LinkedIn Groups Gets an Overhaul

LinkedIn began rolling out a thorough overhaul of its LinkedIn Groups platform, including an enhanced sharing experience, easier access to the comments feature, a Facebook-like “Like” feature, a Twitter-like “Start Following” icon, and the ability to choose group members as “Top Influencers.”

Principal product manager Ian McCarthy wrote in the LinkedIn Blog:

Starting today, we’re rolling out some updates to LinkedIn groups — the first major update since we launched discussions in Groups at the end of August 2009. This is the first of upcoming upgrades to our groups platform, conversation system, and moderation tool kit coming shortly. Please bear in mind that these updates will be rolled out over the next week, by when you should see these feature updates applied to your groups.

We’ve made the conversations within groups similar to face-to-face professional interactions by removing the wall between original remarks and off-site content such as shared news articles. The rich link-sharing experience you already enjoy on your LinkedIn homepage is now also available within the context of groups.

The new design makes it easy to browse through the latest updates of a discussion and make comments quickly and easily. You can roll over the images of the last three participants on any thread to see comment previews and click their profile pictures to jump to their segment of the conversation.

Alternatively, you can chime in right away by commenting in line without drilling down into the whole discussion. If you’re new to the thread, clicking the discussion headline or the “See all comments” link will take you to the beginning of the discussion.

In a live discussion, nodding fuels a conversation, and the new “Like” button is a simple way to do this virtually. You can also see who has liked a conversation to get a sense for topics that group members are gravitating toward. The “More” drop-down in the carousel also makes it easy to flag new items as a job or as inappropriate for the group.

While you may check in to groups ever so often to get the latest news and discussions from your fellow group members, you may also like to set up a persistent email alert when select members of the group make a contribution (like or comment) within the group. This is easily accomplished by clicking through the “Start following” icon below each profile photo in any group thread on the groups homepage.

Finally, the new groups interface introduces an easy way to discover participants who truly drive the activity of the group’s discussions each week by highlighting them as “top influencers.” This designation is given not only to those who contribute the most, but also to those whose contributions stimulate the most participation from other group members.