Like Facebook, LinkedIn is blurring the line between social media and messaging platforms.
For legions of Facebook users, Messenger has evolved into a robust alternative to dedicated text messaging and chat platforms, if not an outright replacement. Similarly, LinkedIn has been strengthening the messaging component of its app, making it easier for connections to stay in touch without switching to an email app or phoning them.
LinkedIn, which Microsoft acquired last year for $26 billion, announced this week a new Active Status feature for LinkedIn Messaging. But rather than use the new status indicator to see when friends and family are available to trade memes, gossip or wish each other well, LinkedIn is positioning Active Status as feature that can help nurture career opportunities.
More than a third of LinkedIn users have discovered new opportunities through casual conversations conducted on the platform, according to the company's research. More than 70 percent of new hires end up in a company with a connection.
To help users find more favorable times to reconnect with their industry peers and former coworkers—no one wants to be disturbed during business negotiations or pressing deadlines—Active Status gives the green light when LinkedIn contacts have the time to chat.
"The next time you look at someone you know, you'll see a green status dot next to their profile photo. This green dot means they’re currently online and it might be a good time to talk to them," wrote Sammy Shreibati, senior product manager at LinkedIn, in an Aug. 16 blog post. "If you see a green status dot with a white circle in the middle, this means that your connection is available only on mobile and will be notified of your message."
Naturally, users can set their own status and individually determine who can see them when they're online. The feature is currently being rolled out to all users.
Active Status follows the recent addition of Today's Job Matches feature to the service's mobile apps. Using a variety of data points from its members, including location and salary requirements, along with a dash of artificial intelligence, Today's Job Matches creates a list of open jobs that may be a good fit for job seekers.
Last month, Microsoft released a native LinkedIn app for Windows 10 that delivers updates via Action Center. Rather than dedicate a browser tab to LinkedIn, the app can alert users to activity in their professional networks using the operating system's built-in notification hub.
Naturally, the competition isn't sitting still.
Google just released the desktop version of its Allo text messaging app. The web app, which works with the company's Chrome desktop browser, supports text messaging, emojis and many of the other standard-issue features found in similar products.
One feature that sets Allo apart is Smart Reply. Using Google's machine learning technology, Smart Reply enables users to answer messages without typing a reply. Studying the content and context of incoming messages, the feature offers users a selection of canned responses that they can effortlessly use to keep the conversation going.