With working remotely LinkedIn has become an essential tool to communicate and stay connected to our professional networks. During 2020 LinkedIn rolled out some fabulous features to improve the platform, and continues to improve the experience for the user.
But what is in store for 2021? I asked some of my friends, fellow LinkedIn experts around the world to share their LinkedIn predictions for 2021. Watch the video or read the summary, then let me know your predictions or wishes for LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Expert Predictions
Here is the summary of what is discussed in the video, and in the predictions below;
- LinkedIn will continue to add new features.
- Become more user centric
- Add a Dark Mode option
- Users will become better listeners, building better relationships
- The platform will become more personal – more human.
- We will see more social media like behaviours
- Hashtags 2.0
- Groups will evolve and become a valuable focus
- Pages will continue adding features and become a big focus
- Stories with either continue to develop and thrive or we will see a demise
- Older features will be reintroduced
- More focus on video in content, in messaging and Live streaming
- Growth of the personal brand, and employee advocacy
- Long-form content focus with better ways to organise and find your articles
LinkedIn Expert Predictions
This video is the product of 14 LinkedIn experts sharing their predictions for LinkedIn in 2021. Watch and/or read the details below. And be sure to follow each of these experts over on LinkedIn (details at the bottom of this article).
Mark Williams shared that due to the redundancies at LinkedIn for the first time ever, the knock-on effect will impact the rollout of new features and maintenance of some of the older features. Beth Granger predicts that we will see a mix of free and premium membership features.
Most social media platforms have a dark mode. Teddy Burriss predicts that we will see Dark Mode as an option for the LinkedIn interface. In the video he demonstrates why it is easier on the eyes and reflection on glasses. Do you think we will be given an option to turn it on, as Facebook and Twitter have? And would you use it?
PROFILE & PERSONAL BRAND
Viveka von Rosen shared that as individuals many were unprepared to build our personal brands effectively, but we are getting better and LinkedIn will help us do so.
Skill endorsement is predicted to be in focus. Andy Foote predicts that LinkedIn will look at the data on how we endorse one another, and the relationship between endorser and endorsee. They will test the strength and nature of relationships to add credibility to this feature.
LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky has made changes to the platform since his commencement in the role in 2020. Mark Williams predicts that he will continue to roll out new features with a focus on the user-centric way of operating and be more open to communications and ideas from members. I suggest whenever you think of an idea or a feature that could be improved suggest it directly to LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a social media tool and Karen Hollenbeck thinks that LinkedIn will expand on the way we behave on social media to be more socially driven. John Espirian adds that it is time to allow people to get to know the person behind the façade of your profile. Kylie Chown suggests that users will have more authentic connection and conversations.
The more you can start conversations that engage your network, the more people will notice you.
Content on LinkedIn consists of posts, articles and stories. All areas will continue to evolve.
Stories rolled out in 2020. I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch event in Australia by LinkedIn with some fellow LinkedIn experts to road test the functionality and get insights into the features but not much has developed since then. Mark Williams predicts we will get more features such as the ability to use green screen capabilities and more effective stickers. I predict we will get more functional stickers with inspiration taken from Instagram, allowing us to create more interactive temporary content and encourage users to interact with our stories through reactions or engagement with the function instead of limited to messaging a response. I also think we will be able to save select Stories to a Stories feed in our activity.
Beth Granger is undecided and predicts it will be make or break time, meaning that LinkedIn will either further develop Stories into a useful feature for professionals or make a decision to remove Stories. John Esperion predicts they consumptions of Stories will in fact decline particularly due to the mid-roll ads which are coming and often ruin the user experience. I’m underwhelmed by the current state of Stories due to the limited features and feel that posting Page Stories need to be moved from the top of the app, as they get in the way of consuming them. I’d love to know if you use Stories and what you think of them.
Articles are great for creating authority, and building thought leadership through high-value pieces of content which are indexed by Google, and easily found in the articles feed of your activity. John Esperian predicts that articles will get a lot more visibility thanks to the new newsletter feature. This feature, which is currently being rolled out, allows users to subscribe to your article content to receive alerts and emails when you have published. Do you have access to this feature yet?
As we publish more, it can be challenging to find content published a while ago. Organisation of articles into topics would be useful. I predict that we will get a playlist-like feature to group our articles and make the management of content easier.
Video is an important part of communication and content strategy. Viveka von Rosen predicts an even bigger focus on video in 2021. Will users be rewarded further for using video within LinkedIn? Sue thinks so, and Kylie predicts video will be given more priority, leading businesses to adopt a more structured and strategic approach to video content.
