Linked In

Recruiters: What the new LinkedIn means to you

LinkedIn are on a constant path of change. Jeff Weiner, CEO of the professional networking giant describes this as a state of constant beta. The long term aims of the channel are shrouded in secrecy, but if you keep up with the changes it is easy to see a pattern developing. In the last quarters financial results Weiner commented that the company had made significant investments in increasing their sales team and in developing product. Each time I log in, something looks different or has moved to a different position on the screen. Whilst these changes might seem cosmetic, they are changing the way users are interacting with the platform, and this means recruiters need to be rethinking their LinkedIn strategy.

The trend over time was for using LinkedIn from outside of the channel, with users relying on e-mail and third party applications to interact and keep up. At one time the average user only visited the channel 1.9 times a month. Most notably, engagement levels were low, and the discussion was all around whether LinkedIn was a social channel at all. What is interesting to note is that since the recent redesign of the home page engagement is now at a record level for the channel because users are driven to the home page, and the home page now contains a stream for updates which increases engagement.

One of the other new features enables users to determine which updates get displayed on their home page. The default is for all updates in time sequence, with a refresh button at the top of the stream to show the number of updates since you logged in to the channel. The display options are:

>Top
The most popular updates from your connections (what constitutes popular is explained below this list.)

>Recent
The latest updates.

>LinkedIn Today
Users can customise this according to what topics they want to follow. This is very similar to the way the Mashable social app enables users to choose what content they want to follow by category.

>Connections.
Based on your personal network.

>Shares
What is being shared by your network displayed by time line

>Groups
Updates from your connections in the groups that you share

>Profiles
Changes to the profiles of your connections. This is quite a neat way to keep up to date with what is happening from your connections in one place, from changes to job title, address etc to who is launching a LinkedIn ad campaign.

>Applications
The applications added to profiles by your connections.

>Companies
Changes to company profiles by your network, recommendations and updates.
>Answers
Another neat feature that lets you see all the questions asked and answers given by your network. You can answer this question from this screen or comment, like or share, a great way to engage with your connections when they are reaching out for help or advice.

>Your Updates
Your personal updates including comments,likes and shares.

>Customize
This enables users to determine what type of updates they choose to see or hide, and how many updates they want to see on their home page. If a user is not interested in seeing jobs you may be interested in they can choose to hide them.

LinkedIn are also working on automating moving jobs from the stream (and group discussions) when they are posted as updates. This will clean up the stream and keep it relevant and topical for users. For recruiters, this will also impact on the practice of posting jobs to updates and in to discussions in groups. The only way to reach targeted audience for jobs will be through paid for advertising (most effective), or by posting in the jobs section of groups.

Customisation is a big feature of the new home page because users can edit their own home screen changing the position of the key features and taking out the ones they don’t want. LinkedIn want to give users a personalised experience on their home page, again to encourage use, and making it a destination for users to keep up and engage with their network in one place. The more time users spend in the channel, the more opportunities to serve up PPC and targeted ads based on user behaviour and profile. What i’m seeing among the channels is that their battle is as much about user time as it is about the number of users. Over the last quarter LinkedIn reported a significant increase in ad revenue and a significant increase in sales staff. PPC and ad revenue goes well beyond recruiter products, and it may well be that the company see this as the route away from their dependence on the dominant recruiter revenues. Success in this area is dependent on time spent in channel.

The company have clearly taken some inspiration for this from Facebook and Edgerank, aiming to deliver the most relevant and popular content to the top of the feed via LinkedIn Today. Updates are shared according to the posts that are trending amongst your connections. When you consider that your LinkedIn network is going to be far the most relevant to your objectives by a long way. My own network, which stands at close to 4000 connections comprises of 70% of relevant audience. Others with a smaller network may well have an even higher level of relevance. This means that effective updates are becoming increasingly important because they are far more likely to be seen by the people you want to reach than in any other channel.

LinkedIn shares are ranked according to comments,likes and shares for promoting in the stream between connections. To get “share” points and inclusion in the algorithm the shared content needs to contain a LinkedIn share button first on the list of share options, an important consideration for page design. Retweets count as LinkedIn shares provided the link on the tweet originated from your profile. This means posting to LinkedIn first manually on the home page, and tweeting from the update. This also applies for LinkedIn links posted to Facebook. Even if you are using a posting app like buffer, or a shortner like bitly, use the LinkedIn update as the originating link. By linking all postings back to LinkedIn as the originating source, every action counts as a LinkedIn like, comment or share, and each action will advance the promotion of your content in the channel.

Yesterday, I noticed that LinkedIn have taken the update and share feature from the profile to the home page. This subtle change is quite clever because it drives users to their personal home page rather than their profile, and the more familiar people become with their home page, the more often they are going to use it and review the updates in the stream. The other change of significance is enabling updates from company pages. Again this brings the way LinkedIn works closer to what works on Facebook with pages, enabling users to share updates and communicate with their followers.

Company pages have also added a new feature that gives page admins access to the profiles of who is following the company account. This is the first time recruiters (via the page admin) have been able to see who is connecting with them in order to reach out to anyone who looks of interest. Jobseekers also have access to a similar feature for the page as the one for group statistics. As the company pages are evolving they could become as important as Facebook fan pages for recruiting, especially now that you can post updates from the page. It is going to be interesting to see how these evolve.

Another of the announcements to come out of the last briefing was that LinkedIn are now making it much easier for developers of third party applications.to develop sign ins using their profile, access to updates for monitoring and posting and for integrating share features. Notably, LinkedIn are making it easy for applications that facilitate engagment in groups beyond purely posting in to discussions. This links back to my view of where LinkedIn are positioning themselves among the social media channels. Everything they are developing points to 4 aims:

> To increase engagement between a targeted professional audience without the noise of other channels such as Twitter or Facebook.

> To become the channel for sharing to a targeted and very relevant audience.

> To be the professional reference point for signing in or signing up for any application such as job seeking.

