Here’s Why You Don’t Like The New LinkedIn User Interface

It wasn’t built for you, that’s why.

Virtually everyone who has been complaining about the new LinkedIn User Interface is missing the point. The new interface is not for me, it’s not for you, and for that matter, it’s not for anyone who will read this article.

The new User Interface is there for the occasional user. And when I say “occasional,” I mean the person who checks their Linkedin account every few months, or even less often than that.

LinkedIn wants more engagement, more people to show up. A nice clean interface, easy to use, without too many confusing bells and whistles, where a user can go “Ooo, now this looks easier to use.”

We interrupt this article to include some arcane math that illustrates the LinkedIn dilemma:

When LinkedIn reported their results for the quarter ending Sept 30, 2016, they reported 467M users, of whom 106M logged in at least once a month.  That translates to 77.3% of all LinkedIn users logging in less than once a month.

That number is “officially” out of date as LinkedIn no longer reports results, so I use 75% and still feel it is valid for the simple reason that if the number of users logging in more often than once a month was improving, I don’t think LinkedIn would keep it a secret.

So we have the occasional users, less than once a month, and the regular users, once a month or more often.  Now let me introduce LinkedIn power users.

I have read in numerous places that 40 million LinkedIn users use it every day. I have searched all over but can find no provenance for this statistic. That being said, this number “feels” right. I did some work eight or nine months ago to come up with a guesstimate of daily users and based on comparisons of Facebook and Twitter’s monthly user to daily user ratios, I came up with a figure for LinkedIn of “somewhere south of 50M”, so I am comfortable with the 40M figure. Note that the 40M number represents around 8% of LinkedIn users. One in twelve.

Finally, let’s talk Premium Subscriptions. In the last quarter of reported results LinkedIn reported $162M in paid subscriptions. This number would be based on Business Plus and Sales Navigator (Recruiter and Lynda are both part of the Talent Solutions Group and their sales are not included in the $162M number). Let’s be charitable and say that a subscription to one of Business Premium or Sales navigator subs costs, oh, $162 a quarter. Therefore, around one million LinkedIn users have premium subs.

All this math comes down to this fundamental statement: LinkedIn sees upside in getting the 360M occasional users to show up more often, and LinkedIn thinks that upside will be much greater than any possible downside in pissing off the 1M who have premium subscriptions and the 39M “free LinkedIn” power users.

In the end, many LinkedIn power users don’t like the new interface, but the new interface wasn’t designed with power users in mind. It was designed for people who may not even, at this point, know there is a new interface, but will find out in a few months when they next check in.

So here’s my question for you today: Does LinkedIn risk losing the faithful? While many people are to – put it mildly – unhappy, how many will follow through on their threat to leave? If you are in sales, recruiting, consulting or a similar profession, who else has the huge searchable database you absolutely have to have?  

Why You Should Think Twice About Using Automated Tools On LinkedIn

One of the odd side effects of the social selling movement is the seemingly endless stream of messages and interactions required. This has given rise to automated tools on LinkedIn – apps and browser extensions that will do a lot of this work for you. And I can understand the temptation. But doesn’t anyone else find the whole idea of “automating your social selling” a little contradictory?

Here are reasons why you should think twice about automating your LinkedIn interactions.  

Many of these apps and extensions violate the User Agreement.

Specifically section 8.2 (the points that follow are a subset of the forty-five or so  bullet points in this section).  

8.2. Don’ts. You agree that you will not:

  • Use manual or automated software, devices, scripts robots, other means or processes to access, “scrape,” “crawl” or “spider” the Services or any related data or information
  • Use bots or other automated methods to access the Services, add or download contacts, send or redirect messages;
  • Send spam or other unwelcomed communications to others;
  • Scrape or copy profiles and information of others through any means (including crawlers, browser plugins and add-ons, and any other technology or manual work);

As the sole arbiter as to whether you have overstepped the lines, LinkedIn is judge, jury and executioner.  And good luck explaining yourself to Microsoft, the company that just paid twenty-six billion dollars for that data they just caught you scraping.

Note that while getting caught may be a low probability event, the consequences –  excommunication – can be nasty. Think of crossing the street with your eyes closed. All the cars will probably stop. Would you bet your life on “probably” ?

Anybody who recommends products like these are not looking out for your best interests.

Automated messages have to be generic

This is the easy way to tell when someone is using automated messaging with you. In order to cover all the possibilities with all the people the message will go to, the message has to be generic and bland. It doesn’t sound authentic. In attempting not to alienate anyone, it doesn’t appeal to anyone either.

And being boring at scale isn’t something you should aspire to.  

It can be sorta, kinda, well…fraudulent

You set up your browser extension to look at LinkedIn profiles. What you are doing is giving the other person the impression that you found something interesting in their activity so you had to go and look at their profile.

Merriam Webster defines fraud as  “deceit, trickery; specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value”.  

That would be you committing fraud. Great way to start a relationship with a connection, isn’t it?

Let me close with a hypothetical situation and a final thought:

Here’s a partial list of abilities I have seen one company advertise:

  • You can set up their browser extension to search and view profiles one after another (in the hopes that the people will think you are interested in them and invite you to connect).  
  • And speaking of connecting, you can set up a search and the browser extension sends connection invites to everyone in the search results.   
  • Then the browser extension accepts invitations to connect for you
  • And then the browser extension sends a welcome message to the new connection
  • And then it takes the three popular social selling trigger events – birthdays, work anniversaries and new jobs – and sends messages to all of those connections.
  • And then the browser extension will “like” your connections’ posts and add generic comments like “This is a really good post!”  

