September 24, 2020

While I don’t usually write much about LinkedIn these days, they are rolling out a whole new layout and interface as well as some new features that I thought you might want to check out. I’m assuming many of these changes were already in the works and then COVID impacted how people used LinkedIn, creating more of a need for some of these new features. More people are learning now (3 times in fact, according to LinkedIn) and more people are attending virtual events (duh!). So here’s hoping that these new features provide more functionality and accessibility to those of us spending more time on LinkedIn.

The New Layout

The biggest upfront change you’re going to notice in the new rollout (in the very near future) is the new interface on both desktop and mobile. The new design has much “less LinkedIn blue”… aka, it looks a lot more like Facebook, especially the NEW Facebook interface. That being said, the new layout is designed for a more “intuitive structure for easier navigation and discovery”.

Desktop users won’t necessarily notice much of a difference in layout or placement, but the new interface has a slightly more Facebook-esque look to it. You’ll notice the upper navigation bar is white and some of the icons (photos, video, etc.) are more consistent with icons we see on other platforms.

Mobile users will see the biggest difference in the user experience. The LinkedIn blue is definitely gone. The boxy, squared off corners are softer and the feed is much more reminiscent of Facebook. You’ll even notice those Story bubbles up top…. more about that below.

The obvious facebook-ification of LinkedIn is both an obvious evolution and a frustrating one. The reality is that people are used to Facebook and the layout and interactions there. When you create an environment that is similar and “comfortable”, chances are more users will embrace it. It’s the same reason Reels has similar functionality to TikTok and why Instagram Stories (and others) have similar nuances (swipes, etc.) to Snapchat. We are creatures of habit. That being said, it doesn’t mean that I love when other platforms copy the big ones. I kinda like when there are differences and nuances that make each platform unique.

Ok, moving on…

LinkedIn is also providing a new and more intuitive search functionality. With just one search location, you’ll find relevant results for people, events, groups, and posts. You’ll see results from both your network and those outside your network to give you more relevant results. In theory, this should also be good for us brands as we should have more discoverability on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Stories

The new LinkedIn layout is happening in conjunction with the wide roll-out of LinkedIn Stories (yes, for real). LinkedIn has been testing these in a few markets and with select users. Now they’re ready to share it with everyone! Well, sort of. They’re starting with the US and Canada first for major roll out and then moving to international markets.

And yes, Stories are exactly what you would expect. You can see the Story bubbles at the top of your home feed. They are short form content that lasts for only 24 hours. I don’t know if you can archive Stories or if that’s coming. There are stickers and filters to make them more interactive and fun. Like other platforms’ Stories, they are meant to be more raw and show a “humanized” side of your brand. And from what I can tell, yes, they’re mobile only.

But, Stories should still remain in the professional front. Please do not start sharing your vacation or family moments! Instead, focus on professional aspects of your brand. It might be things you do at work or what your work space looks like. You can share tips, ideas, news, suggestions, and more to educate and support your audience. Share what you’re reading, listening to, or what webinar you’re watching. Just keep it relevant to your brand AND your connections.

You can see from the animation above, take your photo/video or upload one, add text and stickers, and click Share Story. You can add a Story by tapping on the plus sign on your profile photo. It also looks like if you have a page associated with your profile, that appears with a plus sign right next to your profile photo, making it easy to add Stories to your brand account/page as well. In all transparency, I have no idea if only one shows up or more. If you had 3 brand pages associated with you profile, would they all be there? I mean, those would take up your whole row of visible Stories so that seems silly….

And much like all the other Stories out there, you can reply to someone’s LinkedIn Story. There’s a reply box at the bottom of the Story where you can type a message or use a quick reply emoji. And, yes, you guessed it, those messages go to the LinkedIn inbox/messages.

LinkedIn did show up with a couple new “unique tools” for their Stories which are pretty cool. The first is the Question of the Day sticker which allows you to ask a daily question to break the ice, open conversation, help your connections, and more. Things like “What are you working on today?” or “What’s motivating you today?” would be examples of how to use this. But I’m sure you could come up with creative ways to use this for your brand. It might be asking about something in your industry news or asking trivia questions about your industry. Get creative!

The other unique tool they are introducing is localized stickers. These are stickers specific to that geographical area. They may feature a specific language or emoji of a recognizable feature in that area. I can totally see fun ways to mix in these stickers to better connect with your connections and highlight your brand.

New Messaging Features

LinkedIn is also adding some much needed new Messaging features. For how much active LinkedIn users rely on their inboxes, it’s about time we got these features!

First up is bulk management. Yes, you can now select more than one message and perform bulk actions (like deleting them all, archiving them, or marking read/unread).

The other feature I’m super excited about is the ability to edit or delete a message already sent! Seriously, YES to this. And deleting it does delete it for all participants, not just you. So the next time you make a typo, send the wrong person a message, or otherwise flub up, you now have options to correct yourself.

Additionally, they’re also introducing the option to reply to a message with an emoji. Quick, easy, and no words needed!

Video Meetings

And, finally, LinkedIn is making it “easier” to host video meetings via the platform. You can integrate with Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans by Verizon, or Zoom directly into your LinkedIn messages to have face-to-face meetings.

While this sounds cool, and I’m sure some people are super excited about this, we all know I’m one button Jenn and the need to integrate with other tools to get this tool to work gets into too many tools for me 

In all honesty, yes, if you want to conduct meetings with people in different areas that use different tools and we all don’t want to download another messaging app, this could be helpful. But I don’t see a ton of application to this personally.

LinkedIn has long touted themselves as place to create “economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce”. They’re anticipating (and hoping) that these latest changes provide more of that opportunity while allowing professionals to be more “productive and successful”. I guess time will tell how many of these features pick up steam and durability on LinkedIn. In the meantime, they’re going to be available for you to try out and experiment with to see what works for you and your brand.

For more from LinkedIn on these changes, visit their blog post for news and updates.

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