Transforming LinkedIn in the age of COVID-19
Transforming LinkedIn in the age of COVID-19
32:50

Transforming LinkedIn in the age of COVID-19

Tech Industry
Everything has changed. It used to be business as usual. Now we've got people out of work or working from home. Now what? Joining me to talk about just that today, Tomer Cohen is the Global Head of product at LinkedIn. And Tomer, thanks for joining us. You've been at LinkedIn for like, what, eight years. You've seen it all. It's been a pretty amazing ride at LinkedIn, we've seen a lot and it keeps evolving. It's been a phenomenal time. You're now the Global Head of product there. And so you've been there for a long time get a lot of institutional history. You've seen the product evolve over the last eight years, even longer. What's gonna change now that you're in charge? Yeah, it's a great question like I've long believed in the power of communities to drive personal and professional growth. And ultimately I believe those actually feel economies and the best communities is when you think about it. They help the members be more successful and productive and dynamic role. LinkedIn fits perfectly into that. So. You know, when I first met Reid Hoffman and we talked about it 11 years ago, the founder of LinkedIn, we talked about why he started LinkedIn. And it deeply resonated with me. He talked about how it was about deepening human connections and really helping individuals succeed for their professional network for their community. And that's been the vision for the company ultimately create economic opportunity. For every member of the global workforce and as you can imagine today, that's more important than ever. We're living in a time of great uncertainty from COVID-19 pandemic to deep any concerns about economic inequality. But I think there's one thing that we may really very strongly constantly living grown stronger. And that's the notion of communities and standing together. You hear a lot of brand and slogans but everybody talking to himself like we are in this together which is very much true. I had a conversation with a team in China yesterday in a lot of their interactions in China or in France is very similar to what we're having right here in the US. And that's a very powerful part of the community and for the communities members on LinkedIn, they can connect with you for information they need, the jobs they need, the skills they need, ultimately all those opportunities they need. So I look ahead as the team looks ahead. It's really about doubling down to those products that produce positive, meaningful, lasting impact for our community. Yeah, it's really interesting. We one of the things that we've seen with communities over the past few years, particularly with some of the social video apps is starting to apply AI machine learning and other things. Just sort of enhanced the community help with connections from different people in the community. How do you think about AI and machine learning as it applies to communities in general and then talk a little bit about your plans to integrate it into LinkedIn? Yeah, it's a great question. You know, when I think about AI, you have a course of being an AI first product leader. I'm a strong believer that every technological revolution dramatically changed the role of how you build products and how product leaders and even executives perform. And you know, it started in the PCs in the 70s. Internet in the 90s mobile and 21st century is the beginning and now you have AI kind of coming to that kind of level of. Have power. And when I joined LinkedIn, actually mobile was just kind of hitting the ground really strongly. And LinkedIn was a desktop first company. And we had to kind of rethink the entire experience for a mobile experience. But the ones that did it really well, if you look back at the last 10 years, they're one that truly embrace mobile or the one that kind of thrived through the process itself. Ai plays the same role when it comes to communities. It's an excellent question because when you think about the role of AI, it really sits in the middle. It's like this marketplace facilitator. You know, at LinkedIn, our mission is to connect the world's professionals that can become more productive and successful. If you double click on that, there's kind of like multiple marketplaces. You have. Jobseekers and recruiters and AI plays a pretty massive role in making sure like the right people connect to the right opportunities through their data for the representation on LinkedIn. If it's about sellers and buyers, if it's about people looking for information if I'm interested now in Innovation in agriculture. How do I reach the right people? If I'm looking to understand economic inequality in the southern region of the role? How do I reach the right people? Ai plays a massive role there. So when you open when you click on that kind of blue.on your phone and open the LinkedIn app. You can literally imagine that behind every almost everything you see AI plays a role, including what you don't see. So making sure that actors don't get to play, AI plays a big role there. So, AI in many ways plays that market facilitator in the level that it would be really hard to do if it wasn't for artificial intelligence. Just. Give me one example of something that we'll see in the next few months where AI is playing a big role that you might not realize it but it's actually making things better, cleaner, easier, more organized or something else. Yeah. You know, you In many ways, it's like when you think about AI, it's like it's the features that are going through the algorithm. So for example, we just launched the notion of open to work. So when job seeker is you know, unfortunately unemployment right now is at very high