These predictions are based on what I’ve observed and read over recent months, a busy period in which LinkedIn has made significant changes to the LinkedIn Profile, introduced Endorsements, incorporated the Social Graph and embraced Rich Media. The times they are changing for LinkedIn and I foresee many more exciting changes to come in 2013. The LinkedIn user will be more connected, have more data and better tools to enable and engage.
(1) Endorsements: More Players.
Introduced in late September, 200m new Endorsements by November and as of today over half a billion have been bestowed. As an engagement tool it’s too powerful to limit to 1st Degree Connections, there are many reasons why everyone, including 2nd & 3rd Degree “Connections” should be allowed to join in the fun. The main reason is that Endorsements are a great way to build rapport quickly and efficiently. Will there be ‘false positives’? Absolutely, but Endorsements are ‘likes’ not ‘recommendations’. On the face of it, I like you for X and btw, let’s connect. Can you think of a better way to start a conversation? Endorsements are ties that bind. They bring people on LinkedIn closer together. I predict that early next year LinkedIn will allow non-1st Degree Connections to Endorse one another, they could limit it to Groups and only allow Group Members to endorse one another or they could open up the floodgates and allow Profile Browsers (obviously not Anonymous or Semi-Anonymous browsers) to endorse. The result? More Connections, more curated data and a better search algorithm – lots of upside if LinkedIn allowed more people to play the Endorsement game.
(2) Language Still A Barrier.
17 languages catered to on the LinkedIn platform. 61 percent of members are international (non US), LinkedIn’s international operations contributes 36% of revenue. The problem is that these foreign language sites may as well be completely separate from LinkedIn, there is virtually no integration, no means to communicate because language is an apparently insurmountable barrier. That’s crazy. There has to be a way to link these silos. I predict LinkedIn will develop and implement a real-time, translation tool which will allow instant communication in all 16 languages. The technology already exists, it’s merely a question of smart integration and making it very simple to use. This tool would transform the platform into a powerful international commercial exchange and boost engagement in a multitude of ways.
No hint of translation in the above comments from the CEO but in order to remove “all of the friction out of potential connections”, people are going to have to understand each other, speaking the same language. LinkedIn should have an app for that.
(3) Data Bundles For Sale.
Recruiters pay $8k to LinkedIn for a tool which helps them to find talent. Basically they are paying to access actionable data. LinkedIn will start to offer this access to the corporate market as a way to keep track of employee behavior and habits. Knowing the LinkedIn dimension could offer valuable insights and lessons. This sounds dark and Orwellian but it really isn’t, since all of this data is public and of little relevance when viewed in bite-sized chunks. It can be found by intelligent scouring of the LinkedIn platform but who has the time and know-how to do that in a busy HR department? The offer will be to present a dynamic organizational picture, kind of like a live corporate directory, with insights on hiring, departures and other activities like Group discussions, Polls and Q&A responses. These will be subscription services with the HR department in mind. Birds-eye view of organizations as a whole rather than the flashlight of searching for talent. Individuals will also be offered data insights on companies and firms, for a price. Whether you are a journalist researching a story, a job-seeker preparing for an interview or just someone who wants to better understand the actual work environment of Company X, that will be a tantalizing option in 2013. Kind of like GlassDoor, Macintosh Time Machine and Hoovers combined, but better.
(4) Feeds, Streams, Decks. and IMs
Notifications are the primary conduit of LinkedIn activities, you see the boxed red number over the flag and you have to click, hard to resist. Only problem is that they’re stuck in LinkedIn land, if you’re not logged on to LinkedIn, you’re oblivious. LinkedIn will surely find a way to set the Notification free and unleash it’s power. I think LinkedIn will alert you to Notifications via email or better still, integrate with or invent their own version of TweetDeck. They’ll also provide a unique symbol for Twitter users to link directly to their public LinkedIn Profiles. Communication these days is rapid, reciprocal and comes in short bursts, Notifications are ready-made for Twitter streams or RSS feeds. The LinkedIn email subsystem is a clunky mess. Email is on the way out, instant messaging and texting is the future, LinkedIn will embrace both forms in 2013.
(5) Mobile from Good to Great.
A Nielsen Report earlier this year found that in the period July 2011-2012, Unique Mobile Web visitors to LinkedIn increased by 114% in the US. In the same period, Unique PC visitors to LinkedIn U.S. remained static.
Clearly, the future is mobile. The current mobile offering by LinkedIn for the iPad is nice enough with the ability to see what’s happening in your network via updates and a Flipboard like approach to news but where are the 2 must-have features that would galvanize the user base and double the current LinkedIn growth from 2 to 4 new members a second? I’m talking, literally a Siri-like voice feature that would do advanced searches of the entire LinkedIn network without the hassle of learning boolean strings. “Find me a Forensic Accountant in Delaware with 60+ Endorsements in International Commerce” or “Find me 5 people with 100+ Blogging and 50+ Social Media Endorsements located in London”. Useful, right? Proximity is driving retail, Foursquare is a good example, consumers are checking in and gaining status/upgrades/discounts based on location. LinkedIn will build proximity or ‘Profile Geo-tagging’ into both their iPhone & iPad apps in 2013. Users will use these services to research and reach out to fellow users who are attending the same events/meetings or those who live nearby. Enterprising developers are already offering these kinds of services by using the LinkedIn API. LinkedIn can do a better job by integrating all of the bells and whistles (voice, Notifications and Geo-tagging). LinkedIn will be your walkie talkie, rolodex, concierge, crystal ball and more. Just call me “Hal”….9000.
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That’s all from me for this week. Please take a few moments to share this article with your network. I read and respond to all comments.
By Andy Foote