As soon as I heard that LinkedIn had lowered its age limit to 14 in the states (age 13 abroad), I thought of three little words: college advertising budgets. Lo and behold, it rolled out its University Pages product Monday, a way for high school students to get to know college staff and alum. Brilliant. Not only can kids use LinkedIn as a resource for learning about schools, they can also create online profiles to highlight their achievements and help them get internships. This has the potential to radically change the college admissions process. Imagine a world in which your child creates one online profile as opposed to filling out multiple applications? (Only 43 colleges accept the Universal College Application.) College admissions teams could peruse student profiles and decide who to recruit, whether via targeted ads (Cha-ching for LinkinIn) or other outreach. Prediction: using certain keywords in your profile will become incredibly important– SEO for college recruiters.
This product will not only help students and colleges find each other more efficiently, it will also allow LinkedIn to tap into new advertising budgets. In the first half of 2013, colleges spent $570.5 million on paid advertising in the U.S., according to Educational Marketing Group. And let’s not forget about all the other products that target the college-bound, from storage solutions to extra-long sheets (how are those still a thing?).
LinkedIn, you impressed me with your Pulse acquisition and your evident focus on content. This paved the way for your newest endeavor, as certainly colleges will need to focus on publishing and distributing strategic content on their new University Pages. Once again, well done.
P.S. According to some informal research (think chatting over beers with some friends who work as teachers and guidance counselors), the kids are fleeing Facebook and taking to Twitter, Instagram… and soon enough, LinkedIn.