> To become the source for structured professional data and all its applications. This goes well beyond recruiting.

Everything I’m seeing points to great progress in these areas. When you consider your recruiting strategy and how you attract, reach and engage with talent, it is important to consider how the changing face of the channel could impact on your strategy. Time to rethink how you are using LinkedIn for the new age? It is a different place that needs a new approach, and old thinking is just that. Make the most of the changes.

Bill

Dear LinkedIn, Heres What You Need To Do About Spam

Last week I ran a post appealing to recruiters not to kill LinkedIn. This was my most viewed post in a single day that i have ever had, and the most shared, so it clearly hit a note. I did not get a single message or comment that disagreed with me, and plenty from non-recruiters remarking that the recruiters really needed to read the post and take note. Spam and irrelevant messages clearly are creating big issues for LinkedIn users. Today, my friend Glen Cathey at the BooleanBlackBelt blog ran a post on a similar theme entitled “Do recruiters ruin LinkedIn?” It seems we are all starting to think on the same lines. I addressed the source and spray approach adopted by some recruiters and irrelevant messaging in my last post. In this post I will be addressing my thoughts on updates and groups, and jobs over populating the feed.

Glens post focussed on groups and irrelevant In-mails, updates and messaging.The big cause for concern from LinkedIn groups is the practice of flooding discussions with jobs, to the point where genuine discussions are lost among them and other product promotions. I manage a few groups on LinkedIn, so I know that it can become a full time job for the manager just removing ads, warning people and removing repeat offenders. In busy groups, the need to vet and approve every member is also time consuming. I addressed the source and spray approach adopted by some recruiters and irrelevant messaging in my last post so I’m not going to cover that again, but the area of groups really got me thinking. Part of the problem is undoubtedly irresponsible and unsociable recruiters, but I also think that part of the problem in groups and updates is caused by the features built-in to the channel which fuel, and in some ways reward anti-social behaviour.

The best recruiter group I belong to is Recruitment Consultants And Staffing Professionals. This group has over 106,000 members, plenty of discussions and 51 comments (last week.) I’ve noticed that LinkedIn have now taken the number of discussions from group stats, listing only comments. I posted earlier this year about how groups had become dominated by discussions with less and less comments. I suspect that this is the reasoning behind why discussion numbers have been taken off group stats. I know that this group is heavily policed by the group owner Jacco Valkenburg, because my first exchange of messages was  when he informed me that my first post contravened the rules of the group because it contained a link at the end of the content to a course I was running. From talking to Jacco, I know he invests a lot of time managing this group. Despite this, when I checked in today I noticed jobs in the discussion stream. It seems that the jobs are getting posted in discussions quicker than the managers can move them.

My reasons for thinking LinkedIn is inadvertently contributing to this is as follows:

> Networking. 

In order to be able to network, search, connect and message as wide as possible it is necessary for users to belong to the maximum 50 groups. No one can engage in all 50, which makes it hard to contribute whilst it is easy to post.

> LinkedIn jobs

LinkedIn jobs on company pages and the channel are charged for. This means that recruiters are more likely to post jobs to updates as links to jobs on external sites. This has 3 results:

Taking people away from the channel.

Not great for PPC or increasing engagement on the channel

Over populated updates in the feed.

This is going to prove counter productive to LinkedIn’s intention to make the channel more social. If the majority of updates are jobs users are going to tune out and stop looking. LinkedIn need an option to post jobs to job updates rather than the timeline. Whilst this offers a free alternative to LinkedIn jobs, which might be the reason for not including it, the benefits from paid for job advertising outweighs this, and a clean feed would be a good thing for both the users and the channel. Only the paid for ads go in to search, recommendation and the referral engine, which will always make them first choice.

Job links in company page updates.

Only paid for jobs appear behind the careers tab on company pages. The result is job links going in to updates which will over populate the page updates and hide other content,. Allowing links being posted to the careers feed would change this for the better.

> Updates to groups

The group update enables sharing in all groups without the need to enter the group. This is great for time-saving, but there is no option to post to jobs in groups as anything other than LinkedIn updates. The net result is that jobs can only be posted in to the discussion section of the group in this way. The option to post to jobs in groups to the jobs section without the need to enter each group individually would help to clear the discussion feed. The other option would be for LinkedIn to integrate an automated update parser that automatically reads updates and links and moves them to the right place in groups or updates.

We all rely on LinkedIn as the sourcing channel, witnessed by the ever-increasing sales for the hiring solutions products. It is in all recruiters long term interests to think about how they are conducting themselves in the channel. At the same time,it is in the interests of the channel to think about how they might be inadvertently be contributing to the problem, and how the good folks in the LinkedIn lab might be able to fix it.

Bill

 

 

 

 

 

 

LinkedIn Second Quarter Results And What They Mean To Recruiters

It is unusual for me to post about the same channel two days in a row, but I got the opportunity to listen to a webcast hosted by Jeff Weiner and Steve Sordello. Aside from the financials, there was some interesting data that shows how the channel is changing and what their long term ambitions might be.

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn announced:

 “LinkedIn had a strong second quarter with all of our key operating and financial metrics showing solid performance. Our ongoing investment in product innovation drove healthy engagement as measured by unique visiting members and member page views, and our three revenue streams all experienced significant growth.”

Impressively they have managed to maintain member growth at 2 per second. The total number of users now tops 174 million globally. The number of unique visitors to the site each month average 106 Million making it the 26′th most visited site on the web. What is also important to note is that 23% of the unique visitors are coming via mobile. My feeling is that this is driven by the group updates by e-mail to a mobile device, and reiterates the importance of headline. Typically we check e-mails on the go, and it is the headlines that attract people to click on links. Write your headlines as if you are writing for twitter, with short punchy headings that will stand out in the list of group updates. You need to be thinking mobile when you think LinkedIn. Interestingly the channel are now working on mobile ads, and are no doubt learning a lot from Facebooks venture in to the area of mobile only ads. The new look home page with added social figures is also having a big impact on driving traffic back to the home page.

