Unlike some aficionados of social media, I’m actually a big fan of LinkedIn and use it on a regular basis either as part of group discussions or for often useful direct conversations – both of which I think it handles well.
However it can’t be denied that, despite its IPO and considerable growth, it’s not evolved that much in the past few years either aesthetically or in terms of actual features, although admittedly we have seen some useful mobile apps emerge for the platform. Bearing in mind the rate at which its peers are evolving, and the likely expectations of future users in terms of features, I think LinkedIn needs to address this and so here are some ideas of how it could develop.
1: Allow users to include media in their profiles
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One of the things that profile microsites such as Flavors.me or About.me have proven is that, when presenting yourself, visible examples of your work can go along way towards detailing your expertise.
Whilst I understand that not everybody is going to want to share images, video or audio content in relation to their past or present roles, the option for it to be there really would be great. Worked on a video campaign? Add a YouTube video! Listing ‘Photography’ as an interest? Share some of your shots!
2: Go down the app integration route – but keep it relevant
Whilst integration with other platforms and brand apps makes perfect sense for the likes of Facebook and Spotify, where the focus is more on consumers and how they share their tastes, it could be a rocky road for LinkedIn and could easily be seen as a diversion from its more serious, B2B orientated approach.
Approaching the validity of apps from the perspective of users rather than potential advertisers would certainly be a good start – perhaps even working with the B2B focussed companies who favour LinkedIn to develop apps initially could work too.
3: Sell yourself more as a work-focussed social network than a job focussed one
It’s undeniable that although many people who are happy and secure in their jobs use LinkedIn to build relationships and source ideas/knowledge it is still widely perceived as a place you’d only spend serious time on if you were looking for a job.
I think LinkedIn needs to push harder against this perception – perhaps selling its features such as ‘Groups’ and ‘Answers’ more aggressively as being beneficial for everyone in the business space.
4: Actively discourage self-promotion and encourage communication in groups
Whilst Linkedin’s groups are a great idea and often thrive, there are many, many cases of them simply becoming overrun by posts from self-promoting individuals (often linking to dull and highly derivative blog posts) and eventually abandoned.
Whilst I’d hate to see the groups overly moderated, I still think that administrators need better advice and tools to help promote conversation and discourage dead-end posts.
5: Please, just improve the aesthetic!
The sad truth is that compared to its peers LinkedIn is something of an eyesore – its home screen is text heavy, littered with ads and overly complex to the point it feels like it’s trying to be about five different things at once.
Bearing in mind most of its us use it at work and are already often overloaded with information on a daily basis, I think a cleaner, simpler interface has to be a serious consideration for the future.