What’s New on LinkedIn, Part 4: Notifications

Many of the changes I’ve discussed this week really come down to one thing: LinkedIn has watched what’s working on other social media platforms, and it’s applying some of those lessons. Another example: Notifications.

Notifications seem like a pretty simple thing: they’re the means by which the site notifies us of new activity like someone liking or commenting on a status, endorsing us (see Monday’s post for more on that topic), or accepting a connection request. However, Notifications also represent an attempt to make LinkedIn more “sticky.” How? Well, here’s an example: imagine that you navigate over to LinkedIn to find contact information for one of your connections. Pre-Notifications, you might leave LinkedIn immediately after finding what you were looking for. Today, though, that little red Notifications flag will likely get your attention–after all, Notifications are usually about you, and what’s more interesting than you? Once you click on Notifications, you may see that someone has commented on your status…which would likely make you click on that Notification to see what he or she said…which might make you go to the comment or the commenter’s profile…which might lead to you taking another action on LinkedIn.

Two hours later, you might find yourself on Reid Hoffman’s profile page and have no idea how you got there.

Seriously, though, that’s what makes LinkedIn Notifications interesting: in themselves they’re not really all that earth shattering, but they represent a subtle but important shift. I’ve always said that LinkedIn’s lack of “stickiness” was a benefit to users since you could get the information you need and then be done. The problem, however, is that while this was good for users, it wasn’t necessarily good for LinkedIn. With Notifications, and the correlated increase in “stickiness,” we may end up spending more time on LinkedIn–and all of that may not necessarily be productive time.

LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner has said in the past that “Linkedin is not a service that enables you to pass the time; it’s a service that enables you to save time.” Is LinkedIn as committed to that premise as it once was? Share your thoughts in the comments, please.

P.S. LinkedIn is also notifying you of activity in a way that may not be welcome: with messages in your email inbox. If you’re getting more email than you want from LinkedIn, start at this page to make some changes in your preferences.

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3 Responses to What’s New on LinkedIn, Part 4: Notifications

  1. I am a big fan of this notification upgrade. Before, it was hard to keep track of your interactions, whether from status updates or comments.

  2. Interesting article… particularly the comments about LinkedIn “saving time.” I find that because many people don’t have a goal or focus when logging in one of two things happens – Users experience the “Facebook wandering effect” where they aimlessly browse profiles, popping in and out of various areas with not results. Over time this leads to the second effect were users have gotten no real utility out of LinkedIn so they tend to sign in, request and accept a few connections and then sign out. LinkedIn effectively becomes another database of names and faces.
    With much of LinkedIn’s value coming from home page and group updates the new notification system definitely helps drive traffic to the right places and get them familiar with LinkedIn’s various areas. The next issue is helping users understand why the updates are an important tool in helping them engage + start conversations with decision makers and key influencers.

    +Yuhannes Watts

  3. ajjuliano says:

    Thanks, Nic and Yuhannes.

    Yuhannes, I always say that “status updates are the engine that drives LinkedIn.” As you suggest, I believe they’re often the key to using LinkedIn effectively. Right now they’re incredibly underutilized, which is great for people like me, you, and Nic who update frequently, but not so great for LinkedIn at large. Maybe that will change as LinkedIn gets more “sticky.”

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