When you think of “the king of social networks,” Facebook is the first platform that comes to mind, followed by (in no particular order) Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. Tools like Skype are not typically considered as a social network. Ambitious IT projects like Meerkat, Periscope, Facebook Messenger and even Slack fall into this intermediate space between messaging, marketing and collaboration.
That leaves LinkedIn. It’s not exactly the go to platform for catpics or puppy eyebleach, so why would Microsoft want to acquire it over other, more popular platforms?
Google Apps was (and still is) a fantastic platform for collaborative content creation, and Microsoft’s Office stumbled with its implementation of SharePoint — not simple and certainly not conducive to simultaneous collabs like Google Docs.
So what is it about LinkedIn that motivates Microsoft? Consider two things. First, Microsoft already has a very large community among its enterprise level customers and partners. Second, Microsoft has considerable experience rolling out large scale social networks aimed at enterprise with Yammer.
Now, take a leap into speculation with me. What if Microsoft is successful in fully integrating LinkedIn’s ability to conduct outreach to partners, clients, colleagues and prospects — through Office 365? What if Office 365 merged with LinkedIn?
Imagine the results — you could literally have a near-seamless connection between anyone in LinkedIn, and all of your content in the Office suite — Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more. This could be a stunning achievement for Microsoft that would set its entire productivity platform apart from everything out there.
Just one example. A prospective client asks you for testimonials, case studies and results of your company’s product or service. In one click, you enable access to this information, plus you send connection requests to your current clients who have agreed to provide you a reference. This is some of the most compelling evidence to support a purchase decision of your product or service, and given the right sales system, could make a significant impact on revenue for any business willing to take the step. Talk about a significant competitive advantage.
When you combine this data with marketing automation through tools like SalesForce, you can see how the power of intelligent profiling of prospective clients, plus automatic outreach through LinkedIn, could create a massive efficiency within the enterprise sales department.
From this point of view, Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn makes logical sense. If I were you, I wouldn’t wait for Microsoft to roll this out, and I’d begin thinking about how to anticipate this marketing architecture for my IT sales team, CRM and lead gen systems today.