Here's something that anyone who uses LinkedIn on a regular basis, or even a semi-regular basis, knows: LinkedIn groups kinda' suck. Don't get me wrong, there are some great conversations happening in groups, and no doubt many people have made valuable business connections through LinkedIn community conversations, but for the most part, they're not great - they're loaded with spam, the functionality is limited, mobile access is flawed, etc.
The good thing is, LinkedIn knows this too. They've heard the complaints, just as they did about the amount of e-mails people were getting from the platform, which they've now reduced significantly. And in line with their efforts to improve the overall LinkedIn experience, the professional social network has today unveiled a major update to Groups.
In an official blog post, LinkedIn's head of groups Minal Mehta outlined the latest changes, with a whole new look and feel, along with the addition of a new, dedicated iOS app.
From the post:
"In 2004, when LinkedIn was a fledgling site with 500,000 members, we introduced LinkedIn Groups - where professionals could come to exchange their knowledge and build relationships. Today, there are more than 380 million professionals on LinkedIn from around the world. The way we connect, communicate and share knowledge has changed dramatically. This is why I'm so excited to introduce you to an all new, rebuilt from the ground up, LinkedIn Groups and, for the first time, a LinkedIn Groups iOS app - designed to make it easier for you to find and engage in high-quality conversations, whenever you want to, from wherever you want."
The change was flagged last week - Group admins were sent an e-mail from LinkedIn notifying them of the coming changes, and that all groups would be made private. As reported by Social Media Today's Pete Schauer, this will mean that group admins will now need to choose between having either an 'Unlisted' or a 'Standard' group:
- Won't appear in LinkedIn's directory listing of Groups
- Group badges won't display on members' profiles
- Only Group owners and managers can invite and approve acceptance of new members
- Members can invite first-degree LinkedIn connections
- Members can approve requests to join from these connections
According to Mehta, these changes will make groups a more valuable and beneficial experience for all - here are the changes noted in Mehta's introduction:
- More engaging, high-quality conversations: Now you can add images to your posts and mention other group members - making posts more visual and engaging. You'll also notice less clutter in the form of spam and promotional content within the Groups you participate in.
- Access anytime, anywhere: Join or continue conversations wherever you are with the new iOS app. The new app also gives group owners the ability to manage their group conversations and members on the fly.
- Conversations with people you trust: A conversation can be more valuable when it's shared within a trusted space, so group conversations will now only be visible to group members. To bring new voices to the table, group members can invite members of their network to join in the conversation.
- Beautiful interface: A simplified navigation with a focus on making it easier to find, join and start quality conversations on LinkedIn.
- Find the right community: Not in the right groups yet? We were inspired by our real-world communities to design a new way of suggesting new groups to members based on who you are and who you know. The simple action of accepting or dismissing those suggestions leads to smarter, more tailored recommendations for you.
The changes to groups will be rolling out to all English-speaking members worldwide today, so you shouldn't have to wait long to get a look at the new features and changes for yourself.
In a second announcement, made earlier today at LinkedIn's Talent Connect event in Anaheim, the platform also detailed how it's planning to overhaul it's recruitment offerings, with an update to its Recruiter HR tool and the addition of a new feature called 'Referrals'.
In the case of Recruiter, LinkedIn is taking a more data-driven approach to the recruitment process - and with the career histories of more than 380 million members on file, professional data is something that LinkedIn can do better than anybody else.
Through the new Recruiter platform, which is scheduled to be launched in Q1 of next year, HR managers will be able to find new, prospective employees by using their top existing employees as templates.
For example, you might have someone on your team who's perfect, who fits the requirements of the job exactly as you'd like, does everything right. The new Recruiter tools will enable you to use that employee's profile to find people with duplicate skill sets. The idea behind this is that the system will, eventually, learn the key behaviors and traits that contribute to success in each role, and will use that to find future hires who best fit those same attributes, taking a level of guess work out of the recruitment process.
If you don't have a specific, all-star employee in mind, Recruiter will also provide a set of pre-made search tags based on the job listing to help expedite the hiring process.
The update is a smart move from LinkedIn, though it'll take some time to perfect. Utilizing those massive stores of professional data is something LinkedIn should be doing - and definitely, predictive algorithms and AI will form a big part of the future recruitment process - but AI systems take time to learn individual behaviors and requirements. For example, you might find that while you have a perfect employee to use as a template, it may actually be more beneficial, from a team perspective, to have different types of personalities and traits within your team structures, as those complimentary, but different, attributes may gel better than having a group of all the same type of people. No doubt LinkedIn's AI can learn this over time, but it'll take human input and learning to get it to understand the unique requirements of each business and team.
That said, the use of data matching in this way will be the future of HR and recruitment, and it's great to see LinkedIn taking strides in this direction.
The other addition is 'Referrals', a new system which aims to help recruiters maximize their existing employee networks to find new hires.
Referrals aims to streamline the employee referral process by using LinkedIn's algorithms to detect relevant matches within the networks of employees. For example, when you advertise a new position, one of your staff members might have someone in their LinkedIn network who fits the bill perfectly, but maybe that staff member doesn't know it. Referrals will send that employee the job listing and alert them to the fact that a person in their network is a perfect match - and if they were so inclined, they could alert them to it.
The system will also learn over time - so if an employee was sent a match but the person highlighted was not a good fit (or they just didn't want to end up working with that person every day), the system would take that response into account and not suggest that same connection next time.
Referrals is another example of how LinkedIn is evolving their products and moving into the next level of data analysis for recruiting purposes. And why wouldn't they? LinkedIn has the largest store of career data that's ever been amassed in history, through which they have the potential to transform the recruitment process and change the way hiring is conducted. It'll take time, it's not going to automate every step of the journey over night, but it's great to see LinkedIn moving towards this next level.
And it may also mean having an active, updated LinkedIn profile will become more important than ever in the very near future.