Social networks need to evolve to keep up, and Xing is no exception. The German LinkedIn rival is investing heavily right now, and it seems to be paying off – a couple of weeks ago the firm reported the addition of 436,000 members in German-speaking countries during the first half of the year.

And now it appears Xing is trying a new angle on its game: according to Netzwertig, the social network is trying out an newsletter that aggregates industry news that’s relevant to the user. ThinkLinkedIn Today, only with a greater focus on the email aspect.

It’s interesting timing, given the legal brouhaha in Germany right now surrounding copyright and its applicability to headlines and brief news snippets. In Xing’s favour, the most recent draft of that new ‘ancillary copyright’ law only targets search engines. However, a third draft is imminent and that could see a return to the first draft’s inclusion of news aggregators in its remit.

Outside of German-speaking countries, the same issue has most definitely hit news aggregators, specifically the Norwegian firm Meltwater.

One of Meltwater’s businesses is very similar to that being tested out by Xing: the sending of keyword-specific news alerts to business customers. In the UK, the courts have ruled against Meltwater in a case launched by a newspaper association, and AP is now suing the firm in the US.

Assuming Xing manages to avoid such troubles, it still faces the more general problems around social network email alerts. Fact is, people don’t pay much attention to them. Even if they don’t disable them, most sane people direct such alerts to a lesser-used email account.

That said, if the alerts are even moderately successful, they could pay off particularly well for business-oriented social networks such as Xing and LinkedIn. For such networks, people tend not pay much attention at all until they’re looking for a job (which is why ExploreB2B’s more Quora-esque approach has an opportunity).

If Xing’s news aggregation service sees the light of day, and if it’s done right, it could be a valuable tool in the quest for customer retention, and maybe further growth.

Source: GigaOm

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