In case you missed the news, LinkedIn announced on Thursday the rollout of a new, simplified look for personal homepages on the service. With the updated design LinkedIn hopes to accomplish two things: 1) get people checking LinkedIn more frequently, and 2) get them having more conversations while they’re there.
Here are the fast facts before we dive in:
- The new homepage was announced last week but won’t roll out to users until early 2015.
- The new tile-style widget look is simplified and less busy than its predecessor.
- Profile analytics, the status update box and LinkedIn Pulse take center stage.
- The “ways to keep in touch” widget, which includes people you might know or opportunities to connect, is nestled to the right.
While many of the design changes themselves are minor, the important thing to note is the shift in focus from jobs/networking to content sharing and discussion. This should come as no surprise, as LinkedIn has been steadily repositioning itself as a hub for professional conversation ever since it made its publishing platform open to the public nearly a year ago.
The nature of how people use LinkedIn is changing, so it’s time for marketers to update their LinkedIn tactics to stay ahead of the curve.
Most savvy businesses and brands are already well-aware that LinkedIn is past its days as a glorified job board, and are leveraging LinkedIn’s impressive intel gathering and ad targeting capabilities. But businesses need to start thinking beyond merely advertising to users – they must think about how to join in those conversations.
1. Get with the Pulse
Obviously, one of the best ways to join a conversation is to be the one initiating it. The new layout puts LinkedIn Pulse front and center. If your company’s best thinkers are not already posting Pulse updates on their individual profiles and getting traction, it’s time to start thinking about inspiring them to do so.
Of course, while any individual can publish to Pulse, the success of a post depends entirely on the quality of the content and how rapidly and widely it’s shared. Pulse is ideal for thought leadership content that showcases the leaders at your brand and what’s on their minds. Get the most publicly recognized people at your company posting!
2. Join in existing conversations
Discussion isn’t a one-way street, and you can’t expect all conversations to start with something you post. Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to find conversations on LinkedIn relevant to your company’s industry. By commenting intelligently on others’ Pulse posts or in topics in LinkedIn Groups, your organization can showcase thinking inside your organization.
The key is to do your research to find the Pulse posts and Groups discussed by your target audiences. And remember that being overly promotional does you no favors. Answer questions or share comments that drive the conversation forward.
3. Be a content curator for professionals in your industry
LinkedIn wants to be the go-to resource for its users’ professional lives. If it can succeed in becoming “how you start your day,” as VP of Product Management Joff Redfern puts it, it will become increasingly imperative that businesses and brands select high-quality content to share with their audiences.
Ask yourself, “What is the one thing professionals in my industry need to know today?” That is what you should share. Look for interesting, longer-form pieces of content that aren’t necessarily being widely shared on other networks. Mobile apps such as Feedly and Longform can help you find those hidden gems to showcase your curation skills and discerning eye.
4. Keep an eye on paid advertising options
LinkedIn Advertising already has some perks that social networks don’t: most notably the ability to target by professional credentials such as job title. This is especially true for B2B companies. With LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of B2B marketing platform Bizo hinting at expanded paid advertising options to come, it would behoove any business to keep a watchful eye out for any updates.
The cherry on top is that with LinkedIn’s focus on spurring more conversations amongst users, businesses might be able to look forward to a more active and engaged audience base for advertising.
Only time will tell how effective the new homepage will actually be at bolstering conversation, or if LinkedIn will succeed in becoming the booming virtual forum for professional discussion it envisions for its users.
This article was written by JJ Samp from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.