A little while back I wrote an article for SocialMediaToday on whether or not LinkedIn should even be considered a social media site. The article wasn't particularly groundbreaking, as LinkedIn has gotten some heat over its clunky user interface and unwieldy features before, but if you've read my critique you'd understand why the site's newest look has me jumping for joy. I love LinkedIn - I use it everyday - and, from what I can see, they are well on their way to becoming an actual social media website rather than just a recruiting tool. There isn't much to go off of so far but, from what has squeezed through the cracks, I can see three main things happening.
User to user interaction has received a much-needed update
And thank goodness for that. I can now see what my connections are posting! And they can post updates that I can comment on! Granted their newsfeed is looking a little Facebook-ish, but I was also happy to see they haven't gotten rid of the vital tools like the 'Who's Viewed Your Profile' box. It also looks like we'll be able to sort updates as well, which bodes well for job hunters looking at specific networks or companies. LinkedIn has always been a professional tool and I'm over the moon that they haven't given that up to widen appeal or usability. From their homepage mock-up, it looks like they've done a great job blending the best of both worlds.
They're offering analytical tools (at least in their newsletter)
Just this morning I received a very eye-catching newsletter from LinkedIn. It featured the pictures of a few of my connections, along with a number telling me what percentage of my network has changed jobs. Last year Twitter announced they'd be releasing their own set of analytical tools along with a series of other upgrades, and it seems like LinkedIn might follow suit. Right now LinkedIn is just spitting out an interesting statistic, though this statistic can be very useful if it is abnormally high or low. But I'm hoping that its part of a wider package - one that both employers and would-be-employees can use to contact the right people and keep an eye on their industry.
It's much, much easier on the eyes
Maybe this point isn't as earth shattering or useful as the others I've made thus far, but it is nice. LinkedIn was ugly. For those of us stuck with the old design it still is. I like using Facebook and Twitter because the interface is nicer and everything works together so seamlessly. But LinkedIn's color scheme was woefully outdated, and it used its overall area poorly. The newest page is neat, organized, and has a lot less white space. It may seem trivial, but social media users are a trivial lot. They'll spend more time on the websites that look nice, are easy to navigate, and are being used by their friends (or professional connections, as the case may be).
At least I know that I'll be perusing the site more when the updates finally do roll out, which is exactly what LinkedIn is hoping for. I'm also interested to see what happens when you blend the professional and social even further, and how willing the user base is to update their news feed or post articles when their next boss could be watching. It is an exciting time, and I'm looking forward to see what happens next.