The option, announced on LinkedIn’s blog on Monday, is similar to Liking a brand on Facebook or following them on Twitter. Followers will receive automatic updates from the brand in their LinkedIn feeds.
As Mike Grishaver, senior product manager for Company Pages explains in the the blog post, if you see the Follow Company button and, as long as you are logged onto LinkedIn, you will automatically follow the company. If not, you’ll be asked to log on to Linkedin. So far, American Express, AT&T and Starbucks, among others, have committed to adding the button.
The addition of the new follow company button comes after the social network — which now claims 150 million members — has offered various social media plug-ins over the years. In 2010, LinkedIn introduced a “share” button that let users share articles they like with people in their network. Later that year, the social network rolled out a “recommend” button that brands could install on their websites. Recommend behaves similar to the follow button, so the change may be one of semantics more than anything else. The effort is also part of LinkedIn’s longstanding strategy of positioning itself as a marketing platform for brands.
A LinkedIn rep says the new button “marks the first phase of LinkedIn’s follower ecosystem strategy that will unfold over the coming weeks,” though she did not offer any further details. Internal research shows that 70% of LinkedIn’s members follow or would follow a company on LinkedIn and 60% expect industry insights as well as news from the companies that they follow.