LinkedIn Links With Twitter


by Tony Kontzer

Just a few short weeks ago, I wrote here that Twitter had no intention of adapting itself to capture the corporate market and would instead focus on continuing to grow the global conversation. Turns out Biz Stone & Co. had a little something up their sleeve.

The company's newly revealed partnership with LinkedIn, which calls for LinkedIn subscribers to be able to tweet from their accounts and vice versa, signals a pretty major step toward the corporate market for Twitter. And given that so much attention is devoted to Twitter's lack of a business model, it's worth noting that the move gives Twitter access to millions of professionals who've deemed social networking to be worth a closer look.

It's a logical step in Twitter's evolution to establish closer ties with the business world. Growing numbers of companies are starting to use Twitter and other social networking sites as marketing and customer service platforms, business communication tools, and recruitment channels. It's an evolution that appears to have caught the Twitter brain trust somewhat by surprise. In a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, Stone tells Benny Evangelista that "The business use case for Twitter is turning out to be very important."

It took until now for him to see this?

Meanwhile, the partnership gives LinkedIn a level of visibility it's never enjoyed before. For many long-time LinkedIn users, the site has become more of an obligation than a business platform, as they've discovered the joys of Facebook and Twitter, and have let their LinkedIn accounts stagnate. Perhaps having Twitter capabilities on LinkedIn will fuel use of the service, particularly among existing users who'd worried that its competitors had passed it by.

And the implications of the Twitter-LinkedIn partnership are larger for the social networking arena in general than for either Twitter or LinkedIn specifically.

The deal is a sign that social networking has morphed from a lunchtime and after-hours distraction into a legitimate business tool. It's also a sign that social networking services need to hit both sides of the spectrum. They must deliver a combination of practicality and distraction, and they need to allow for both serious business-related activity and random observations. By straddling those very different functions, social networking sites can enjoy the best of both worlds: corporate value and creative release.


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