortune’s digital editor, to work on LinkedIn Today as well as other content projects. A few savvy editors can help with LinkedIn’s news curation and aggregation strategy more efficiently than hiring a lot of original content creators. Similarly, the company is adding sharing integration with SlideShare and creating a SlideShare section for Today as it hopes to leverage user-generated content and professional connections toward its aim to increase usage frequency and duration.
  • Job application plug-in: Sites will soon be able to add an “Apply with LinkedIn” button to job postings on their websites. This is a much more logical LinkedIn platform plug-in than product or content recommendations. It could encourage wider LinkedIn sign-in service adoption, and contribute to LinkedIn’s objective of housing a user’s professional identity: the LinkedIn profile as identity and resume.

Despite these new offerings, LinkedIn nonetheless faces fierce competition from Facebook, Google and Twitter when it comes to leading in the social media space. Those sites have better access to information about people’s interests, which is more widely useful for advertising and shopping. But LinkedIn’s best chance to establish its APIs and technology platform is as a professional-identity authenticator, meaning LinkedIn could give its members the digital equivalent of a business card, but with the trusted authority of the LinkedIn name behind it. Besides professional relationships — hiring, of course, but also buying, selling and sales leads — such an authenticated identity could play a role in contracts and payments systems.

LinkedIn has its work cut out for it competing. It will have a hard time adding yet another recommendation button on sites, so its sign-in feature could be the most appealing part of its platform, especially for companies offering information about business content and services, travel or technology. I go deeper into LinkedIn’s post-IPO strategies in a new research note at GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

Image courtesy of flickr user nan palmero