2012 has been remarkable for many things.
We’ve had the Olympics, Euro 2012 and the Tour de France: each of them memorable and everyone successful. The same, however, can’t be said of the fortunes of tech and online companies who’ve floated on the markets. In fact, 2012 has been a pretty miserable year for the likes of Facebook, Zynga and Groupon. At best the stocks of these companies have just about managed to keep afloat – no puns intended.
Fortunately, there has been a shining light in the gathering online gloom.
LinkedIn, the professional social media network, has had a storming year. Its share price has soared, and that’s principally because it’s introduced a raft of new and innovative features during the course of the year that have kept the platform engaging and vibrant.
- A complete overhaul of LinkedIn’s website design.
- A new iPad application.
- A new endorsement feature that lets users recommend the specific skills of colleagues.
- Original content from business leaders on LinkedIn Today.
The changes have been welcomed by users to such an extent that LinkedIn now has more than 187 million registered users and 109 million unique visitors per month.
What was so appealing about the new streamlined LinkedIn?
Well, it’s essentially a question of keeping one step ahead of the competition by keeping things simple and giving users what they want, according to Deep Nishar, LinkedIn’s senior vice president of product. Speaking to Business Insider, Mr Nishar had this to say:
“Toward the end of last year we launched our new iOS app and that got a lot of traffic and accolades. In March of this year we launched our iPad app, which has also done very well. We also launched a Windows 7 app and are working on a BlackBerry 10 app. When you combine the entire portfolio there’s a lot happening there. In terms of growth, we’re seeing good distribution between both the mobile web and apps. The apps are clearly taking a predominant share of it, but on things like the iPad, people clearly use the mobile web browsers too.”
“Mobile is an ever-changing cycle. We want to make sure that as new operating systems come out; we continue to keep the apps very current on those operating systems. We are definitely very focused on existing apps that are out there and making sure they’re very current when the operating systems get upgraded by the various manufacturers.
“Simplification really started last year when we launched the iOS app because the mission that I gave our mobile team was to design LinkedIn for the mobile device the way they would’ve liked LinkedIn for the desktop to be. The team came back with a much more streamlined version focusing on the key things that we believed our members wanted to do when they were on the go. And that got us not just greater views, but a lot of very good data in terms of how users were using our mobile app.
“Then we put that into our redesign for the website and said, ‘Ok, what are the kinds of things people want to do on LinkedIn?’ Historically, one of the complaints we always heard about LinkedIn is that people only come looking for jobs. But our data suggest that there are five times as many things being done by the same user that aren’t job related.”
So how can the social media platform build on what has undoubtedly been a spectacularly successful 2012? Well, according to Mr Nishar the answer is to stick with the policy of keeping things simple:
“The big things for our team this year were to simplify and grow every day. People think of simplification as less functionality. I actually think of it as more targeted functionality for the member base. You will see the simplification continuing throughout our site. This year we took a very concentrated approach for our homepage and our profile pages. You’re going to start seeing that in some of our other properties. In terms of growth, we will continue launching in different geographies, in different languages, and on different channels so mobile will continue to experience the positive success it’s had.”
“On an everyday basis, we’ll continue to focus on being the pre-eminent content publishing ecosystem for professional content. We’ll get more influencers on the programme that are relevant to our membership.”