Last September, LinkedIn outlined a set of upcoming projects, including the development of a new content discovery process, with improved notifications and search features, enabling users to get more context and information from LinkedIn's expanding content resources.
Now, LinkedIn has officially launched their new content discovery option, with the release of 'Trending Storylines', an alternative news feed focused on specific topics.
As explained by LinkedIn:
"Storylines are daily curated interest-based feeds about the most important developing stories in your industry. They help you discover and discuss news, ideas and diverse perspectives from the largest group of professionals, publishers and editorial voices ever assembled."
The format's simple (and looks a little Snapchat Discover-like) - you switch over from your regular LinkedIn news feed to your "Trending" listing and you'll see the top stories of the day, personalized for you based on a combination of algorithms and LinkedIn's editorial team. Click through on any story, and you'll see a selection of related articles, including posts from influencers, publishers and - importantly - people in your network.
On the back-end, the headline stories and their images are chosen by LinkedIn's editorial team using a range of trend detection tools. As the editorial team finds relevant content related to the main story, they tag it as part of the Storyline. The content is then given more personal context by adding in comments from people within your network, where possible, which are added (as you can see in the video) by appending the relevant hashtag for each. You can see in the above example that there's a dedicated 'In your network' filter for these specific comments (interestingly, there's also a specific 'Video' tab in the images provided by LinkedIn back in September).
"For example, if you work in healthcare, you may see a storyline about a new exciting advancement in biometrics. The storyline may include a perspective shared by a renowned healthcare expert, an article published by a top medical magazine and a post shared by someone you are connected to."
And as noted by data analyst Andrea Lopez:
Now we know why hashtags came back. https://t.co/fldze5GJ68- Andréa López (@bluechoochoo) March 22, 2017
As you interact and read more content on the platform, your Trending feed will increasingly reflect your professional interests, learning from your behaviors to better personalize your content mix - though you'll also be able to manually edit your preferences.
LinkedIn's been putting a bigger emphasis on content of late. At their showcase event last September, LinkedIn noted that since the launch of their re-vamped mobile app, the platform had seen a 30% lift in daily active users, and a 40% lift in engaged feed sessions. On their own platform alone, members now publish more than 160,000 long-form posts via LinkedIn Publisher every week, underlining that content focus - if LinkedIn can get more out of that discussion, and make their platform a hub of professional news and activity, that could help them boost engagement, which has long been a challenge for the network. Previous reports have indicated that only around 25% of LinkedIn's 467 million members are active on the platform each month - for comparison, Facebook's daily active usage rate is around 66%.
The update is also clearly focused on mobile - while you will be able to access the Trending feed via desktop, the format is designed for mobile consumption. That makes sense - more than 57% (and rising) of LinkedIn's overall traffic now comes via mobile - but as with the recent desktop re-fresh, it could make the desktop experience feel more like an afterthought. Many have commented on the challenges of navigating the new feed via the desktop version.
Still, it's another content option that LinkedIn hopes will align with wider consumption trends and get more people more active on the platform, more often. How effective it will be, of course, is largely dependent on the skills of LinkedIn's 24 member editorial team. Can they identify and highlight all the key, relevant stories and angles each day? Will adding in comments from your network enhance the discussion and motivate users to join in the debate?
It'll be interesting to see the usage stats once Trending has been active for a few months.
Trending Storylines will start rolling out to U.S. users from today, with expansion to other countries coming soon. For those with access, Trending Storylines will be available on your mobile home screen under the Trending tab, as shown in the video, while on desktop it'll be at the top right hand side of the homepage.