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The one certainty on LinkedIn? It changes ALL the time. New stuff appears, usually without explanation. Existing stuff changes in the blink of an eye. And it’s tricky, because if something you didn’t really pay much attention to suddenly appears, changes or disappears, you begin to question whether it changed or was really there in the first place. Thank goodness for screenshots. Here’s my take on what’s changed on LinkedIn in 2019.

LINKEDIN – New Features & Changes (2019)

 

1. JAN – Position Grouping
2. JAN – About (Summary)
3. FEB – LinkedIn Live
4. MAR – Photo Tagging
5. APR – Teammates
6. APR – Reactions
7. MAY – Co Page Follow
8. JUN – LinkedIn Comments
9. JUN – Interview Prep Videos
10. AUG – Documents Tab
11. SEP – Save Feed Content
12. SEP – Open To Opportunities
13. SEP – Open For Business
14. SEP – Featured By LinkedIn Editors
15. SEP – Find An Expert
16. SEP – Skill Assessments
17. OCT – LinkedIn Events
18. OCT – Find Nearby
19. OCT – Personalized Invitations (Mobile)
20. NOV – Indexed Posts
21. NOV – Visibility Of Shared Posts
22. DEC – Hashtags In URL
23. DEC – Most Relevant (Top Comments)
24. DEC – Pending Content (Groups)
25. DEC – Reply Auto Tag/Mention

 

1. Consolidated Employer View (officially known as ‘Position Grouping’)
Changed JAN 2019

“To better represent career progression and development, positions in your Experience section are grouped if they were held at the same company (they have the same logo and link to the same LinkedIn Page), and if their start and end dates are within one month of each other.”

My take: No brainer. Anything that automatically organizes your profile page to:

(a) make it easier to read/digest
(b) logical
(c) shorter and
(d) less ugly 

Is a good thing. Right?

2. ‘About’ (LinkedIn Summary)
Changed JAN 2019

My take: Hmmm. I couldn’t find anything telling me why or when the summary changed to About. So I’m guessing it arrived at the beginning of 2019. Who knows why? To mess with SEO? To force everyone to re-write all of their content which previously referenced the/a LinkedIn summary? Or to get LinkedIn users less hung up about summarizing and more free’d up to just go ahead and write About themselves? Oh, another change, LinkedIn increased the summary character limit from 2,000 to 2,600 this year. No one knows why this changed either.

3. ‘LinkedIn Live’ (Livestream Native Video)
Added FEB 2019

“Live video streaming allows broadcasters to share videos with their network in real time. We’re currently piloting live video streaming with a few broadcasters, so the feature isn’t available to all members or Pages.”

My take: I guess on the plus side, it’s a shiny new tool and another way to connect/shine. But I’m sorry to say that too many of the streams I’ve watched have been hit and miss. There are times when I wonder why the content has been streamed, instead of written or podcasted. Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. Also, when you stream on LinkedIn you’re a guinea pig in a very public beta, the product is unfinished, chat is shown on a separate screen making it exceptionally difficult to juggle the broadcast, on-screen controls and engaging with the audience. It’s like riding a feisty showjumping horse for the first time, blindfolded. 

A couple of hundred people currently have access to LL. There are some neat audience analytics that come with the package. LL requires a degree of technical ability and you’ll need to figure out how to use a separate streaming app, live. I understand that one of them is free.

Weirdest rule of the 9 listed: “Please refrain from: Broadcasting meta streams. Please don’t talk about how to use LinkedIn on LinkedIn.” Excuse me? The hating on the smart, talented and endlessly enthusiastic cottage industry of independent LinkedIn trainers continues unabated. As asinine as “Only connect with people you know”. Uhuh.

Rule #4 “Please refrain from: Going live more than once per day, because a big portion of your followership may get a notification when you go live.” No kidding. Not only will LinkedIn put you at the top of multiple home feeds, it will also plaster those notifications liberally in 3 different spots: Brenda is live right now…..Brenda is live……Brenda was live, catch the replay. Ok, we get it, thanks. Btw, Brenda Meller and Cher Jones are excellent live.

4. ‘Photo Tagging
Added MAR 2019

“Tagging people in your photos encourages engagement with your images. Tagging people notifies those members that your photo might be relevant to them and these tagged photos become linked with the associated members’ profiles. Viewers can click on connection names to navigate to their profiles.”

