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LinkedIn adds mentions, looks to strike up conversations

Inspired by Twitter and others, the professional network is introducing a feature to get people talking, but there's one little twist.

Mentions, a conversational feature popularized by Twitter, is making its way over to the more professional venue that is LinkedIn.

The company said today that it is adding mentions for English-speaking members to stimulate more activity on the business-centric site.

Members can now mention each other by typing a connection or company name, no symbol required, in the status update box or in the comments filed on the home page, as pictured below. Those being mentioned in a post will receive a notification about the event.


"With content sharing and engagement at all-time highs, including original contributions from the world's top thought leaders, the quantity and depth of professional conversations on LinkedIn are accelerating," Angela Yang, associate product manager at LinkedIn, told CNET. "We felt that now was the right time to give members the ability to engage in those discussions more directly."

Unlike Twitter or Facebook, which also allow for mentions, LinkedIn has opted to limit mentions to your connections -- aka the people you actually know -- and those participating in comment threads on the home page. Basically, you can't just call out any person you want.

The slight twist is a fascinating professional caveat that could irritate some members, but may keep high-profile or celebrity users from being inundated with notifications. The limitation also maintains LinkedIn's we-only-want-you-to-communicate-with-direct-connections-unless-you-pay-us model, as members can only message non-connections through "InMail" if they pay for a premium membership.


Mentions, though considered a remedial feature of most popular social services, should be a beneficial asset to LinkedIn as it continues to push forward with a strategy designed to increase engagement.

Engagement, albeit an overused buzzword that usually stands in for activity, is a metric that Wall Street often considers when placing bets on long-term success. LinkedIn fared especially well after a fourth-quarter earnings report showed that it could profit from members who were coming back often, staying longer, and consuming more content. Engagement is so important to LinkedIn that it has become a reoccurring talking point that seems to drive every business decision, including the rollout of mentions.

"Mentions provides a simpler way for our members to more deeply engage in the professional conversations happening on LinkedIn every day," Yang said, proving my point.

English-speaking members will get mentions on a rolling basis starting today. Global members will get them at some later date, the company said.