Mike Isaac

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With University Pages, LinkedIn Unveils Its Youthful Ambitions

1__1018×2140_If you want to hook an audience for the long haul, you need to get ’em when they’re young.

Hence the philosophy behind LinkedIn’s latest product debut, as the company rolled out its new University Pages product on Monday. The new program pairs up with more than 200 colleges and universities around the world, with LinkedIn giving each school its own dedicated page to keep followers abreast of regular news and updates from the campus.

It seems not much different from one of LinkedIn’s company pages, which allow followers to track the goings-on of a specific organization. You can look at what alumni from the university are doing now in their careers, or hook up with others who go to the school, and connect with them on LinkedIn.

Perhaps the better analogy, however, would be akin to a Facebook page. With University Pages, LinkedIn aims to go after an audience typically dominated by the more social, less professional networks: Teenagers. On Sept. 12, LinkedIn plans to open up its platform to high schoolers who want to explore it to find universities.

Since the company went public more than two years ago, LinkedIn has been widely seen as a major success, one of the few consumer Internet company IPOs in recent times to consistently perform well financially.

linkedin_380But just like Facebook, Twitter and others social networks, LinkedIn needs to focus on the most promising growth opportunities for the future. Youth and teens is an obvious demographic to tackle, but one that LinkedIn has made relatively little gain in, considering the very nature of the company’s professionally oriented service. To open up the platform to an entirely new, youthful demographic could bring a flood of fresh sign-ups.

Of course, competition here is stiff. Sites like CollegeBoard.com and U.S. News & World Report’s top-school rankings have long served as tour guides to prospective students looking for their best college match.

LinkedIn’s pitch, I imagine, will be to provide the value chain beyond just helping kids find schools. Ideally, it’s not just a college-search board — it’s an alumni network and career map, as well.

The initiative rolls out to students come mid-September, with plans to scale out to more universities and schools in the future.

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