levels, especially when you consider having a fine five months ago. And a lot of people out there, they want to publicly signal that they're looking for a job they want their communities to know. And we added a notion called Open to work and people can publicly signal that I'm looking for a job right now and I'm looking for the community to help me. You know, I couldn't think that signal And kind of put it in the algorithm that when I know somebody is actively looking for a job, I know to connect them with the right opportunities, maybe even like in a more immediate way. So there's kind of like immediacy and urgency around it, which is really important. That's like one feature. So you'd surface it up so people would be able to say like, You know what, I know you're available for work. There's something that matches that I think might be interesting for you. And here it is like moving up the stack in the feed rather than maybe way down the stack.>> Exactly. Like there's this famous thing that like data is the new oil. And it's true because of AI because I, you know, thrives when you give a data so the more people Are willing to share about their needs and what they're looking to get from the platform, the better role that AI can play. So in a way, it's not that you're launching AI as much as like making it work much better for you. So how are you thinking about AI or other ways to move people beyond just using LinkedIn as a virtual resume hub and a way to find jobs? How do you get them Deeper into all the great stuff that's inside. Yeah, ai plays a technological foundation for that. So you know, the vast majority of our members have covered at LinkedIn today. They come for the community. So for many professionals LinkedIn has evolved to be that place you come to stay connected, stay informed and know us and topics. At Monitor you can grow your business you can find opportunities. And while professionals might come initially to find a job they might come initially to hire someone they want to read an article they want to take a course they want to connect with someone Ultimately the reason they'll stay is the community. So how do we help them build that community? We see a lot of people start their day today on LinkedIn looking to stay connected. So give you an example. And this is where I played a big role. Engagement on LinkedIn has been growing an extremely fast pace and You know, if people come to the buffet, they'll see it, you know, really clearly, you know, but like content shared on LinkedIn is growing 60% year over year, and that's a big deal for creators. A lot of that roll of how you match creators with consumers is the roll over. Yeah, if I'm sharing about Ai who cares about that topic in the road so I can actually reach the right people and forget about like social networks in AI. If somebody is sharing about, you know, economic policy in Singapore, how does it reach the right people in Singapore? We also seen as an example, and this again, this is all powered by I've also seen learners This is members who are taking courses on LinkedIn. That grew five x in the last year. And their notion they're about what skills would Tomer want to learn or somebody else want to learn and then match them with the right courses. That's been a big part of how we do AI Another great example of content creation has been around newsletters. So now, we launched the notion of you can send a newsletter on LinkedIn. So, if I wanna talk about, you know, Bill Gates has a great newsletter. He has the gates notes that he writes. So now, it's a newsletter, but like Ray Dalio has a great newsletter about principles and economic policy. And that I think something we launched a couple months ago, but it's been growing at like 220% in subscriptions. In subscribers, those are like subscribing to newsletters. The power of matching the right people with the right content is extremely powerful. Ultimately it's two people, but there is kind of like a facilitator in between which is very powerful. So In many ways, but you see that LinkedIn is a true reflection of people engaging with a professional community, and the AI plays a facilitator role there. Yeah, I wanna shift just real quickly because we were talking a little bit about a lot of people searching for jobs. What are you seeing now compared to January, the number of people that are actually out there looking for jobs? Is it Dramatic increase. How do you look at it and how do you handle it? Yeah, it's you know, unfortunately, like we moved from like one of the lowest rates of employment in just a few months to one of the highest rates of employment. We do see a job recovery up until June but you know, numbers are still they move around a lot, so I wouldn't we call it out a few times that we did see Recovery jobs and recruiting on the ecosystem. So one of the things we've basically we've seen, we've seen that there's kind of a dramatic shift a little bit and how Hiring and talent is being done. So one you see that job seekers on the platform looking for neurons and opportunity to see them actually thinking, you know, new courses. But we've seen close to 150% increase in remote jobs posting. So the notion of remote job always existed, but you can see that taking off in a pretty amazing way. You also see the need for online interviews, basically facilitating online interviews you can come to campus like you used to be in the past. So the notion of adding new online virtual tools and courses to connect with job seekers. We have courses right now helping job seekers potentially risking. People are looking for because you know in many ways you have jobs existing but you might have a job skill gap. So there's you know, you have the jobs out there but not the right kind of, you know, applicants for