LinkedIn, the business social network, is going to start looking more and more like Facebook.
LinkedIn, which has 700 million members, is introducing a new redesigned look to its website today, and introducing “Stories,” the ephemeral posts first popularized by Snapchat, and then exploited by Facebook and its Instagram.
The changesrolling out today 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.
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“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 admits 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 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 earlier this year.
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’s also a premium option, starting at $29.99 monthly, offering classes and the ability to write messages to people you’re not connected to.
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham on Twitter (@jeffersongraham)
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