Mike Isaac

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Twitter Who? LinkedIn Promotes Its Own People to Follow.

LinkedIn launched a series of promoted accounts on Tuesday, culling a select group of high-profile people whom users can follow and receive updates from regularly.

Yes, it’s sort of like Twitter — if Twitter were only for following bigwigs like Sir Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, even President Barack Obama. And instead of reading what these guys are having for breakfast, LinkedIn says they’ll share things that you actually care about.

So, from a powerful entrepreneur like Branson, for instance, you may see a list of the best ways to build your business. Or perhaps you’ll get Robbins’s thoughts on acting positive when your business is tanking.

“We’re giving you the ability to see content from influencers you care about, within the LinkedIn context,” Ryan Roslansky, head of content products, told me in an interview.

As you may recall, LinkedIn previously held a standing partnership with Twitter, wherein the former was able to syndicate users’ tweets for placement in their LinkedIn streams. It was a great deal for LinkedIn, giving the company a host of content moving through the system regularly.

At the same time, the content of those tweets weren’t always germane to what users were visiting LinkedIn for in the first place. I may, for example, be glad to see Richard Branson tweet about a competing airline when I visit LinkedIn, yet may not share the same enthusiasm to be flooded with pictures of his latest vacation.

So, natch, context is really what Tuesday’s update is all about. Come to LinkedIn for professional information, and ideally, the small test group of so-called “influencers” will be sharing things that you want to read (after you click the “follow” button, of course). It’s also a way to read up on these people without requiring that they accept your LinkedIn connection request — sort of like Facebook’s “Subscribe” button.

To boot, it’s a beginning on reintroducing content to replace the vacuum left when Twitter pulled its tweets out of LinkedIn’s streams. It’s a small beginning, mind you; the product kicks off with only so many launch partners. If the idea works, though, I imagine the product will scale and become available to more over time. More people to follow means more content flowing through the pipes, which could result in increased engagement on the site.

And who doesn’t like engagement? Especially the kind that drives page views for ads, and return visits to better the recruiting and subscription aspects of LinkedIn’s business.

Granted, this is all contingent on these people sharing quality stuff. Just because their shared posts are about professional life, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily insightful.

The update will be available to all of LinkedIn’s 175 million users on Tuesday. Just keep an eye out at the top of your stream for the folks LinkedIn recommends that you follow. And be sure to tell me if it’s actually worth reading, or if it’s merely tantamount to a tweeted shot of Branson’s morning Muselix.

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