it. So how do you reskill people for the right jobs on the platform? And that, I would say, a lot of it's accelerated. So those are trends that always existed in a long time, and the skills got to be something you talked about for a long time in the economy. But what you see is a really acceleration of all of those paradigms, to be a true paradigm shift You know, post COVID-19 in a way. Yeah. And it's really interesting what you're talking about about Remote Jobs because now you have the ability, at least for today to work from anywhere. I wonder how that's evolving and you're seeing that develop where all of a sudden the job pool for a job is not just you got to be in San Francisco. You've got to be in New York. It's everywhere. I'm also fascinated by the fact that you're talking about video interviews. It makes me wonder, are we gonna see Skype or teams end up in LinkedIn at some point not to answer that, but I'm sure it's something you're thinking about. Yeah. So, you know, a lot of the interactions that you know, tech teams, for example, is a great tool to to conduct interviews and corporate engagement and messaging well beyond the private and public sector and so on. So there's a lot of Interactions there's and teams doing extremely well right now. I think that remote one you mentioned is a critical one because now it's like it used to be I would say a nice to have in job listings and it used to be a, you know, something that was a talking point. But now it's a it's pretty much like a PC right? It's a priority zero for any job to understand. You know how it's gonna work remotely? So that's something we've seen an ecosystem you know we've got there's also a level of trust that comes in right there used to used to build trust by having people come in there was a level of bonding that used to different having somebody in the campus. But now you might hire someone and not actually be able to see them in person for months or even ever. And that there's kind of a level of trust you want to build in a platform and like the referrals and the notion of community is so critical. So we talk a lot about with people like building a community that can actually get refers to the right jobs. But the notion of remote I think moved a lot from being. A big part of jobs too, like being almost like a fundamental part of like, is this a remote job or not? Yeah, It is a deciding factor for many people, and for many employers as well. Well, we touched a little bit on video I want to talk a little bit more about video, particularly around LinkedIn live now. You launched LinkedIn live more than a year ago. In the last few months. We've all seen the use of live video, whether it's through zoom calls or team calls, or other sorts of ways that people are getting entertainment through live video means a whole generation of teens that are now becoming so used to live video and consuming things and connecting to their friends that we all know post COVID that behavior is going to stick. We'll see a lot more of it even after the pandemic has happened. So Talk about the state of live at LinkedIn right now and where you're taking live over the next 18 months. Yeah, I love what you mentioned it's spot on. You know when we think about live we're super excited about, we actually a few weeks ago we talked about like our launch of live and online events together So it can be about actually starting your event on LinkedIn creating a couple funnel engagement and then even all the way to having a great feed before and after the event as well. So today we see people and organizations use LinkedIn live to broadcast videos to their communities. This could be everything from leadership to grow in a product announcements to great panel discussions. Interactions like you and I are having right now. But it brings the event that you might have to travel to before or you might have to buy tickets you know just into your home just into your living room and away. Now videos were always popular LinkedIn like says that they relaunched it. But to your point, professionals love being part of a live conversation. There's something. That level of authenticity, that level of immediacy just feels more natural. It feels like the way you would act in the office, it feels like it would bring the speaker to talk, you would have that level of interaction. So when professionals actually watch content on LinkedIn, they're able to see everybody else who's viewing it. Have a conversation with them, get to see is, this in many ways could be my communitism, great way to find out who else is interested in this topic. But they can have a conversation there, we actually see it coming to life, we see live streams sent temporary. And who are allowed to do 50% on LinkedIn, and when you do a live event on LinkedIn, You get 23X, i think more comments and 6x, more reactions than a regular post. So, it's a very powerful one. You can see you know, WHO will help organization, they're doing their media briefings, is a live event on LinkedIn they're having Q and A's with scientists. Very, very powerful way to do it. BMW two days ago had their product announcement of their new electric car and LinkedIn which is pretty cool. You know you're typically from like fashion runways or LinkedIn as a professional event. But also you would see professionals helping so you know we had a we had Mark Cuban several weeks ago. Do a live chat and taking like questions from the stream to answer small businesses. How do I survive?. Right now like what do I do? What advice would someone like Mark might have for those people. So it's so powerful in the way because people feel it's something that they just feel like they're part of the conversation they feel like we can actually curate and engage with it in a much more powerful way than just viewing a video before.