Is LinkedIn losing its focus?

Last week, LinkedIn announced it would lower its age limit to 14 for U.S. members and to 13 in some foreign countries. As I stated in this post, I think it’s a step in the wrong direction. LinkedIn has always been uniquely designed as a portal for working adults, and mixing in a younger audience may significantly dilute its purpose.

That’s not the only evidence pointing to LinkedIn going a little bit off the rails, however. Take this, from today’s post on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog:

Gone are the days when LinkedIn was viewed as a marketing platform strictly for B2B companies. With a growing network of over 238 million professionals on LinkedIn today, we have helped B2C brands build relationships with some of the most affluent, educated, socially influential consumers worldwide.

I think the intended response to this was supposed to be, “Great job, LinkedIn! Now my B2C company can reach customers on your site!” My response, though, was more along these lines: “Bullshit. LinkedIn’s primary benefit has always been its focus on the B2B space.”

I don’t see this as anything but a marketing ploy designed to get B2C companies thinking about putting more effort–and, more importantly, advertising dollars–toward LinkedIn. However, it may be exactly the wrong type of message to send to the B2B companies who find value in LinkedIn, somewhat at the expense of other networks. As always, the more you try to be all things to all people, you start to become nothing to anyone. If LinkedIn continues to attempt to get more people in the tepee, it may crowd out those who helped put up the tent poles up in the first place.


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