10 New Features LinkedIn Introduced in 2011 to Better Leverage in 2012

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As 2011 leaves us and we begin 2012, sometimes it takes time for us to catch up in the world of social media to all of the new applications as well as new features from older applications that we have been inundated with. Take LinkedIn, who introduced us many new features in 2011 that you might not already be leveraging as the new year in 2012 begins. It seems that LinkedIn is always tinkering with ways to improve the user experience of its members and to provide them with the necessary tools and features to help them gain a leg up in their respective businesses or professions. Here’s a rundown of the ten best features introduced by LinkedIn in 2011 that you’ll want to utilize in 2012:

1. LinkedIn Today: Social News Delivered

The steady stream of news we get everyday can become a bit overwhelming. Enter LinkedIn Today. It’s what your newspaper would be if it delivered nothing but the news that matters to you. You get only the most relevant headlines, the articles that your LinkedIn connections and industry peers are sharing and reading. You can even tweak this service further by choosing news in other industries important to you, drilling down to check who’s sharing the articles you are reading, and even getting the same reading experience via LinkedIn’s iPhone app. In just five minutes, you can stay informed and on top of your industry, thanks to LinkedIn Today. If you’re a marketer, you’ll want to make sure that you make it easy for readers of your website content to share it – indirectly promoting it – on LinkedIn so that it has the potential to be featured in Today.

2. Searching Companies Gets Easier

While LinkedIn is primarily about connecting professionals, it’s also about staying in touch with the companies that are in your network. As part of the ongoing push of the company to improve search, you can now look for companies according to their connection to your network, whether it’s a direct connection or part of your extended network. Results of searches have become more relevant as well, taking into account the strength of your connection with the company on top of other factors like the keywords and filters you use. It’s a great way to discover the reach of your professional graph while you utilize LinkedIn Companies for business intelligence research. Try out LinkedIn’s Company Search for yourself.

3. Now Companies have Status Updates, Too

Getting vital information from companies you follow has now been made simpler. Companies themselves can now push updates, breaking news, and other pertinent data to LinkedIn members that follow them. All this information is available in your personal newsfeed. Moreover, any changes made by companies to their profile, status and any other updates they would like to share will be automatically displayed there as well. A great marketing feature for companies to use outside of their Groups and personal profiles as part of their LinkedIn inbound marketing strategy.

4. New Statistics Dashboard for Groups

The new LinkedIn’s Group Statistics gives its members a closer look at what makes certain communities and groups tick. The dashboard shows helpful statistics about the group’s demographics, activities and growth.

With this data, LinkedIn members will be able to check which groups fit them best and will help them grow their portfolio. The dashboard is complete with charts and percentages, helping give insight to not only prospective group members but also the current ones as well. A potential treasure trove of information for marketers and business development professionals awaits you…

5. The First Groups Application: Polls

Polls are a great way to distill information from a large number of people, which is why LinkedIn thought it would be a great application to add to Groups. If you’d like to generate discussion on a certain topic, or just want to get the opinions of like-minded professionals in your field, creating a poll is one of the easiest ways to engage a group and encourage them to participate. Polls are also easy to create: add in a few choices and you’re ready to roll. If you want a quick way to get the pulse of your group (or even the world at large, if you’re an open group), polls are the way to go. It will be interesting to see if other new Groups applications are released in the coming year.

6. Events Overhauled

Taking members’ feedback into consideration, LinkedIn has reworked its events manager to make finding relevant events faster and easier. One major addition was the overhaul of a member’s Events Home. You can now receive events recommended for the industry you’re in right in your locale.

You also now have a Network Update stream, which focuses more on the events that your network is organizing. To cap it off, LinkedIn also now has a more refined search feature for events. Aside from events, there’s also a feature that gives recommendations on attendees you may want to meet. Try ou the new Events today. While not a sexy application, it could just provide you the information you need to meet your next new client.

7.  LinkedIn Gets Serious about Their Mobile Application

Many people nowadays use their smartphones instead of their computers when going online, which is why LinkedIn has doubled down on making their mobile apps the best that they can be. Some of its key improvements are faster overall performance across all features and a simpler and more intuitive menu and interface. They’ve also listened to user feedback, putting the Update stream front and center when launching the app and providing users long-awaited access to Groups. You can check out the changes for yourself by visiting their mobile site at touch.linkedin.com.

8. Profiles Now Have Skills

Everyone’s good at something beyond their job, so why not add some Skills to your profile? It’s yet another great way to increase your chances of being found by those looking for your talents. You can even check out and add new skills to your profile when browsing another Skill’s page and compare the relative growth of similar skills through a handy chart at the corner. To know more about this feature, visit the LinkedIn Skills & Expertise page here. Since Skills are not included in the standard filters for advanced people search, it’s hard to gauge what potential SEO value they have for marketers and business development professionals; that being said, any jobseeker should definitely make sure that appropriate tags are included as part of their LinkedIn profile optimization.

9. Profiles Get a Facelift

Knowing that a member’s profile is key to exploring the professional world, LinkedIn has come up with a tool that analyzes a member’s interests and current profile. It then develops a new one, tailor-made for the user.

The profile tool is very handy and can be used in just simple steps – you actually only need to click a button on your profile to get started. Recommendations are also offered whenever you update your profile to ensure that you always put your best foot forward by having the most relevant data in your profile. The profiles page itself received a bit of a revamp, and now has a cleaner, more modern design that makes profiles easier to print and share.