>> Alright, so you may not have the stats in front of you, but what's your sort of marshmallow on fortnight live experience here? What's the Biggest audience you've seen for a session on live and what does that look like? We've seen some pretty amazing ones. I think some of the ones I mentioned to you before has been pretty, like very powerful right after the social unrest a few weeks ago there was some great sessions. From people about like, how do you manage that in your workplace and how do you learn more about it and how the notion of anti racist and like those are it's really about like, can you get to contemporary topics and you can do it in a professional manner that people can actually engage. And I think that because like real they're real time gonna solve it. Actually talks to what are the most important topics right now that you should be able to bring to the forefront. I would say thought leadership works really well. conversation between people worked extremely well. And the more you can engage the audience for it, like taking questions from from the stream That's very, very powerful. But people love public announcements. They love waste to learn. It's a great way to learn and know what's happening in the ecosystem. And it's also a great way to know who is my community so in a way you can always see who are the people that you know, one of the most special things about LinkedIn is. You can see people's identities. So like I see who is engaged with this what type of like functions industries GEOS. So it becomes much more relevant to me as a professional thinking about how do I build my own network and community on LinkedIn. Yeah, real identity not anonymous or made up identity which is super cool. I know you've limited access to live in the past to certain types of people or certain companies. How do you get approved for live? How are you thinking about rolling live out to a broader set of users and what do you think about making it available to everybody? What are your plans on that side? Yeah, it's a great question,when we launched it, because of our nature, we want to make sure we are always a safe, trusted professional context. And live is a phenomenal real time mechanism. It feels more natural, but it also opens ways to provide not not the most professional context there. So want to make sure it's still a safe, trusted place for for community so that they can go on LinkedIn and you can Sign up and ask for approval for live and, you know, we go for a quick process to approve it, you actually on boarded a lot of people and brands in the recent months to do it and then gradually, you know, we're looking for the best ways to get that trusted environment through LinkedIn. So we're super excited about it. We're thinking very much of a pilot approach that's gonna be beta for a long time but at the same time If somebody wants to get access, they can go now and apply and we'll respond quickly and we're trying to understand what brand is behind it, how do you set it up and the same time, we're also doing- Trying to make sure like the live process itself is much easier. So once you get approved, how do I can go live quickly. We know it's a great platform we know it's a great mechanism. We know it's a great value for both organizations and our members. We just wanna make sure we always continue to kind of measure it, maintain that safe, trusted professional context behind it. So do you, you know, anybody in LinkedIn, I could ask about getting myself turned on for live. Yeah, how about you on LinkedIn after this and We can send you on LinkedIn and we'll take it from there. Speaking of creators and people on LinkedIn and going live and posting stories and connecting with people, who are some of your favorite creators on LinkedIn, who do you look at and be like, Man, I gotta follow these people. Wow. There's some pretty amazing voices on LinkedIn. I might say sometimes you kinda stumble upon someone, and you're like, that's phenomenal. I'm learning so much. It's really across regions and industries and functions and seniority is and it's kinda, what is your professional interests we talked about to be everything from agriculture to Hollywood to animation and. And the beautiful part of LinkedIn is, you can really engage with some of the most relevant people, about the things you care most about. So and that's think about AI. How do you kinda mash those together and that's really the goal of AI. So, it goes from scientists to artists, to engineers, to country leaders, to CEOs. Which really comes down to who are the professionals who are passionate about their craft and they wanna share it with others. Some of the examples I like a lot is, I love entrepreneurship, you're like a serious entrepreneur, a very successful one So you have like Sara Blakely, of Spanx, and John help Brian to talk about about like starting forming and scaling your businesses phenomenal ways to do it. You know, if you're looking to learn how the biggest travel brands in the world are dealing with COVID right now you might want to follow. Aaron is starting to send a CEO of Marriott right now it's pretty formative source. During COVID we had we set up today but like we had Louis prefer an Doctor in Indianapolis frontlines of COVID giving literally reports from the About how it's handling the situation. And even recently, like the Wharton School announced the new dean Erica James and she regularly shares they know they're using from newsletters to live broadcasts, but it's a phenomenal group of people. A great way for people ask me how do I find great voices. There's If you search for top voices on LinkedIn, you'll see a great list with like industries and then functions and NGOs that you can actually