In many industries it is derigeur to have a profile on LinkedIn, the service is vital for business networking, for making yourself approachable to vendors, customers, recruitment consultants and colleagues.
It is not a site where you go for social or non-business discussions or even to engage with potential clients / customers.
So suggestions that Microsoft intends to turn LinkedIn into the future Facebook of business should be taken with a large pinch of salt.
Facebook has value because we engage with people we know on it, we like and comment on things that tell Facebook the sort of people we are – and by association what sort of people are friends are – and they can package this information up in a way that is attractive to advertisers and can generate a handsome income. We get easy social interaction, advertisers get targeted marketing opportunities and Facebook gets paid for making it all happen.
LinkedIn has very little value in this respect. Chances are that you, like many others, perform the perfunctory LinkedIn activities that good manners demand. The service even makes it easy to do this without needing to engage in any way shape or form.
Yes there is a sort of news feed, with posts published by your contacts on the service, but really apart from recruitment consultants and vendors, who have very specific search targets, how much of what you see is of any interest at all?
So if Microsoft envisions LinkedIn as a new social network, possibly with deep integration into Office 365, it has an awfully long road ahead of it. At $26bn I’d suggest it would have been better off starting from scratch.