A New Era Awaits
I’m back! What an amazing holiday that was and I’m not going to lie…this week has been really difficult with jet-lag coupled with a desire to stay in Thailand forever somewhat messing with my workflow!!
So what happened whilst I was away?
In short – not much but what did happen was massive!
Jeff Wiener is stepping down and will be replaced by Ryan Roslansky. I’m not sure how much this was covered whilst I was away but let me tell you…This could be HUGE!
So in this episode, I want to look back at the reign of Jeff and dig into the background of Ryan to assess how much things will change under his leadership.
I also have a brilliant new feature to tell you about
And a post of the week.
On my return this week, the first time I logged back into LinkedIn and I see a notification that the media section in my About section has changed, all previous media now show in a new section called ‘Featured’.
Firstly let me be clear, this is rolling out so if you don’t have the feature yet, be patient. You won’t have the options AND you won’t see ‘Featured’ on other profiles (even if they have it).
This new section is not a minor tweak (for once!), this is actually a fantastic new feature that really improves our profile.
This is pretty high on our profile and ‘above the fold’ so it’s highly visible. The thumbnails are significantly larger than they were under Media which is good but only means that we can fully see two on desktop and one on mobile (see below)
The good news is that if this relates to an external url then in one click you go straight to the page. A massive improvement on the pointless secondary ‘view’ button we had to click previously.
Previously we were only able to link to videos on certain approved sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Wistea etc), now we can link to any page including our own website!
There are two ways to add content to your Featured section;
Firstly you can click on the + link as shown below where you can add your LinkedIn posts, Articles, external web pages or directly upload photos, docs or presentations
If you opt for the latter then you have to work within certain restrictions;
This is quite restrictive and so this is the least interesting option to consider.
The second way to add a LinkedIn post or article is from the 3 dot menu on either where you now see the option to feature it at the top of your profile
Video, image and doc posts look fine when added this way but text-only posts show a preview that annoyingly removes any space lines. Alternatively, you can use the ‘links’ option from the first method which adds a blue ‘posted on LinkedIn’ thumbnail and allows you to add the preview text in the Title and Summary sections below;
Let’s look at both options side by side;
As you can see the version on the left has poor formatting but does have the advantage of showing the engagement metrics. When posted via the links option you see a blue thumbnail and more readable text.
Using the Links option also allows you to add updates from a company page or a post/article from someone else or even a link to your group or company page although be careful as your Page logo is likely to be low res and might not look great in the Featured section. The text shown under the logo can be changed, I just left it as was.
One other change to your profile as a result of this is that your Articles no longer show in the activity section which is now also below the fold
When you add something it immediately goes in as the first and most visible thumbnail, this, however, can be changed in the edit section by grabbing the four lines to the right and dragging it up or down.
I simply love this new feature and especially the way the Links option works. This allows you to link directly to your website – this could be to your products/shop page or a sign-up for your newsletter. It’s a one-click link allowing you to get profile viewers quickly to your website or anywhere else you want them to go.
I’ve found a few minor glitches with it but on the whole, it works pretty smoothly.
Ryan To Replace Jeff
I was surprised to see this announcement when I returned from my holiday (and digital detox). Surprised because Jeff has been a permanent fixture at LinkedIn for 11 years but once I had fully processed the news, it made much more sense.
Jeff was recruited externally to drive the business forward. He must have had some very interesting and challenging times doing that and now, as the head of a subsidiary of Microsoft, it must seem a bit too pedestrian for him. Characters like Jeff thrive on new, fast-paced environments and I suspect he feels ready for a change. He has also recently hit the grand age of 50 (today actually!) and that milestone can also be a motivation for a change in direction.
I’m a fan…there I said it!
I have no inside information or insight, these are just my opinions based on closely observing this company from the outside for all of the 11 years (I also started as LinkedIn Trainer in December 2008).
I know I often grumble and at times rage about LinkedIn and their ways but there is no doubt that what we see today is poles apart from the insular, technology focussed business that Jeff took the reigns of 11 years ago. His predecessor and Founder, Reid Hoffman was a highly intelligent, somewhat academic introvert. A man who had the brilliance to conceive LinkedIn but not the charisma to take it to the next level…that man was Jeff and he has done a brilliant job.
Since joining the company in December 2008, LinkedIn has grown its membership base from 33M to more than 675M, increased its revenue from $78M to over $7.5B and expanded the team from 338 employees to over 16,000…wow!
- 2011 – Took LinkedIn to be a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. Jeff got to ring the bell at NYSE!
