Let’s face it, LinkedIn might be the best social network right now | Mint

Let’s face it, LinkedIn might be the best social network right now

REUTERS
REUTERS

Summary

  • CEO Ryan Roslansky lays out new features arriving on the professional networking platform, including a no-politics button and live video and audio events

I’m ready to speak my truth:

I like LinkedIn. Actually, I love LinkedIn.

At least once a day I open the app, not to look for a job or to wish a colleague from a decade ago a happy work anniversary. But because—unlike in my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds—the conversation is meaningful, the people are civil and there’s no politics. At least not anymore.

LinkedIn recently started testing a no-politics setting, which I enabled. It filters out content about political parties and candidates, election outcomes, ballot initiatives and more. The Microsoft-owned company has made the setting available to some U.S. users over the past few months.

“If they find it effective, if it’s helping them better accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish on LinkedIn, then we’ll roll it out to more," LinkedIn Chief Executive Ryan Roslansky told me in an exclusive video interview.

The feature is one of many that the professional social network has been adding while it enjoys the fruits of the quit-pocalypse—I mean the massive upheaval in the labor market that has been best described as The Great Reshuffle. Just look at Microsoft’s last quarter: LinkedIn revenue was up 37% year over year, and new hires made through the service more than doubled.

But here’s the shocker: It isn’t just seasoned professionals flocking to this decidedly uncool corner of the internet.

“We’re seeing a lot of Gen Z join the network right now," Mr. Roslansky told me, adding that job moves are up nearly 70% for users ages 16 to 22, vs. just 7% for users over 55. “We’re seeing the platform evolve much more to cater to them."

Regardless of your generation, the new features⁠—and the fact that many people bring their best selves to this social network⁠—make LinkedIn worthy of more of your time, even if you’re just there to talk shop. Or it will be, if Mr. Roslansky sticks to his word and fixes some longstanding problems I felt compelled to ask him about.

Content With Controls

Is everyone on LinkedIn Mother Teresa? Certainly not, but because people show up to advance their careers or to seek “economic opportunity," as Mr. Roslansky said, most put their best foot forward. For me, it has meant less misinformation and trolling, and more thoughtful posts and interactions. (It isn’t perfect. A few weeks ago I came across a post with Covid-19 misinformation. Within a few days, it was taken down.)

Threats to that overwhelmingly pleasant, algorithmically powered feed that defines LinkedIn is why the company is experimenting with more controls. After hearing from users that political content was mucking up the experience, it added a few options to limit it—something I’d love other social-media networks to rip off!

You can do it right from the feed. Tap the three dots in a post’s upper right corner, select “I don’t want to see this" and then specify that it’s because “I don’t want to see political content."

Or you can use the new master kill switch, if you have early access: Go to Settings and then Account preferences, then Feed preferences. Look for “Do you want to see political content in your feed?" If you see it, you can toggle the switch to “No" on the website or “Off" in the app. The system identifies political content via the company’s editorial team along with keywords and signals from users, Mr. Roslansky told me.

My feed never had much politics to start with, though recently it became flooded with something worse: nonstop crypto news.

Like Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn lets you train the algorithms not to show you something from a specific person. It recently added a feature to limit by topic, too. Tap the three dots in the upper right of a post, then “I don’t want to see this" and then “I’m not interested in this topic." It took doing that on a few posts but finally it was bye-bye, bitcoin!

Calling All Creators

Whether it’s your killer Excel formula or big thoughts on payroll management, your expertise is in demand. LinkedIn wants you to share it as a “creator"⁠—yes, the word tech companies have fallen in love with to describe people who, well, create videos, posts and other internet stuff.

If you want to share more and build a following on LinkedIn, you can now turn on a new “Creator Mode." (You should see it on your profile page, under Resources.) This lets people follow you, instead of just the usual “connect."

The setting asks for your areas of expertise—in my case, “technology," “smartphones," etc.—so potential followers know what to expect from you. The company plans to add an analytics dashboard so you can see how well your posts are doing.

On YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, popular influencers get rich. On LinkedIn…not so much. Or at least not yet. The company has started some paid incentives. As part of a new Creator Accelerator Program, 100 individuals were given a $15,000 grant last September to develop content. The company has pledged $25 million toward the program.

Video and Audio Everything

Hey, Gen Z likes video so…here’s more video!

Ditch the polished corporate headshot for a 30-second video profile, if you so wish. In the Android or iOS app, tap your profile photo and select “Add cover story." LinkedIn plans to upgrade the experience in the coming weeks with question prompts.

Then there are new audio events. Think Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces. Earlier this week, I attended an audio event titled “Why Insurance Agents Need Fractional CIO." I didn’t raise my hand to talk because, well, I had to google “fractional CIO." I did react to the speaker with lots of thumbs-up emojis, however.

Right now anyone can join an audio session; the ability to host an audio event will be rolled out more broadly this spring. The company is also working on an interactive video version of this.

Fixing Everything Else

Yet LinkedIn adding all these new features is a bit like installing a fancy new sound system in a rusted-out ’71 Volkswagen Beetle. Over its 18 years of connecting professionals, LinkedIn has accumulated its fair share of interface and spam problems.

That’s why I used some of my time with the CEO to share a list of top peeves and ask what he’s planning to do about them:

The constant notifications: He reminded me that users have control over their alerts. Go to Account Settings > Communications, then select what triggers an email or push notification. You can turn everything off or you can get really granular. Still, it’s a lot of work and the settings should be simpler.

The message spam: Just this week, I got notices of jobs in a real-estate agency (I can barely use Zillow) and a custom jewelry company (I wear the same two pieces everyday). Mr. Roslansky said I could opt out of receiving InMail, the premium feature that allows users to send anyone a message. He also said the company is working on a new messaging interface and “relevance models" that will create a better inbox for people.

The cluttered website: Multiple boxes on the main page, layers of settings options, hidden menus…yes, the cluttered, unorganized LinkedIn website has long driven me mad. “It’s absolutely something we’re working on," Mr. Roslansky said. Except that’s what the company told me nearly six years ago. The website is a bit more tolerable if you turn on dark mode (Settings > Account Preferences > Dark mode).

Of course, compared with the issues other social-media giants need to work through—misinformation, kids’ mental health, tricky revenue models—these seem like small things to fix. If it can, LinkedIn could remain the Great Social Network, even after the Great Reshuffle.

 

 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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