LinkedIn 2017 Desktop Re-design: How it affects Business Leaders
The new LinkedIn desktop redesign is something LinkedIn have invested heavily in. Building from the ground up, their aim has been to match the desktop to their new mobile app.
The idea is to provide a more intuitive, faster platform that creates value for us, the user, by providing seamless access to more relevant professional conversations, content and opportunities. The idea is to bring conversations and content to the heart of the platform so we can share ideas, join conversations and discover the news and topics we care about more easily.
Personally, I have my concerns as to who they consider the ‘user’ to be and whether they fully understand the entirety of their 465 million users and its market segments.
I also wonder if they have considered the psychology of the user and how most of us interact with the platform.
The Key Changes to LinkedIn
Other than the profile re-design, which [you can see a summary of here], there are of course other changes to be looked at:
- Smarter Messaging: The new real-time messaging interface allows you to send a message to a connection wherever you are on LinkedIn. You no longer have to load the messages tab or navigate away from the content that prompted you to message a person. The style is similar to Facebook. The idea is to provide users with insights based on common interests to help start conversations. For example, if you view a job posting, it will suggest someone within your network that works with the company.
- Streamlined Navigation: The seven core areas are now on the navigation bar top right, rather than the navigation bar top left. It no longer has a drop down menu within each, and the extra items you may want are listed under the ‘More’ icon instead.
- Richer Feed keeping us informed: LinkedIn have combined algorithms and human editors to fine tune your feed and highlight content from people and publishers they think is relevant to you and what you care about. It seems more improvements are also coming to allow us to dive deeper into topics and follow trending stories.
- More intuitive search: The search box no longer appears as a pop-up, but as a statistic item on the right-hand side. As you select filters, the search changes in real-time, allowing you to quickly see the effectiveness of your search in line with what you want. However, the ability to save searches has been removed and is now reserved for premium accounts. In the past, a free account allowed you to save three searches.
- Greater insight into who’s viewing your content: LinkedIn claims that the changes will allow you to see who’s reading your profile and engaging with your content more easily. It will show you the company, job title and location of the people interested in your updates.
The difficulty with change is that no one likes it. Thus, when evaluating changes I believe it really is important to stay self-aware and be clear about your motives for objecting to things. My aim here is to provide a balanced and practical viewpoint.
However, some of the changes have been to remove key features that are much loved by those in business development, including:
- Tagging: LinkedIn tagging provided us with the ability to categorise our connections based on market segments or remind us of future actions. It made staying on top of connections and opportunities a lot easier. Now, we’ll have to revert to spreadsheets or asking our paid-for CRM providers to fill the gap.
- Notes & Reminders: The ability to add notes to a profile allowed us to capture key information gathered during sales calls or networking meetings, for future reference. As any skilled sales person will tell you, the value of remembering the name of your prospect’s son and his interest in basketball, goes a long way to deepening a relationship and showing that you care. Notes allowed us to capture this information in the most appropriate place possible. Reminders allowed us to schedule actions and stay on top of things.
And as mentioned before,
- Saved Search: For the free account, you could save three searches, which allowed you to return to the results later if you needed. Now we’ll just have to keep our browser open until we’re finished. It also provided notifications when a connection updated their information to match our search. It was a fantastic advantage and one that yes, if you want to close it away in premium I understand. It was very valuable, but probably underutilised.
A contact of mine inside LinkedIn who has been working hard to influence these changes has told me that many features were removed simply because the stats showed that no one was using them. Personally, I see this as short sighted, because you don’t have to go far to see that LinkedIn is still a very misunderstood platform and hasn’t yet become a vital part of most people’s working day. Something that will probably take the next decade to achieve, after all, social media have only played a role in most people’s lives in the last five years, and just like the introduction of the internet and PC’s on every desk, it takes a while for people to fully understand and engage with correctly.
It’s something my fellow LinkedIn trainers and colleagues work hard transforming.
Of course, I am not speaking as a job hunter, which prior to 2009, was exactly who LinkedIn was for and clearly still is.
Perhaps unknown to LinkedIn, or at least under appreciated, is how much emphasis sales people and small businesses use LinkedIn to build their following.
Read any communication from LinkedIn on these changes and you’ll find they are 100% focused on recruitment and finding your next job opportunity. This identity and self-belief has clearly been the driving force shaping the latest changes and in turn, pushed away a big and important segment of their user based away.
So why is this?
After, LinkedIn finds its power in the strength of its membership and our commitment to log in daily and interact with our community.
If it just becomes a place centred around finding your next work opportunity, this won’t happen, nor will employees allow their staff to log in while at work as they’ll view it as a dangerous place for their skilled staff to hang, as ultimately it could mean losing them. Plus, a simple update to your profile could signal to your entire network you’re looking for a new job. However, if you make it a place for sharing industry knowledge, product updates and thought-leadership everyone wins.
Putting job-hunting at the centre of the platform could be a costly mistake, especially when LinkedIn’s main revenue source is fees charged to companies to use the platform for recruitment. Surely, a valuable platform is one where people log in for a variety of motives and feel safe doing so. Thus, although the money is made in recruitment and this will always be a fact, the value to the recruitment company is when we all show-up and enjoy the platform for a variety of reasons.
