LinkingIn With Teens

LINKINGIN WITH TEENS: Networking giant, LinkedIn, has 225 million members in over 200 countries. Hardly enough, apparently, for the future. So as of Sept. 12, LinkedIn will open its gates to the 14- to 18-year old crowd so they can dip into the company's "University Pages." According to its blog: "We believe University Pages will be especially valuable for students making their first, big decision about where to attend college." The announcement has not exactly won over any school's cheering squad. Colin Mathews, CEO of readMedia, offers up a few critiques here, including: 

"Another headache for colleges": The pages are a new, non-owned outlet that have to be updated and maintained. Hence, another content marketing channel to compete with admissions marketing, university communications, existing social media channels, and more. Higher ed communications and social media people are already overtaxed, and even early beta testers seem underwhelmed. (The reaction on Twitter was even less charitable.)

"Not differentiated enough": There are dozens and dozens of places for high school students to learn about colleges, from the purely statistical, to the analytical, to the anecdotal. The main differentiator LinkedIn’s University Pages tout is the ability to see the careers and outcomes of university grads to help high school students see a viable career path. Yet aside from a data problem–LinkedIn doesn’t have enough information about every graduate at every school to truly map individual career goals–high school students just aren’t focused that narrowly on a career."

Frank Lyman, of myEdu, notes that college students themselves have been slow to come to LinkedIn:  "In a recent survey of over 4,000 of MyEdu’s more than 1 million members, only 37.5% of MyEdu members under 25 [1] reported that they have a LinkedIn profile. That number was small enough to surprise me, and my curiosity prompted another survey.  This time I used Google Consumer Surveys to ask a general population of 18-24 year olds in the US the same question (Do you have a LinkedIn profile?).  The results were even more pronounced.  Only 16.9% of 18-24 year olds in the US reported that they have a LinkedIn profile."

Lyman continues on to hypothesize about why college students haven't gravitated to LInkedIn. Among his reasons: the site isn't quite designed for them; it's like "your father's Oldsmobile," they haven't seriously begun to look for work yet and it makes them feel lousy because they don't have many accomplishments to stack up.

Such critiques have tremendous value. But in the past, LinkedIn has proved to be a cautious--and tenacious--player. This is likely only the beginning.

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