A whirlwind of changes and new tools have been a hallmark of LinkedIn during 2021 as the candles were blown out on the platform’s 18th birthday celebration.
LinkedIn maintained its foothold as the premier platform of professional networking, content and conversations, along with its reputation for rolling out new features.
However, 2021 wasn’t all strictly business on LinkedIn, as significant and historic social and political issues erupted across all levels, professions and leaders. In a time where fake news, mis-information and bad actors are highly scrutinised, LinkedIn ramped up its security and safety policies, tools and reporting mechanisms.
According to eMarketer’s Digital Trust Benchmark Report 2021, LinkedIn remains ‘No 1 in the most valuable social currency of trust’, while Edelman’s Trust Barometer ranks LinkedIn in first place for legitimacy.
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A snapshot of 2021
Australian membership now sits at more than 12 million, with nearly 800 million globally.
Professionals and businesses spent more time on the platform this year, as their hunger to grab a chunk of the LinkedIn pie of opportunity intensified. They engaged in quiet lurking, as well as private and public conversations, as saturated newsfeeds of wildly differing quality and formats dominated.
Some of the notable new features and changes included:
- Cover stories (videos behind profile photos);
- Name introductions;
- Increased characters for posts;
- Revamped company page functionality;
- Boosting and analytics;
- Service pages for freelancers;
- Native video meetings via messages;
- Event tool upgrades;
- Invitation limits; and
- Product pages for companies, and a raft of profile changes.
Creator Mode was a stellar feature rollout, which aimed to give content creators heightened visibility of their subject matter expertise and content positioning focus.
LinkedIn Live accessibility is also rolling out globally now to members who have turned on Creator Mode.
Some things don’t change
LinkedIn remains rather noisy with many moving parts. The desire to grow strong networks and consume great stories never wanes, however, and content that educates, entertains and inspires thinking and learning drives growth and engagement.
But visibility of content can be hit and miss with the bewildering algorithms. Uncertainty of reach is the bane of many creators. While members can somewhat tailor and train their individual newsfeeds, it’s not always 100% foolproof. It’s also clear two algorithms are at play — desktop and mobile.
Organic content reach and visibility is often clumsy given only about 10-15% of your networks will see your post in their newsfeed. And for articles it dives to less than 1%.
While LinkedIn articles still serve a valued purpose for expertise permanence and Google indexing, they have been rarely used over the last four to five years as valuable content was buried and post notifications were overused.
However, many LinkedIn members hoped for a function that would allow them to select which members they still wanted to receive content notifications from, which leads me to the brilliant and much coveted Newsletter feature.
LinkedIn Newsletters are a business game changer
LinkedIn Newsletters were previously only available to a very few select members, but access is now being rolled out to every single member who has turned on Creator Mode (and meets some very basic criteria).
It was predicted after the mid-year launch of Creator Mode’s initial features that some whopper new tools were on the horizon. Newsletters hit the jackpot and will be a real game changer for many personal and business brands.
Sitting in articles in a long form format, LinkedIn Newsletters allow their creators to use multimedia, hyperlinks and images to deliver a really rich user experience. And as articles are indexed by Google they receive all the ranking juice and SEO opportunities that provides.
Newsletters can be set up easily with a bespoke logo and title and brief explanation of topic/s covered. You then nominate the frequency of publishing from daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.
When you publish your first Newsletter, every single member in your network receives an invitation to subscribe. This is a once-only invitation and if subscribed they will receive a notification every time a new issue is published.
This is truly brilliant as the invitation itself is a powerful tool to put your brand and name on the radar.
And let’s be frank, a huge number of your network will be virtual strangers. So this is a fabulous re-acquaintance opportunity. But be mindful your connections will be receiving a lot of other invitations so you must have a unique and compelling promise and content message.
There have been some rumblings that everyone will jump on the bandwagon and create a Newsletter and thus flood invitations and the feed. Concerns have been raised that Newsletters may follow the route of Polls, which have become ridiculously over and misused.
But I don’t believe this will occur, as creating Newsletters will require commitment, consistency, strategy and purpose for success. While a few might initially try them out and quickly discontinue, the water will find its own level and great content will flourish.
Once in motion, any member can subscribe to a Newsletter even if not a connection, which is another huge plus. A post will also appear in the newsfeed with a subscribe button as each Newsletter is published.
The feedback and results from those few members who have been using Newsletters for a year or two have been stellar. Subscribers and engagement skyrocketed, which flowed into deeper conversations and business opportunities.
Newsletters will level the content playing field in 2022 providing a leg up for businesses to champion unique thought leadership and valuable expertise.