Change has always come thick and fast where social media networks are involved. But with a raft of announcements and sizeable updates in recent weeks, LinkedIn appears to be undergoing something of a renaissance.

In, what seems to be, an effort to streamline and simplify the LinkedIn experience for its users, the professional network has completely overhauled its mobile offering and groups feature on desktop. Will the changes stop there? Unlikely.

Drawing skin deep conclusions, the updated look is, in both cases, a big, bold and fresh departure from what has historically been a somewhat dated and relatively complicated experience. And that’s a good thing. Absolutely.

But if God created man in his own image, then he’s updating LinkedIn in Facebook’s. No matter the way you, I or Jeff Weiner (CEO of LinkedIn) slice it, the changes made to the network have always been reactive and not proactive. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily.

“Facebook for Your Professional Life”

LinkedIn-iOS-Changes

First, let’s take an in-depth look at LinkedIn’s updated mobile app for iOS. As long as your phone is running the latest version of iOS you should have woken one morning, bleary eyed, to a vastly different LinkedIn app. You’re forgiven if you thought you’d accidentally tapped up Facebook; the similarities are remarkable.

The app, like Facebook’s, is navigated via five ‘pillars’; Home, Me, Messaging, My Network and Search. ‘Home’, as you’d expect, is essentially your professional feed. All the updates you’d expect to see from those you’re connected with on LinkedIn.

Next is ‘Me’, where you’ll find information about endorsements, likes, comments and profile views. While this is a departure from Facebook’s ‘Requests’ tab, its thrust is certainly in the same direction.

‘Messaging’ is particularly interesting. It’s a complete departure from InMail’s email-like feel towards the trend of direct private messaging capabilities, like those unveiled by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Of all LinkedIn’s new features, this is the one the platform could and would have benefitted from sooner. Direct messaging feels more social and more accessible than the overly-formal features of the LinkedIn of old.

And then there’s ‘My Network’, which in a similar fashion to Facebook’s ‘Notifications’ keeps you abreast of updates from your network of connections; birthdays, job updates etc…

‘Search’ is fairly self-explanatory.

An Improvement?

Vastly. Compellingly. LinkedIn’s usability, particularly on mobile, has been at best appalling and at worst archaic for some years now. Only with these changes have I actually started using the app again.

That’s a step in the right direction for LinkedIn, one which could bring around the revitalisation of the platform on mobile. But only time will tell whether users will be willing to interact on the go; regularly updating and announcing their professional status.

Reactive not Proactive

Clearly, the changes LinkedIn is making are reactive, not proactive. They are designed to keep pace with the industry, not set the pace. But that’s fine. Absolutely fine.

Being reactive means time to refine and deliver a genuinely impressive experience. Exactly what LinkedIn has managed here. Aesthetically, the new app is better than Facebook and just as easily navigable.

And it was a safe bet. It’s a tried and tested layout; one that users can and will interact with. Intelligent decisions don’t always have to be progressive, and this is one decision that could well pay off for LinkedIn.