For a short couple of years, LinkedIn’s Influencers Program was one of the most meaningful publishing initiatives in recent history. All of the sudden users had access to personal insights from Richard Branson, who seemed to immediately recognize the opportunity it provided for personal branding, then Bill Gates joined, and HP CEO Meg Whitman. Tony Hsieh began teaching us how Zappos reinvented customer service, or reinvigorated it, or brought it back to basics: treat your customers how you’d want to be treated. Michael Bloomberg delivered a commencement speech in the form of a blog post. Life is short, he told the class of 2014, it’s also not linear. Arianna Huffington explained how Zen meditation was helping lower suicide rates among Japan’s despairing youth.
It was interesting and fun. It’s not every day that you get to peek inside the minds of some of the brightest and most influential people in the world, and at such a constant rate. Of course there were the occasional promotional posts. Lots of lists. Some topics were beaten to death: how to be a great leader, the fruits of failure, overcoming fear. But overall, it was amazing, and there was nothing else quite like it.
Now LinkedIn has opened up the publishing platform to all users, which will effectively make it the largest content marketing platform in the world. My recommended content list, which used to fill my head with wonder and all sorts of new ideas, is now mostly garbage. It’s all lists of the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 things all successful people have in common, life-changing lessons I can learn from anything that happens to be in the news that day, and how I should dress, sit, and shake hands in job interviews.
Many of the original Influencers are still there, but it’s not the same. What was once arguably my favorite content provider is now something entirely different. I don’t blame LinkedIn for making the transition. It makes perfect sense for the business, but I’ll miss how it used to be.