New Delhi: Post the Covid-19 pandemic which necessitated the need for social distancing and working from home for professionals and also led to massive unemployment across the world, people have come on to the LinkedIn platform ‘in droves’, said Kiran Prasad, VP of product at LinkedIn in an interview to ET.
“They are coming in order to find communities, to find support in times of need. The Covid-19 pandemic in India has been a growth business for us. Since January we have had almost 5 million members join LinkedIn in India. And since 2009 we have grown 20x in the country. We are growing at an immense pace both on the job seeking side as well as people coming on to the platform looking for help and support,” Prasad added.
Microsoft owned LinkedIn said it has seen a 60% year on year increase in content creation on the platform in March this year compared to March last year. Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of nearly 3 new members per second, the company said. The pandemic has also led to key product changes.
After Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, LinkedIn is launching the stories feature in India from October 6. LinkedIn has launched stories in the US, Canada, France, Brazil, Netherlands, Australia and the UAE so far. Users can publish photos and videos up to 20 seconds long, which will be visible on their profiles for 24 hours. Prasad said users asked for it.
“We are seeing tons of people coming on to the platform and starting to talk and share. The separation between work life and home life has changed because of Covid,” he said.
“We recently launched stories in the US. And what we are starting to see is this real uptick of stories. Users are starting to share their professional moments that are now at home. Sometimes including kids, sometimes including pets but it’s still within the tone of professionality. People wanted something that was a little bit more ephemeral. Our members started asking for it,” he added.
The platform is also introducing messaging, video chat, and search changes.
“We have integrated video chats in messaging so you have the ability to create a Zoom chat or a Microsoft teams chat or BlueJeans chat very quickly directly off LinkedIn messaging. We have added instant reactions similar to other chat apps,” Prasad said.
“On the search side, in the past, we were really known as the place to find people or jobs. With the growth in content, people are coming here and want to find more than people and jobs,” he added.
LinkedIn is introducing a blended search results page with defined recommendations organized by people, jobs, groups, companies, schools, content, LinkedIn Learning courses, and online events.
The platform is also betting on virtual events. Globally 6.3 million members attended virtual events on LinkedIn following the launch of events in early 2020. In India, the creation of virtual events on LinkedIn has grown 4X since March 2020. The work on events is being spearheaded from India.
“Live events are another growth area for us during Covid times because a lot of businesses can’t hold events anymore. Our India team based out of Bengaluru has expanded its charter. They are responsible for growing events and groups worldwide. So all the features that we are launching around live events…all of that is run out of Bengaluru. We are seeing a pretty healthy growth on the events created and the number of people coming to watch those events,” Prasad said.
LinkedIn’s other product changes this year include the Open to Work feature for those seeking employment. It puts a ring around users’ profile photos if they are unemployed and opt for the feature besides putting out their job titles, skills and location.
“Just in a matter of a few months, we have had over 2 million people sign up for it. It highlights them in our recruiter products. We can see that once users sign up for Open to Work, there is a 40% increase in the numbers of inmails they receive,” he said.
The platform also launched the name pronunciation feature. “The idea is simple- you can go next to your name and say this is how I pronounce my name. Now people are doing so many video calls. So instead of having an awkward conversation you can just look up names on profiles,” he added.
And the biggest change, which people will start seeing, Prasad said, will be an entirely new ‘visual refresh’ of LinkedIn, on mobile as well as the desktop, also based on user feedback.
“The primary reason we did this visual change was to lean in on community. A lot of people told us LinkedIn is very blue. That means it’s a person wearing a blue suit who is working at a desk in a formal company. I consider myself a professional but I’m not wearing a blue suit. The combination of all this is around bringing community and people to the forefront.”