I see PPC advertising being one of the growth areas for the channel because the structured data on the channel lends itself to reaching the right people, which will only increase the click-through rate. You should be considering including LinkedIn PPC in to your attraction strategy, and that visitors may well be coming by mobile and  will need to land in a mobile friendly environment. The revenue from marketing solutions, which includes PPC grew by 64% in the second quarter, (compared with 28% in the last quarter), totalling $63.1Mn.

Hiring solutions revenue, which includes the Recruiter products totalled $228.2Mn,an increase of 107% on the last quarter. This indicates that recruiters are moving to the paid for solutions in increasing numbers, in part because LinkedIn have invested in increasing their sales teams significantly resulting in 57% of revenue coming from the field sales team as opposed to on-line sales. This indicates that more recruiters are investing in LinkedIn as their primary sourcing channel. Given that hiring solutions revenue represents over half of the total revenue, recruiters can expect more investment in developing the offering in this area. Over the last quarter, LinkedIn have rolled out Talent Pipeline to all of its recruiter customers, and this has seen over a million candidates added in to the Talent Pipeline. This feature makes talent mapping a reality, as well as being able to keep track of target candidates, and their career progress. If you are not using the paid for solution, it might be a good time to revisit the options available. The Talent Pipeline solution enables recruiters to organise search results, tagging, keep notes and see how your employees are connected with them down to third level connections. The indication from the webcast is that LinkedIn are investing heavily in new product development, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see hiring solutions topping the list for new innovation.

Premium subscriptions, which give users extra InMail, more search results, open link which means anyone can message you even if they are outside of your network, and other features represents a growth in revenue by 82% on the last quarter totalling $43.5Mn. More users are signing up for these services, and it is another option that you need to be looking at. As more recruiters move to premium subscriptions, and the results suggest they are, you need to track what your competition is doing to gain an advantage over you. It is worth looking at your competitors to see if they are sporting the premium subscription badge on their profile. This is the brown In badge on the users profile.

Whilst revenue increased by 89% for the last quarter, the net income dropped from $4.5Mn to $2.8Mn. The company put this down to a significant investment in product development, sales and marketing and headcount. The last quarter has seen some big changes in the channel.

According to the Companies announcement, the product highlights of the last quarter include:

  • Launched its first app designed for the iPad. The app was received positively, and engagement trends are encouraging as more than half of page views on the app are being generated by content-focused products such as updates, news and groups.  
  • Simplified the design of its flagship social news product LinkedIn Today and added deeper integration into the homepage.  Engagement on LinkedIn Today is now up more than 150% since the introduction of these new features.  
  • Released Targeted Status Updates and Follower Statistics to all of the more than two million organizations on LinkedIn with active Company Profiles.
  • Completed the rollout of Talent Pipeline to the entire universe of LinkedIn Recruiter customers. In less than three months, Recruiter customers have already added more than one million prospective candidates into Talent Pipeline, enhancing their ability to quickly identify and hire new talent for their organizations.

Additionally, in July LinkedIn began rolling out a significant redesign to the homepage, enabling members to discover, share, and discuss the professional information that is most important to them.  The redesign has begun to positively impact engagement metrics; for example, shares originating on LinkedIn, including status updates, are now at all-time highs.

Steve Sordello, CFO of LinkedIn said

 “Strong performance across our three product lines drove record levels of revenue and adjusted EBITDA. As we continue to invest aggressively in technology, product, and our businesses, we remain focused on achieving our long-term goals.”

These developments reinforce my belief that those long term are are geared towards 8 objectives:

> Keeping people in channel in order to increase PPC revenues.

> Build on the potential for targeted shares within networks, becoming the channel for relevant business news.

> Becoming the premium source for sharing original content in other channels in order to drive traffic back to LinkedIn.

> Developing the home page as a social destination.

> Becoming the reference point for professional data on anyone, and extending the range of categories of people who add profiles to be more comprehensive across all levels of staff.

> To become the professional profile/resume for all students before they enter work.

> To add career products for benchmarking and career planning.

> Becoming the essential reference point for third party apps requiring in-channel access to professional data.

LinkedIn are to be congratulated on outstanding results, and for reinvesting revenue back in to the channel, making it even more critical for recruiters. I’m expecting plenty more changes and new products over the next quarter. It is going to be interesting working out the best way to make the most out of them. The results in full are included in this slideshare:

Bill

RESULTS PRESS RELEASE

Recruiters: Don’t Kill LinkedIn

One of the most interesting tracks I have been involved in this year was hosted by a Google sourcer, Wojciech Smailinski at #TruDublin, and he made a really interesting point that really made me sit up and take notice of what he was saying. The point he was making was that the type of engineers he is recruiting for probably won’t have a LinkedIn profile, or at best a sketchy one. He needs to look elsewhere to identify the people he is looking for. You can find the full blog post HERE.

When Wocjech made this point, I asked him why this was the case. His answer was that the people he was looking for on the most part weren’t looking for a job. They were usually working for themselves or on contract, and had chosen to hide their details because they were fed up of being hit by messages from recruiters and sourcers, usually with irrelevant opportunities. The example Wocjech gave was of an engineer at Google who past a difficult qualification that was in demand. he updated his LinkedIn profile, and thanks to alerts, was contacted by phone, mobile and e-mail by 90 recruiters within 30 minutes, the result, he quickly took the qualifications off his profile.

Since hearing this I have been exploring this point further. It seems that quite a few people are thinking the same thing in all kinds of fields, and only update their profiles when they are serious about looking for a job. This is great as an early advisory system of intent (think Radar on Bullhorn Reach), but results in the rest of the possible candidates hidden from view, and this is not a good thing in terms of what LinkedIn can offer recruiters.

