As LinkedIn turns 15 years old, the company continues their focus and reputation as the professional business network. But in 2018, LinkedIn sought to explore new horizons for its niche.
While job opportunities and networking remain its core offerings, LinkedIn has also begun experimenting with new features inspired by other social networks, such as Facebook’s new focus on Groups, or Snapchat’s Stories. Their most recent strategic decisions suggest that LinkedIn is attempting to court not just B2B interactions, but outreach to the average consumer as well.
LinkedIn has long been a place for recruiting and finding new jobs. This year, the company introduced salary insights and an improved job search, providing candidates with a greater understanding of their professional opportunities.
Security Policy Updates
While LinkedIn isn’t a social network built around user growth, this year they decided to implement new policies centered around user security and ad transparency. More recently, they added a new privacy feature that prevents companies from exporting email addresses. The move likely comes as a result of growing privacy concerns on social media.
New Groups and Communities Experience
LinkedIn has decided to focus on generating conversation and has made Groups a core offering of the service. Groups are now accessible from the feed and will even suggest groups based on your profile, and new features will allow people to create new content within their public posts. The end goal is to have users finding and collaborating with groups based on mutual interests, and communicating through rich media and meaningful conversation.
LinkedIn Events and “Find Nearby”
LinkedIn is also concentrating efforts on its local marketing strategy with the addition of LinkedIn Events and “Find Nearby”. As the name suggests, LinkedIn Events allows users to create events, fill in details, and invite guests to an offline meetup similar to Facebook Events and Meetup. Users attending the event will be able to chat with one another on the main page. Currently, the product is only available in New York and San Francisco.
“Find Nearby” is another experimental feature, this time focused on connecting users with others nearby via Bluetooth. It works almost like Tinder, but for professional matches, perhaps at conferences, career fairs, meetings or similar business events.
Revamped LinkedIn Pages
LinkedIn Pages just got a major update, adding new functionality that helps users get more meaningful content from brand pages. Content suggestions are now offered based on audience data. Posts now support auto-play videos, PDFs and docs, and admins will now receive notifications for brand tags.
Expect to see Microsoft continue to implement LinkedIn into Windows and other Microsoft products and services. Last year it was Microsoft Word, this year it was Outlook. The Microsoft integration makes it easier to connect and collaborate with other users straight from the app.
Heavily inspired by Snapchat’s Stories feature (and now imitated by Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube), LinkedIn has begun testing its own Stories feature on its app. Right now, it’s only available to students, and instead of lasting 24 hours, LinkedIn Stories expire after one week. The goal is to encourage users to promote posts about internships and new job opportunities, but since the Stories format is intentionally temporary, only time will tell how successful the experiment goes.
Predictions for LinkedIn in 2019
LinkedIn is growing beyond its initial concept as a professional network. Today, the website also acts as the largest job opportunities board, networking tool, and branding platform.
B2B brands are right at home on LinkedIn, as the website is designed to encourage cross-partnership, endorsement, and professional connection. But as the addition of Stories, Groups, and Events demonstrate, LinkedIn also has its sights on reaching traditional customers. Compared to other social networks, LinkedIn’s professionalism is a refreshing and reassuring approach to user-generated content and customer relationships. Expect more feature changes and additions to highlight B2C opportunities as well as B2B.
Improved messaging features and community building suggest a shift from the news feed to group chats. As users become wary of blatant advertising and spam on their feed, group messaging has risen in popularity. LinkedIn wants a piece of the pie already dominated by Facebook (which owns Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram), WeChat, and Snapchat. Group messages encourage more activity as well as more intimate and honest conversation.
LinkedIn will continue to connect employers with professionals, but as they evolve, they may pivot to tackle other social networks more directly. How do you envision LinkedIn in 2019? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn, and keep an eye out for our other Year in Review posts!
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