10. Your Account Settings at Your Fingertips

Most of us don’t get into the nitty gritty of our Account Settings, primarily because we’re afraid we might break something along the way. To make things easier and less daunting, LinkedIn now has a simpler and easier to manage Account and Settings page. The new design focuses on better usability by reducing the number of clicks required to change settings, utilizing screen overlays instead of loading new pages for faster navigation, and easier access to data by using tabs for settings and revealing pertinent information you might need at the top of the page. A long-awaited revision that simplifies things much greater than your Facebook privacy settings do…

While Today could be considered the only “new” application LI released in 2011, the enhancements to Companies, Groups, and their mobile application are significant upgrades that you should be spending some time to learn more about in 2012 if you hadn’t done so in 2011.

What were your favorite new features of 2011? Which new features do you see yourself using most in 2012?

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
The Social Strategy: A Five-Step Process For Social Media Marketing Success http://t.co/T2ktPQbWHs via @SocialTimes - 13 mins ago
Neal Schaffer
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    • says

      Thanks for the comment Sarang – and, yes, options with LinkedIn are always changing, sometimes with no previous explanation, but that is the nature of what LinkedIn has always been about – they are paving the road forward based on a vision. I’m still walking on that road 😉

    • says

      Hi Clive, 

      Perhaps you can take our suggestions back to LinkedIn and get them to really improve. They ARE going to have a huge year whether they do or not as they are one of the key sites every serious social networker must use and THE one some need most. But if they would fix some key problems they will have an even better year. 

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  2. says

    Great overview Neal of the changes from 2011.  Now if they can find a way for more users to consistently use the platform, it would make for a more valuable community.  Over the years, I’ve tried to engage in Groups, but many will leave a comment or reply then disappear.  It’s tough to build when that is happening.

    • says

      I agree, Steve. There is no obvious way that I see to know when someone has replied specifically to what you shared versus general replies in busy threads. What we need is a way to see when someone is replying to what we specifically have done on LinkedIn so the conversation doesn’t die mid-stream.

      • says

        You bring up a good point – but I believe LinkedIn has never been about interactivity and more a networking stepping stone that helps people connect via email. The times have a changed, so I agree it would be great if LinkedIn became more conversation-centric.

    • says

      Excellent point Steve. I believe that’s what LinkedIn Today was created to do – and I believe it is helping. That being said, a lot of people still see LinkedIn as a place to look for a job – and those same people may not spend much time on LinkedIn once they land…

  3. says

    While new features can be beneficial, I really wish that LinkedIn would get some professional assistance to improve core usability. The site is just clunky. For example, if you weren’t logged in when you take some actions you don’t get returned to where you were. (Sorry – I haven’t recorded when that happens and we can hope they’re improving those issues already.) 

    If you accept a new connection before you read what they sent in full it can be a challenge to figure out where or even if you can then go read and respond. 

    Company search needs serious improvement – unless the point of bad results is so that only those who really know what they’re doing show up. Searching for Windmill Marketing makes YOU really easy to find. Compare that to a search for Sprout Social. When I am searching for a company name (or what I think the name should be) I don’t want three pages of results – I want an exact search for what I entered. Why should a company with the exact name I entered be buried on page 2 in the results? (And sometimes there are a LOT more than two pages to wade through!) 

    Thankfully people search seems much improved – even finding highly relevant results for generic searches – like those returned for a search for ‘Twitter search”.  I suspect, though, that my results are highly relevant because they turn up those I already interact with while if I needed to find someone with a new skill they might not be so useful. 

    I find myself wishing every major site I use would hire Bryan Eisenberg or Steve Krug to fine tune their usability because bad usability is so very time-wasting and annoying. My philosophy is if it is hard for someone like me who practically lives online and has been in computers since 1977 to figure out they are bound to be losing many with less experience (although I do freely admit that sometimes that experience = expecting something to work in the most logical and expected manner – can be why I dislike how some sites are designed).

    • says

      I agree with you on this wholeheartedly Gail. LinkedIn has always been clunky in performance. They did redo their user interface in late 2010 I believe, but it might be time for another facelift.

      LinkedIn fans like myself sometimes wonder if there is a scalability issue with the core platform that slows it down. On the other hand, it is handling a LOT of data – but if Facebook can be quick (at times), why can’t LinkedIn?

      Let’s hope with the IPO that they invest some more money into usability and performance 😉

      • says

        I haven’t seen anything that would indicate a serious scalability issue there. I suspect it is more what an IBM co-worker who bred bird dogs called “Kennel blindness” – thinking your own “baby” is beautiful.  

        Once you know how to navigate a site bad usability is not obvious to you any more. You need fresh eyes to see where others stumble trying to use your site (or someone like me who expects consistency and obvious paths from the sites I use. 

        A company that big should hire someone like Bryan Eisenberg and get it fixed. No excuses. At the least they could take a page from Steve Krug’s excellent book Don’t Make Me Think and recruit people who have never seen the site and watch them use it. They would definitely be in for some shocks. 

        It is no coincidence that early adopters are the most likely to use that kind of site because they can figure it out and then as they teach others directly the site becomes popular. Sites that optimize for usability grow much faster because they don’t have to depend on waiting for a critical mass of “teachers” willing to mentor others.

        • says

          Excellent points Gail – “Don’t Make Me Think” really is the timeless classic, isn’t it? I do believe LinkedIn have made slight usability improvements over the years, but with their success they probably feel they don’t need to radically change usability, right?

  4. says

    Trying to comment while the LinkedIn sharing was still at the top caused Disqus to return a system error BUT it appears that the comment DID post (so I am deleting the duplicate). I am surprised that Disqus allowed exact duplicates of comments to post.

  5. Farhadm says

    This is fantastic seeing Linkedin leverage for the increased number of users trough 2011, 2012 will certainly provide better and more integrated communication not taking anything away from all the other channels I believe so go with developing Linkedin…Great and Goodluck

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