LinkedIn has the best structured professional data, which makes it easier to identify what people do, or have done. Most recruiters use LinkedIn as one of their main sources for identifying potential candidates. This has seen many recruiters move from a post and pray strategy in the job board age, through to a tactic of source and spray. Use LinkedIn data to find everyone that fits a job title or skill and spray out the same cut and paste messaging to everyone in the hope that some of the messages will land in the right place.  The problem with this approach is that most of the messages are landing in the wrong place, and each misplaced irrelevant message does damage to brand recruiter, and to the network as a whole. There are many more losses than wins, and any short-term gain is leading to long term pain.

When I first looked at the paid for Recruiter product on LinkedIn, the volume of results and messages available for agency recruiters was about half that of their corporate counter parts because agency recruiters were considered to be the worst offenders of this practice. From what I understand, this is now changing with the same volumes open to anyone who is willing to pay. I don’t think this is a bad thing, all recruiters should be equal. I’m calling on all recruiters on all sides of the fence to recognise this and exercise some caution and best practice to avoid the channel losing its relevance, as people look to hide or omit details.

Best practice for me is about treating each match and each message as an individual communication rather than a mass spam out. That means actually looking at profiles of people you want to message beyond a key-word search to make sure there is real relevance between the profile and the opportunity. Your message should give reference to the relevance of the opportunity and be tailored to where the two match up. Each message should be tailored to the individual. Cut out the BS statements that seem to prevail, things like “I have a perfect job for you” when you know nothing about the target. This will not only enhance your chances of making a successful connection, but also your reputation. Use the 3 R’s as a rule to your LinkedIn messaging:

> Research

Do some real matching before identifying who you want to message.

> Relevance

Only short list people for a message where there is genuine fit on both sides.

> Reference

Include the reasons for the match in your message. Be clear this is not a random message.

Taking the sniper approach to sourcing and messaging changes everything. LinkedIn is the primary sourcing channel for recruiters. The channel has the potential to move in to being the primary people reference point for all things on-line. Recruiters have the opportunity to build it or break it according to how we conduct ourselves in this channel. Lets play the long game and move away from the quick buck. You know it makes sense.

Bill

 

 

 

LinkedIn To Build On Facebook?

This post is based on speculation and opinion. I have no inside information, but I have a theory as to the direction LinkedIn and Facebook might take. Over the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about what the long term aims and ambitions are for the super channels that are LinkedIn and Facebook. My feeling is that there might just be a marriage of convenience coming, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen over the next twelve months. This doesn’t mean that I expect to see any formal acquisition or merging, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a LinkedIn app built on top of Facebook, and this would be big news for recruiters.

In my view, the long term aim of Facebook is to become the web. Everything I see being introduced in to the channel or talked about is aimed at getting users to spend more and more time in the channel, and to be able to do all that we want to do without leaving Facebook. The recently launched App Store promotes apps from all providers, aggregating the apps in to one store that keeps the users in channel. Facebook acquired instagram which again has the same objective, competing with the likes of Flikkr for users. at the same time they launched the Facebook Cam App which makes images perfect for timeline, further encouraging users to keep their images in the channel.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the proposed Facebook job board. From what I can see this is going to be an aggregator for external job boards. looks like Facebook are not trying to compete with the job boards for users, but under the guise of enhancing the user experience are looking to give users yet another aspect of their life they can conduct on Facebook and stay within the channel. My other feeling about the job board is that they will be introducing a feature like Work4Labs that keeps the application process in channel. I think we are going to be seeing more developments like this in other areas that serve to encourage us to spend more and more of our on-line time in channel, and don’t forget that there has been a lot of talk around a Facebook phone, which I’m guessing will automatically divert and prioritize access to the channel.

My feeling is that this is all about PPC and other ad revenue. The more time we spend in the  channel and the more we do there, the more Facebook learns about us, and the more they know about us, the better the ads they can serve up, and the more we will click on. My feeling is that despite all the talk of Facebook v LinkedIn, the real play is  Facebook v Google, and if there is no need to leave the channel for anything because it is all served up in Facebook, then there is no need to search elsewhere.

This is where LinkedIn come in. My view is that the long term aspirations of LinkedIn are to become the people reference channel. In the past, any time you’ve met someone new or wanted to check someone out, you went to Google, now the first place you look for anyone in the professional space is on LinkedIn. The way the data is structured in the channel also makes it the best social sign in, form auto-completer or application. I think Facebook recognise that they are unlikely to ever be able to compete with LinkedIn in this area. This provides a platform for the channel to grow well beyond recruiting, generating their revenue through third-party access to the API and data.

What I think LinkedIn recognize is that they will never be able to compete with Facebook for numbers of users or non-professional users. If the two channels were to combine resources through a LinkedIn app on Facebook, bot channels could achieve their objectives without competing. If the professional data on a user came from LinkedIn, rather than Facebook info section, and everyone on Facebook was encouraged from registration to create a LinkedIn profile via the app, imagine the possibilities. LinkedIn gets the data, a wider range of users across all work types rather than just the professional sector, and the app gives users another reason to spend even more time in Facebook. both channels achieve what I believe are their objectives, and it is Google who would suffer.

This might seem a little crazy, but think about what a LinkedIn app integrated in to Facebook would mean for everyone, not least the users who both channels claim to consider before everything else. When it happens, you heard it here first.

Bill

Has LinkedIn Gone Social With The New Look?

