LinkedIn is launching trending topics to highlight what’s most popular and relevant in your professional world. Officially called Trending Storylines, it’s an additional feed you can access to see curated and interest-based content that’s pulled from publishers, your network, and human editors within LinkedIn. This is not going to replace your existing news feed, but rather complements it.
Available on both mobile and the web, Trending Storylines will show you stories that are developing, meaning you can quickly look up stories your network is talking about or that you may have missed. For me, my connections are currently talking about Google’s Android O, so tapping on that will show me a summary of the issue, likely written by a human editor, along with 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 some of the 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, health care 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 the feature is about more than catching up on relevant news; it’s 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 other people will know what you’re posting about.
The Microsoft-owned professional social network believes it won’t be impacted by the fake news that 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 show up as a separate tab on the Home section labeled “trending.” Here’s more information about how stories are suggested for your feed.
For now, you won’t see any ads or sponsored posts, as LinkedIn says it’s focusing on the member experience before monetizing anything. But if all goes well, members or brands may eventually be able to buy their way into specific topics of conversation to highlight their role as an influencer or thought leader.
One of the important ideas behind Trending Storylines is that it’ll increase your odds of discovering new connections and help surface subject matter experts. With a trending section, LinkedIn could also reward your influence by boosting your reach and exposure. It’s not known what criteria go into the selection process for inclusion in Trending Storyline, but it could include engagement, comments, and content.
“Now, more than ever it can feel like a full-time job trying to keep up with 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,” said 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 new look of the site. However, Cohen says that “overall, the feedback we’re hearing on the redesign has been overwhelmingly positive.” “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 feature internationally “soon.”