10 LinkedIn Tweaks We'd Like to See in 2013
CNBC Social Media Producer
With more than 187 million members, LinkedIn, an online network for work professionals, has become a social force to reckon with. Social media predictions for 2013 see a bright year for the site, so here are 10 steps LinkedIn could take to help turn those predictions into reality.
1) Symbol to Tag LinkedIn Users in Posts
Twitter has the @ sign to call out usernames in Tweets, like this: "Hi @CNBC!" When a username is preceded by the @ sign, it becomes a link to a Twitter profile. LinkedIn needs to implement its own symbol to help tag other users. As of now, adding the @ symbol will not produce the name of a LinkedIn user. More so, using the @ symbol to tag LinkedIn users will confuse those who attempt to tag a @Twitter user on LinkedIn.
The professional social network needs to choose a different symbol.
The @ and symbols are taken (the latter belongs to Google ) and the $ sign, while seemingly a good fit for a business-oriented platform, is commonly used to identify stocks on Twitter and won't help LinkedIn cater to those outside the United States.
After studying the keyboard, the symbol of choice could very well be the * (asterisk) or the : (colon). English majors will tell you that the colon can be used to direct attention to a list or quotation—why not add a LinkedIn user, as well?
2) Ability to Upload Pictures in Status Updates
Photo-sharing on Instagram and Twitter is the latest craze. With Twitter, Flickr and others now introducing photo filters, it's time for LinkedIn to, at least, get in on the photo-sharing game.
Currently, LinkedIn users can attach a link to a status update, but nothing more. LinkedIn's executive editor Dan Roth told Business Insider in November 2012 that "people on LinkedIn don't talk about their home life, they don't share baby pictures. They don't share any pictures at all actually."
More worrisome than a few users sharing baby pictures on a professional social network is all users not sharing any pictures. (Note: LinkedIn announced Thursday that select Company Pages are now able to share images, case studies, white papers, and infographics.)
3) Status Features and Instant Messaging
In an effort to see its users remain on the site for longer periods of time, introduce an AOL-like Buddy List and add an instant messaging tool.
A status feature indicating when a user is online and available or busy could cause millions to leave LinkedIn open in a tab at work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Add the ability to instantly message available users on LinkedIn.com (and via the company's mobile applications) and we could be looking at millions more.
4) The Exact Number of Connections
Currently, LinkedIn users who connect with more than 500 people have profiles that display "500 Connections."
Whether a user has 501 or 50,001 connections makes no difference to the site's official connection-counter; it will only reveal a specific number up to 500. While LinkedIn 'connections' differ from Twitter 'followers' in that it's not a numbers game, having the ability to see just how many connections a user has could be useful in deciphering how well-connected a person is in the business world.
5) Trending Topics
What are most users inside your network buzzing about? LinkedIn Today does a nice job showing you the top articles being shared by people in your network, but a trending topics snapshot alongside your main stream would give you additional insight.
Google and Twitter currently feature 5 and 10 trending topics, respectively, while the latter gives marketers the option to advertise their own trending topic. LinkedIn could follow suit and give additional value to both its users and advertisers.
6) Beef Up Company Pages
Like a personal profile for an individual user, company pages give brands a voice on LinkedIn. Companies can post status updates and job openings, feature products and review analytics around the page.
After 25 posts, though, updates are gone forever. Since LinkedIn does not create a specific URL for each status update, companies (and individual users, for that matter) have no way of linking to past content. That has to change. In addition, company pages lack prominent placement on the home page.
Discovering new pages to follow and the overall marketing push by LinkedIn to promote company pages is weak. LinkedIn's official company page, which has more than 228,000 followers, struggles to crack one hundred comments on most of its own posts, so you can only imagine how other companies may be struggling with their own pages.
7) Liking Comments
Post a status update to LinkedIn and your connections will have the ability to "Like" and comment on your update. Unlike Facebook, though, you and others will not be able to "Like" comments left on your LinkedIn update. To help bolster interaction on status updates, let's see a "Like" button alongside all comments.
8) Get Rid Of Endorsements
Recently, LinkedIn introduced Endorsements, a feature that allows users, with one click, to endorse his or her connections for a skill they've listed on their profile or recommend one they haven't added yet. Sounds neat? Well, it isn't.
LinkedIn already has a powerful Recommendations features, which true to its name, allows users to write an in-depth recommendation for those they've worked with. Endorsements are thought to be by some as a "Recommendations Lite" and down-right "silly." With the click of one button, you can 'endorse' four different people for four different skills. In other words, I don't recommend endorsements.
9) Do More With LinkedIn Answers
When I have the time, I hop over to LinkedIn Answers. This feature offers fast and accurate answers to business-related questions. From asking questions to answering them, I find the section to be a hidden gem. Why bury it in the "More" tab on the homepage? With Quora slowly becoming the go-to service for all sorts of questions and answers, it's time for LinkedIn to step Answers up. How? See Tweak # 10.
10) Homepage Redesign
In September 2012, LinkedIn revamped its iPhone, Android and iPad applications. In what its mobile product head, Joff Redfern, called "mobile goodness," LinkedIn added notifications, company pages and more.
What stood out from the update was the first screen users saw when clicking on the app. It was a portal into different sections of the service. Want to view updates? Click on the icon on the top left. Want Groups? Click on the button on the bottom right.
I'd like to see a similar user experience on LinkedIn.com's homepage. Instead of having the standard tabs with drop-down choices atop the site and a stream of status updates front and center, let users tap into the wide variety of "goodness" LinkedIn offers. Make the homepage somewhat customizable, too, allowing users to see features most important to them on sign-in.
Follow Eli Langer on Twitter at @EliFromBrooklyn and follow him on LinkedIn once the site offers "Follow" buttons. Whenever that is.