If you have logged in to LinkedIn today you will have noticed that they have a new look. I’m guessing this has been done for two reasons, to make navigation easier and to make the site look a little less like a website and more like a social place. I can’t find anything yet that has significantly changed other than the look, but knowing the guys from LinkedIn there will be some changes hidden somewhere.
I noticed the change because the e-mail i get each week about the jobs I might be interested in was on the money this week, and there was a couple I took a look at. I’m not looking for a job but curiosity always draws you in to look at anything you could do if you really wanted to. If LinkedIn have tightened up the matching algorithm to offer jobs of real relevance, then this will make the channel more attractive from an advertising point of view. On the subject of LinkedIn advertising, I’m a big fan of the channel for PPC campaigns because the structure of profiles makes targeting the right audience so much easier and logical. Facebook is brilliant for targeting by interest. i consider this emotional advertising, where as LinkedIn is logical advertising based on the business case. A combined approach through PPC has to offer the best of both worlds, and thinking this way (along with the type of job), makes channel selection much easier. Test both and see how you get on. Whilst LinkedIn is primarily used by recruiters as a sourcing channel and point of reference, the target audience is there for PPC. I think it is worth thinking beyond advertising jobs, and taking a more Facebook like approach to content. On Facebook, advertising community pages is far more successful for me than advertising jobs. The applications come once you get people to a page about the business rather than just the jobs. When people get there, some will apply, and through advertising you can influence who comes to your page.
The same strategy could work on LinkedIn if you take a more social approach, with ads to invite to groups, content, events or company pages. The challenge for LinkedIn is two-fold. it’s not a very social channel, and access is increasingly coming from outside of the channel via e-mail, applications and extensions. They are seen as “the office”, and people just don’t behave in a social way. Whilst the new make over might look to be purely cosmetic, I think it gives it a social feel to channel. Theres more prominence for LinkedIn Today, and content recommended for you to look at based on the filters you have set and your profile. The highlighted posts are based on the number of shares and likes, and because it’s based on your profile and topic selections, the content is very relevant. I already go to LinkedIn Today when I’m short of blog content and want some inspiration from what is trending. This also encourages users to post content to LinkedIn updates first, and share the link. Each retweet you get of a LinkedIn link  counts as a LinkedIn share, and what gets shown on a users home page in the prominent LinkedIn Today section above the updates is set by the most shared, liked and commented according to your filters. If more people start visiting the home page on a casual basis then being featured here will prove very valuable for gaining targeted audience.

The update feed is on display under LinkedIn Today, and looks more like a Twitter feed than the old look, with easy update, like, share, comment and share to Twitter. Your update stream is refreshed by clicking on the tab that shows the number of updates from your connections since you logged on. Given that your network on LinkedIn is going to be a lot more focussed around your professional life than any other channel, the updates and shares are likely to be more relevant and business orientated, cutting out the noise that surrounds updates in Twitter or Facebook. The challenge for LinkedIn is getting users to view the channel in a more social way, and not just as a reference channel for sourcing, checking people out or referencing them. Perhaps this new look will help with this.

Other features on the new look landing page are  People you may know, placed at the top and bottom of the right hand column to encourage connecting, (the algorithm seems to be getting better in this area to), who has viewed your profile and how many times you have come up in searches, jobs you may be interested in, groups you may like, events and updates from all of the applications you have added to your profile. This last part is quite interesting because it means my home page is personalised according to the user choices I have already made. In my case I get to see updates from slideshare, my wordpress plug-in, Amazon reading list, box-net, company buzz (which notifies me of mentions of my company on LinkedIn),and blog connect for the latest posts I have chosen to connect to. I can take any of these off the home page or move them around to where I want them using drag or drop. This means that users can create a personal space on their home page, with access to the apps they have chosen to use. You can also interact with the apps, doing things like uploading presentations to slideshare or add events without the need to go to your own profile or app dropdown. The drpdowns on the top bar are also much cleaner looking and user-friendly, with a different colour background and a border.  It is convenient and quick, all LinkedIn need to do is promote this hard to get more people familiar with the home screen and using it on a casual basis, interacting more with the update screen. I’m going to be monitoring this more over the next few months to see if the interaction, comments, likes etc go up as a result. An extra feature I would like to see in updates is showing  video in the stream. You can add images to updates and get them to appear provided you add them manually (which is why you should manually update over automated postings). images lead to many more click-throughs in my experience.

To make PPC ads work LinkedIn need this to happen because PPC ads will only work when people log in to the channel often. At the moment the average user (recruiters are exceptional), log in 2.1 times a month. This leaves limited opportunity to get ads noticed, and the channel only earns through clicks. Bringing people back to the channel rather than interacting through apps or e-mail is essential, and that is going to come down to where LinkedIn see as being their principle revenue stream, which is going to be one of the following:

> Advertising – PPC and Display

> Product – Like LinkedIn recruiter and others.

> API Access – Paid by third-party applications and products.

I’m sure they will test all of these options to the full and natural selection will dictate the decision over where they decide to focus the users. The other barrier LinkedIn need to change to make the channel more social is to change the users perception of the business itself and brand LinkedIn. When I think about Facebook, Twitter or Google as businesses I see them as quite funky. They do things like hack days, wear hoodys, make fun videos etc. think about the daily changes to the Google home page or some of the pranks they have pulled in searches, like searching for Chuck Norris in the lucky search and getting the reply “You don’t find Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris finds you!”, think about the image of Facebook employees and you think eccentric geniuses who get to code the platform from day 2. Think Twitter and you think much the same, with the addition of that very funny video they made earlier this year that got over a million views. Now think LinkedIn and what do you see? A more staid, professional, suited crowd. Business like professionals with no room for fun. Not a social crowd, so how could they build a social product?

I’ve met quite a few of the London employees in their own environment. There wasn’t a suit in sight, plenty of communal areas, hot desks etc that fly in the face of this. It might be a good strategy for them to show more of this to change popular perception of them as a business, that professional can be social. LinkedIn’s own mid-year review took place last week, and they used the opportunity to produce this video which shows a different face to the business:.They’ve also set it as the featured video when you go to their official YouTube channel, so perhaps they are thinking the same way.

Click on the image to view in full size

I like the new look and feel of the home page. More interaction with the home page by users should create more interaction with user updates and content, and that means more targeted shares, it also makes PPC a lot more attractive a proposition. At the bottom of the post I’ve also added a recent webinar by LinkedIn on getting more from your ads, it’s worth a look. There is a lot more to it than you might think, and audience targeting can be very specific to reach the right eyes. The challenge is getting the right eyes to the channel regularly, and the new look might just do that.

What do you think of the new look LinkedIn?

Bill

Click on the image to view in full size

Whats happening in LinkedIn groups?

