LinkedIn's Trending Storylines aims to broaden users' news horizons

The new feature gives users important information based on news of the day

In an effort to become to be its users’ professional news feed, LinkedIn has launched a new feature aimed at providing a broad set of perspectives on relevant business news.

A new Trending Storylines feature will show users a set of curated feeds based on key news of the day. For example, a recent storyline rounded up all of the Apple product announcements from Tuesday morning. The storylines open with a quick summary of the news, followed by a “must-read” story that LinkedIn has picked out as a good summary.

After that, the Storyline continues with other posts from its users, focused on providing other angles on the news along with additional context. Users can like, comment on or share those posts if they want to.

The storylines will be accessible from a new Trending tab in the mobile and desktop web versions of LinkedIn. Users will also see trending stories in the social network’s main news feed that the service thinks are relevant to their interests.

Trending Storylines could help increase user engagement with LinkedIn at a time when the professional social network is focused on driving up the amount of time people spend looking through its feeds. While it started out as a place for professionals to keep an online work profile, LinkedIn has been working hard over the past several years to surface relevant content for its users from members and influencers.

Even if a LinkedIn user isn’t connected with people sharing news content on the business-focused network, they’ll still be able to view Trending Storylines. That feature is built to encourage them to follow people, who can then populate their main feed with additional content in the future.

“You don’t have to have an incredibly strong network for this thing to work well,” Dan Roth, LinkedIn’s editor in chief, said. “It’ll work well if you have no network. It’ll work better the better your network is.”

One of the key goals with the system is to expose users to a broad range of perspectives, not just those they would normally see based on who they’re connected to. Roth said that he sees Trending Storylines as an important part of breaking out of “filter bubbles” that arise from social networks and modern culture.

While there’s some altruistic value in exploring a broader range of perspectives, Roth pointed out that being well-versed in the day’s business news can be key to future work opportunities.

“If you’re going to go out and try to find a new client, or you’re at an important business dinner and you’re sitting there with executives from throughout the company, or from other companies, and they bring up something that’s a top topic in business right now, you’ve got to sound smart.”

The feature feels similar to Twitter’s Moments, which also offer users curated feeds of tweets, images and articles shared through that social network. One major difference between the two features is that LinkedIn’s offering is aimed primarily at business users, while Twitter’s Moments will often feature general pop culture topics.

Trending Storylines are rolling out Wednesday, starting in the U.S. More countries and languages will follow after that. LinkedIn also plans to add additional functionality in the future, like linking topic pages to trending stories and allowing users to follow subjects they care about.

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Blair Hanley Frank

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