LinkedIn Signal was released just two months ago as a new way for professionals to consume information. While the new product was only available in beta for some time, my good friend Glen Loock recently mentioned to me that now anyone can access the application through LinkedIn Labs, or better yet, here’s the official link for Signal.
I always feel it is best to wait a little time and give new features some historical perspective before reviewing them fully on my blog. This is no different with Signal: While it was announced with some fanfare in late September, the application is still not discoverable within LinkedIn’s own home page. No, Signal will not change the way in which you consume information, but as a new business intelligence dashboard it does have compelling value as a tool.
Don’t be confused about Signal. It is merely providing a LinkedIn filter to view your tweets from. All of the tweets, as well as status updates, from your extended LI network are now searchable via a number of filters. The user interface is also incredibly simple, with search filters on the left, timeline in the middle, and trending links on the right. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like when you first view the application:
What seems extremely simply is actually powerful for the following reason: LinkedIn, based on profiles with professional demographic data, is very much a closed social networking site that is relationship-centric while Twitter, displaying little bio information about any given user but a lot of what they think about, is an open social networking site that is idea-centric. Signal brings these two worlds together to allow you to co-mingle this data in a compelling way. Let’s take a look at some scenarios that illustrate how you can use targeted searches on Signal for anything from business development and professional networking to your job search:
1) Connect with Relevant Twitter Users…on LinkedIn
There are a variety of reasons why you might want to connect with those who tweet on LI, most notably if you find out through their tweets that you share a common interest. This is the basis of professional networking, and these data points can also help you when reaching out to others for a variety of purposes. Simply by searching for any given keyword you can see who is tweeting about the subject that interests you as well as those that are retweeting not only the “trending links,” but by searching through your own tweets you can also see which users are retweeting your own tweets that show up as trending links. Using Signal will help you find lots of people that share your common interests to network with for whatever networking objective you might have.
2) Target Twitter Users within a Company
By far the most valuable part of Signal is to be able to find out who at a particular company is tweeting. The Signal algorithm is apparently only using the most current company listed on any given profile, so if you are looking for business intelligence surrounding a particular company, you might be able to glean some interesting data by looking at tweets from their current employees. Once again there are many potential scenarios for using this filter, but if you are looking to connect to someone within any given company for business development or job search purposes, those that are active on Twitter may be easier to engage with compared to the traditional LinkedIn method of asking for an introduction from an average user, especially if they are 3 degrees of separation away from you. Remember, Twitter is a flat society when compared to LinkedIn, so using the intelligence gleaned from Signal can provide you the information and data points to facilitate networking on both platforms: You decide which social media channel to use to engage with for any given person and/or situation.
3) Search Tweets in a Region
Looking to see who on Twitter is talking about a given subject in any region of the world? Signal delivers this information through tweets based on the familiar locations that are used in any given LinkedIn search. This can help when you don’t have a target company in mind but you want to add some geographical relevance to the conversations. Looking to hire someone in a particular area that is talking about a subject relevant to your company? Looking to network with professionals in a region? Going on a business trip and looking to make some new local connections? There are many scenarios for using this feature and narrowing down Twitter conversations by LinkedIn users by region.
4) Use Your Alumni Network in Networking
Signal has an intriguing feature that allows you to search through tweets by school attended. Any educational institution that is provided on a profile is used in this search. This gives you the ability to search for tweets by users that went to the same school that you did. If you were looking to target a company and found one of their employees went to the same school that you did, that would be a natural person to try to contact. Signal gives you a new way of utilizing your distributed and virtual alumni network.
5) Hashtag Analysis
Hashtags are an important way of classifying tweets so that they can be found by search engines as well as other users when the wording of your tweet does not necessarily contain the keywords of your message. I like how Signal will show the most popular hashtags that are associated with tweets from LinkedIn users for any given keyword that is searched. This can help you better utilize hashtags for your own tweets as well as figure out the most popular hashtags to search for yourself.
6) Find and Share Relevant Information
I recently blogged about how to find relevant information to share on Twitter, and Signal is another tool to add to that list and the subsequent post on alternative ways to find content to tweet about. The beauty about using Signal as a Twitter search engine is that it is finding relevant tweets for any given keyword from within your own trusted LinkedIn network. You can even narrow down the results to your 1st degree connections as well as how long ago the tweet was sent. Combining that with the trending links bar gives you more than enough ideas for tweetable content. And, of course, LinkedIn makes it easy for you to now share that content within their platform with their own ubiquitous “Share” button below any given tweet.
So what is there not to like about Signal? Signal in itself is another welcome tool to the growing arsenal of 3rd party Twitter applications that exist. That being said, use Signal only after understanding these 4 caveats:
1) It Amplifies the Noise that Twitter Can Sometimes Become
Want to see who in your network is broadcasting the most noise on Twitter? When you see the same source of tweets for the trending links or repetitive tweets in the timeline, it is easy to see who is exploiting Twitter as a mere broadcasting system (or worse yet who is automating their status updates through Twitter, one of the unfortunate by-products of the LinkedIn-Twitter integration). For this reason, for any given search result, you will have to wade through the noise that Twitter can sometimes contain. Not the fault of Signal, but the noise can be somewhat amplified at times whenever you are analyzing tweets.
2) It Limits Your View of Twitter to Only Your LinkedIn Connections
The LinkedIn community now comprises more than 85 million professionals. Twitter has more than 175 million users. Anytime you use Signal, you are limiting your search results to less than half of all Twitter users.
3) There are Very Few LinkedIn Status Updates
After using Signal, you will realize that tweets dominate the results for any given keyword, so even though status updates are also aggregated in the search results, they seldom appear. Would have been nice to have a filter to just see those updates coming from within LinkedIn. Similarly to how your view on Signal is limited to only LinkedIn users, consider that for the most part the results seen on Signal are coming from Twitter.
4) LinkedIn Already Gives You the Ability to Create a Twitter List of Connections
You can create a Twitter list of your LI connections by using the LinkedIn Tweets application. So why bother with Signal if you just want to see what your network is tweeting about?
Once you understand the caveats, you can see how Signal is a compelling and powerful that can help you bridge the worlds of two great social networks and help you better network for a variety of potential objectives.
Any other ways that you are utilizing Signal that I didn’t list?