LinkedIn has seen a swell of new content creation, consumption, and engagement this year, as many work to make the most of the recent months of lockdowns and reduced business – according to the company’s Director of Brand and Consumer Marketing.

In an interview with Social Samosa, Srividya Gopani noted that while the platform was already seeing growth this year, it has received a massive surge since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic:

“We are seeing a 55% year-over-year increase in conversations among connections globally, since March 2019. Members are increasingly reacting, commenting, resharing and replying to comments as they look to reconnect with their network and share advice and tips that can help them navigate this novel working environment together.”

Srividya Gopani/Social Samosa

This has also been tied to a 60% year-over-year increase in content creation for the LinkedIn during the same time. 

Specifically, Gopani said users are working together to provide advice, spread word about jobs and internships, and connecting with other professionals to assist each other during this time. 

Similarly, the company has seen an increase in the amount of time people have spent with LinkedIn’s online learning courses. 

In March alone, Gopani says users watched more than 4 million hours of courses.

“As the world’s largest professional network, we are recognizing that we are uniquely positioned to encourage members to build the right expertise, gain relevant skills and knowledge, and make the right connections at this time.”

Srividya Gopani/Social Samosa

The popular hyper-local community app Nextdoor is introducing new ways for local businesses to connect with their nearby audience. Starting this week, the service is launching “Business Posts” which appear in the Nextdoor neighborhood news feed. 

Additionally, the company is promising a suite of tools and analytics is coming in the near future for businesses running ads or organic posts. 

How Do Business Posts Work?

For the most part, Business Posts are extremely similar to the typical organic posts any user can make on the platform. Once a brand has claimed a local business page, they can create posts which can include pictures with a full description. Just as with a typical post from users, others can then “Thank” or comment on the posts. 

Just looking at the posts, the most obvious difference is that Business Posts include a label which informs users that “this post is from a Local Business.”

Behind the scenes, there are a few other limitations which may frustrate some businesses. 

For now, Business Posts will only reach users within two miles of your listed business address. So far, the brand has remained mum on whether they are considering changes or options for brands that operate with a service area that may not directly correspond with their physical address. 

Interestingly, the platform also says they will consolidate posts from multiple businesses into a single carousel post when five or more Business Posts are queued in the neighborhood feed at once.

Another important detail is that brands only get two Business Posts per month for free. The phrasing of the announcement implies that brands may soon be able to pay to create more frequent posts, but the company has not offered any details about this prospect. 

How To Make The Best Nextdoor Business Post

To help brands make the most of this new feature, Nextdoor also released a number of examples and recommendations in a companion post

Among the tips, Nextdoor says:

  • Posts with at least 5 recommendations have 30% higher engagement
  • Post between 5 – 7 pm receive higher engagement
  • Posts on Thursday and Friday see more engagement than weekend or early-week posts
  • Post at least once every two weeks
  • Posts with photos and business pages with profile photos are more visited and have greater engagement

Analytics is Coming

Currently, Nextdoor offers next to no tools for tracking or analyzing the reach and engagement of business-related posts. That will change later this month, though, as the platform launches its own business owner dashboard with tools for measuring the performance of both Local Deals ads and Business Posts.

These will include details on the number of users who have viewed, clicked, or recommended your posts.

Twitter is introducing a new way to tweet using just your voice – called simply Voice Tweets.

The company announced this week that voice tweets will soon be among the many different ways you can tweet, such as using photos, videos, and regular text. 

“Over the years, photos, videos, gifs, and extra characters have allowed you to add your own flair and personality to your conversations. But sometimes 280 characters aren’t enough and some conversational nuances are lost in translation.

So starting today, we’re testing a new feature that will add a more human touch to the way we use Twitter – your very own voice.”

To start, the feature is limited to a small number of people using the Twitter app on iOS devices, though it will be rolling out to all iOS devices in the coming weeks.

While those with Android devices and those on desktop computers are left out of being able to create voice tweets for now, everyone can still see and listen to voice tweets that appear in their feed.

How To Post a Voice Tweet

If you have been given access to voice tweets, you will notice a small icon resembling an audio wavelength next to the camera icon when composing a tweet. 

If you tap that icon, you will be presented with a screen showing your profile photo and a record button. Just tap that button to get started recording. 

Voice tweets are limited to 140 seconds of audio in each clip, though the company mentioned that you can keep talking and have your audio automatically split into a thread of multiple voice tweets. 

Once shared, your voice tweet will appear in other people’s feeds with a tappable image that will begin playing your audio in a docked window at the bottom of the screen. 

There’s a lot that can be left unsaid or uninterpreted using text, so we hope voice Tweeting will create a more human experience for listeners and storytellers alike.

