Having spent more than a decade on LinkedIn, and having built my business around teaching others how to use the platform, I’ll admit I’m a bit biased when it comes to getting fired up about LinkedIn.

But I have to say, given where I see LinkedIn headed in 2016 (and beyond), there’s reason to be excited!

Why I’m So Optimistic About The Future of LinkedIn

What I love about LinkedIn is that the platform is making it easier than ever to perform personalized, 1-on-1 marketing that leads to sales as a natural result.

Of course, it is NOT about blasting out sales pitches to strangers or interrupting people with a commercial for your product … instead, it’s about identifying your ideal audience, reaching out to those people to connect, engaging them on a personal, 1-on-1 level, building trust and likability, demonstrating value and expertise with content you share, and then selling them your product or service as a result.

As we head into 2016, there are three big, bold developments I see coming to LinkedIn, and all of them are ideal for you to utilize when it comes to doing what I just described above.

So let’s get to it!

LinkedIn Bold Prediction #1: Native Video is Coming!

I’ve already touched on the fact that LinkedIn is now allowing videos to autoplay in the desktop newsfeed.

If you haven’t noticed it already, watch this video to see how it works:

Online video is all but mandatory in today’s marketplace, and best of all it’s easy and affordable to create.

Most importantly, nothing works better online at building the “Know, Like and Trust” factors critical to any sale than seeing and hearing you talking directly to me as a prospect … i.e. video!

Now, when I say “native” video is coming to LinkedIn, I mean this: Soon, I believe LinkedIn will enable us to upload video files directly from our phone or computer directly onto LinkedIn, instead of having to first use a third party provider like YouTube or Vimeo.

Following Facebook’s Lead

We saw native video explode on Facebook during 2015, both with original content and paid ads. (The same with Twitter, by the way.)

In addition, Facebook “encourages” its users to upload video files directly to the platform (instead of using a service like YouTube) by only allowing Facebook-native videos to autoplay in its newsfeed. Videos from third party services like YouTube or Vimeo don’t autoplay on Facebook, and they also aren’t given as much visibility or preference on the site.

The reason for “native video” is simple: LinkedIn doesn’t want you leaving the site to go watch a video on YouTube or Vimeo. They also don’t want a third party like YouTube getting to collect more views, opt-ins, subscriptions, etc., all of which are happening anytime someone watches a YouTube video anywhere online.

Also, the more LinkedIn can get us to create and share “native” content on the site, the more time we spend on it, the more money LinkedIn makes in display advertising, sponsored updates, etc.

That’s one of the reasons LinkedIn is pushing so hard to have us create, share and embed original content that is hosted on this platform – from blog posts to Podcasts to videos and the like.

LinkedIn Bold Prediction #2: “Pay to Play” is Coming!

Speaking of revenue, I see LinkedIn following another popular trend pioneered by Facebook – “Pay to Play.”

What I mean in this instance is how Facebook now allows us to “boost posts” and other pieces of content to go out and reach a custom audience that we’re not already connected to.

(Of course, Facebook also now charges us just to reach our existing fans with content on our Facebook Fan pages, but that’s another rant for another time.)

LinkedIn’s Advertising platform is, to put it nicely, not what it could or should be … yet.

For example, it doesn’t make sense for us to buy display Ads on LinkedIn when the cost is $5 or $6 per click (or more), and right now you can only do “Sponsored Updates” from a LinkedIn Company Page – not your individual account.

You can also pay to send people 1-on-1 LinkedIn messages via InMail, but that’s not what I want to focus on here.

Instead, I’m talking about the ability for us to use our individual LinkedIn profile to “boost” our status updates, blog posts and other pieces of content.

For example, I wrote blog post a while back titled, “How Financial Planners and CPAs Can Use LinkedIn to Get More Clients.”

Imagine if LinkedIn gave me the option to pay to have that post show up in the newsfeed of Financial Planners and CPAs I’m not already connected to but want to get in front of.

Assuming my post provides some free tips/value to that audience, and that I can generate some inbound leads via email list opt-ins or webinar signups via a form at the bottom of the post, it’s win-win for everyone, right?

I think we’ll see this approach coming soon … with more than 400 million members in 200+ countries to tap into, LinkedIn would be crazy NOT to do it!

LinkedIn Bold Prediction #3: LinkedIn Training is Coming!

LinkedIn dropped $1.5 billion back in 2015 to buy online training website Lynda.com for a very specific reason: Teaching Sells.

And while the transition has been quiet so far, we’re soon going to see much more of a direct presence here on LinkedIn in terms of online training courses being offered for purchase.

LinkedIn has made it clear that the site aims to be a “one stop shop” for professionals worldwide, meaning it’s the one place you come daily to:

  • Find a job.
  • Hire an employee.
  • Get news about your industry.
  • Network with other professionals.
  • Find new business partners and customers.
  • Get online training and skill development for yourself or your employees.

To put into perspective how big online learning is, consider that in 2011, about $35.6 billion was spent on self-paced e-learning worldwide. In 2014, e-learning was a $56.2 billion industry,and that number was expected to double by the end of 2015.

Sites like Lynda.com and Udemy already offer a plethora of online training courses and programs you and I can purchase to improve our skills or learn more about a specific topic within our industry.

In addition to buying Lynda.com’s existing catalog of courses, I can see LinkedIn offering to let you and me upload our training programs as well, and of course with LinkedIn running and hosting everything here on the platform.

And if LinkedIn follows the Udemy-style monetization of, “You create the course, upload it to our platform, and sell it for a set price, and we get a cut of every sale you make,” it’s another way to bring its audience valuable, crowdsourced training programsand make money without doing anything other than providing the space to host the party.

See where this is all headed?

Listen to the Podcast!

FYI, I also recently recorded a LinkedIn Riches Podcast Episode covering this topic of bold predictions for LinkedIn in 2016, and you can listen via iTunes, Stitcher or via Soundcloud!