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:
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?