because, what you might be interested in Europe might be very different than APAC might be very different than the US. But also like we have the storylines aspect. We have a phenomenal editorial team That curates, in a lot of what's happening right now in the news. And they also tried to find the right voices and experts to talk about this in field. So if you go to our storylines, it's like in the top right level on the desktop or in mobile, you'll be able to discover some really great voices, but there's a You know, it's like it's every day or so that I stumble upon somebody pretty amazing. And then I'm learning a ton from people. It's a phenomenal source for that. How do you think about brands versus individuals on LinkedIn because you know brands are a big deal as well and brands can have a voice But it's individuals that you follow and listen to. How do you think about those two things? It's a quick it's a great question because in many ways, when you think about a brand, behind every brand, there's people right and like from a professional standpoint, people are coming to LinkedIn. They're looking to grow their career, advancing the career. brands have to say what it's like growing my business, advance my business and I think one of the biggest trends for brands has been humanizing their voice. So you know, it used to be if you were like Brett, you know, if you're a company you would do your classic PR announcement very dry. You know, it's just like all the stuff you need to know. But like, I would say the best brand. Marketers out there. Realize that Ultimately there's humans inside of this company and you wanna talk as a human being, it's like it's a person. So if you look at LinkedIn, like Netflix as a great example, they think of LinkedIn as a great it's a consumer brand. Obviously they're trying to sell subscriptions on Netflix on LinkedIn, but It's a great way for people to know like, why would I work at Netflix? Why would I engage with Netflix? Their corporate, like what do they stand for? And in many ways brands sometimes are great conversation starters, they bring a great topic with a great thing behind it but then members engaged And then members also talk to brands around stuff they need our customer support. So you have that engagement. Ultimately, you know, if you took a step back we have north of 690 million members on LinkedIn, and know for 50 million you know, companies and organizations on LinkedIn. And it's really that powerful dynamic, that really creates some great information and they both have a great place to promote who they are but also engage with great time and content. So share with me a couple of tips a couple of best practices from either individuals or brands. For the people who are watching that may want to help boost their presence on LinkedIn, boost their audience, their community and really take advantage of all the stuff you're building. Yeah, it's it's a great question. It kind of really depends on, you know, what are you trying to accomplish? Because we all have you know, I might come to LinkedIn one day and I'm looking for a co founder, I might be looking to see what. happening in the news I might be, you know, next day maybe I'm looking for a job. I'm looking to sell my product. So like you think about like LinkedIn. It's like the world's economy in a digital form and I always have my economic needs. So it really depends what I'm trying to do, but I think the best way is like one just establish your presence like, make sure your You know, people can see who you are, you can build that trust level. And then, it's really building your community. It's building that trust that people like you as connection people that you know, that you can reach out to that they can reach out to you that can help you. You can help them a lot of LinkedIn is about giving and getting help. And then it would seek the voices that you can learn from. And there's some pretty amazing voices on LinkedIn, as a way to just be better at what you do. And I think this is true for brands and for people. And when we talk about how to act professionally It used to be that paradigmatic professionals are like tied up and you know they they talk in you know slogans but it's not true when you think about like the office we talk, you know, just like we have a conversation, the context changes the conversation. So we talk about working at [UNKNOWN] we talk because you know, regular human beings about great things have happened and. Even things that you know, we don't like. And there's a great conversation there. And that's the type of dynamic that we love to see of LinkedIn. People want to see people coming in and our authentic selves to the platform. They have great conversations. The context is always professional. We care tremendously about that and our members care tremendously about it. So when folks build that In many ways what they see is opportunities will start flowing in the door and I think some of them they'll be, they'll reach out but some of them, they'll start building a presence, they'll ride, they'll talk, people will reach out to them. And then there's this amazing kind of transactional cycle that can really exchange whether it's human capital, social capital, financial capital, You can do all of them on LinkedIn. It's funny to talk about being professional. I just want you to know since we were going to talk today I did put on a collared shirt for the first time in probably four months. But I totally get it. It's really good advice. Find the people that you think are doing really interesting things, the brands and the. And the individuals and follow them and take a look at what they're doing. It's it's really good advice. We're, we're gonna wind this conversation down in a couple of minutes. But