On Friday, LinkedIn made an announcement that will yet again shake up the employee advocacy market.  

At the end of 2020, LinkedIn will merge their advocacy product (Elevate) into Pages, so that page admins can engage their employees to share directly from LinkedIn rather than via a separate product. 

As the only global "business only" social networking platform, LinkedIn pretty much owns the market when it comes to reaching out to business professionals.  

The company is slowly increasing the percentage of wallet share within their customer base.  

They're doing this by targeting the Sales budget (LinkedIn Sales Navigator), the Marketing budget (Marketing solutions and advertising) and now the Communications budget (LinkedIn Elevate).

However, this integration does make sense for several reasons:

Companies want to see the impact of employee social media activation on their recruitment strategies, sales pipeline and brand awareness.  

It also makes sense that the person responsible for curating content and engaging on behalf of the brand also leads content curation/publishing for employees.

As companies measure social media impact, it's good to see correlations between sales performance and activity levels on LinkedIn.

No-one will ever complain of having less tools to deal with :-)

This seamless approach to advocacy is what we've been seeing for a while as Sproutdeveloped Bambuand Hootsuitedeveloped Amplify.

It makes sense that there is one platform for sharing content - whether via brand social channels or employee voices.  

However, most people know that LinkedIn is quite protective of their API.  

LinkedIn doesn't like third party applications publishing to its newsfeed and shifts the algorithm accordingly making performance lower than if published directly in the platform.  

LinkedIn is also increasingly restrictive when it comes to feeding data out to third party applications for analysis.

Given the approach LinkedIn is taking, its making even more sense that customers should migrate their advocacy activity over but will customers feel nervous about putting all their eggs in one basket?

So, what's my prediction for how this will play out?

Well, for me it's an interesting move.  Whilst it's not yet clear how LinkedIn will price this going forward it will certainly send a ripple through the advocacy market.

I suspect we will see more B2B enterprise companies moving towards LinkedIn as their full Social Business provider so that there is one source of truth when it comes to the analytics.

Smaller companies probably won't be able to afford this (at least in the short term) so will probably seek to use a lower cost advocacy platform than can scale from a low user base.

B2C companies that want to engage their desk-less workforce and perhaps less reliant on LinkedIn will most likely not move towards LinkedIn.  

So, my conclusion is that this is quite a bold (but logical) move by LinkedIn.  I suspect other advocacy platforms will most likely be considering what this means for their customers and target markets.

LinkedIn are heavily encouraging customers to integrate their CRM systems into their Sales Navigator platform in order to get a wider picture of the impact of Social Selling on pipeline and revenue.

As they further integrate advocacy into that process I suspect LinkedIn are going to a place where they can see individual employee impact on sales pipeline and revenue.

With this is mind, LinkedIn might be heading to a place where they can confidently say businesses can activate their entire workforce to become part of a wider sales & recruitment team.

This will enable them to see how individual employees are contributing to referrals, introductions, pipeline, conversions, followers etc.  The list goes on.

I'm quite excited to see where this goes!  Watch this space.