Last month, LinkedIn unveiled a new Trending Storylines feature aimed at turning the social network into more of a daily habit by raising the visibility of some of the most interesting conversations happening on it. Today, the company is taking another step to keep you coming back more often, by upgrading its Messaging feature.
Prior to this launch, Messaging has seen a 40% year-over-year growth in terms of engagement, the company reports, growing to over 60 million interactions each week. More than 50% of LinkedIn’s active members use the feature each week, accessing messages from the a tab at the top of the page. But if you’re browsing for a job and need to message a connection that works at a particular company, flipping over to Messaging can get pretty cumbersome.
Starting today, LinkedIn lets you send such a message right from that job listing page, or any page you happen to be on within LinkedIn. Rather than navigating to a specific location, your inbox is in a small window in the bottom right of the page, similar to a chat list on other social networks like Facebook. Click on the window, and you can have an instant conversation.
“In building this we wanted to have a messaging thread through all of what you do on LinkedIn,” says Sammy Shreibati, senior product manager at LinkedIn. That means that no matter where you are on the site, that messaging window will come with you. If you get a response from someone while you’re logged in, it will pop up at the bottom of the page similar to a traditional instant message.
That window isn’t just a connections list. As you navigate around, it gets updated to highlight specific individuals you might want to ping based on what you’re looking at on the site. For instance, if you’re reading about job opening at Facebook, the app might show a friend who works there at the top of your messaging window. If you don’t know anyone at Facebook, it could suggest connections of yours who do know people who work there, so they can make an introduction. The feature also works if you’re looking at a particular individual on the site and want to ask a friend for an introduction.
“We’re really excited about how we’re using the contextual insights to help members start conversations,” says Chris Szeto, director of product, messaging at LinkedIn. “When you think about messaging normally you see lists of people or lists of conversations. What we’re doing is we’re making it much more dynamic, and based on what you’re doing across the sites we’re surfacing people that you can talk to or should talk to in order to get something done related to what you’re trying to do.”
That doesn’t mean the Messaging tab is going away. You’ll still see messages there just as you always have. Instead, the instant messaging feature is meant to be used while you’re actively using the site, bringing conversations to the forefront of everything you do.
The company has been beta testing these new instant conversations with some users and says that they speed up the pace with which people respond to queries on the service. “We’ve seen an increase in one-minute reply rates by 10% and five-minute reply rates by 8 or 9%,” says Shreibati.
The feature will start rolling out to most global members Thursday, and will be available for all LinkedIn members, both free and paid, in the coming weeks.