Whether it’s #storytime about your encounter with wild geese in your neighborhood, a journalist sharing breaking news, or a first-hand account from a protest, we hope voice Tweeting gives you the ability to share your perspectives quickly and easily with your voice.”

Following the appearance of COVID-19 in America in March, Facebook put in place a number of restrictions which entirely banned the sale of face masks. Now, as most states are reopening and chances of a medical supply shortage are lessening, the company is relaxing some of these rules on non-medical face masks.

Why Non-Medical Face Masks

While medical professions are still seeing a limited supply of face masks, demand for KN95 or other medical-grade masks has fallen. Instead, many are opting for cloth coverings which are considered acceptable by many health experts. 

This has created an increased demand for these non-medical face masks while reducing the overall demand for non-medical masks. 

Medical Masks Vs. Non-Medical Masks

Under these newly relaxed guidelines, advertisers can now start selling non-medical masks. According to facebook, these include masks which are:

  • Non-medical grade
  • Not promoted with medical or health claims
  • Handmade or fabric masks
  • Designed to be reusable
  • Made of refashioned materials

Phased In Restrictions

To prevent a tidal wave of advertisers all trying to sell face masks en mass or an increase in bad actors, Facebook is lifting the ban in phases. For now, advertisers wishing to promote their masks will have to meet a few specific requirements:

  • Advertisers must be in good standing with Facebook ads, having no violations or disabled ads due to policy violations
  • Ad accounts must have an advertising history of at least 4 months. This means those who created an ad account a year ago but have not used it would not be eligible, while those who have been running ads for at least 4 months will be. 
  • Ad accounts cannot be from a country with unusually high rates of ad policy violations for selling masks during the bad, including Cameroon, China, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

What Can Be In The Ads

Additionally, Facebook is still mandating a few restrictions to ensure that advertisers only promote non-medical masks. 

For instance, absolutely no medical or health claims can be made in the ad, including the mention of disease prevention or protection of the respiratory system. 

Any mention of community benefits of wearing masks can not include health mentions or overstate the benefits of masks.

To give an idea what this looks like in practice, Facebook provided an example in their policy guidance:

“‘We’ve pivoted our business to making masks to help keep our community healthy’ would be allowed, but stating ‘We’re stopping the spread of COVID-19 by making masks’ would not be allowed.”

Facebook Policy

Notably, while Facebook is reducing the restrictions on masks, they are still banning ads promoting hand sanitizers, surface wipes, COVID-19 test kits, and other related medical products.

Facebook is testing the idea of adding an entirely new type of service to its already large umbrella – email. Several small-to-medium businesses are seeing a new set of tools on the site which make it possible to send marketing emails to your customers. 

With the tools, businesses could not only compose and send emails directly through Facebook, but track their performance with detailed analytics as well. 

In a statement to AdWeek, Facebook confirmed the test, saying it will be limited to a small number of businesses:

“We’re testing new email marketing tools with a small number of businesses to help them more efficiently notify their customers of changes to their services and operations.

We’re evaluating whether these tools are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it further.”

Of course, if the feature is well received, it is likely to be implemented into the main Facebook system and made available to everyone. 

How To Send Marketing Emails Via Facebook

Facebook Email creator

While I personally haven’t been able to find the tool, those who have been given access are being alerted via a pop-up message near the left sidebar menu. 

Once you have clicked the Marketing Emails tab, you are directed to a prompt to confirm your new Facebook email address:

“Reconnect with your email subscribers using marketing emails. Select your audience, customize your design, and track performance all in one place. Confirm your Page’s email address to get started.”

After your email address has been confirmed, you will then be able to begin adding email contacts to your list. This can be done individually or in bulk using a spreadsheet. 

During this process, you will be asked to confirm that you have received permission to send promotional messages to these contacts.

Facebook email permissions

With this process complete and your contacts uploaded, you can now start composing and sending email messages using the Pages app. 

Facebook email creator

A Free Solution For Businesses Without Email

For businesses that currently do not have a professional email account established, the tool could provide a potentially powerful way to craft and send messages that look more professional than what can be achieved through other free clients like Gmail. 

However, it is unclear whether the tool will allow businesses to receive email responses, raising questions about its usefulness outside of sales promotions or fliers. 

For now, this is a test to keep an eye on as more people get the chance to try it for themselves.

In recent weeks, LinkedIn has been updating its algorithm it uses to rank content with new signals like “dwell time” or how long users spend with each piece of content. 

Even more, the company has also revealed its secret ranking recipe by using a blog post to dig deep into exactly how it ranks content. 

How LinkedIn Ranks Content

Similar to other major algorithms like those used by Facebook, YouTube, and Google, LinkedIn tries to tailor users’ feeds to their specific interests and niches. To do this, LinkedIn follows a specific process.

