Mike Isaac

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With Sights Set on Engagement, LinkedIn Launches More Social Features

LinkedIn on Friday debuted two new social features for its LinkedIn Today product, the aggregation tool which presents the top news stories being shared across the LinkedIn network. It’s an aesthetic refresh of the Today user interface, complete with increased attention to social functionality.

You’re able to comment on and “like” top LinkedIn Today stories, adding your thoughts on whatever trending stories have surfaced. And now a “Trending in Your Network” section flanks the right-hand side of the page, which shuffles which stories show up on LinkedIn Today, based on the category you’ve chosen to view. Just as before, each LinkedIn Today story can be shared out to your connected social networks, as well as to your individual LinkedIn stream.

The timing is interesting. If you recall, LinkedIn’s previous partnership with Twitter syndicated users’ tweets within their individual LinkedIn activity streams. Those Tweets flooded through at a fast pace, keeping users’ streams constantly flowing with activity. So, when the deal ended, LinkedIn lost a drastic amount of content flowing through users’ streams.

And just like Facebook’s News Feed, LinkedIn’s stream is crucial to keeping sitewide engagement up. Without the bevy of Twitter information keeping the flow constant, LinkedIn user engagement has the potential to slow drastically.

Thus, the launch of “liking” and commenting on LinkedIn Today content shifts more attention than ever to the product, which could be crucial to boosting the number of LinkedIn Today stories that appear in users’ streams. And what’s more, those comments on articles also surface more individuals throughout the network, fostering potential for more connections between people who may not have connected otherwise.

To be sure, even if you don’t take the Twitter deal into account, LinkedIn’s overall aim should be to increase engagement across the site. Evolving LinkedIn’s core products like Today is just a step in that progression. (Indeed, CEO Jeff Weiner said in the company’s last earnings call that users should expect a number of product refreshes over the coming year.)

But with the loss of syndicated tweets within users’ streams, keeping that engagement up and the streams flowing should be more of a company priority than ever. And judging by Friday’s announcement, that seems to be the case.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google