LinkedIn is launching trending topics, highlighting what’s most popular and relevant to your professional world. Officially called Trending Storylines, it’s an additional feed you can access showing you curated and interest-based content, pulled from your network, publishers, and human editors within LinkedIn. This is not going to replace your existing news feed, but complements it.
Available on both mobile and on the web, Trending Storylines will show you what stories are developing, meaning that you can look up stories that your network is talking about or you may have missed. For me, currently my connections are talking about the Google’s Android O, so tapping on that will show me a summary of the issue, likely written by a human editor, and the most popular articles shared by top influencers, peers, and publications. These topics are based on various signals that LinkedIn has about you, so I won’t necessarily be inundated with stories on farming, for example.
LinkedIn hopes to avoid controversies that have affected Facebook by offering multiple perspectives, which will come from news publishers, influencers, and those you’re connected with. So, for example, healthcare workers might see a perspective shared by a renowned industry expert along with commentary from a top medical publication, and a post from someone they’re following or are friends with.
But it’s more than catching up on relevant news, but about expanding your relationships and knowledge. LinkedIn also features a section designed to highlight profiles mentioned in stories, so if you’re catching up on the Snap IPO, you might be asked to follow venture capitalists that have invested in the company, journalists who cover it, and others. And there’s also a related stories section so the fun doesn’t stop when you run out of stories about a topic.
You can also chime in with your own thoughts, posting directly to your followers and connected members about specific topics. When you do, LinkedIn will automatically affix a hashtag so when other people click on it, they’ll know what you’re posting thoughts on.
The Microsoft-owned professional social network believes it won’t be impacted by fake news which has been a scourge of social media since last year’s presidential election. Tomer Cohen is the vice president of product and told VentureBeat in an email, “Inaccurate content that is intentionally deceptive, including fake news, is not acceptable on our site…Our combination of algorithms and editors creates an experience where trending news is validated by editorial to ensure that it is professional and comes from trusted sources.”
He went on to say, “The content members write and share on LinkedIn becomes part of their professional identity — it can be seen by their boss, colleagues, and potential business partners. Promoting fake news can damage your reputation, and there is no hiding behind anonymity on LinkedIn.”
If you’re accessing Trending Storylines on the web, it’ll appear as a module within the right side of the News Feed. However, if you’re on mobile, it’ll be as a separate tab on the Home section labeled “trending” underneath the search bar. Here’s more information on how stories are suggested for your feed.
For now you won’t see any ads or sponsored posts featured as LinkedIn says it’s focused on the member experience before monetizing things. But if things go well, it might be feasible to think that members or brands could buy their way into specific topics of conversation to highlight their role as an influencer or thought leader.
One important thing behind Trending Storylines is that it’ll increase the odds of discovering new connections and help surfacing subject matter experts. Previously, it was likely you would read topical content within your News Feed by those you follow or befriended, by searching for the subject, or even browsing through long-form posts. Now with a trending section, LinkedIn could reward your influence by boosting your reach and exposure. It’s unknown how someone is deemed to be worthy of being in a Trending Storyline, but it could be due to engagement, comments, and what you’ve said.
“Now, more than ever it can feel like a full time job trying to keep up with to trending news impacting your professional world. The stakes are even higher now, as one source of information is no longer enough to get the full story,” remarked Cohen. “As professionals, we want to know what’s being discussed quickly, as well as, get smarter by discovering and exploring diverse perspective and joining the conversation.”
The launch of Trending Storylines comes months after the massive redesign of LinkedIn’s desktop site to match its mobile app. Browsing through social media, you can read some people’s displeasure with the site. However, this is the opposite response LinkedIn is seeing. “Overall, the feedback we’re hearing on the redesign has been overwhelmingly positive,” Cohen stated. “We heard from some members that they missed the more advanced search functionality so we rolled back some key features into search…We’re also working with members to ensure they have the information they need to navigate the next experience.”
Trending Storylines is rolling out in the U.S. in English today and features news developing globally. There are plans to expand this internationally “soon.”