LinkedIn is testing a 'stories' feature that it hopes will bring "creativity and authenticity" to business conversations on its network.
Head of content products Pete Davies revealed the network was testing the feature internally in a LinkedIn post on Thursday (February 27). The feature will be tested with members "in the coming months".
Davies did not provide much detail on how the feature would look, but noted that it will take inspiration from similar formats developed by social media networks. Snapchat was the first app to introduce the ephemeral 'stories' format in 2013. It was copied by Instagram in 2016, and has since been widely adopted across the social network sphere, including by Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube.
"They spread for a good reason: they offer a lightweight, fun way to share an update without it having to be perfect or attached to your profile forever," Davies commented. "Does that exist in the business world?"
He likened the "ephemeral and light" nature of 'stories' to business interactions that happen in the break room or while passing colleagues in the hall. This, he believes, makes the format a natural fit for LinkedIn.
"We’ve learned so much already about the unique possibilities of Stories in a professional context," he wrote. For example, it would allow businesses or individuals to share "key moments from work events" or "tips and tricks that help us work smarter", he suggested. He also believes the a more casual format will make it easier for people to spark up conversations.
LinkedIn tested a similar feature in 2018 called 'Student Voices', aimed purely at US college students. The feature allowed students to post short videos to their 'Campus Playlist' which appeared on the top of the feed and would disappear after a week.
The 'stories' feature is being tested in response to growing activity on the LinkedIn feed, with Davies claiming that the feed has seen a 25% year-over-year increase in engagement.
"We’re never done meeting our members where their voices are," he said.
The news has split the business community. Many LinkedIn members expressed excitement about the ability to post quick updates with the 'stories' feature, but several questioned whether it fits with the key purpose of LinkedIn, which is to connect professionals.
"I've always associated LinkedIn with long-form and truly educational content," said one LinkedIn user. "I'm worried that a feature like this will cheapen the LinkedIn experience and add a feature for feature's sake."
"Leave stories where they are and what they were meant for initially: engaging with your friends in a quick and fun way," said another user. "LinkedIn’s focus should be on making stuff work better and faster in general (video and GIF publishing, ads, switching between multiple pages as admin, better targeting options for advertising, etc.) and building the foundation blocks of products lagging behind Facebook rather than copying the “new” cool update from other social media channels."
LinkedIn has developed several features over the past few years that position it as more of a social network than a pure business one, from live video to trending news to reactions.