Even though LinkedIn had a significant time advantage over other social networks, the pace of  introducing new features at LinkedIn has been slow. In 2009 LinkedIn improved usability, integrated with Twitter and released mobile phone app for iphone. A recent Wall Street Journal article talked about the relatively slow growth of LinkedIn (compared with Facebook). The article mentioned that visitors spent only about 13 minutes on average at LinkedIn, while Facebook users logged about 213 minutes and MySpace users spent 87 minutes, according to comScore.

The reality is that LinkedIn has many business features that can be beneficial for exchange of expert information and B2B marketing. Unfortunately LinkedIn has been a bottleneck because the information there exists in a silo. For instance, it is very hard to share and use information presented in the group discussion. Here are 5 areas where LinkedIn needs to work on:

  1. Search – you have to use the drop down to select an option from people, inbox, companies etc. Why can’t LinkedIn offer a better search?
  2. The overt selling and spam in groups – it is irritating to see so many people who abuse groups with their blatant self-promotion and sales messages disguised as questions. I reported a few to the group owners but there has to be a better way.
  3. Twitter integration – the status update at LinkedIn got an upgrade with the Twitter integration. However it also means private or non-professional status spilling over to LinkedIn from Twitter. Not everyone knows, remembers or wants to put a #li in their tweets. There is no ability to add a Twitter acct to a company profile.
  4. The RSS feeds and email notifications are limited and not web 2.0sh. All these network updates are annoying / overwhelming – make them intelligent.
  5. The recently introduced API offers very limited features. This is disappointing (read comments at this mashable post), considering that it took LinkedIn forever to open up the API for app developers. There was a huge pipeline of requests from applications but their API used to be available to a small number of companies. Communication with developers has been an issue as well.

There are some signs of change. Using Twitter for customer service has been a good step. It has resulted in improvements in the way @LinkedIn responds to questions and comments from its user base. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but as a community we need to continue to voice our concerns.

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