Up until now, LinkedIn didn't offer enough fresh information to be useful in daily life; well-connected Internet users don't check LinkedIn every day the way they might with, say, Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn Today aims to change that.
The product, part of LinkedIn's attempt at delivering unique insights about users' business connections, is essentially a social newspaper that displays stories based on an algorithm that weighs what your connections are looking at, what industry professionals are interested in, and which stories have been recommended, Tweeted, or posted on Facebook.
Users can search stories by news source or by industry. By selecting "Online Media," for example, we can see that the top story is about LinkedIn Today, and that the story is trending in the Marketing & Advertising, Internet, and Online Media industries. Users can also check out their top headlines on LinkedIn's updated iPhone app, and on Twitter feeds for each industry. The whole thing is based on an algorithm—there is no editorial curation from LinkedIn.
At the moment, LinkedIn Today only has 22 industries to choose from, but the product will expand to include more of the service's 115 listed industries. One example: "The agriculture industry is not sharing enough content to build a compelling product, but we hope over time it will," explains Liz Walker, Product Manager of LinkedIn Today. Eventually, users will also have the option of searching by different cuts of data—i.e. what CEOs in the Bay Area are reading, or what Product Managers at LinkedIn are looking at.
Is this compelling enough to get users hooked on checking LinkedIn every day? "This makes the daily value proposition interesting for a wider set of users," says Walker. "If you don't have a lot of connections, it still delivers the top news in a given industry."
If this all feels a bit familiar (where's the "like" button?), the company says LinkedIn Today is much more than just a clone of social news-streaming sites like Twitter or Facebook. "What we are focused on doing is not just limiting you to an activity stream. What happens if you miss something in the stream? The whole point of products like LinkedIn Today is to keep the pulse on what your network and industries are talking about," says Deep Nishar, LinkedIn's Senior VP of Products & User Experience.
LinkedIn Today isn't a news aggregator; it's a service that attempts to combat information overload by picking out the most relevant stories. And ultimately, it's a way for LinkedIn to attract more users to its premium subscription services. "Our business is a premium business. As things evolve, we could leverage [LinkedIn Today] in order to get direct revenue," says Nishar. We imagine that this could include putting ads on LinkedIn Today pages or harnessing user information from the service to sell to marketers. But for now, at least, LinkedIn Today is free of costs and advertisers—just one more playground for the social media and news-obsessed Internet users among us.
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