- 2013 – Accelerating member numbers to hit 225m on it’s 10th anniversary
- 2016 – The biggest one! Jeff manages and negotiates the sale of Linkedin to Microsoft for over $26 billion
- 2017 – LinkedIn launches the largest desktop redesign since the company’s inception. Jeff chose a chap called Ryan (more about him soon!) to oversee and deliver this massive and highly successful project
Jeff more than anything has been an employees CEO. He has built a team of 16,000 people worldwide who seem to genuinely love the company and look up to him as a caring and thoughtful CEO. He was voted by employees as one of the top 10 CEO of a U.S. Tech Companies on Glassdoor.
It’s not all good though…
Jeff’s focus on creating a very strong employer brand and feeling of internal pride has unfortunately been to the detriment of the users of the site. Members (as they call us) do not feel the same sense of belonging and LinkedIn staffers often act in a way that suggests members are a nuisance. The official language suggests otherwise, Jeff himself has often quoted the tired and simply untrue phrase “Our members come first” but I believe his focus on creating such a strong internal culture has led to a ‘them and us’ attitude throughout the workforce.
Who Is Ryan Roslansky?
Ryan joined LinkedIn in 2009, headhunted by his ex-colleague from Yahoo, Jeff Weiner. Ryan was in fact Jeffs first signing, an indication of how highly he rated him.
Ryan first came to my attention in 2017 when he was responsible for the team that completely redesigned and launched the new desktop design. This was such a major change at the time and one of the main reasons LinkedIn has seen activity and engagement skyrocket ever since.
Ryan, however, is very different from Jeff. He commenced his career as a Realtor (Estate agent). He thrived in this environment by using his friendly, warm personality to develop very strong bonds with his customers as can be seen in this video of him
Whilst a competent salesperson it seemed that Ryan was especially interested in technology and the internet which led him to set up one of the first online realty businesses which eventually brought him to Yahoo.
Married to Leigh and with 3 daughters he comes across as a real family man.
Perhaps a bit less polished than Jeff but charismatic in a different way, a more down to earth person that has a great ‘feel’ for people’s needs, I get the sense that he is a highly empathetic character.
He loves his tech of course and enjoys playing with his drone.
I also sense he is a highly competitive character, not an uncommon trait in property sales and this was evidenced when he won an internal tennis competition at LinkedIn in a very close and hard-fought final. Gutsy, determined and persistent.
Ryan hasn’t written that much on LinkedIn but this article from 2014 says a lot about his character;
Ryans’ greatest achievement at LinkedIn was overseeing the new desktop design in 2017. I believe he played a significant role in ensuring that the new design met with the needs of users. I suspect he has a much better feel for users, his empathy and down to earth nature allows him to see things from our perspective. This fills me with hope, a new era that could really benefit us!
He was also heavily involved in the Lynda acquisition which I always thought was a very smart move by LinkedIn. I suspect Jeff was the main player (such a good strategist) but Ryan was heavily involved, especially in the integration (great at tactics).
Of course, I may be completely wrong. A different view would be that Ryan has been selected as a safe pair of hands, a guy who won’t ruffle feathers and carry on Jeff’s legacy.
I suspect this will appear to be the case to start with. I very much doubt we will see any noticeable changes for at least a year.
But once Ryan is settled in, once he has figured out how to manage upwards (Microsoft) I believe he will make bold changes, I expect to see a gear shift change towards meeting the needs of users.
Maybe ‘Members first’ might actually become a thing!
Thanks to Mark Lee for sending this one in. It’s a really interesting example because it’s an external link post – this, as you know, is not a good idea as the algorithm will suppress the distribution of posts that take the reader away from LinkedIn, in addition, the issue can be made worse by viewers clicking on the link before liking or commenting.
This post, however, has done very well.
Does this indicate a change in the algorithm or is it just an outlier?
My guess is the latter, I’ve seen external url posts do well before, it’s just very uncommon.
It’s also a good post to observe because the subject is very strong. An interesting, debatable subject based on Andy’s real experience. The BBC link was unnecessary in my opinion and it may have done considerably better without it.
Another angle to this is that Andy reported that engagement was very flat to start with. As you can see it was posted over 3 weeks ago – views stagnated for over 2 weeks before zooming up threefold. Is this a sign that the ‘first-hour’ factor no longer counts – unlikely in my opinion, as Mark stated in his message to me – “A super-user must have commented or shared it for the number of views and comments to shoot up so much”
I’ve seen that happen before so I suspect that is the main reason this has done so well. The other possible explanation is that the BBC piece may have been featured in the ‘Today’s news and views’ section we see top right of our home page. When you click on these you will see a number of posts from users that have shared that original link – perhaps Andy’s post was one of them.
It’s a great post though and a worthy winner.
OK that it for this week.
Please get in touch if you have any questions about LinkedIn or suggestions for the show.