LinkedIn 2020 – the juice in review

LinkedIn aficionado Sue Parker considers the myriad of changes and updates that the leading professional platform rolled-out in 2020 – is all change good?

Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously quoted, “The only constant in life is change”.  LinkedIn certainly espoused that tenet in 2020 with a dazzling array of changes, updates and rollouts.   The breadth was extraordinary with many features in development and pre-launch stages well before COVID-19 struck. Seemingly, some were fast tracked and a raft of commercial and member support measures were delivered in response to the pandemic.

Global membership reached 722 million with over 50 million companies listed. The Australian membership of 11+ million has remained static since January but is reasonable to suggest it is closer to 11.4 million.

The worldwide gender split on the professional network is 53 percent men and 47 percent women with 46.9 percent of members being active monthly users. Engagement on the platform increased by 31 percent throughout the year with a 50 percent increase in content shared (note: less than 1 percent of members post). The engagement shift has been interesting given the global decimation of hiring activity and broader human needs and professional refocus.  

The pandemic hit recruitment hard and LinkedIn shed nearly 1,000 jobs worldwide in related divisions. Global CEO Ryan Roslansky advised of these losses in a public message in July whilst simultaneously sharing the commitment of providing recruitment tools, skills acquisition and learning opportunities to over 25 million people for free. 

Traditionally, over 65 percent of LinkedIn’s revenue is generated from Talent Solutions with the remaining proportionally across Market Solutions, Learning and Premium Subscriptions. In October, surprisingly Business Insider reported that LinkedIn revenues grew 16 percent in Q3 with advertiser demand increasing 40 percent YOY.  

Updates and changes 

The majority of platform changes, updates and rollouts are staggered and suddenly appear without pre-warning. Historically there is no notice given with information being shared on the grapevine. But ‘Stories’ was an exception with pre-launch notices. Updates and features can be viewed in three camps:  ‘must have’; ‘nice to have’ or ‘no need to have’. 

Then there are many urgent requests from members still in the waiting line.

2020 has seen some truly fabulous new features and changes. Below is a list of the notable new additions:

  1. Interface design – In September a full interface design overhaul was rolled out with new muted colours and brand images.
  2. Dwell time – New system designed to classify content and algorithm weighting based on time actually engaged on content. This has a direct impact on minimising gaming and bot activity. Several months after the rollout the platform is also seemingly giving 48 hours and more for the life of content to gain traction and distribution based on the dwell AI.
  3. Messages –  Option to edit and delete (unread messages), set  ‘away/out of office’ automatic responses and set up video meetings directly in messages on mobile with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Verizon.
  4. Advertising Products – Updated targeting tools and campaign management functionality has significant upgrades, especially across geo-targeting and sponsorships.
  5. Company Pages – Renamed as ‘LinkedIn Pages’ and given a fresh feel and new dashboard of analytics, advertising and events interface features. Viewing the names of followers was released and the function given to invite them to follow your page.
  6. Polls – Autonomous post tool to gain top-line sentiments and feedback on topics and opinions with a post introduction. 
  7. Name Introduction – 10 seconds to record a voice message next to the name field. 
  8. Reactions – A set of six expressions that offer members a way to more easily participate in conversations and communicate with their network. You can use those six options in reactions to comments. 
  9. About section – Increased character on profiles to 2,500 characters. No excuse not to share brilliant well laid out information and branding.
  10. LinkedIn Virtual Events – New integration with a landing or company page and event feature to host and promote events, can stream with ‘LinkedIn Live’.
  11. Featured Section – High visibility branding section taking centre stage on profile with a carousel of videos, multimedia, articles and website links.
  12. Stories – As written here in June, Stories are a 24 hour mobile only feature, similar to Instagram Stories.
  13. LinkedIn Live – Still rolling out (invite and accept) but it has had little uptake given poor quality and reliability.
  14. Newsletters – Invite only but seems to be given at random. Outstanding tool for content in the Article section to have subscribers and instant Notifications of release. 
  15. Sales Navigator – Changes to tag functionalities and lead saving tools.
  16. Careers – Skills assessment, career path insight tools, learning  tools. A free #OpenToWork photo frame and transition discussion tool.

Content Preferences

Great content and networking with the right people is the glue that keeps LinkedIn members engaged. The subject diversity and brainpower is a core feature driving member engagement.  Content that educates, entertains, inspires and informs is essential.  

I ran a poll mid-year on content format preferences. With over 500 respondents, 77 percent voted written, image and infographic content as their first preference. Results were replicated in a host of other polls. A well rounded strategic content campaign is essential but video is not considered the ‘Holy Grail’. In other words, it is a crucial spoke in the wheel, but not the whole wheel. Results showed no leanings towards any particular age, gender, profession or industry.  

Reflections  

LinkedIn holds the number one spot as the world’s most trusted professional networking platform. Every profession and industry is represented with members spanning politicians, heads of state, ASX leaders, small businesses, graduates, office workers, scientists and everyone in between.

The brands and conversations across different sectors is enlightening. I look across all sectors and profiles with a helicopter view to understand the rich diversity to gain clarity of value broadly. There is negative and positive in equal measure on the platform with experiences and outcomes driven from input and intent. It’s from that point I encourage an ethical business focus, brand courage, inspiring personal profiles and a commitment to contribute and engage.

The fruits of value and opportunity are available for all, be they global brands, local leaders, small business and enterprises of all genres.  And, of course, the impact on your own marketing career.

Gratitude snatch

Donald Trump doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile and kept to Twitter thank goodness.  And those dreadful and banal talking head car videos seemed to disappear with lockdown.

Grateful for both and may we never see car videos again nor a year like 2020.

Sue Parker is the founder of DARE Group Australia, a unique Career Communications, LinkedIn and Personal Branding consultancy.  

Photo by inlytics | LinkedIn Analytics Tool on Unsplash.