It’s been around six weeks since LinkedIn released their latest, and most controversial, update. Newsfeeds were quickly swamped by frustrated users, proclaiming all kinds of missing features and navigation issues.
But now that the dust has settled, is the update all that bad? We spoke to a number of LinkedIn users to understand their gripes, and try to offer some handy hints and tips on getting around on the new platform.
Don’t change something that isn’t broken. These are the words of many when it comes to LinkedIn’s latest update. When a company the size of LinkedIn releases any major change though, it’s going to be nigh on impossible to please everybody. With 467 million registered members, LinkedIn (as of March 2017) is the fourth most visited social media platform worldwide.
With a number of social media platforms undergoing changes in recent months, from Instagram’s bold logo redesign to Facebook’s new Pages layout, it seems that LinkedIn want a piece of the action in order to stay fresh and relevant.
And while their mobile app redesign in December 2015 was met with a positive response on the whole, their new desktop tweaks are causing a bit of an online kerfuffle.
In what ways has LinkedIn changed?
Revealed at a San Francisco event in September 2016, LinkedIn’s own words on the forthcoming revision were “it’s cleaner, simpler and more intuitive”. At first glance, it appears that their new design has moved closer towards less business-oriented social media platforms, like Facebook.
Adding human intelligence into the AI of the algorithm means that we will be presented with a more diverse range of content.
The user’s profile is displayed in a side box to the left of the newsfeed, while the right-hand column suggests fellow professionals and companies to follow (much like Facebook suggests friends and pages).
Copycats, right? Well this approach actually makes a lot of business sense for LinkedIn, and here’s why …
Facebook is the largest social network in the world, with over 1.86 billion active users. Such is the scale of Facebook’s audience, LinkedIn are hoping to make their platform feel a little more familiar and (subsequently) more appealing to use.
It’s unfair to say LinkedIn are gunning for a slice of Facebook’s audience, as they both serve an entirely different purpose, but it’s clear that LinkedIn are looking to capitalise on the widespread success of Facebook in their own, unique way.
If you can’t beat them, join them!
Other key changes include a new messenger system which (again) bears a suspicious similarity to Facebook Messenger. This new system now means that multiple message windows can open at the bottom of the user’s browser, making for easier navigation between conversations.
This is a welcome feature, as it means that interacting with different professionals is easier to organise, and your conversations remain pinned to the bottom of your screen if you go elsewhere on the website.
Here’s a slider comparison of how the old platform looked compared with the new one:
Lastly, they’ve launched a new learning platform, LinkedIn Learning, which offers a number of training courses on a variety of different subjects. This comes as no surprise, as LinkedIn acquired Lynda back in 2015 for a snip under £1.25 billion.
This all sounds great doesn’t it? But hold on …
SURVEY FEEDBACK: how do users really feel about the update?
In a nutshell: users believe LinkedIn have prioritised form over function.
We’ve spent some time talking to people on the platform and found that there are all kinds of niggles with the new changes, causing unnecessary frustration. While there’s a whole host of niggles, we’ve listed the most common complaints below:
- Hard to keep up-to-date with your network due to ‘clunky’ newsfeed algorithm.
- Unable to view your rank within your company and connections anymore.
- Slow page loading and generally hard to manage community pages.
- Newsfeed cluttered with ‘connection activities’ rather than quality posts.
At the update-unveiling event last year, LinkedIn claimed to have tweaked their algorithm by adding an element of human curation. While the automated part still remains (this is the part where your past activities will determine what content is presented to you), the ‘Pulse’ content will now feature more heavily (this is broader content produced by your wider network of connections).
Adding human intelligence into the AI of the algorithm means that we will be presented with a more diverse range of content, making our feeds more interesting and interactive.
But is this really the case?
Martin Ellis, Executive and Key-Role Search at the RSE Group, and Josh Harrison, Director of Harrison Allwood Rec2Rec, conducted a survey to find out exactly what LinkedIn users thought of the update. The survey asked a variety of questions – from visual to navigation ratings – inviting the respondents to compare it with the ‘old’ LinkedIn platform.
A brief outline of the demographic: 99% of responders said they use LinkedIn everyday, often running it continuously, and 76% said that they have over 1000 connections.
When asked to score the ‘old’ LinkedIn platform out of 100 (100 being excellent), the average response was 81. Pretty darn good, right?
When the same respondents were asked to rate the ‘new’ LinkedIn platform, they awarded it … wait for it … just 24. In other words they don’t even think it’s a third as good as the old one.
Although this seems a little harsh (as the platform hasn’t changed so dramatically to warrant such a difference in score) it reflects the frustrations and weariness of the average LinkedIn user.
Visual appeal of the new LinkedIn
said it looks better
said it looks worse
said nothing has improved
Perhaps the change that’s prompted the strongest response though is the adjustments made to navigation on the platform. A massive 80% of respondents said the navigation is worse, resulting in lower usability and lower activity levels.
Such is the difference between feelings surrounding the old platform vs. the new one, just take a look at the contrast between the two graphs from Q7 and Q8 in Josh / Martin’s raw data.
Some takeaway tips on navigating the new platform
We’ve spoken to lots of people about the new update, and the recurring complaint was how navigating LinkedIn has become more difficult. Whether it’s finding your published articles or sourcing a candidate, we’ve laid down a step-by-step guide to getting the most out of it.
Connecting with people
“Can’t add any second connections without their email address. However, the app on my phone lets me add the person that the desktop program won’t. It just means I can’t write a personalised message as to why I’m connecting!”
These are the frustrated words of Lee Woodward, a Recruitment Consultant who uses the platform to connect with clients and candidates. As yet it is unclear whether LinkedIn will change this, but you can in fact connect with people via the mobile app that you would otherwise need an email for on the desktop version.
This strange ‘hack’ means that, although you can connect with them, you are unable to send a personal note – something which is important if you’re to show your intent and purpose for sending an invite.
People are far more receptive of a connection request that has purpose.
You can no longer invite people to a group via the address book function. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Adding people to any group is now a manual, time-consuming process. LinkedIn also confirmed via a conversation on Customer Support that they are not intending to change this in the future:
They elaborated to say that it makes for a more ‘targeted approach to group audience building’.
Using the search function
No advanced search facility
“More intuitive search: You now have one universal search box to easily find people, jobs, companies, groups and schools. You can refine your search by using filter options on the right hand side, with the ability to search posts coming soon. Also, we’re investing further to better understand signals on who you are searching for, so we can bring you the best results for any search query.”
These are the words from LinkedIn’s official blog. However, there’s been a lot of talk about how they’ve done away with the ‘advanced search’ facility. For those who’ve never used this, it was a search that allowed exceptional refinement – from company, location, job title, industry, keywords, hobbies … everything!
Although some of these search parameters still exist, the process of filling them out is nowhere near as simple as it used to be.
What is now a cumbersome form that spans the length of a page via drop down boxes, used to be a more user-friendly, customisable exercise:
Hey LinkedIn, We miss this!
Conclusion … have your say!
So there you have it. Hopefully you’re a little wiser as to how to get around on the new platform by now, and word has it that LinkedIn are taking user feedback very seriously, so may well bring back some of the old elements.
LinkedIn would shoot themselves in the foot if they weren’t to take heed from what users are saying. They need to address elements of their navigation, and should definitely reconsider bringing back the old advanced search format.
Anyway, we want to know what you think?
Can LinkedIn make everybody happy? What are your thoughts on the update? Leave us a comment below!