When a user logs on, there tend to be tens of thousands of potential posts the social network could choose to show you. To filter these down, the algorithm first applies a lightweight ranking algorithm referred to as a “first-pass candidate generation layer”. This helps choose specifically which posts you might see based on a number of factors including connections and keywords. 

From here, the algorithm now has to determine what order these posts will be shown in. 

As the company describes, “If Alice’s connection Bob recently shared an interesting article, what determines where Bob’s post will appear in Alice’s feed?”

For this, LinkedIn looks at what it calls “viral actions” which include:

  • Reacts
  • Shares
  • Comments

Based on individual users’ actions, the algorithm weighs these interactions with content to determine which content is most likely to create user engagement.

How Dwell Time Fits Into This

While LinkedIn’s algorithm has largely been successful at curating a feed with content most likely to generate user actions, the company says it has noticed some downsides to this approach. 

Specifically, actions like clicks and shares are relatively rare when compared to the total number of people seeing each piece of content. In the grand scheme, focusing on some binary metrics like clicks may miss out on other more passive forms of engagement which may reflect quality content. 

In other words, LinkedIn’s old system could see simple measures like whether someone clicked a post, but it wasn’t factoring in more complex metrics like how long a person was spending with a piece of content after taking action. 

This creates problems when content simply doesn’t live up to its promise or users could potentially share misleading posts to drive clicks.

When this happens, people might click on a post and almost immediately return to their feed.

With the old system, these posts would get rewarded for the number of clicks made, despite the content being unsatisfying. 

Because of these issues, LinkedIn says accounting for dwell time provides numerous advantages for its algorithm:

LinkedIn Dwell Time Benefits

How This Affects You

Overall, this update should have very little negative impact on those already creating informative and engaging content on the professional social network. If anything, you may benefit as the new algorithm punishes those sharing clickbait.

However, it is unclear if LinkedIn’s latest system also accounts for the overall length of content. This could potentially create issues where shorter updates might be downplayed over more in-depth content simply because people spend less time with each individual post. This may be something to keep in mind as the impact of this update takes effect.

Facebook is launching a major overhaul called Shops which will make it easier for brands to sell their products to users without sending them off the social network. 

In theory, the move would allow e-commerce businesses to operate their entire business over Facebook, without an external website or online shop.

With Facebook Shops, businesses can turn their Facebook pages into completely shoppable storefronts. The company also plans to extend the feature to Instagram in the near future.

While the service is free to set up on the social networks, it is powered by third-party services such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and Woo which tend to require a fee or subscription to use. Additionally, the service will charge a fee when customers complete a transaction using the feature. 

Businesses will also be able to include their shops in Stories or buy ads to promote their shops and products across the social networks. However, it is unknown exactly what those ads will look like when they arrive.

In a blog post, Facebook indicated they will be working to integrate loyalty programs into their online shop sometime soon. 

“You’ll be able to easily see and keep track of your points and rewards,” said a company representative. “And we’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage, and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.”

While discussing the move in a live stream, CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested that brands struggling to recover from the COVID-19 shutdowns could use the feature to connect with new and existing customers.

“If you can’t physically open your store or restaurant, you can still take orders online and ship them to people,” said Zuckerberg. “We’re seeing a lot of small businesses that never had online businesses get online for the first time.”

LinkedIn is in the process of launching a new way to create and host live virtual events as group meetings and conferences move online in the wake of COVID-19. 

The new events tool combines two of LinkedIn’s existing features (LinkedIn Events and LinkedIn Live) to prioritize the virtual conference needs of today’s professionals. 

By bringing these tools together, you can now easily alert users to upcoming live streaming content and build an audience for your future streams. This creates better engagement and encourages your followers to set aside time. 

LinkedIn Events

LinkedIn says it has seen huge gains in both the number of people streaming and engagement on those streams, with live video receiving up to 23 times more comments per post and 6 times more reactions per post compared to native video. 

Why Create a Virtual Event?

In the announcement, LinkedIn highlights several ways Virtual Events can help businesses:

  • Host your event safely, in a trusted environment: Using LinkedIn Live, you can choose to live stream to your Page followers or Event attendees, so you can meet audiences where they are. Admins can leverage easy-to-use 3rd-party broadcasting partners, including Restream, Wirecast, Streamyard and Socialive, with more being added in the coming months. 
  • Attract the right professional audiences: We’ve made it easy for you to share your event to your Page followers and send direct invitations to your first-degree profile connections. 
  • Drive buzz and engagement for your event: You can build buzz for your event or live broadcast by posting an update to your Page or Event feed and by recommending key posts for attendees to check out. 
  • Get more mileage out of your events: Once your virtual event is over, you can keep the conversation going with the Video tab — a dedicated hub for a Page’s organic video content that can be accessed by all members of your community. As virtual events become the norm, the Video tab helps you extend the shelf life of your digital video content.

