Last week, Microsoft announced it was buying LinkedIn in a $26.2 billion cash deal. This is the first time in almost a decade that a tech company has moved into the social media space; Google bought YouTube in the fall of 2006. In recent years, the trend has moved in the opposite direction, with social media engines making deals on technology platforms, like Facebook’s acquisition of virtual reality innovator Oculus.
What sets the Microsoft-LinkedIn acquisition apart, however, is its distinct correlation between Microsoft products and professional networks. Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012, a social networking and communication program used specifically for intraoffice communication that has the capabilities to integrate chat, polls, events, Q&A, and more. The partnership between Microsoft and LinkedIn plays into the same theme.
“It will be interesting to see how the integration of LinkedIn and Office 365 affects two services that are already so ubiquitous in corporate environments,” noted YGS Digital Marketing Director Matt Roy. “Users may not consider social media from a technology standpoint, but this acquisition could change the way they perceive corporate social networking and its technology roots.”
It also stands to up the ante for people who exist on LinkedIn, but aren’t active participants. “If your CEO or a client has a direct link to your LinkedIn profile with every email you send or presentation you share, your profile should really represent your best professional self, especially because that reflects on your company, too,” added Marketing Manager Kali Eskew.
What may shift as a result of the acquisition is the way professionals use LinkedIn. “I have been a premium LinkedIn member for many years, and I truly believe it has helped me in my field, but the current state of LinkedIn is at a critical point,” said Corporate Sales Executive Danielle Welch. “Users more often are sharing nonbusiness-related posts that would be better suited for personal social media sites. I look forward to what I hope will be a positive change.”
The acquisition was approved unanimously by the boards of both companies, but still awaits approval by the necessary regulatory agencies. Microsoft and LinkedIn anticipate a decision by the end of this year. There are dozens of opportunities (and potential challenges) that wait to be seen as a result of this acquisition, but with a combined nearly 2 billion users worldwide, it’s likely few will be unaffected.