When composing your LinkedIn update, after adding your photo, you can tap on the tag icon at the top of the screen, or tap on the image itself to bring up the profile search option.

My take: Useful. My guess is that this one is underutilized because people tend to forget about this feature. I have not tested it with hashtags yet. On a related note, I always entitle any photo/document I add on LinkedIn because of search-ability/documentation. Having said this, my titles sometimes only make sense to me.

5. ‘Teammates
Added APRIL 2019

“Teammates, a new feature that helps you quickly add your current teammates on LinkedIn. Simply visit My Network, and look to the left panel. If the feature is enabled for you, you should see the text “Add Teammates,”  where you can specify your manager, peers and/or direct reports. From there, we’ll prioritize updates in your feed about your team’s activity on LinkedIn, such as posts, comments, likes, shares, and work anniversaries.”

“To ensure transparency, teammates that you add will be notified that you added them as a teammate, and they can either verify that you’re their teammate or indicate that the information is incorrect. If your teammate verifies your relationship, they’ll receive updates about your LinkedIn activity.

Some activities that you may be notified about includes:

• Work anniversaries and birthdays
• Posts and shares
• Comments
• Other uses explained in our Privacy Policy

You can currently add your manager, teammates reporting to your manager, other teammates, and direct reports. We’re working to improve the feature, so you’ll be able to add other types of coworkers and important professional relationships in the future. At this time, you can add up to one manager, 19 teammates who report to your manager, 20 direct reports, and 10 other teammates.”

My take: I’m not sure about this one. Seems forced. Doesn’t apply to me because I’m a sole practitioner but if I worked at an organization, I’m not sure I would use it. A lot of people in my space got very excited about the prospect of this rolling out to other designated important people, for example select followers, blog subscribers, avid commenters etc. If LinkedIn decided to let users decide who to prioritize, that would be a game improver.

6. ‘Reactions
Added APRIL 2019

“LinkedIn reactions are a set of lightweight expressions that offer members a way to more easily participate in conversations and communicate with their network. To view and select your reaction to a post from a mobile device, tap and hold the Like icon. If you’re using a desktop computer, hover over the Like icon to select your reaction to a post.”

My take: Makes sense to provide a variety of responses. I still think that the Curious reaction can be misconstrued as questioning or ‘really?’. I prefer not to use it for that reason and I’m usually a comment guy, so I can ask a question instead of just dropping a ‘?’ and letting it linger. A LinkedIn coach recently wrote a heart wrenching post about losing his son to suicide. Three people inexplicably clicked ‘Celebrate’ on his post. People are weird. Or as dumb as a box or rocks.

LinkedIn should have given a ‘More’ reaction (as in I’d like to see more from you because this is exactly the kind of content I want to see on LinkedIn) or a ‘Sharing’ reaction (as in so good that I am immediately going to share this with my LinkedIn family) instead of the waste-of-space purple chin scratcher.

It would be neat if the little headshot on each comment could auto display the commenter’s reaction in the comment thread and for users to have the option to add more than just a like to comments. Bonus tip: you can quickly give a post a Like by double tapping it if you’re on the mobile version. A friend inside LinkedIn tells me that they are experimenting with other mobile centric actions (like shaking the device).


7. Invite Connections to Follow Your LinkedIn Company Page
Added MAY 2019

“As a LinkedIn Page admin, you can grow your follower base by inviting your 1st-degree connections to follow your Page”.

• Only page admins with fewer than 500 connections are able to invite all their connections via a ‘Select all’ option.
• Admins with more than 500 connections need to manually select who they want to invite.
• Only company pages with fewer than 100,000 followers can invite members to follow via the option
• If an admin has less than 3 connections, they won’t have the option available
• Only one invite per member can be sent
• Page admins can only invite 50 new people per session

My take: LinkedIn first offered this in 2017 and it vanished. Popped up again in May and promptly disappeared. Well folks, it’s back. Personally, I won’t use it. I’d love for you to follow my Company Page but I dislike the idea of actively pushing out invitations to do so, just feels unnecessary and intrusive. I much prefer the pop up that appears after connecting, smarter, organic, pull, no push.

8. LinkedIn Help (In Comments)
Added JUN 2019

I’ve noticed that LinkedIn support have started to jump into comments, usually happens when you tag a senior LinkedIn person (i.e Jeff Weiner) or when you tag/mention LinkedIn or LinkedIn Help.


