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August 5, 2012
CALGARY, AB, Aug 5, 2012/ Troy Media/ – Most users would not use the term sexy to describe social network LinkedIn. Safe for work? Maybe. Business oriented? For sure. Resume database or contact list? Guaranteed. But sexy? No way.
LinkedIn is more like the chartered accountant of social networks – accurate, dependable, professional, but not so easy on the eyes. (Note to accountants: send complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
That’s about to change as LinkedIn has been quietly working on a makeover designed to inject a little sex appeal into its pages and publications. In their own words:
‘We’ve revamped the entire Homepage experience with a new look and feel to make it easier to scan and find the information that matters most to you. This simpler and cleaner design makes it easier to navigate the page and quickly find the updates you’re looking for – whether that’s a news article your boss has recently shared or it’s to see who has just started a new job.’
In other words, LinkedIn is becoming more social. This subtle transformation has the potential to radically morph this professional network into something truly attractive and interactive.
Those of you familiar with LinkedIn would probably agree its current interface is pretty conservative. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but then again, there’s nothing particularly memorable about it either. Ditto the emails LinkedIn shoots out from time to time; even the newer LinkedIn Today is a bit dull.
Mind you, this conservative approach has stood them in good stead, attracting hordes of white-collar professionals (over five million in Canada at last count) and cementing their spot as the definitive professional network.
LinkedIn’s challenge has been to create the habit of use for its members. Simply put, how often do you need to go look at resumes, especially your own? Rarely. Ditto if you use LinkedIn as a sort of Rolodex. Finding your colleague from 10 years ago is hardly a frequent exercise. Most professionals I meet ask me “What can you do on there besides look for a job?” Good question.
At one point I think groups were supposed to answer that question. A few are well-tended discussion zones. The Canadian Institute runs one for CMOs that is fresh, lively and relevant on marketing topics, but that’s rare. In my experience LinkedIn groups are mainly a wasteland of spam, self-promotion, and conversational tumbleweeds. Blech.
LinkedIn needs something to keep users coming back. An interface that emphasizes popular content and encourages interaction is just the thing.
Business Insider says ‘The new look removes a lot of the clutter from your home screen, focusing on the network updates and news that you’ll likely care about the most.’
Screenshot previews show greater emphasis on pictures, a cleaner page layout, image borders removed and more white space. At first glance it looks very modern and appealing. Mashable calls it ‘a mashup of Facebook and Google+.’
This is all in aid of building up the time users spend on site to fortify LinkedIn’s advertising pitch and increase the stickiness and relevance of the network.
The lesson every network has learned from polar opposites Google Plus (averaging around three minutes per month) and Facebook (averaging around 400 minutes per month) is a lack of frequent visitors = a reputation for irrelevance. According to web design firm Go-Gulf.com, LinkedIn currently enjoys about 21 minutes per month per user.
LinkedIn’s upcoming nip and tuck should definitely move it further into the habit-forming zone, with none of the ill effects one usually associates with addictive substances, just the slight buzz you get from interacting with colleagues and reading stimulating content.
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