LinkedIn is preparing to give its site an overhaul, and from every indication (including this screenshot from Donna Serdula) it looks pretty great. Immediately noticeable is that the LinkedIn Today posts are integrated into updates, which shows a cohesiveness between publisher content and user-content that wasn’t there before.
According to Ingrid Lundgen at TechCrunch, new changes include that the menu bar remains static as users scroll down, message buttons appear immediately next to people who have viewed your profile, and pictures from LinkedIn Today are larger. She also predicts changes in the algorithm to provide content that is more relevant to users.
LinkedIn clearly wants you to stick around longer. But will you?
I mentioned in a post last week that the sites with the lowest time on site (LinkedIn, Google Plus, and MySpace) all have a disproportionate percentage of male users. I also pointed out that shares on LinkedIn were inefficient (for my site) compared to shares on other social platforms. LinkedIn is making all of the right moves as far as content, increasing the size of the pictures, filtering the most relevant content, making it easier to interact – embracing powerful best practices from Facebook. But does it matter? Somewhat.
Mark Schaefer left a great comment on a post I wrote about Facebook where I dismissed the value of time-on-site. Mark pointed out that of course Facebook wants to increase your time on-site (which Alexa estimates today at about 23 minutes) – the (low) effectiveness of their advertising doesn’t mean that there isn’t a higher benefit from longer exposure. The same applies for LinkedIn (time on site about 8 minutes) – they will see some small benefit from a redesign like this, but the greater issue for LinkedIn is user perception of the site and the culture that it has created.
LinkedIn is not a network predicated on content consumption and sharing. From Wikipedia: ”LinkedIn is a social networking website for people in professional occupations…. it is mainly used for professional networking.” That is a great summation of how people perceive LinkedIn, and that’s the challenge that they face as they try to keep people on site longer. Can LinkedIn retain the users that they covet for recruiting and job search (which account for the majority of their revenue), and extend their brand more effectively into content consumption and sharing? They’ve been pretty successful with their business model so far, but it’s a steep challenge to persuade their professional culture to go business casual.