PeopleLinx, provider of engagement and analytics software for LinkedIn, has received US$ 3.2 million in Series A funding from Osage Venture Partners, Greycroft Partners and MissionOG, among other strategic angel investors. PeopleLinx says it will use the investment to accelerate growth with Fortune 1000 customers.

Initially founded as a consulting firm in 2009 by two former LinkedIn employees, since early 2012 PeopleLinx has provided a SaaS platform that provides dashboards for more effective enterprise use of LinkedIn. The dashboards offer functionality such as best practice information, gamification and reporting tools.

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Specific functionality includes custom learning solutions that educate employees about corporate social policies and provide on-demand support, as well as an optimization module that offers tailored suggestions to improve employee profiles based on their specific responsibilities and goals.

Other features include a tool called Leverage that allows users to privately share social information and knowledge within the company and report on topics such as how the corporate brand is represented on LinkedIn and how online behavior of LinkedIn members relates to the company and its employees.

Investing in People

According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer (PeopleLinx is headquartered in Philadelphia), much of the investment will go toward adding 20 people to the existing staff of 13 full-time employees and 25 contractors by the end of 2013. PeopleLinx executives were also quoted as saying LinkedIn has opened its API “to license and attract an ecosystem of small firms promoting common products” similar to what large tech companies such as Google, Salesforce and Facebook have done.

In conjunction with the financing, Dave Hanna from Hanna Ventures and Nate Lentz of Osage Venture Partners will join PeopleLinx's Board of Directors. Ian Sigalow of Greycroft Partners will join as an observer.

Competing with HootSuite

PeopleLinx is not the only solutions vendor providing applications designed to enhance the LinkedIn experience for enterprise users. One of its most notable competitors is social media management technology vendor HootSuite, which earlier this month released LinkedIn Company Pages analytics for Pro and Enterprise users.

HootSuite debuted the Snapshot analytics tool for LinkedIn Company Pages. It shows total followers, new follower metrics, impressions and engagement. There's also a tool called the Company Update Engagement module that provides in depth analysis not even offered in LinkedIn's native toolkit. It can show side by side comparisons of individual posts, and popular content can be viewed either by date, update or total number of likes or comments.

Hootsuite Enterprise customers can also start targeting their Company Posts according to geography, company size, job function, seniority and industry with the Targeted Status Updates tool. This way, specific posts can go out to the targeted folks, while the normal flow of info goes out in the usual workflow.

Unlike PeopleLinx, Hootsuite does not specialize in LinkedIn applications, but provides add-on and interface tools for all major social networks. As CMSWire noted in an article about HootSuite's latest LinkedIn offering, "Social media management is a thriving niche indeed."

Any company with a unique and valuable offering has a real chance of success in this space, meaning that if PeopleLinx spends its new cash infusion the right way, there could be significant dividends down the road.