Linkedin

Have You Seen Linkedin’s New Look?

20 Comments 14 June 2010

A few weeks ago, Linkedin began testing a new look for groups. The new features are an attempt to make Linkedin more interactive, and easier for users to connect with others. Most of the new features are in located within groups. If you are an active Linkedin user, you know that much of the benefit comes from participating in groups – the discussion, connections, information, and learning.

I’m a member of Non Profit Network – MojaLink, which is a beta testing group for Linkedin’s new groups features. My guess is that every group will become more like this one. I’ve tested it out a bit. What I find is that there are so many new features added that it i hard to concentrate on the discussions. I spent more time within each discussion (which is what I’m betting Linkedin wants me to do), but I also left a bit overwhelmed with the idea that my “safe space” for participating in discussions has now become a competitive zone for influence, followers, and actions.

Some people have a Linkedin strategy to become an area Expert or to have their answers selected as a “Best Answer” in the Answers section of Linkedin. These features have never been available to those who answer questions within groups. Groups have always felt more like a group of colleagues and friends trying to help each other work through a problem or answer a question. Now groups will become a competing zone for influence. I understand how this will benefit individuals wanting to pursue a branding or expertise strategy. However, I will mourn the loss of the camaraderie that I enjoy in Linkedin groups where I am actively participating.

New features:

1. Group managers can feature discussions, called “manager’s choice,” to appear on the group’s home page.

2. Individual influence and popularity plays a stronger role.

There are two ways that Linkedin will now reward your participation in the group. First. if you participate a lot, you could be featured on the home page and on the side of every discussion as a “top influencer.” (*NOTE: the Linkedin developer who worked on the new Groups feature explains how one becomes a top influencer in the comments to this blog post. Essentially, top influencers represent people who have influenced others to take action within the Group.)


Secondly, Linkedin has made it very easy to “follow” someone’s discussions and contributions on Linkedin. You do not actually have to be connected to this person to “follow” him/her. Right now, you are already “following” all of your connections. If you want to follow someone’s discussions that is not already a connection, then click “follow” next to his/her name.

All the people that you follow currently appear in a tab next to My Groups called Following. Now, why would I follow someone I’m not connected to already? To get to know him/her, comment on his/her discussions, form a relationship. It’s yet another way to build relationships and connections on Linkedin.

3. Discussions look very different – they are more like a marketplace of actions instead of a discussion.

You can “like” a discussion. (The ubiquitous like button pops up here, too – but it’s not the Facebook Like Button.) You can follow anyone involved in the discussion with a click. You see all the comments expanded. One think I don’t like is that you no longer can read someone’s title and short description underneath his or her name. It is counter to Linkedin’s attempt to further interconnect people when you can’t view the brief bio of someone underneath his/her avatar within the group.

This is how the current discussion format still appears within most groups:

This is how the discussion looks within the newer version of Linkedin groups:

In summary, this is what Linkedin tells you is new in Groups:


I think it’s really about highlighting individual contributions, making participation easy with the “like,” and making connections easier with the “follow” button. The question is, will new connections still be strong ones?

What do you think about Linkedin’s new look? Are you participating in a group that has it already – and how do you find that the new look affects your participation?

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  • Avi

    i think it is terrible.
    it is suitable for ppl with big egos, to self-promoters, and awful for serious, hard-working, real experts.

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  • I've been using LinkIn groups to start discussions on WordPress blogging for nonprofits, but it hasn't taken off. I'm curious how others are using groups in LinkedIn.

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  • sue_anne

    I think early on groups got the reputation as being really spammy and that people still see them that way. I know lots of people that use LinkedIn for a lot of things, but don't participate in groups.

    I think you have to work extra hard to get people involved in your group, and I'm not sure it's a great use of time.

    Hopefully, some of these changes will encourage people to participate in worthwhile groups.

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  • I find that it depends on the group – some are really spammy and others provide great value in terms of information, insight, contributions. I wonder if these changes will encourage people to participate more? This seems to be what Linkedin wants, but I am also concerned that these changes will increase “spammy comments” just so that someone can become an influencer of the week.

    For me, groups really are the best benefit of Linkedin (though I'm not looking for a job at this time). I can search groups for great information and answers to questions I have, or ask for an answer to something. I almost usually get a great response, and the response threading feature is a good one.

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  • Hi Avi,
    I think that Linkedin can be that (see my answer to Sue Anne and John, above), but I've found real benefit from participating without self-promoting.

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  • Sue Anne – I think you're right. I attended the Charityhowto webinar with Lewis Howes (a LinkedIn expert), and he was saying that groups take time and effort to get going.