So you could set up this software to look at a certain type of person’s profile, automatically accept their invitation to connect when they bite at your profile view, automatically send them a “welcome to my LinkedIn network” message, congratulate them on any birthdays, job changes or work anniversaries, and then start liking and commenting on their posts. Four months later, you have this lovely, completely automated relationship with this connection, whose real  existence you are blissfully unaware of.  

It seems to me that your browser extension is the one with the connection, not you.


The Odd Little World That Is (the new) LinkedIn Notifications

Notifications have become a bigger deal under the new LinkedIn Desktop User Interface. It’s now one of the “big six” tabs across the top of your screen, along with Home, My Network, Jobs, Messaging and Me.  

While I have read that some people don’t like the new format, I do like the  dedicated stream that opens up when you click Notifications. I always used to hate the little narrow slider on the old notifications pop up window. That was user nasty.   

For the purpose of this article, consider the terms “post” and “article” to be interchangeable, as LinkedIn appears to treat notifications similarly for both (a post is a short piece of content that goes right into the homepage feed, while an article is long form content that stays attached to your profile).

Here is what I have seen that is changed or different in Notifications. Like many aspects of the new User Interface, there appear to be bugs and omissions in Notifications, so I should qualify this article by saying that this is what I see on my screen as of writing this post March 20th.   

What you get notified for

* Likes or Comments on your posts or articles.

You get notified when someone likes your post or comments on your post. I will talk more about Likes when I write about Publishing, Views and Statistics but likes are wonky in the new format. They are hard to track and give you less info (just the name, headline, and photo) than they used to.  

* Jobs you may be interested in

I seem to get this several times a week.

* Wish connections a Happy Birthday

Arrives daily. A list of everyone who has a birthday that day.

* Congratulate connections on work anniversaries

Arrives daily. A list of some of the people who have a work anniversary this month. LinkedIn parses these out piecemeal over the course of the month, as for most us, dumping all fifty or five hundred people who have an anniversary this month in one notification would be overwhelming.

* Congratulate a connection or connections on starting a new position

Daily. A list of those people starting a new job.  

* Mentions

This is the biggy. Mentions now rule the roost. Mentioning someone in a post, or in a comment on a post, or someone liking a post or a comment that mentions you, generates a notification, and these notifications seem to supersede all others. I usually hide these posts from other people after I have weighed in, as the mention related notifications will push out all my other notifications – like comments on my own posts – and completely dominate my notifications feed.

Conjecture: get ready to get mentioned to death as the social sellers discover and start gaming this feature.

* New endorsements from your connections

A low level priority it seems. I see these occasionally.

* Someone you follow has published an article

Rare. At least for me. I have had the new UI since early February and I can remember seeing one notification for a connection who has published an article. And I have a lot of connections who post every week.

* Further engagement with a post you engaged with

Someone commented on a post you commented on.

* Followers

Once a day I receive a list of any new followers I have. What’s alarming about this is that this is the only place in the new UI where there is any reference to my  followers at all. I have approximately seven hundred followers. I know who the four are that followed me yesterday and the two from the day before. The rest of my followers? No way of knowing. I think your phantom followers have taken the place of the anonymous LinkedIn profile viewers, as in: “There are several hundred people who are interested in you Mr Johnston, and have signed up to follow you, but we are not going to tell you who they are.”

What you do not get notified for

* Shares

No notifications of people sharing your post – unless the sharer mentions you. I think people who share my posts are the single most important engagement opportunity on LinkedIn. Either this is a mistake LinkedIn will rectify, or LinkedIn doesn’t think sharing is important anymore, in which case they need to change the Social Selling Index, as sharing is a critical part of the SSI.

Summary: the new somewhat improved notifications

LinkedIn has consolidated some types of notifications into once a day types. This is good.   

LinkedIn will also consolidate your likes and comments for a particular post into one notification (Bob Smith and twelve others liked or commented on your post). This is good.

There appears to be a hierarchy of notifications. Mentions are on top, along with likes and comments on your posts. Notifications for new posts by people you follow are on the bottom and get lost. This is bad, as most people would like to define their own hierarchy thanks.

There appears to be a maximum number of notifications of 9.

This is smart. No one wants to open up LinkedIn and see three hundred notifications waiting, in the same way that no one goes, “Oh goody, I have three hundred emails!”

You receive a lot more notifications when you are logged on to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn seems to detect when you are on LinkedIn. When I first logged in yesterday morning there were nine notifications waiting for me. Over the next three hours (a Sunday morning mind you) I received a dozen more.  This is good (more timely notifications) and bad (potentially interrupts my workflow).  

The most powerful tool on LinkedIn is the Mention.

For now anyway. Mentions appear to be the guaranteed way to get a notification to someone. Expect to see your name in bold on a lot of posts.


Suggestion: Hide posts that are dominating your feed. I have found that commenting on a post that then gets a lot more comments can really clog up my feed. I have started going back to the post and clicking on “Hide this post” (it’s under the three dots at the top right of the post). This frees up a lot of room in the feed for notifications I want to see.

Like quite a few aspects of the new UI, notifications has been cleaned up and made to look more presentable, which is good for the occasional user. For us power users, the same complaints remain: I would like to have more control over what I see in my feed.