Last weeks post on my view of where LinkedIn is now as a channel attracted plenty of attention and comments from the likes of Matt Alder and Mr.LinkedIn, otherwise known as Mark Williams. my view is that the channel is predominantly becoming a people reference channel, and the place for targeted connecting and content posting/sharing, with an increasing number of users accessing the channel,commenting etc through third-party applications and e-mail.
When I first signed up for the channel, it wasn’t the case. I did plenty of networking and connections by being active in groups, and answering questions. Most of the books that I’ve seen talks about the channel operating in the same way, but in my view, it doesn’t. When I surveyed source of hire from 50 companies who promote hiring from LinkedIn, the source of hire story was much the same. This is the results that came back from the research, and this was data from the companies who were speaking loudly about their success on LinkedIn:

> 45% came from direct sourcing from LinkedIn where the recruiter initiated the approach. most had a LinkedIn recruiter account and felt it was effective.
> 19% came from PPC advertising. (In particular the ad featuring the picture from the profile in the “work here” ads) seem to have been very effective.
> 14% came from direct approaches to recruiter profiles or company profiles. (Hence the need for a well optimised profile and easy to find contact details.)
> 11% came from shared jobs and updates
> 7% came from company groups
> 4% came from other connections

You can read the full post HERE

I thought it was worth taking a closer look at group statistics to see what story they are telling. I took the data from 30 of the groups I belong to. The results are as follows:

> Total members: 343,010

> Average members per group: 11,433

> Largest Group: 134,980 members

> Smallest Group: 40 members

> Total Discussions: 2,144

> Average Discussions Per Group: 71

> Total Comments: 412

> Average Comments per group: 20

> Discussions per member: 1:168

> Comments per member: 1:596

> Comments per discussion: 1:3.5

From the groups that I looked at, only 2 stood out as being different to the trend:

> The Boolean Strings Network

> Recruitment Consultant.Eu

Both of these reversed the trend and had more comments than discussions, and conversation between members. These groups aside, the majority of members don’t contribute. The best way to get connections and to message without being connected is to belong to the same group. Sharing a group also raises your position in search, and recommendations for jobs, and as a “person you might know”. Looking at the contributions to the groups, I think most people are joining all 50 groups without getting involved in them. Joining a group in your target market is the most effective way to get reach and messaging, the channel is built this way.

Looking at the nature of discussions in groups, they are mostly links, rather than open discussions. You can share content with all your groups without going in to them, and I suspect this is where most of the discussions are coming from, and the reason for the lack of comments. The average user visits the channel directly 2.8 times a month.and according to comscore, spending 12 minutes in total a month. Thats not a lot of time for visiting groups, reading posts and commenting.

That said, I’m not saying that groups are a waste of time. Amongst the 50 I belong to there are probably 3 that stand out as communities. the common denominator amongst these is a strong and committed group owner or manager who takes the time to approve posts, generate discussion and move posts to promotions and jobs to jobs, they also spend time checking membership applications and issue warning messages to wrong doers. With the lack of quality groups, a good one really stands out, so there is opportunity, but you really need to be committed, as well as having an active plan for recruiting new members who are regular contributors and commenters in other groups.

Probably more concerning from the 30 groups I looked at is the week on week growth and decline. From the 30 groups, 5 grew by % of members, 8 remained static and 16 had shrunk in membership. The total decline across all the groups was 334%, showing a significant number of leavers against joiners.

What I am seeing from this data is that with a few exceptions, the channel is much more about posting and sharing via updates and groups than it is about connecting within the groups and having open discussion. I know from my referer figures that the channel remains the top source because of the targeted nature of the network. My LinkedIn connections, and those in the groups I belong to form my target audience. Posting in to LinkedIn is an essential part of my strategy, but I’m not expecting any conversation.

Bill

>

What is LinkedIn Now?

Last week I wrote a post on the value of a LinkedIn share. The tracking i completed through Visibli led me to rank the value of a share in the channel as 6 x the value of comparative channels. This is mostly due to the greater relevance of LinkedIn networks, which is the most valuable feature of the network in my opinion. I’ve been spending a lot of time investigating the features, and how users are using the channel in order to get a clear view of just what LinkedIn is becoming.

I blogged a while ago that LinkedIn was not really a social site. It was one of my most popular posts in terms of reads. I’m seeing this becoming increasingly true, with less interaction, comments etc, and more people accessing the network and its features externally via e-mail etc. Where I see LinkedIn now is as the professional reference site for people. When you come across anyone new, we are increasingly turning to LinkedIn ahead of Google to check who they are. On my desktop I do it whilst I’m on the phone, and I’m sure it won’t be too long before we will be able to see the headline profiles of people who call us or connect with us on mobile devices so that we can see who and what they are instantly.

Equally, I’m seeing LinkedIn data getting integrated in to other applications as the point of reference. Tools like Salescrunch, which is built for running on-line sales meetings or webinars for groups of up to 40, and Cardcrunch (now owned by LinkedIn) which allows you to scan business cards of people you meet to send out invites,both use profiles to give reference to people’s profiles as you interact with them. I also revisited the chrome application store to view the apps that integrate in a similar way, working via the toolbar.

The search on LinkedIn extension enables you to find company profiles by highlighting any text, and the profile appears in a pop up without leaving the page you are on. You can review a resume/CV and take a look at the listed employers without needing to complete a separate search. Although this covers only company pages at the moment, there are plans to add people profiles very soon. 

Whoworks.At is a great extension or app for recruiters and anyone in a sales or research company. Once you’ve added the extension, you can see who you are connected with on LinkedIn on any website. It’s a great way for quick sourcing or reference in any conversation.

LinkedIn for Chrome lets you view all the updates from your network without logging in to the channel. You can add comments, updates, likes, share via twitter, see profiles and post in to your groups from your toolbar.

Share On LinkedIn enables you to share any content with your network from your toolbar. See any interesting content and you can choose to share it with everyone via updates, with individuals via messages and with groups.