For the small business owner, thought-leader or sales team, the removal of these features has greatly reduced the value of the platform. It will take time to get used to some of the changes, and find other productivity hacks to get the job done. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the changes to the LinkedIn profile.
As a thought-leader in this space for the last four years, I have reviewed over 1000+ LinkedIn profiles while in conversation with the user. What they think they have said and what they actually need to say, are often two very different things.
When it comes to writing a LinkedIn profile, it really is a science and an art.
We first need to understand the psychology of the platform and how people use it. We need to learn how to replicate excellent relationship skills on an online platform and how to position ourselves as an expert to have the greatest impact on our visitor.
Take the time to understand this and you’ll quickly see the changes aren’t helpful.
Here is a quick overview:
Curiosity – how do we arrive at a LinkedIn profile in the first place?
Receive an invitation to connect, InMail or just see an interesting comment on a post, and you’ll likely be curious about the person writing it. You’ll visit the person’s profile with the sole purpose of learning more about them. You’ll want to know who they are, what they do and whether they are someone you want to know. The question at the front of your mind will be, ‘Is this person relevant to me?’
- Summary: Now condensed and hidden behind a drop down menu, we have little ability to build rapport and make an impact. The summary was our place to make sense of our history, explain multiple open positions and share our philosophy and reason for being. It gave us the ability to communicate ‘person to person’, and replicate the conversation we might have if we’d met in real life. Of course, the majority of people still have profiles that are CV based. It’s something I laugh about. When I meet someone who says ‘I don’t get any business opportunities from LinkedIn’, I don’t even have to look at their profile to know why. I know it’s a CV based profile. Read my article on ‘why no one cares about you on LinkedIn’.
- Experience: Your most recent item is now the first large body of text to draw a reader in, but makes no account for the natural flow of conversation. When building any relationship, especially a business one, it is important to build rapport before hitting people with what you do. For salespeople, the experience entry for your current role is where you need to outline how you help people, i.e. An overview of your services and packages. Not your function within the business. Either way, this being the first virtual ‘conversation’, we miss a vital opportunity.
- Activity: It is good to see what people have been up to, but to place this at the top of the profile, before you’ve satisfied my curiosity for who a person actually is, it is more likely to distract me down another rabbit hole, than lead me to care about this individual and begin a relationship. I am sure I will be interested in what this person has commented on and published about once I know who s/he is.
- Rich Content Media We’re visual people so the ability to add images to our profiles is important. Even the spread of text on the profile was important from a visual context. However, added Rich Content Media was the next step up. It allowed us to advance the conversation with our prospects by providing useful resources to help them in their buying journey and/or getting to know us.The best advice I always gave for this was to only include two items as this balanced the look and feel of the profile. Any more and not only will it not look balanced, but it will also provide your prospect too many options and overload them. Leading them to look at none. Now it is three items required to balance the look of the profile. However, three items are creeping into overwhelm and so is likely to be effective – if anyone actually sees them as most are hidden under the ‘See Description’ expansion.
- Organising Your Profile: Even with these changes, we could still accept them if we had options; such as the option to expand our summary and the option to re-organise the content – even to re-order the experience section. When these changes came previously, they were very welcome – and we need them back.
- Recommendations attached to Experience Entries Previously, recommendations were attached to the experience entry they were associated with, however, this is no longer the case. Instead of having social proof attached to your claim in the experience section, you now have nothing. If the person is really interested I guess they read the first two and clicked to see more. However, the font size and colour is garish and the format isn’t elegant. In fact, its style is the most attention grabbing, which basically means your prospect is now doing the work of pitching your business for you.
- Advice for contacting Although underused, this was a vital place for telling people the best way to contact us, even if that was to say ‘Call my office’. It allowed back of house staff to use their profile to build brand awareness while fending off unwanted sales enquiries. It also provided much needed extra space! And now it is gone!
And these are just a few of the vital sections that have been removed, or simply reduced to ‘a number’.
The Implications for Authors
If you’re a published author, you’ll be with me on this one. Writing a book is a slog and a big investment. As business owners and thought-leaders, we do it to establish our authority on a subject and form a vital part of our sales funnel and product-eco system.
Only now it is buried, and something few will ever see. Even if you add ‘Author’ to the experience section and add Rich Content Media it’ll still be hidden behind the need to click ‘See Description’.
In conclusion, the new LinkedIn profile does very little to satisfy the curiosity of the profile visitor, let alone engage them. At first glance, there is little but white space and a few words and options to expand the section. This is a lot of ‘clicks’ and a lot of work for someone who wasn’t that bothered about us in the first place.
As a LinkedIn user and thus a member with a profile, it is our responsibility to create a good profile. And as salesperson or thought-leader, capture the imagination of our prospect with a clear business pitch and value statement.
Only now LinkedIn has made it even more difficult.
For all the reasons laid out above, I think we can clearly see that LinkedIn believe their sole purpose is for recruitment and have little understanding of the community that has made it so popular. If they continue to ignore this major business segment, and continues to keep job hunters and organisations (their main revenue source), as their sole focus, I believe it will lose.
Personally, I think both can be achieved. After all, it has been thus far. We just need LinkedIn to listen to us, and small businesses, sales people and thought-leaders to be represented internally by someone who understands them.
And I nominate myself.