How To Create Your Own Virtual Event on LinkedIn

To be eligible for hosting Virtual Events, your Page must also meet the criteria for accessing LinkedIn Live – which means your page must have at least 1,000 followers. 

The company has also suggested that it will only approve brands for LinkedIn Live who regularly engage with their community by responding to comments and facilitating a dialogue. 

Once you have been approved, the process is simple:

  • Select “Create a LinkedIn Event”
  • Select the option which says the event will be “online-only.”
  • Once you are ready to stream, open an accepted third-party streaming tool and select the event as the stream destination, instead of your organization’s Page.

The currently accepted third-party stream tools include Streamyard, Restream, Wirecast, and Socialive. The company has indicated it will soon be adding support for Wowza in the near future.

Once your stream begins, all event attendees will be notified through in-app or onsite notification. If enabled, attendees may also be notified through push notifications or browser alerts.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, LinkedIn is launching a slew of new tools designed to help the job hunting and hiring process go virtual.

Specifically, the country is launching new ways for applicants to provide video introductions to hiring managers and AI-powered tools for preparing for job interviews.

Here’s what you can expect from both of these new tools:

Video Introductions

LinkedIn Video Interview Prep

Although the tool is technically still in testing, LinkedIn announced it is launching a feature aimed at making the best first impression possible – even when you can’t meet in person.

“We’ve found that 65 percent of people believe that the impression you make online is just as important as the one you make in person, but it can be challenging to show your soft skills to potential employers when you’re not in the same room.”

With LinkedIn’s new video introductions tool, hiring managers can specifically request an introduction as part of their hiring process.

Applicants can then provide recorded video responses or written replies to your questions or prompts.

“A carefully crafted response can help you stand out before the official interview process even begins,” said the company in the announcement.

AI-Powered Interview Prep

LinkedIn AI-Powered Video Feedback

Another new tool LinkedIn is bringing to job hunters is an AI-powered instant feedback interview prep feature, which prepares job candidates for common interview questions.

“When it comes to the interview, more than 50 percent of people say they lack confidence,” explained the company in a blog post.

The instant feedback tool listens to candidates’ responses to common questions and analyzes their speech content and patterns to provide real-time feedback and recommendations such as how often a person uses filler words, pacing, and sensitive phrases to avoid using.

After, users can opt to send their recorded responses to their personal connections to get even more feedback from trusted professionals.

LinkedIn Tips For Video Job Interviews

Along with the announcement, LinkedIn provided three tips all job hunters should consider when preparing for a video interview:

  1. Establish a relationship quickly: You don’t have the luxury of small talk on a video call, so it’s important to build a rapport quickly with your interviewer. Be sure to use the first few minutes of the call to establish that personal connection, as this will instantly put you at ease. Check out their LinkedIn page for background information or mutual connections that could provide a good base for conversation.
  2. Find a quiet spot: In this new age of remote working, there’s always the risk of being interrupted by kids asking for help with homework, or housemates wandering into the kitchen to make a sandwich. Let your family or housemates know you have an important interview scheduled so they don’t accidentally walk in on you or make too much background noise.
  3. Check your tech: An obvious but crucial tip: take some time ahead of the interview to make sure the tech works and you know how to use it. If you need help, check out these LinkedIn Learning courses to give you the lowdown on how to use the latest video tools.

Facebook has started rolling out a new tool for all users in the US and Canada to easily transfer their photos and videos off the platform and onto Google Photos.

You can find the tool in your Facebook settings menu, under the “Your Facebook Information” tab. From there, all you have to do is connect your Google account before you start transferring your photos over.

The tool was actually launched late last year in Ireland and has been slowly expanding to international markets until now.

Much of the motivation behind the tool is Facebook’s participation in the Data Transfer Project, a collaboration between some of the biggest names in tech to establish ways for people to easily transfer data across online platforms. Some of the other names involved include Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter.

Of course, it is safe to assume that the threat of international regulations and policymakers concerned with data transparency.

Facebook’s Director of Privacy and Public Policy, Steve Satterfield, told Reuters that the company views the data tool as a significant part of its plan for satisfying the demands of legislators around the globe.

“It really is an important part of the response to the kinds of concerns that drive antitrust regulation or competition regulation,” explained Satterfield in an interview.

While Facebook’s photo and video transfer tools currently only support Google Photos, the company has indicated that it plans to integrate support for other services in the “near future.”