My take: This is obviously a much more efficient customer response than making users hop away to another platform for a quick resolution of their issue (@LinkedinHelp on twitter) or forcing them to endure the labyrinthian Help section in settings and it shows CS being responsive/supportive in a way that could help other users who are experiencing the same/similar issue.

9. Interview Prep Videos
Added JUN 2019

“This feature is currently being rolled out (and it is for premium subscribers only). For now, it’s only available to members in English-speaking countries. You can access the feature by using the LinkedIn desktop experience and the mobile app. The Interview Preparation feature can be accessed from the Jobs page. Immediately after you apply for a job on LinkedIn. When you’re viewing jobs you’ve applied for in the Jobs Tracker dashboard. To access the Interview Preparation feature:”

My take: Great idea. Most recruiters I know confirm that these questions get asked time and time again, you should get ready for them and then nail them at interview, so you can build confidence for when those pesky behavioral questions stab your brain. Great for LinkedIn because they can entice jobseekers over to Premium and LinkedIn is giving additional reasons for users to be on the platform more often. Also great for job hoppers who have Premium and want to do more than people watch and chew on a sandwich while on their lunch break.

10. Documents Tab
Added AUG 2019

My take: I noticed that LinkedIn added a 4th tab/button on the Activity section sometime this summer. It’s helpful if you have written a lot of document posts, or if you just want to see document posts on their own. What’s interesting to me is that there is no ‘Video’ button, doesn’t bode well for the future of video on LinkedIn.

11. Save Feed Content
Added SEP 2019

“You can save posts and articles you view in your feed from your desktop computer or from the LinkedIn mobile app. Important: You won’t be able to save jobs recommended for you, follow recommendations, work anniversary and profile change updates on your feed. To view your saved content, navigate to the left rail of your homepage and click Saved items from the panel under your profile picture.”

My take: Sensible. It’s called a ‘rail’? I had no idea. Like for trains?

12. Let Recruiters Everybody Know You’re Open to Opportunities
Changed SEP 2019

LinkedIn now allows you to signal to all LinkedIn members who view your profile that you are open to opportunities. Previously, if you selected “open to job opportunities” in settings it would only show your open status to users paying for LinkedIn Recruiter premium. All LinkedIn members whether on free or premium plans can now use this feature.

My take: If you’re actively job seeking or you’re someone who’s in a position to be able to advertise your availability, great. Anything just below your photo (which most people are instinctively drawn to when browsing the profile page) is prime LinkedIn screen estate, use it to sell yourself and to get what you want. It’s interesting that many people have been doing this in their own way by adding ‘#ONO’ (Open to New Opportunities) in their headline/summary for quite a while. Maybe an example of LinkedIn taking a cue from their enterprising members?

13. ‘Open For Business
Added SEP 2019

“Open For Business allows small business owners and professionals to network and connect with members looking for the services they offer, and it allows service providers to reach potential clients. Open for Business is a free feature that you can use on your personal LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn ProFinder is a separate product. Enabling Open for Business will overwrite categories you previously selected in ProFinder services”.

My take: Again – utilizing the most viewed space just below your photo is intelligent UX and design. This feature is still rolling out because LinkedIn are trying to figure out who qualifies as a business owner/freelancer. I think it needs other capabilities (i.e the ability to add a clickable link to a website) to be truly useful, but it’s better than nothing. Shame that it supplants ‘shared connections’ and doesn’t warrant an extra line in list view.

14. ‘Featured By LinkedIn Editors
Added SEP 2019

If you write something that LinkedIn Editors deem newsworthy or relevant, you may be pulled into a specially (officially) curated feed.

But before you start popping corks, realize that you’re just one of a bunch of writers who have been pulled into a Featured feed. You won’t necessarily get top billing either, you’ll likely be buried in with another slew of related posts.

My take: This is similar to ‘trending hashtags’, they’re not actually trending, they’ve been cherrypicked and thrown into a basket of other trending (cherries) in no particular order. But heck, it’s a helpful shove in front of more people than you would usually reach, so on that basis, it’s a win. I wish LinkedIn provided insights on content (and hashtags) that were logical, accurate and relevant. Seems weird to me that they would release a product (trending hashtags) that is not working the way users would expect. And why is John relegated to second place when he’s a 1st degree?