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    Debra Askanase Reply:

    John,
    Groups take a lot of time to develop. One thing I’ve found is that once the group hits over 200 members, it does seem to have a lot more activity and discussion.

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  • Thanks so much for highlighting the new changes, Debra. I haven't been super active on LinkedIn and still trying to figure out a better way to maximize its usage. I realized Group can be really helpful and have always loved the 'Discussion'. As a professional network it provides a valuable networking opportunity, and the new features happen to do just that. This can be a good news for group owners as well as individuals – more connections/members, sharing, eyeballs; what I think would be a plus is to provide more moderation for owners/other members on comments by others based on quality (besides just the Manager's choice); rewarding those non-self promo individuals but sincerely wanting to bring value to the group. That'll be a healthy network – something we've all longed for.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

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    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Ching Ya – I agree. However, that’s a tough thing to do. In a way, Twitter users figured out how to do that with the #ff recommendations. I wonder if there isn’t a user-generated #ff type of recommendation that Group Managers could post crediting those that really added value to the group that week? Very interesting idea…

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  • sue_anne

    What did you think of the LinkedIn webinar by Lewis? The first I had heard about it was from a tweet from you earlier that day.

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  • sue_anne

    I've found some groups really useful, but again, it's finding a way to promote groups that *aren't* spammy to those that get signed on to ones that are. Should be interesting to see whether the new changes influences that at all.

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  • Debra – thx for the article. I helped build the new Groups interface. Just a few corrections / comments. The 'Top Influencers' module doesn't reflect how many comments you may have made – rather how many actions you influenced others to take. For example if you post a terrific discussion and it garners lots of comments then you are considered influential. Additionally the module is reset every so often (perhaps a week? not sure off the top of my head) – so even if someone does manage to 'game' the system they wont be up for too long.

    Next the groups home page now arranges discussions by popularity. Discussions become popular through a secret sauce of 'comments', 'likes' etc. So spammy posts will not make it the top of heap – unless your group likes spam. But… some people like a chronological listing better no matter if it contains spam – so we have provided this view as well – or will with our next release coming soon to a screen near you.

    Speaking of spam – I just started working on some new and improved moderation tools for managers that will help eliminate spam. Of course one person's spam is another's valuable information…

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    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hans –
    This is so cool that you stopped by and commented on the blog post. Thanks so much for enlightening me about how the Top Influencers per week are chosen; I looked around and couldn’t find any information within Linkedin on that point. Perhaps that would be a good thing to state somewhere within Groups? Is it? I think that the metric of how one’s action influenced other actions within the Group is a great idea, btw.

    Looking forward to the new and improved anti-spam features in moderation, too.
    Anyone else have questions for Hans?

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  • Hans – great job, by the way.

    Question: When do you think threaded conversations will be supported in Group discussions?

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  • Ching Ya-
    Thanks for your comments. A lot of the groups are not very active, or the discussion topics don't generate comments. However, I'm hoping that these features might reinvigorate those types of groups.

    Hans stopped by (see his comment below) to explain that the Top Influencers are ones that have influenced others to take actions, and that seems to me to speak to your suggestion about rewarding for quality.

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  • Hans – So glad you stopped by to clarify the question about how the Top Influencers are chosen. That explains a key factor. I think it would be good if that were explained clearly somewhere within Linkedin Groups as well.

    Looking forward to the new and improved moderation tools for spam!

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  • good question – unfortunately short answer is… I dont know. For the time being we are focusing on giving managers the tools to clean up spam in their groups. More details as usual in the Linkedin Groups Product Forum (an LI Group)

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  • Clamo88

    Hans, I hope that LinkedIn will, if it hasn't already, only count the comments by people other than the original poster and others from his/her organization. I have already seen where one poster put up a discussion topic in a group (Top 10 type of thing), then used the comment to put up each one, one-by-one, so it looks as if there are a lot of comments. In truth, though, only one other individual commented, asking this guy to stop spamming the group. So, hopefully, only others' comments will count toward the “influence” rating.

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  • Clamo88

    Debra, thanks for your helpful explanation. …About LinkedIn's new look? I find that I'm visiting LI more often because I find it more useful. Good changes (I made one comment regarding spam in Han's post below) for the most part. I hope it encourages people to use LI more often for better results.

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  • hi debra,

    Thanks for sharing … I have created one new group in Linkedin but for my post's there are no followers to comment .. even i posted so many posts in other groups with diffident topics.. even though there is no comments …

    [Reply]

About

Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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