World News Publishing Focus by WAN-IFRA

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LinkedIn connects with business news publishing.

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LinkedIn connects with business news publishing.

LinkedIn, the social networking site aimed at building professional ties and contacts, is increasingly attracting the attention of news media players as a result of its bold forays into the world of publishing. By ramping up the amount of original content it features, the business tool is in a unique position to combine social networking and specialised economic news reporting. But while other media outlets lack LinkedIn’s social clout, the business news model more generally is one that continues to offer publications healthy circulation figures and a pathway to profitability.

“Don’t be surprised to see LinkedIn starting to break news just like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times ,” writes Shaqat Islam in an article for AdAge . The social media platform already serves as a feeder to financial articles on outside sites through its LinkedIn Today aggregation service, revamped at the beginning of May to include “channels” designed to help members tailor the information they receive to specific subject areas. However, as Islam points out, LinkedIn is beginning to generate original content that directs its 230 million strong audience to its own pages. This is primarily achieved through the “Influencer” section of the Today’s News section, which allows 250 of the network’s most influential business people to produce custom-made content.

In July, Richard Branson wrote the Influencer post “What Inspires Me: Game-Changing People Everywhere” and this month head of WWP Martin Sorrell penned an article titled “Why Most of Our Business Will Be in Fast-Growth Markets and Digital Within 5 Years,” exclusively for LinkedIn users. The idea that LinkedIn could begin to challenge traditional news organisations became even more concrete after the company acquired popular newsreader Pulse , as WAN-IFRA reported back in May.

A marriage of social media and high-quality business content has also been attempted by the Financial Times . With an average daily print and online readership of 2.2 million, the paper has established a Google+ account delivering image-rich content carefully tailored to readers’ interests. At the same time, other traditional business titles are finding that even without a social networking edge, expansion across digital platforms is paying off. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) announced on Monday that it had recorded its highest paid circulation figures since it began publishing 91 years ago. Publishing 10 editions a year, HBR revealed that it had 14,639 “non-replica” digital subscribers at the end of the June reporting period and paid print subscriptions rose 7.3 percent on a year-to-year basis. Perhaps buoyed by this historic success, HBR will add a bi-monthly French edition to its international output, according to a report by Les Echos .

Even media orgs not directly concerned with business news are looking to publications specialising in financial and economic news as a foundation for viable business models. In an interview to mark the relaunch of controversial tech site The Kernel , founder Milo Yiannopolous told Press Gazette : “I want The Kernel to be The Spectator or The Economist of tech, appealing to educated laypeople as well as those within the industry.”

This combination of catering for a specialised readership whilst producing high-quality journalism that attracts a more general public has already proven to be a hit for the WSJ and the FT. LinkedIn however can afford to rely less on attracting paying traffic in order to focus more on advertising. Thanks to its existing user-base, LinkedIn can skip the sometimes long process of building up its credibility amongst business people and pass directly on to wooing advertisers. The fact that the social network has access to the kind of personal data on readers of its content that advertisers are always seeking to get hold of means this shouldn’t be too arduous a task.

If Facebook makes good on its promise to become “the best personalized newspaper in the world,” and LinkedIn continues to develop in the same vein, “social news” won’t just mean stories and articles shared via networking sites. Rather, the social platforms themselves will become primary content producers.