LinkedIn Today: Has It Avoided The Ping Effect?

The acronym “YASNS” is well-known in Web geek circles. It stands for Yet Another Social Networking Service. In 2011, perhaps the acronym should be “YAUSNS”: Yet Another Useless Social Networking Service. Even large, otherwise successful tech companies aren’t immune to YAUSNS. In September last year, Apple launched a music social network called Ping. It’s basically ‘Twitter for music,’ however it’s been a fizzer – despite being embedded right into iTunes. Another company at risk of what I’ll now call The Ping Effect is Amazon, which released Kindle Profiles in March of this year. It’s a social network for reading, but so far it hasn’t set the world on fire. A commenter on my Google Plus profile called it “The Ping of Books.”

Also in March, business social network LinkedIn launched a social news service called LinkedIn Today. Is this service needed, or is it simply duplicating Techmeme, Google News and similar social news sites? Let’s find out…

LinkedIn Today serves up headlines and links to popular stories across various industries, according to what your LinkedIn network has shared. You can see what others in your profession are reading and “save” articles to read later. LinkedIn Today was added to LinkedIn’s iPhone app in May and to the iPad magazine Flipboard in June.

Follow ReadWriteWeb on LinkedIn Today

How to Use LinkedIn Today

At heart, LinkedIn Today is a semi-personalized news portal. You start by selecting certain industries and news sources to follow. Your LinkedIn Today front page then serves up news from those industries and sources. For example, I am following the ‘Internet’ and ‘Online Media’ industries, among others. I also follow ReadWriteWeb, PaidContent and other sources that I like to check daily.

The way LinkedIn Today works is simple yet clever. Taking the ‘Internet’ industry as an example, it claims to serve up “the most shared news by people in the Internet Industry.” LinkedIn Today knows which industries its users are in from their LinkedIn profiles.

For example, I categorized myself in the Internet industry in my LinkedIn profile (see below screenshot).

So if I ‘share’ a tech news story to LinkedIn Today, it essentially votes that story up on the Internet industry frontpage. The same applies if I tweet it, provided that I’ve connected my Twitter profile to LinkedIn. Indeed, Twitter is probably responsible for the majority of sharing activity on LinkedIn Today.

One of the best features of LinkedIn Today is being able to see who shared a particular article. Using my own Kindle article from yesterday as an example:

I can drill down on any of those names, to see what they do for a living. (btw I’m not in the habit of sharing my own articles, I only did that one for test purposes!)

How LinkedIn Today Compares to Other Social News Services

So how does the news delivered by LinkedIn Today compare to the likes of Techmeme (more of a curated news service than a social one, but still similar) and Google News?

As with many social news services, a few publications appear to dominate LinkedIn Today. At the time of writing, the blog SearchEngineLand had the top story. It also had two other headlines on the ‘Internet’ industry page. AOL’s tech blog TechCrunch and social media blog Mashable each had two stories in the headlines. The only other sources to have a prominent headline as of writing were NYC blog Business Insider and mainstream news site USA Today, who each had one.

In comparison, Techmeme has more headlines per page and thus more sources – although it too is often dominated by just a few news sites. Google News has more of a technology bent than both LinkedIn Today and Techmeme, with services like PCWorld and Ars Technica near the top as of writing.

The Ping Effect

Overall, LinkedIn Today seems to be relatively well-used. It’s already one of ReadWriteWeb’s leading traffic drivers, which is always a good indication of the success of a social news site.

It’s fair to say that LinkedIn Today has avoided The Ping Effect. Although, it’s also never going to become the leading social news source for the various industries it covers. Specialist social news services, like Techmeme or the tech news community Hacker News, will always have a broader and deeper selection of news than LinkedIn.

But for the business-oriented user, who wants to stay on top of what others in his or her industry are reading, LinkedIn Today offers good value. In addition, the social hooks are actually useful – they allow you to find similarly minded people to connect to on LinkedIn.

Are you a LinkedIn Today user? We’d love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to add ReadWriteWeb as one of your sources in LinkedIn Today!

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