What Microsoft’s Acquisition of LinkedIn Means For Your Profile (And Personal Brand!)

What Microsoft’s Acquisition of LinkedIn Means For Your Profile (And Personal Brand!)

Microsoft just acquired LinkedIn. One of the world’s largest software companies just bought the world’s largest business social network, and you can be sure – it’s going to have an effect on your online personal brand. And just so you know – I don’t think that means you’re going to be served Bing Ads!

Why Does LinkedIn + Microsoft Make Sense

When a company buys another company for more than $26,2 billion, which at $196 per share is 50% more than the stock was worth at the time, you know that they have serious plans to work together. So why did the ‘new Microsoft’, headed by CEO Satya Nadella, acquire LinkedIn?

1. The Obvious: The (Business) Network.

With millions of users around the globe, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social network. No other website or service even comes close to its ubiquity in the business world (although Berlin-based Xing has tried) or it’s acceptance in almost all industries. While there are some successful vertical networks, especially Dribbble and Behance (in the business world) for creatives and designers, none of them has achieved what LinkedIn has.

Like Facebook’s social graph, LinkedIn’s data (as well as a database) of its users will prove very useful to Microsoft, which from 2014 has been focused on its productivity offerings. At its heart, as Nadella noted back then, Microsoft is a company that can make the world’s professionals more productive. Instead of focusing on hardware or devices where other players dominated Microsoft for years, the company would go back to its roots: the apps and platforms that made Microsoft what it is; one of the world’s largest and most successful tech companies.

While Microsoft’s investment in Facebook is great niche to have, the world’s biggest social network has never actually cracked the business sphere because it’s brand just isn’t positioned as a business network in the eyes of its users. Facebook might create FB@Work and have lots of professionals in various groups, but it will never be LinkedIn. Skills, millions of CVs and connections are just the some of the data we see that LinkedIn has on the world’s professionals.

2. The Microsoft-Obvious: Social CRM Trumps LinkedIn Ads

For those not familiar with the term, social CRM refers to the use of social media services and technology to let users engage with their customers.

While the thought of LinkedIn’s data conjure up images of what Facebook has done with its Facebook Ads offering, Microsoft’s approach should be very different.

For one thing, LinkedIn’s ads platform hasn’t been doing so good lately, with LinkedIn reporting that it grew just 20 percent in Q4 2015, which might sound fine until you compare it with the same quarter of the year before when it increased 56 percent! While the combination of Microsoft Bing Ads and LinkedIn Ads might seem attractive, it wouldn’t be a large revenue driver for Microsoft compared to how important this business model is for the likes of Facebook or Google. So let’s stick with business, since – as we said – Microsoft is a productivity company in 2016.

While you might know that recruiting is important for LinkedIn (duh, a network of professionals), you might not have used LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator. Based on LinkedIn’s data on its users, the Sales Navigator is a social CRM web application that lets users browse their networks as well as its whole database for leads.

For sales people, one of the largest issues they face even in 2016, is finding qualified leads. Qualifying leads require, you guessed it, data – which LinkedIn has plenty off. So if you’re looking for a 20-something content professional with extensive experience in tech blogging with a know-how of business development to sell your content CRM to, look no further – LinkedIn will probably show you my profile.

…and that’s without you having to ‘find’ me through any advertising, content marketing, remarking of lead generation. But why would Microsoft care about leads? Dynamics.

I don’t mean the phenomenon of being dynamic. I mean Dynamics, Microsoft Dynamics, a CRM that Microsoft has promoted for years and which has struggled as part of the Cloud & Enterprise Division of Microsoft. This has fostered rumors that Microsoft might buy long-time CRM rival and industry champion Salesforce.com, an even more logical step after this week’s acquisition.

Neither Salesforce or Dynamics have a true lead generation system that is even close to what LinkedIn can offer. By integrating LinkedIn’s network and data into Microsoft Dynamics, the company is giving its CRM customer a powerful tool to grow their sales.

‘Fine, so there are legitimate reasons for Microsoft buying LinkedIn’ – I hear you say, but what does that mean to you if you’re not a user of Microsoft Dynamics or don’t expect to be buying LinkedIn Ads that soon?

The Microsoft+Linkedin Impact On Your LinkedIn Presence

What does this acquisition mean to you as someone who has a LinkedIn account and cares for their personal brand?

1. Expect Less, Not More Ads

As I’ve mentioned, Microsoft interest in LinkedIn should include combining its ad business with Bing’s, but advertising is something that even Microsoft doesn’t think it can win when compared to the established players of Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

The data that you as a user bring to the table with every login to the LinkedIn platform is far more valuable for Microsoft’s other offerings than scaring you off with an ill-targeted ad. Business users, after all, aren’t as forgiving as casual users when it comes to being served bad ads to and would pay a premium to use the network more easily and productively (hello, Microsoft).

Which is also why Microsoft doesn’t want to run ads alongside its Office365 suite of web apps and will instead charge you for using them. You’re used to paying for Word and Excel on your desktop, so why change anything?

Summary: Expect to see even fewer ads on your personal LinkedIn profile – giving potential clients and partners a better experience when exploring what you have to offer.

2. LinkedIn Becomes Even More Ubiquitous Alongside Office

While LinkedIn is very popular in the business world, nothing beats good old Microsoft Office, the working horse of any office in the world. Google Docs and Apple Pages might work sometimes, but when you expect a spreadsheet or document; it’s in Word and Excel. Why not then integrate the world’s business network and the data it offers into Microsoft Office? Well, now Microsoft can.

And that’s why it’s now even more important to have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile that serves your personal brand:

A) Microsoft will integrate LinkedIn into it’s Office offering, letting users search for LinkedIn users from inside apps like Word or Excel for numerous functions. Think of it as a light variant of an integration of a CRM app, such as Microsoft Dynamics.

B) On the flip side, Microsoft Office documents will become the default for LinkedIn, offering users the ability to send Word and Excel documents through LinkedIn’s messaging system. Could this mean a Slack-like, bot-powered messaging network based on LinkedIn to power the sending of docs between Microsoft’s users? Maybe, but you’ll need a well-optimised LinkedIn profile for that.

Summary: LinkedIn will, through Microsoft Office integration, be present in even more offices around the world, growing the network and getting even more potential partners and clients for you! So if you still haven’t set up your LinkedIn profile, go and do it now.

Microsoft and LinkedIn as a combination should change the business social network for the better if Microsoft is consistent with it’s plans for a ‘productivity focused’ company. What do you think, how will this change impact you as a user?


Ivan Brezak Brkan

The founder of the "Techcrunch of Southeastern Europe" - Netokracija - and ex-Techcrunch writer with years of experience writing about startups, technology and the domain industry!

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