Roughly 105 million people visit LinkedIn every month, compared to Twitter’s 313 million monthly active users and Facebook’s massive 1.7 billion audience. Many LinkedIn visitors use the site to make a connection with other professionals, but they don’t linger as they do on Facebook, getting absorbed in stories and news.
The new features are not only intended to boost “stickiness” — the amount of time people linger and click within a site — but to turn LinkedIn into a hub of economic opportunity, said LinkedIn chief executive Jeff Weiner at an event at the company’s San Francisco offices on Thursday. It will be a hotspot for useful conversations that helps users become more savvy at work and improve their job prospects.
“It’s not searching for people but searching for what people are saying — which is what is actually compelling about people,” said Erran Berger, the company’s vice president of engineering, in an interview about the changes.
Let’s say everyone in your company is talking about how Uber is launching self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. The new LinkedIn will place that story — and other news items people in your company or industry are reading right at the top of your feed. Users of the LinkedIn mobile app can get the stories as breaking news alert on their phones.
Let’s say you want to find people who have experience working in China. You can now search for those topics, and the search brings you into distinct pages where a relevant conversation is taking place. LinkedIn is also introducing hashtags as a way to follow a conversation about a single topic — sequestering it from your main feed.
You can customize your feed, selecting who you want to hear from and who you want to mute. Once you get into a conversation on LinkedIn, a chat bot will select times and places to meet with participants and sync that data directly with your calendar.
The company is also pushing harder into professional education and developing, by using algorithms to curate and personalize online courses that users may want to take.
If many of these features sound familiar, it’s because they are an amalgamation of what has worked for other sites. The hashtag started on Twitter nearly a decade ago; Facebook added them in 2013. Facebook is a massive news hub. Twitter lets you mute people. Google and Microsoft both have announced scheduler chat bots this year.
LinkedIn’s innovation lag is one reason the company’s growth and ad revenue have slowed to a crawl. After its earnings report in February, the company lost more than 40 percent of its value in a single day. That made it a prime candidate for the acquisition-hungry, cash-rich Microsoft.
Weiner did not answer questions about the Microsoft acquisition, saying only that the acquisition hadn’t completed and that the redesign was in the works long before the negotiations with Microsoft began.