15. ‘Find An Expert
Added SEP 2019

“You can use Find an Expert on the LinkedIn mobile app to ask your network to recommend members who can provide services you require. Your LinkedIn network is a valuable resource that you can use to find members who offer the services you’re looking for. Some of the current service categories offered are:

• Accounting
• Coaching and Mentoring
• Design
• Marketing”

My take: A boon for the demand generation of expertise but with limited categories. Excellent in theory but what is this really? It’s just a RFP in a post wrapper. And who will see it? A small proportion of your 1st degree connections, so limited in reach too. I don’t think I’ve seen any since launch.

16. ‘Skill Assessments
Added SEP 2019

“The LinkedIn Skill Assessments feature allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of the skills you’ve added on your profile by completing assessments specific to those skills. A typical assessment consists of 15 to 20 multiple choice questions and each question tests at least one concept or subskill. The questions are timed and must be completed in one session.” “Once candidates have completed an assessment, a badge will be displayed on their profile in LinkedIn Recruiter and LinkedIn Jobs so hirers are able to quickly identify and verify skill proficiency.”

My take: Smart move by LinkedIn. Who wouldn’t want to add credentials and proof of expertise directly to your profile page? My only concern is that as these quizzes are taken by thousands of users, the data on both questions and answers becomes a commodity to be traded, which of course erodes the value of those skill badges.

17. ‘LinkedIn Events
Added OCT 2019

“Hosting an event can seem daunting, but we’ve made the process easier by giving you features such as the ability to create private events, event update notifications, search filters to invite the right attendees, and the ability to engage with LinkedIn’s 645 million global members. You can begin by visiting the ‘Community’ panel located on the left side of the newsfeed and click ‘Create’. Next, you would need to provide a description, a date and time, a venue, and then invite your connections using filters such as location, company, industry, and school. We also recommend you share the event as a post to leverage the power of the feed to reach relevant attendees. From your event page, you can easily track attendees and invitees, post updates and interact with other attendees. LinkedIn’s algorithm automatically provides timely and relevant notifications to attendees to make sure they don’t miss any important updates about your event. Members who have joined the event can also invite people from their own networks to attend.”

My take: What took them so long? Users have been organizing events on the LinkedIn platform from day one, there was a concerted effort last year led by ‘LinkedIn Local’ “A global community by the users of LinkedIn designed to take online relationships offline to get to know the person behind the profile.​” Putting aside the use of “offline” which always makes me groan, because when people talk about offline it makes me think of something as either dead or disconnected….LinkedIn Local was (is?) a great initiative. But now, anyone can run the show and get bums on seats, irl.


18.
‘Find Nearby

Changed OCT 2019

My take: FN is a weird one. If you don’t attend events, you’ll probably never use it but LinkedIn have this year made it (almost) impossible to find. It used to be at the top of your screen, after clicking ‘My Network’.

But they’ve now hidden it in the ‘Connect’ button at the bottom right of your screen. The icon appears to be something you press to add a (new) connection, it has nothing ostensibly to do with FN (or QR codes). Strange UX decision.

I think FN has been hobbled by privacy concerns and poor implementation. Just leave it on permanently and let users decide whether to allow notifications/messages etc. generated by it in their settings panel. Also, for branding sake, I would have called it ‘Conference Connect’. ‘Find Nearby’ definitely sounds like something a stalker would do, or would like to do.

19. Personalized Invitations (Mobile)
Changed NOV 2019

My take: One of the most persistent and annoying issues with using the mobile app was the way in which hitting ‘Connect’ would immediately send a boilerplate invitation before you even knew what had happened. Sending a boilerplate invitation is just bad form and substantially increases the chance of being ignored/rejected. LinkedIn tucked away the personalize option in the tiny 3 dots, which hardly anyone seems to know about.

But now, whenever you click ‘Connect’ on the app, a screen will give you an option to personalize (send a custom message), or send a boilerplate connection request. 100% better!

20. Indexed Posts
Changed NOV 2019

It seems that LinkedIn could be allowing short form content (posts) to be indexed by search engines.

Search string is: site:linkedin.com “first last name” inurl:posts -inurl:pulse
So mine would be: site:linkedin.com “andy foote” inurl:posts -inurl:pulse

My take: File this in the interesting folder. I’m not sure how/if this will affect your content on/beyond LinkedIn. Early days, keep an eye on it though. Be interested to get your take, please comment.