I’ve listed 4 extensions that I use, but there are plenty of others either available or in development. The common trends are that new apps work with Linkedin data and profiles without the need to log in to the channel. The common denominator is that they all enable users to access and interact with the channel as the professional reference point enabling interaction, sharing and review outside of the channel. Central to this is the quality of personal and company profiles and network connections. Each of these applications are controlled by LinkedIn’s strict terms that determines how the data can be used. That means no scraping or storing, with access in to the data coming at the point of inquiry. LinkedIn enforces this rigorously, which means all apps need to follow this, and having a detailed profile is not an option, it’s a necessity. This strict control and enforcement means that access to the API is essential for any recruitment product, and that LinkedIn can determine just how users data gets used. this gives them control over developers, and protects the integrity of the channel. The tough stance is starting to make a lot of sense.

Increasingly LinkedIn profiles are the reference point for sign ups. job applications etc. This will only be multiplied by the increased use of mobile, where form filling is cumbersome and awkward. All of this points towards the channels purpose as THE professional reference point for companies and individuals.

The other area I see LinkedIn focusing is as a specialist source for news and content. The real benefit of LinkedIn networks is the relevance of connections. Looking at my own network, I’m connected with just under 3,500 people. Looking through the connections, 89% have direct relevance to what I do. My network gives me an extended reach of over 16,500,000 people. If you consider the relevance of my network, if the same ratio applies then it’s easy to see how far relevant content can reach.

When I published the sharing post i got an e-mail from Daniel Roth, who is the Executive Editor at LinkedIn, giving me more detail on what they are doing to encourage sharing of news and content. In March LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Today, which was added to increase the exposure and reach of shared content. The analytics behind what gets featured comes from the LinkedIn share button, called InShare, which you can embed in any web place. Each share scores points, and trending storys get featured on LinkedIn Today and the home page of LinkedIn under trending storys.

You can view LinkedIn Today by all news, sector news or individual publishers. On sign-up, users get a choice to follow industries. Theres currently 48 sectors to choose between. Following is by simple tick. You can also choose from an A-Z list of publishers (which includes blogs.) To get on the list of publishers you need to include the LinkedIn button on the sharing options and apply directly to LinkedIn Today for a publisher page. I think that this could be a great source for new, targeted readers in sector. Users can sign up to receive e-mail updates on the trending storys with choice over intervals. Featured content is selected ranked by shares from a wide range of sources. It will also help to achieve this by sharing appropriate posts in to groups. You can do this from updates or the InShare button. Don’t share every post or it will be considered spam, and include an introductory discussion and respond to comments. Groups will multiply your shares and your points. Monitor which groups share which content, so that you can rotate posts according to their topic. It takes a bit longer but it keeps you as a friend rather than foe.

Recently, LinkedIn has been added to the WordPress share features, so there is no need to add any complicated code or embed it in the programs.  This used to be only available in self-hosted .Org blogs. To add the InShare  button go to the settings feature from your dashboard, then the sharing setting, The first section enables you to link your Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Messenger and most importantly LinkedIn. Every time you publish a post, it is added to updates. Right now, you need to update manually if you want to add an image (which increases click-throughs), and some introductory text. I’m sure this will change in the near future, and activating it means you never forget. The other advice I would give is to disable automatic sharing to Twitter, and tweeting direct from your LinkedIn update. My reasoning behind this is that if you share from a LinkedIn update, each retweet counts as a LinkedIn share and is added to your score. Combining Twitter RT’s with LinkedIn shares give you a much greater chance of getting featured as a trending post by combining the channels.

The next section is the sharing buttons that you can add to each post. These now include LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, as well as channels like Digg, Stumbleupon, E-mail, Reddit etc. You choose which buttons to feature, and which ones to put behind the share button. You can choose the style of button, and what text you want to add. I have put the LinkedIn button first because I believe that this will lead to the most shares in LinkedIn, which is most likely to be relevant and will earn you points. Choose to feature your share buttons on all pages, posts, archive and other media.

The last bit is the tough bit, you need to create content worthy of sharing. It looks to me that LinkedIn are doing all they can to develop focused content sharing in to targeted networks. I think LinkedIn Today will become an important feature for achieving this, and should form an important part in your content strategy. Enable sharing by adding all the buttons, apply to be a publisher and produce content for this audience.

That brings you up to date on my thinking on where LinkedIn is going as a channel, and how you can get the most out of it. The functions of where LinkedIn should feature in your thinking are:

1) As THE professional reference point for people and companies, accessed in the channel and through third-party applications and extensions.

2) As the sourcing channel by search.

3) For building a targeted network by connections. New applications like Salescrunch and Cardmunch encourage adding connections from other activities. The more targeted the network, the better the share.

4) For sharing, promoting and consuming targeted content with a specific audience.

This is my thoughts on what LinkedIn has become. Less about engagement, and more about reference and targeted distribution. I think we are beginning to get a clear definition of what LinkedIn is as a channel and where it should fit in to our thinking. What is clear, is that it really isn’t a job board.

Bill

Links

LinkedIn Shares

LinkedIn Share Buttons

LinkedIn Today FAQ

Salescrunch

Cardmunch

Chrome Extensions

WordPress Add Share buttons

Cool Social Recruiting Tools With @Fishdogs #LASHRM

At Louisiana SHRM I got the privilege of presenting again with my friend Craig Fisher, better known as @Fishdogs. It is a bit of a geek fest when I get together with Craig. We are always looking at the latest apps that come out, and trying to hack them for recruiting purposes. With 100′s of apps coming out each week, it’s hard to keep up without one slipping under the net, so it is great when we can compare notes, even if the stalker potential scared the HR audience a little.
I have included the presentation that lists all the tools that we had a look at. Whilst the presentation is called cool tools, I would always maintain that it’s not the tool that is cool. A carpenter doesn’t call a hammer or a saw cool, but it’s what they do with them that sometimes get great and unexpected results. I think these tools are much the same, less cool tool than cool result. You need to be careful to not get seduced by the bright and shiny things, whilst being open to finding the ones that really will help you find the best talent.
As well as the ones on the list, i also did a bit of a live demo of Bullhorn Reach, and talked a little bit about Tribepad (as middleware), and the Visibli share bar that i have blogged about recently. It was a great session, and a real joy to show some of the unitiated just what is possible with a little imagination. Thanks Craig for inviting me to join you again. It’s always a blast.
As well as looking at the tools, Craig also shared a few tips on LinkedIn, that form part of his LinkedIn certified training. Things like:

> A profile of a 1000 words or more gets 40% of clicks.
> Pictures or avatars with photos of men staring straight at the camera and trying to smile or holding their chin 80% less connection requests from women than those who look at an angle.
>The word jobs is searched for 4xmore than job. always use Jobs in keywords.
>Embed keywords and long-tailed keyword phrases as the name on links to sections of your website for SEO.

