LinkedIn Unveils ‘Follow’ Feature for ‘Influencers’

LinkedIn now allows its users to follow "INfluencers," including Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

Last Updated: October 2, 2012 @ 9:21 AM

LinkedIn now allows you to link up with the bigwigs, from President Barack Obama to Arianna Huffington.

The career-centric social network unveiled a new feature Tuesday morning, allowing the its more than 175 million members to follow a slate of 150 influential members, including the president, business executives, bloggers and self-help coaches.

Much like Twitter's verified process, LinkedIn said it plans to add more influencers — billed as "INfluencers" — to the list, but must first screen candidates to ensure they will broadcast helpful advice over the network.

The current list includes the president and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney, along with Virgin Group's Richard Branson, oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, Craigslist founder and internet mogul Craig Newmark, chef Marcus Samuelsson and members of the website's news staff.

Also read: LinkedIn Value Skyrockets in IPO

LinkedIn is banking on its newly-anointed club of influencers to share written posts, videos and photos, which will appear in the site's news feed, similar to that of Facebook.

One of the first people to do so was WME co-CEO Air Emanuel, who wrote a post titled "The Six Lessons I Live By."

Emanuel mixed humility — "Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and move our of their way" — with maxims — "fail often, fail quickly."

He touched on a frightening personal experience — being hit by a car — and offered a critical piece of advice in a digitized age.

"When I started in the business, there were four broadcast networks and 19 cable networks. Now there are five broadcast networks, 117 cable networks, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, HBOGo, iTunes, Amazon Prime, VOD – the list goes on and on," Emanuel wrote. "Next year there will be more distribution platforms, and in ten years the landscape will have shifted another 180 degrees.:

LinkedIn's new feature comes one year after Facebook, hoping to expand users' horizons outside their friend circles, unveiled a "subscribe" option, funneling posts from journalists and celebrities into subscribers' news feeds.

But while LinkedIn struggles to keep users glued to its homepage, more than half of Facebook's 955 million users visit the site at least once a day.

However, LinkedIn has fared better since becoming a public company in May 2011. Its $45 initial public offering price has more than doubled in the last year, while Facebook's stock has plummeted by more than 40 percent since it began trading stock publicly for $38 last May.

LinkedIn's stock price closed Monday at $117.94, but fell slightly in early morning trading.