A lot has changed at LinkedIn since we originally published this post – like a desktop UX overhaul, a powerful new search, the addition of messaging bots… oh, and Microsoft’s acquisition of the company (totally nbd).
So we’ve updated this post to include a rundown of the latest LinkedIn features that are most important to know and what they mean for you and your business.
If you’ve ever asked yourself what the actual point of LinkedIn even is (aside from slyly or overtly looking for a new job), read on!
There’s a big difference between being somewhere and actually DOING something while you’re there.
You can sit with your laptop all day and not do anything but cruise blogs and watch Netflix. You can go to the gym, do one or two crunches, and spend the next hour chilling at the juice bar. And you can create a LinkedIn profile and then not spend any time actually doing anything on the site.
As you can probably guess, if you aren’t actually DOING stuff, then you’re not necessarily going to get much out of being somewhere – LinkedIn included.
Look, we get it. LinkedIn is one of the single most un-sexy social networks in the world, right? You’re not going to go there to check out your buddy’s vacation photos or to find a hilaaaaarious YouTube video. You’re going to go there to do BUSINESS STUFF. (Yawn.)
So while many people are ON LinkedIn – it’s got more than 500 million users worldwide – they aren’t all necessarily USING it. They just kind of create their profile and let it sit there, like an online resume.
(Please don’t let yours just sit there, for that matter, don’t let any of your social profile sit vacantly, instead head over to our platform-tailored guides to social media to learn how to keep your profiles fresh.)
If it’s been a while since you thought too hard about LinkedIn, though, there are features you may have missed – and could change how you think about what this network is really for!
So what’s the deal, and what do LinkedIn’s newest features mean for your business?
In tandem with their desktop redesign – which basically just made its UX more clean and streamlined, like their mobile app – LinkedIn rolled out navigation tabs (Home [Your Feed], My Network, Jobs, Messaging, Notifications, Me, and Work) and a universal search bar that appears on every page across the site.
Why you should care
The new search bar is more than just one small part of a site-wide facelift. With it, LinkedIn upped their search game (more on that in a moment).
The new search bar lets users easily search whatever page they’re on – Companies, Schools, People – to give you better, more targeted results from your search. Pretty nice!
Anyone can list services now, too, using the widget on their profile. So if you are a freelancer or consultant, people can look for your services using the search bar. It’s the modern-day way of having an ad in a newspaper! Pretty neat, huh? If people employ you via your listing, they can also write your reviews. It’s a great way to build your reputation.
This gets us to what’s REALLY cool about the LinkedIn Search – how it’s poised to change the way you use social media for your business.
Trying to find an article that popped up on your newsfeed but was lost when you clicked away is one of life’s tiny tragedies – and the scourge of almost every social media platform.
The search bar aims to solve that, adding hashtag functionality (and hashtag search!) and other enhanced search features that help you find not only “lost” articles but also more relevant-to-your-interests ones.
When you type in a keyword in the search bar, it will show you the most relevant groups, people, jobs, courses, companies, posts, schools, and events associated with that keyword.
Why you should care
The advantage of LinkedIn’s news feed, as opposed to Facebook’s or even Twitter’s, is that it is populated with articles and information exclusively according to your business interests. No videos of your cousins playing golf somewhere tropical, no cute puppy dog GIFs.
Making it easier to find the most relevant-to-your-business groups and content means you get better and more targeted networking opportunities, timely and relevant industry updates, and maybe even a sweet new gig! (If you’re looking for that sort of thing, that is – we won’t tell.)
Why you should care
LinkedIn Learning isn’t just a bunch of well-meaning randoms posting “how-to” videos.
A moment of silence for those unsung celebrities who helped us learn Windows ’95
What makes LinkedIn Learning (potentially) indispensable is that it leverages LinkedIn’s ridiculously awesome network of influencers and thought leaders (over 500 of them!) and their expert career advice.
Everyone from Oprah to best-selling author and business leader Bill George is on LinkedIn Learning. But that’s not where all this ends.
Ultimately, LinkedIn wants to give users more personalized opportunities for e-learning: There’s a metaphorical ton of variety in their online courses – with info that goes both broad and deep.
So “learning” can mean leveling up your existing skillset, getting a jump on some cutting edge marketing tactics, or simply gaining wisdom about your industry from people who are seriously rockin’ it.
Messaging Bots (No, Really)
Okay, you’re probably wondering why you should care about messaging bots. It’s likely you’ve already encountered messaging bots (sometimes called “chatbots”), even if you didn’t realize it – especially if you’re a regular Skype or Facebook Messenger user.
