Why The New LinkedIn Mobile Interface Falls Flat
The latest update to the LinkedIn mobile app has been needed for a long time. It had relied on an aging interface that was falling behind most other social media platforms. So seemingly, a new LinkedIn mobile interface was a welcome surprise for longtime app users. Unfortunately, that has largely not been the case.
The overall consensus on the new app (the Voyager update) is that it had tried to do too much, and failed to provide the functions that many users — including event professionals — have come to appreciate. The new LinkedIn mobile interface is too much like all the other social platforms to distinguish itself. The differentiator with LinkedIn has always been its status as a professional platform, and this new interface seems to diminish that by making it like all the others.
This is especially negative for event professionals. Often event professionals are busy, on-the-go, and have little time to log in and surf a desktop social media platform. LinkedIn's application was a way for them to network, get their arms around the industry, and see what peers were doing. That has become much more difficult with the new application that puts social updates and link-shares up front, and personalized feeds and notifications on the backburner.
The good, the bad, and the social
The first change with the Voyager update is its general appearance and usability. With a static toolbar replacing a once ever-present search bar, the new update has taken an appearance closer to what many would recognize in Facebook or Twitter. Boasting search functionality nearly 300% better than the previous version, it can now be used as a quick, functional tool to better find connections. In an attempt to better align it with other social media platforms, LinkedIn is emphasizing its ability to serve as an instantaneous sharing outlet ubiquitous to Twitter. The idea is that this feature will likely benefit LinkedIn’s usage; as over half of its users don’t utilize Twitter. The centralized feed now bases itself around updates relating to particular fields and interests rather than limiting it to the activity of your connections.
These improvements were sorely needed and should come with some praise, but should LinkedIn be looking at the bigger picture? Many have enjoyed LinkedIn for it's professional networking functions, and now many of those have taken a backseat to more content sharing and information sharing features. This may create better business opportunities for LinkedIn, but it lessens the utility that it has had in the lives of many professionals.
For event professionals, this means that many of the professional networking elements of their LinkedIn use will become much more difficult. The new LinkedIn mobile interface may allow them to see more news related their industry (if they follow industry focused accounts), but will likely provide less value as a personal networking or sales tool.
More is better, right?
We’ve seen multi-app strategies work successfully in the past (think Google and Facebook messenger), LinkedIn’s mobile app features a tab solely for extending those additional apps to users for download. Facebook made it a necessity to download the separate messenger app in order to communicate with friends, and it seems that LinkedIn has taken yet another page from their book. There are job recommendations included in the app but the only way to access those was through the separate Job Search app. The goal of the entire ecosystem seems to be for LinkedIn to become a source that is referenced on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a good opportunity was likely missed by not integrating Pulse (their current business news module) with the centralized feed to create a go-to source for all business related news — both worldwide and personalized.
What was once called InMail is now a conversational-style messenger. The benefits are still there, one can contact business professionals in a less-templated manner; InMail was formatted more like e-mail. The concern that should be raised with this is the probability that LinkedIn will become more informal. With integrated emoji’s and stickers (like everyone else) they are encouraging the use of images to depict meaning rather than traditional communication. This again speaks to a decline in LinkedIn's commitment to being a professional platform. It's easy to see how these functional decisions were made. They were financial and technical decisions, but not necessarily the best branding decisions.
Changes to messaging may force event professionals to use LinkedIn's messenger less and less. There may be a general consensus that it has become too informal, and not a strong outlet for professional correspondence; leading to more e-mails. This will come as a major disappointment to event industry folks who have come to depend on the app.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that many of these features and functions were designed with LinkedIn's business objectives in mind; not necessarily their image as a professional networking platform. If LinkedIn can reach its goal of becoming the go-to source for business related news, the potential for networking may increase. However, if the mobile functions are mimicking that of Facebook and Twitter, why would users not turn to the outlet that’s already perfected instant messaging and instantaneous shares and updates? We’re curious to know what you think of the new LinkedIn mobile app update and how/what features will better connect you to the industry. Leave a comment or message below.