just a couple more questions. First of all, when you look at the changes we've seen since January, February, and now what are the top three things you think are different on LinkedIn today, then Maybe you saw pre COVID. Well, your life changed so much in the last five months. And that's like where it's true for everyone. I can't think of any individual around the world who hasn't been impacted. In the world of work has dramatically transformed in the last few months. Not surprising, we've seen some pretty huge shifts in how professionals interact on LinkedIn, how to stay informed, how they keep up, how they stay connected. When you take a step back LinkedIn is this inherently it's an online professional community. And as a result, we've seen acceleration trends in many ways. So from online learning We talked about you know, seeing like five x people learning on the ecosystem versus like last year to online events like you can conduct curricular events like you're used to like events was primarily an offline experience meetup online. ->> Like me. It was, you know, it had some online bells and whistles, but it was primarily an offline event and now it's primarily an online event. We're seeing everything from like online engagement, online hiring, online selling, three of the biggest ones I would say we covered some of them in previous questions, but it's like a lot of the interaction conversations used to have in the office. We see them come to LinkedIn. So whether it's like, where I get my sensitive information to come in like, walk into my office, but then Chatting with my colleagues that kind of thing of what's happening to them, then they check out LinkedIn. But now a lot of it is happening on LinkedIn from the beginning. So you know, creation growing by 50% year over year is massive people sharing it's a pretty massive change. And we also seen that co worker engagement on LinkedIn, so you know, not just email and Another chatbot from Do you see people messaging their co workers on LinkedIn and engaging with them? So that's like one big acceleration of a trend. The second one we talked about, we'd like the hiring marketplace and the dynamic marketplace. The change in Remote Jobs like now it's pretty much like you know, you need to say if this is a remote job or not, it's a pretty big difference there. But then. How do I as a job seeker prepare for interviews, there's gonna be interviews on online vehicles. So how do I do it? Well, and we have courses to do that. And the last one is like I think a lot of people are trying to learn how do I deal with this? I think that for a while, people have this notion of like going back to the normal like the old normal, but we all know The old normal is gone. Like there's going to be a new normal. We're going to start something you know as humanity. We're going to learn again how to do things well and then we are trying and adopting. So learning some best practices around. How do I manage working from home? How do I manage? You know what, because of them school like the fatigue of doing videoconferencing all the time. How do I manage a team, it's not easy to manage a team remotely. So we relaunched a few actually several close to 300 courses for free to help people kind of adopt to that. Those are some of the three main ones. But there's a lot as you can imagine, there's a lot of emerging themes that come out of those, but it's really an acceleration at online paradigm Well, and then last thing, I'm talking about emerging things coming out of it. So look out 12 to 18 months from now, what I call AC or after COVID. And yes, there will be an after COVID what are some of the top three things you think that will be different on LinkedIn at cooperate? Two months from now. I think in many ways, we're gonna see a change. It's almost like you know>> How there was like a will take mobile, you know, in late, like, you know, the first decade of the 21st century, mobile was like part of the ecosystem but then gradually became the way of doing things, the way of building the way of interacting I think when we think about things that's gonna stay, the dynamic world of work where sometimes you'll go to the office, sometimes you're not, and it's okay. So how do you create that dynamic world of work and interaction and that will obviously come on LinkedIn, you would hire people based on that you would engage on the platform based on that. I think though the notion of trust and identity will become even more important, you know, we, from day one, it was really important for us to have like real authentic identities on LinkedIn that represent what you did. And I think that will be even bigger role where your interactions are going to move dramatically on and used to have this offline online complement. So There was always a way to build trust in an offline way as well. But now it's gonna be primarily online. And even post COVID or AC as you call it. Like we are gonna go back to some stuff before, but I think we're also discovering that some of the things we're doing right now actually work, they work well for us. So how do we extend it even In a much more greater way but I would kind of go back to where we started, which I think is super important, what I think is strengthening is the notion of how communities matter. And I think for many, the online community was a thing that they had but now they're realizing how much that online community's gonna play a big role for their own professional growth, but also for their own mental health and well-being. So investing in that understanding how you do what well, building that kind of community on LinkedIn, there's going to be a critical path in my opinion of how you kind of thrive in a seat.

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