While I like them all, I think to tool that really stood out for me was Rapportiv. I’m going to be blogging about this in more detail later in the week. Enjoy the show!

New LinkedIn Sourcing App: Pealk

My friend and top UK Sourcer Martin Lee, who runs the cool free tools group on LinkedIn sent me over a link to a new app recently to have a look at, and when I took a peek, I was impressed with what I saw. Whenever I look at a new tool or app, and I probably look at about 100 a week, I use a simple criteria to judge it:

> Does it do something I can’t do now or does it improve on what I already have?

> Is it simple to use and follow without instruction? I like my tech to be intuitive needing limited support.

> Is the navigation easy and logical?

> Can I export data to work with my existing tech?

> Can I track what is going on in one screen?

> What analytics come out of the back-end?

Pealk stands up really well against all this criteria, and the version1 beta has just become available.

Pealk are another of the great start-ups coming out of Paris at the moment. I know from #TruParis, there is some very interesting work going on in the recruiting space at the moment in this region. If I was a VC, I’d have my eyes firmly on this community right now, and Pealk is the latest product from this area to catch my attention.
Pealk bill themselves as the number 1 search app for LinkedIn. It’s a big claim, and one I thought was worth checking out. signing up for Pealk is easy, it’s a one click sync of your LinkedIn profile, and it’s free, even if just for the moment.
The search screen gives you the option to search using the following fields:
> Search criteria (and this supports boolean logic)
> Company (with a filter option for only current companies)
> Position
> industry (with drop down choices)
> Education
> Location

Theres a simple tick box option to filter out your LinkedIn connections in results, if you want the search to be for people you don’t know.
Once I’d put in some test criteria, the search was incredibly quick. Much quicker than LinkedIn’s own search, and the results come back in a very clean format that is easy to scroll through. It’s also easy to go back to your original search and reset the parameters if you want to change the result for any reason. I like the app’s I use to have very simple navigation and a logical interface. This is one of the best apps I’ve seen in this regard. It is incredibly simple to use.
The results come back in a business card view showing photo, name, professional headline,number of connections, sector and location. Another great feature of this app is that the results are very easy to organise. You can select a profile by tick box, drag and drop the profile in to the side bar for export to another folder, messaging or saving as a result, select a profile by tick box for another action or star a profile for more attention. Another neat feature is how easy it is to view the whole LinkedIn profile even if you are not connected. It’s one click and opens in a separate window with the close option. There is no need to navigate back and forth and risk losing your way. You can also browse all the profiles you’ve selected to your” cart” one after another using the profile flow feature. When you view the full profile there is a simple 4 button bar that allows you to select the profile, star it, add a note to the profile, open the profile in LinkedIn or take it out of the search, and they are all one click functions.

When you’ve got your results in the cart, you can message people individually or collectively using a free text message template. Again you can do this without the need to leave Pealk and go in to LinkedIn. Working in one place on one screen is a lot more efficient for recruiters. Each user gets a really simple dashboard that gives you all your analytics you need, so you can track all your interactions and results in one place, and make changes where you need them.

Having tested a few searches in Pealk, I’ve got to say that I’m really impressed. The search results are accurate and returned lightening quick, and they are very easy to organise. You don’t need to be a great sourcer or understand boolean strings to make this work for you. Although I tried, I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like. With even a basic knowledge, you can make it work for you.

I’ve not spoken with the guys at Pealk to know what their relationship is with LinkedIn, though they display the LinkedIn logo next to powered by, on the opening screen, so I’ve made the assumption that there must be a relationship. The app is very close to LinkedIn Recruiter, so I have some concern about whether this has not come up on their radar yet, or if an agreement exists. If it doesn’t, I have a concern about how long they will have access to the LinkedIn API before they are seen as being a direct competitor. That said, using it now is a bit of a no brainer, it is that simple to use.

My other big concern is over the messaging within Pealk to non first level connections. The messages go out in invites, although the messages are different to the standard LinkedIn invites because you get an extra 100 characters and you can include a link. LinkedIn invitations prohibit this in the normal invite. My worry is that these invites go out as friends, and that is clearly not the case. There is a big risk of getting reported for spam or “I.D.K.” and then it’s not long before you get blocked or stopped from inviting people without e-mail addresses, which creates real problems. If your going to proceed with using Pealk anyway, I’d recommend taking time on each individual invite to show why the target has come up in the individual search and the relevance of the job according to their profile. A bit of extra time to show this makes the message personal and less spammy. (I know I recommend not personalising invites normally, but when you are using the invite as a means of messaging a job, I think you have to.)

Hats off to the 4 guys who have developed Pealk, Nicolas Lemmonier, (Co-Founder and Business Development Director) Anthony Simon, (Co-Founder and Marketing Director), Yann Hourdell ( Technical director)and Boris Golden (Co-founder and Lead Product Director).  If there are no API issues, I think they are on to a real winner because of the simplicity of use, navigation, speed, analytics and results. It’s in my toolkit already!

Thanks also to Martin Lee for another great spot and share, go join his group to keep up with more.

Bill

Pealk

CoolTools group