New business: LinkedIn looks more like Face­book

So­cial plat­form seeks sense of com­munity

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY AMERICA’S MARKETS - Jef­fer­son Gra­ham

LinkedIn, the business so­cial net­work, will look more and more like Face­book.

LinkedIn, which has 700 mil­lion mem­bers, re­designed its web­site, in­tro­duc­ing “Sto­ries,” ephemeral posts first pop­u­lar­ized by Snapchat, then ex­ploited by Face­book and its In­sta­gram.

The changes , which be­gin rolling out Thur­day come as the business net­work, which once was just a place where peo­ple posted their re­sumes and looked for con­nec­tions to net­work with, has evolved into a more ro­bust so­cial net­work of peo­ple who use it for more than just job seeking, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

“We’re see­ing peo­ple share more and com­ment more,” says Ki­ran Prasad, LinkedIn vice-pres­i­dent of prod­uct, who added that users seek “a stronger sense of com­munity on the plat­form.” He calls the evo­lu­tion a “re­birth of LinkedIn as a so­cial net­work where peo­ple want to form com­munity and con­ver­sa­tions.”

For Sto­ries, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslan­sky con­cedes on a com­pany blog post that they’re not new, “but we took the time to un­der­stand how sto­ries fit in the pro­fes­sional con­text,” and found that in the COVID-19 world, the 24-hour up­date that doesn’t stick to your pro­file “lets us re­place the wa­ter cooler con­ver­sa­tions, which we all need from time to time.”

Ex­plain­ing the change in fo­cus, Roslan­sky says that LinkedIn is now a “com­munity where you can be in­spired, build re­la­tion­ships and dis­cover un­ex­pected op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Char­lene Li, an an­a­lyst with the Al­time­ter Group thinks adding Sto­ries makes sense. “Peo­ple are not go­ing to post baby pho­tos there,” she says. “It’s about work and how you want to be seen and known as a pro­fes­sional.” Sto­ries, she adds, “are a great way to form con­nec­tions and that’s what LinkedIn is all about.”

The cos­metic changes in­clude more wide spa­ces, more col­ors and less of the “LinkedIn” blue, ex­cept for “call to ac­tion,” ar­eas, was in­spired to un­der­take th­ese changes in re­sponse to the com­munity, which has in­creased shar­ing of posts and ar­ti­cles by 50% since the COVID cri­sis started.

Since then, LinkedIn added a new “Open to Work,” tab to help the sud­denly laid-off em­ployee find new gigs. LinkedIn says peo­ple who ac­cept this no­tice are re­ceiv­ing 40% more LinkedIn mails from re­cruiters.

Search is be­ing added to LinkedIn pages to find “peo­ple, events, groups and con­tent,” and new tabs are be­ing added to LinkedIn mes­sages to let peo­ple in­stantly con­nect to video meet­ings on Mi­crosoft Teams, Zoom or Ver­i­zon’s BlueJeans.

Asked about the re­sem­blance to Face­book, Prasad says LinkedIn’s goals are the same: to be a place where the business com­munity to com­mu­ni­cate with one an­other. “We try to get peo­ple to have con­ver­sa­tions with each other, so they can get more op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

What makes it dif­fer­ent from Face­book is the peo­ple who are on LinkedIn and the type of con­tent they post. “Even if you look at it vis­ually and you say OK, well, they look very sim­i­lar to each other ... I think the con­tent and the net­work is ac­tu­ally the dif­fer­ence.”

LinkedIn’s ser­vices are free, but there also is a premium op­tion, start­ing at $29.99 monthly, of­fer­ing classes and the abil­ity to write mes­sages to peo­ple you’re not con­nected to.

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