Mark Williams predicts that LinkedIn Live will continue to evolve and be brought in-house to the app rather than having to use third-party software. Right now we need to use tools such as Streamyard and eCamm Live to go Live on LinkedIn.
Hashtags have become a big part of LinkedIn content strategy and help the right people see the right content. Teddy predicts that we will start getting notifications on hashtags that we follow and he would like to see a newsletter type system to help you discover content from members on topics you are interested in. This will help you meet people beyond your current connections, through useful content.
Andy Foote predicts that LinkedIn will go deep with hashtags adding meaningful data, frequency and volume of interaction, in addition, to identify the creator/owner of hashtags and cleaning up the look to give them a visual appeal. He is calling this Hashtags 2.0.
Outside of content, I predict that we will get a video introduction feature as part of messaging with inbuilt editing capabilities. Video can already be shared via message using the add an image via camera roll feature on the mobile app, but there is no way to edit and add fun features and ways to interact. I also predict an integration between LinkedIn messages and Outlook, having an InBox specifically for LinkedIn messages, which will give us a way to organise and map them to our contacts, in addition to being picked up by CRMs such as Nimble that integrate with Outlook. This one makes sense, and saves manually entering data. This is THE feature I really want to see happen first.
Kylie Chown predicts that we as users will become better listeners and we will have more authentic conversations, connection, leading to better relationships. Viveka also predicts users will use introduction and invitations more effectively to improve social selling strategies.
Nigel Cliffe predicts that we will become better at nurturing our tribe, which starts with being more careful with who we connect with in the first place. Value, integrity and trust must be factors the member considers. Maybe it is time to clean up yours?
To drive the point home, Kenneth Lang said that the true value of LinkedIn is networking, networking, networking & the job search features for those in the market.
PAGES & EVENTS
Pages on LinkedIn became much more worthwhile to invest time into in 2020, thanks to useful features being added, including the addition of events. Viveka von Rosen predicts that we will be given new Page features to encourage social selling. John Espirian predicts LinkedIn will continue to ‘beef up’ Pages, and Karen Hollenbach predicts that Page functionality will continue to develop to include better notifications and event registration evolution. I think we will see an integration with ticketing tools such as Humanitix and Eventbrite, and /or an inbuild merchant gateway and additional fields for paid events.
Sue Ellson predicts that videos will get even more focus from a Page perspective and reminds us to caption videos that you want your audience to consume because we know many people don’t have the sound turned on when browsing LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Pages will be given an additional boost in the algorithm. Brenda Meller is basing this prediction on the new feature changes she has seen over the past year. If you’re using LinkedIn for business development, it will be worth it to spend more time on Page development.
As we take advantage of online shopping Mark Williams predicts that LinkedIn will follow in the footsteps of other social media platforms by adding shopping capabilities to Pages. Product Pages are rolling out right now and he predicts this will become the vehicle to purchase items directly from your LinkedIn Page. Imagine if you could purchase your LinkedIn Profile Review without even leaving my LinkedIn Page.
Team members are often overlooked in terms of content creation and distribution. Kylie Chown predicts that this will be the year that LinkedIn pays more attention to brand ambassadors within your team. We can already use the Notify Employees button to alert the team of fresh content, but I predict we will see analytics around team engagement which can be used to encourage others to get involved.
Kenneth Lang predicts the hiring function will become a lot more widely used and posting jobs will be picked up more by companies. But networking will always continue to be a great way to get hired and to find staff.
After a few years of Groups lying dormant, 2020 saw a few quiet tweaks such as updated admin roles and a notification bell for members to be alerted about new content, but they are still not at the forefront of our feed and community engagement just isn’t there. Many of the LinkedIn experts agreed that Groups will become more relevant this year.
“Groups will become enormous” – Angus Grady.
Teddy Burris predicts that LinkedIn Live will be brought into groups, and I predict that events will come. Karen Hollenbach not only predicts that there will be an improvement to the user experience but much of the changes and improvement will be inspired by the lessons learned from Facebook. But given the current return on investment of time and effort, rather than investing in groups now, invest time engaging with people in the feed until we hear more. If you used to schedule content to your Group using a 3rd party tool, you will find this is no longer possible. Groups became a dumping ground for content, and this move, while annoying for productivity, shows that they no longer want them to be a place to talk at, but rather with. If they take inspiration from the audio-driven Clubhouse network, conversations on specific topics either via audio or video would be a great way to go. If you have your own Group, don’t give up on it, slowly build the member-base ready for the new Group experience which I predict will roll out later this year.