21. Visibility Of Shared Posts
Changed NOV 2019

“Posts and engagement activity that appear in the main feed and profile may vary in visibility depending on the author’s visibility selection of the shared post”.

My take: So these little grey icons have been around for at least 6 months but they are now starting to appear as part of the author’s headline, in posts and events. When you click on them, you’ll be transported to the poster’s profile page, same result you’d get when clicking on the author’s picture, maybe there’s different functionality in the works? Oddly, the ‘Anyone’ globe icon (or North & South America icon..) is exactly the same as ‘Anyone + Twitter’, so there’s no way of knowing whether the post was published on both platforms.

22. Hashtags In URL
Changed DEC 2019

It looks like LinkedIn is now automatically incorporating the first three hashtags (if you’ve added hashtags) in your post, to the post url.

My take: The walled garden being breached on LinkedIn’s terms? As a fellow LinkedIn observer commented “This is a variation on classic SEO, which (a bit strangely) seems to indicate that LinkedIn wants posts to get greater visibility in search engines. To get more traffic for LinkedIn? Or more visibility for members who make posts using hashtags? Doesn’t seem to apply to Group discussions or articles published on Pulse.” Don’t use more than 3 hashtags, the official advice from LinkedIn (Pete Davis), backed up by this latest intel.

23. ‘Most relevant’ (Top Comments)
Changed DEC 2019

Either being tested or in the process of being rolled out. There used to be two ways to filter comments, ‘Top Comments’ & ‘Most recent’. I’m seeing ‘Most Relevant’ as a replacement for ‘Top Comments’. What are you seeing?

My take: I’m not sure whether this is wholesale restructuring of comments based on (network) relevance, or simply more accurate labeling. If it’s the former, I’d like three filters: (1) Most Relevant (2) Top Comments and (3) Most Recent. A friend of mine suggested a chronological filter, to see comments in the sequence they are added. I think that would also be pretty useful, especially from the post author perspective, to keep up with responding to comments.

24. Pending Content (Groups)
Changed DEC 2019

“If you’re a group owner or manager, and you identify spam or other inappropriate content in your group, you can delete posts and comments and remove or block the member. Most of the time, you can get the results you want for your group if you use the Block option to remove the member from your group. Removing or blocking a member will automatically remove all their content from the group”.

My take: Yeah, that’s not the best way to run a group. It’s whack-a-mole and implies that folks who run LinkedIn groups have time and stamina to delete after the damage has already been done. Can we please have pre-publish moderation rights? Like we used to? Before it was taken away? Apparently, we can!

My hope is that this sensible move is the (real) start of groups rejuvenation. What I’ve observed up until now on changes to groups this year has been wide of the mark and lackluster. Scratching the surface. LinkedIn needs to work with, not against group owners to improve the groups product. I’ve created and currently manage 15 LinkedIn groups, over 50,000 members in aggregate.

25. Reply Auto Tag/Mention
Added DEC 2019

My take: We’ve been able to do this on FB for ages, looks like LinkedIn is catching up. When you click on the ‘Reply’ boxy conversation bubble icon in comments, LinkedIn will automatically tag/mention the person you’re replying to at the start of your comment. Nice little time-saver. I actually use auto suggested comments in messaging more than I thought I would. I recently saw a post from someone saying he’s been offered auto suggest comments in posts, seems like a step too far – but if words fail you and the AI is smart enough to make your response appear relevant, you’re probably gonna use that too.

2019 REVIEW
That completes my review of everything that’s been added and changed on LinkedIn in 2019. Beats me why LinkedIn doesn’t provide something like this. They really should! It’s a great way to measure progress and to demonstrate to its users exactly how much change has taken place over the course of a year. Maybe after seeing this article, they’ll start doing their own yearly review? Just remember where you saw it first folks. I should add a small caveat, some of the months I’ve listed above could be wrong, let’s just say that these relate to when I personally became aware of these new features/changes.

THANKS
Quick shout out to the following good folks for providing tips, info and inspiration in the writing of this article: Shelly Elsliger, John Espirian, Tony Restell, Kevin D Turner, David Kirkdorffer, Susan P Joyce, Kim Gelston, Emilia Dymek. Grateful to each and every one of you.

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