It is possible LinkedIn may have taken my advice. In a previous blog post of mine, “Is Linkedin Turning Into MySpace?, I said LinkedIn needed to give itself a makeover, to establish order and institute more credibility. In my opinion, LinkedIn resembled MySpace’s disjointed and overpopulated site design.
Now, it looks like LinkedIn is trying to change this perception with LinkedIn Contacts and the recently released visual profile.
The new LinkedIn Contacts app creates interesting new options for its users, with a more integrated and richly developed version of the original LinkedIn. As I mentioned previously, over the past few years, the average users’ account has gotten muddled with acquaintances and people they barely know. This add-on app allows the ‘power’ user to focus more on the real details of the people they know well and/or want to focus on. I liken it in many ways to the dashboard function of a CRM. The integration of the app with Outlook, Google, Yahoo and others means that people have access to a cross reference of information, can create calendar reminders and focus more on making quality contact. Also, because this is a separate application, LinkedIn Contacts offers additional functionality without further cluttering the site.
An alternate, but parallel storyline to LinkedIn Contacts is the idea of getting people to live in the app. Similar to Facebook Home, the motivation behind LinkedIn Contacts is to have users rely on the service and use it as their gateway. The high level of integration and the slimming down or hiding of superfluous features again speaks directly to usability and function. These are traits that will help make the app a ‘go-to’ tool for the power users that LinkedIn wants to cater to with LinkedIn Contacts.
LinkedIn Visual Profile
While LinkedIn certainly doesn’t need to add another visual component to the site, the introduction of the visual profile is a step in the right direction to give LinkedIn more credibility. Users can now add photos and videos to substantiate claims that the endorsements function was supposed to offer. For example, those in creative professions like photographers, advertisers or even webcasting providers, can upload their portfolio or samples of work that provide more depth than someone clicking the endorsement button for “online advertising,” “digital media” or “webcasting.” Instead, clients or colleagues can “like” or comment on the media uploaded. In this case, like with endorsements, hopefully friends or family members are not the people “liking” or commenting on professional work.
I may have been harsh in likening LinkedIn to MySpace, but the site has been moving away from acting like the professional social network and business tool I always relied on it to be. Adding the Contacts app and visual profile element allows the site to be more social without sacrificing its authority in business networking. You’re welcome, LinkedIn.