Whether we like it or not, bots are here to stay. But you may not know that bots already matter to small businesses – and will even more in the future.
Why you should care
LinkedIn’s reasoning goes something like this: Your connections are only as good as the interactions you have with them. If you’re not talking, you’re not making the most out of your network – and LinkedIn wants to make the process easier. Makes sense, right?
Right now, that means conversation starters for your LinkedIn messages. A key component of linking in with someone is smoothly making the transition from stranger to acquaintance and from acquaintance to colleague – and these messages help a ton. In the last year, members’ LinkedIn messaging use has increased by a hefty 20%.
Whether you’re trying to connect with an influencer you’re inspired by or want to get in touch with that alum who has an “in” with a networking group you’ve been dying to join, these help make that whole effort, well, effortless!
You can reach out to someone, let them know ‘I found you via my network,’ and get the conversation rolling.
Optimizing Your Original Content
If you used to publish original LinkedIn articles and found the platform’s lack of customization and tracking too frustrating, this might be the new hotness to bring you back. Seriously – this might be the most underrated improvement LinkedIn has made since its launch.
It’s now easier than ever to write an article. You’ll see ‘write article’ on the top of your newsfeed when you login. How easy is that?
Posts (or statuses as some people prefer to call them) have also been increased to 3,000 characters this year. If you have something important to say, you don’t even need to publish an article. You may have noticed those lengthy statuses that have become a trend over the past months.
Why you should care
This is a quality vs. quantity thing. It’s the nature of LinkedIn – as a business networking tool – that makes your original content REALLY stand out. Here’s how:
Now when you publish new content on LinkedIn, your first-degree connections get a LinkedIn notification or an email (and often both). It also means more opportunities to get your content featured by LinkedIn to reach even more people.
LinkedIn is where people go to expand their network. Everyone there is specifically at the party to meet people, and that has been made even easier now that LinkedIn has added multimedia capabilities with better publishing UX – and even searchable hashtags so your posts can be part of bigger conversations. #omg #ftw #sogood #yassss
Those are no minor additions, either: With new reader metrics and tracking, now you can really see and understand your audience and how they interact with your posts.
With these changes and a growing list of authors already numbering in the millions, LinkedIn is looking a lot less like a niche platform and a lot more like a business-y version of Medium – and a darn-near essential destination for entrepreneurs.
How’s that for content optimization?
Navigating the Who’s Viewed Your Profile Page
You can choose to be anonymous when checking out other people’s LinkedIn profiles or you can show your full name and title. You just select your option in your settings under visibility of profile & network.
This will determine whether or not you can see who’s viewed your profile. If you decide to remain private, you can’t see who has been checking out your profile unless you activate (and pay for) premium, of course.
Why you should care
LinkedIn’s focus is on getting users to make the most of a major redesign “that brings conversations and content to the heart of the platform.”
If you aren’t set as a private profile, you can see if someone has found you via LinkedIn search or found you via homepage.
What does found you via homepage mean? That someone saw your comment, like, or link on their homepage. Perhaps someone in your network shared something of yours, and that’s why you got noticed. It’s like being introduced to someone new by someone you know at a real-life networking event (remember those?)
Is it still frustratingly incomplete? Yes. Is it helpful, though? Still yes! The more you interact with your feed and with your network, and the more you optimize your LinkedIn profile, the more those metrics on the left should keep going up, up, up!
Pronouns and Pronunciation
One of 2021s coolest new features is the addition of personal pronouns and pronunciation aids in your profile.
You can add your personal pronoun after your name and a 10-second audio clip, so people know how to pronounce your name correctly. A great feature to encourage more inclusion in the workplace.
LinkedIn Live and Stories
It seems like every social media platform is getting in on live streams, and LinkedIn isn’t missing out on a slice of that pie.
Livestreams are great for audience engagement and a way to share your expertise. To ‘Go Live’ on LinkedIn, you need to submit an application form and wait for the approval. You also can’t broadcast live on the platform itself and need to use a third-party streaming service.
If you are lucky enough to get live approval, you can add your live stream content to your profile banner so people can see it when they click on your profile.
Just like Instagram, you can post stories on your LinkedIn profile or company page that will stay live for 24 hours. You can only post a story if you use the LinkedIn mobile app.
Which LinkedIn features do you use?
Go ahead – take LinkedIn’s new features for a spin, and let us know what you think!
Do you notice a significant correlation between your activity and your profile views? Do you wish you could still see metrics like how many people found you via the homepage – and where in the world they came from?
Do these changes make you want to use LinkedIn more or less? Share your thoughts in the comments below!