The power of incremental improvements: LinkedIn shows the way

Although I’m hardly a LinkedIn fan-boy, I’ve found their strategy since acquisition by Microsoft quite interesting. As many predicted, they’ve become enmeshed with Microsoft’s various enterprise products. But they’ve also continued to grow their own product via what I call incremental improvements. Roughly every two to three months, they add another feature or service that is designed to improve usability or functionality for either the recruiter or the candidate. Instead of a big once-a-year roll out of major changes (although they’ve done that on occasion as well), LinkedIn has kept plugging away – which, I think, is both smart from both the product and marketing perspectives. Not all the changes work, but put enough out there and you get a hit now and then. Plus you build the perception of constant activity and growth. What have they done in the past 12 months?:

  • Active status: super simple but useful: you can see who is currently online in LI by a green dot on their photo. One of those ‘I can’t believe they didn’t already have it’ features.
  • Ask for a referral: If you’re viewing a job ad where one of your connections works, a button appears that lets you send a request for referral to that connection (it’s editable, of course). Again, simple and time-saving.
  • Mentoring: The Career Advice feature lets you be either a career advisor or an advice consumer, depending on your need.
  • Looking for work: Yes, indeed, you can signal that you’re interested in offers – just click the little button, provide LI with some guidance, and (maybe) field some offers.
  • Video: LI was kind of late to the game on this, but now they’re all in with Sponsored Video and video on Company Pages. Throw in some video editing capabilities and they’re a contender.
  • Resumes: Most resumes are – at best – mediocre. LI’s Resume Assistant sits inside Microsoft Word (where most resumes are born) and provides examples (from LI, natch!) of relevant resumes for you. Oh, and also relevant job ads from LI.

This is hardly a comprehensive list – but it gives you an idea of how a bunch of incremental improvements can add up. Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘We’re not LinkedIn. We don’t have unlimited resources PLUS Microsoft.’ Well, that’s true. But – you can certainly have a product roadmap. And instead of thinking that you have to completely revamp your offerings, you can focus on 5 improvements to deliver over the coming year. Heck, you can even copy some of LI’s improvements!

Oh, and once you’ve created, tested, and deployed those improvements? Sell the heck out of them! Don’t send out an email and call it good. Do what LI does – promote and promote and promote. This does two things: a) it increases the likelihood that your clients and candidates actually hear about the improvements; and b) it builds that perception of movement, growth, and activity for your service.

Which is good!

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