As Microsoft own LinkedIn it makes sense for integrations to be rolled out to improve the way we work, and reduce the amount of duplication and social silos holding conversations hostage. Sue Ellson predicts there will be a better integration with the Microsoft suite of products including their own CRM, Microsft Dynamics. I would like to see a better integration with Microsoft partner products such as Nimble CRM, which is a useful tool for a consultant or small to medium business. Of course, this means LinkedIn must open up their API to play with other tools. As mentioned under Messaging, allowing messages and signals to cross into a CRM would help us be more productive and give us a single source of truth for our contacts.
The algorithm will continue to evolve with a heavy focus on the user experience, engaging the members and encouraging them to stay on the platform longer. I agree with Sue Ellson that this focus will make LinkedIn a better place to invest time and energy, making us more productive and more connected to our network.
Less vanity metrics, and a focus on more logical, longer game metrics to measure content is what we expect to see. The best metric to measure within LinkedIn is engagement which comes from encouraging and participating in conversations. These signals are withing the data that LinkedIn hold, and it makes sense to share the patterns with us, which will help us stay engaged and in action.
Views show you the potential of people you may reach but comments and reactions show you who is actually seeing and responding to your content. I predict that we will see better aggregation of those data either in the platform or through an integration with Shield, a tool that is already doing this so well. Better content metrics will give users a better understanding of who their audience is, how they can reach them more effectively, what worked and what didn’t, in order to improve the strategy.
While you don’t necessarily need to post every day, it is important to comment daily on other people’s content to build relationships and increase visibility. If you are newer to LinkedIn or have been a lurker it’s never too late to build an engaged audience here on LinkedIn, and start increasing your metrics. Make engagement your priority in 2021.
USER AGREEMENT ENFORCEMENT
Automation is one way to get more done on LinkedIn but if you’ve ever read the User Agreement you will know that most of the tools that automate relationship building breach the UA and can incur penalties. Sue Ellson and Beth Granger predict that LinkedIn will put more focus into upholding their User Agreement bringing higher penalties and restrictions from using automation and bots. This is a big call, but I think some relationship building functionality of 3rd party tools may be brought into the platform, allowing users to work smarter while still being personal, in a similar way to the AI-driven response suggestions in the feed and in messages. I see the ability to create templates for commonly used paragraphs and greetings, which would be a vast improvement of the engagement suggestions we already have, such as ‘congrats on your new job’ messages that really should be treated as placeholder text.
ADOPTION AND RE-INTRODUCTION
It’s always exciting to see new features in the LinkedIn environment, John Esperion predicts that early engagement with these features will give the user a boost, which will enhance visibility. So if you see something new, don’t be scared to give it a try.
Mark Williams predicts there will be a bigger focus on reintroducing old features as new iterations. We have already seen a return of polls and events, but Mark would like to see the return of Q&A and Reading Lists, and Angus Grady suggests that the Signals function will return. I would love to see a return of the ability to organise recommendations, but with a fresh look in a carousel-style, similar to the Featured section. I also think it is time for the return of Nearby to the mobile app, which those of us who can physically network would use.
What would you like to see brought back to LinkedIn as a feature? There are many more things on my wish list, and many small tweaks we could predict. Look out for another video featuring some of my other LinkedIn expert friends sharing theirs.
Check out more predictions from Andy Foote
THE LINKEDIN EXPERTS
Thanks to the wisdom and generosity of everyone who contributed to this article. I highly recommend you follow all of these LinkedIn experts for their wisdom and expertise in differing areas. Click on their name and follow them on LinkedIn.
Teddy Burris https://www.linkedin.com/in/tlburriss/
Beth Granger https://www.linkedin.com/in/bethgranger/
Viveka von Rosen https://www.linkedin.com/in/linkedinexpert/
Brenda Meller https://www.linkedin.com/in/brendameller/
Kenneth Lang https://www.linkedin.com/in/langk/
Andy Foote https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyfoote/
Mark Williams https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrlinkedin/
Nigel Cliffe https://www.linkedin.com/in/nigeljcliffe/
Angus Grady https://www.linkedin.com/in/angusgrady/
John Espiran https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnespirian/
Sue Ellson https://www.linkedin.com/in/sueellson/
Karen Hollenback https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenhollenbach/
Jo Saunders https://www.linkedin.com/in/josaunders/
These are some of our recommendations for the LinkedIn platform in 2021 what would you like to see added to the platform? What could LinkedIn do better, or what could they improve to make the experience for users a great investment of time and energy?
What are your predictions or wishes for LinkedIn in 2021?