Linked In

Top 10 Countries By User On LinkedIn

This weekend I put together a report on social-media use by country, applications used and use, time spent on-line and demographics. Among other reference sources, I referred to Socialbakers.Com, which I find to be one of the best sources of free data on-line. the top 10 countries by LinkedIn users made for interesting reading, along with the comparison with Facebook numbers. Any surprises in this list for you?


Total LinkedIn Users: 58526154
Penetration of population: 18.87%
Penetration of online pop.: 24.46%
Facebook Users: 157067260


Total LinkedIn Users: 13352622
Penetration of population: 1.14%
Penetration of online pop.: 16.48%
Facebook Users: 4589992


Total LinkedIn Users: 8367732
Penetration of population: 13.42%
Penetration of online pop.: 16.27%
Facebook Users: 30595980


Total LinkedIn Users: 6864270
Penetration of population: 3.41%
Penetration of online pop.: 9.04%
Facebook Users: 45340600


Total LinkedIn Users: 5118842
Penetration of population: 15.16%
Penetration of online pop.: 19.52%
Facebook Users: 17631840


Total LinkedIn Users: 3224580
Penetration of population: 4.98%
Penetration of online pop.: 7.23%
Facebook Users: 24204920


Total LinkedIn Users: 3134628
Penetration of population: 18.68%
Penetration of online pop.: 21.08%
Facebook Users: 6420560


Total LinkedIn Users: 2819476
Penetration of population: 4.85%
Penetration of online pop.: 9.39%
Facebook Users: 21594760


Total LinkedIn Users: 2799320
Penetration of population: 13.17%
Penetration of online pop.: 16.43%
Facebook Users: 10988140


Total LinkedIn Users: 2631818
Penetration of population: 5.66%
Penetration of online pop.: 9.05%
Facebook Users: 16278420

All data is taken from Socialbakers.Com, the reference site for social media channel by data.


What would you pay for on LinkedIn?

If LinkedIn were to change their approach to monetizing the channel and switch to charging users for profiles, with additional costs for all of the add-on features and applications, would you be prepared to invest in your profile, or would you drop it from your on-line presence? I should state at the start of this post, that I have no reason to believe LinkedIn will ever charge for profiles, the opposite is the channels position, EMEA M.D. Ariel Eckstein  (@Eckie67 on Twitter.), spoke with me recently about how the regular users were the most important people to the channel, and are at the centre of every product decision made. It is after all the regular user profiles that provide the value to the paying customers, so every development has to be measured by how it will impact on user experience.

I ask the question because it is a question you should ask yourself for every free channel, application, feature or tool you use throughout social media, “If I had to pay for this would I?”. If the answer to the question is no, then you really shouldn’t be using it. If you wouldn’t pay for it, then you’re not getting any value, and if you’re not getting any value then you shouldn’t be using it.

I asked myself the same questions, and these are the top 3 features I would pay for:

> My LinkedIn Profile

No doubt about it, my profile is my second most valuable piece of internet real estate, second only to my blog. I didn’t always think this way, but the user profile on LinkedIn has become the professional reference point and sign in. It doesn’t matter what channel or location you are sourcing or networking in, whenever I come across anyone the first place I look for professional detail is on LinkedIn. The channel has become the reference source, and I know that without a profile my professional data would be lost.

Because your profile has become THE reference point, it needs to be detailed and up to date. I’m less concerned with keywords, and more with how my profile reads. While most of what you read is about keywords, Google are moving away from this in the latest algorithm, and are moving more towards local search and how content reads. Overdo the keywords and  you drop down the rankings. If it’s Google ranking you are looking for, so that your profile comes up in searches outside of LinkedIn, there’s 3 areas you need to consider:

> Get rid of the keyword repetition and move to synonyms. Try and avoid using the same words more than twice. Google now looks for similar words that mean the same thing, and ranks this above repeated words. Time to go and check out the synonyms and start rewriting.

> Google are going to be placing more importance on direct answers to questions, on blog sites this is going to mean adding a frequently asked questions page. (Look out for mine going up this week.) In LinkedIn terms I think this might just place importance back on the question/answer section. I will be looking to increase the number of questions I’m answering again by setting up R.S.S. feeds in the questions section of my topic area and answering 2 questions a day. Although there are networking benefits to doing this, the biggest value will come from linking your answers back to your profile. Not sure if this will work out this way yet, but will keep you posted.

> Content is king again, as in all of your web places. That means replacing all those keyword bullet points and putting descriptive detail in all of the sections available like summary and experience, and moving applications like your blog plug in and slideshare presentation to the bottom of your profile page.

Making these changes will prepare your profile for when Google changes the way the Googlebot crawls content and ranks it, and that your profile retains its value. For LinkedIn search, the key features will still be led by:

1) Location

2) Skills. Completing your skills section in detail is now key for your profile, and there’s plenty of profiles that haven’t done this yet. Make sure you are not one of them.

3) Job Titles. Make your job title what is being searched for, rather than something creative.

Keeping these 3 sections up to date and detailed will increase the number of times you come up in LinkedIn’s internal search or recommendation engine.

> Groups

The second feature I would pay for is groups. I don’t believe the groups work in the way they were intended. Most are not particularly engaging, with the average comments and posts  in the 100 groups I surveyed standing at a very low 4. Despite this, there’s a real benefit to belonging to the full 50 groups you are allowed to join.

> You can message anyone in the group regardless of your level of connection.

> You will come up frequently in “the people you might know” recommendation to other members of the group, which is seen as a common denominator.

> My research shows that the most accepted connection invites are when you send a STANDARD invite, not personalised, and you share a group. In my experiment this resulted in 24 out of 25 acceptances. (Interestingly, the lowest acceptance was when I tried to justify why we should connect, contrary to urban social myth.) If you want to build your network, then belonging to all of the groups you can, including the larger ones will get you the best results.

> Updates

The last feature on my “pay for” list is updates and shares. LinkedIn remains my highest referral source, but your updates need some thought to grab attention. If you have a blog application on your profile, that helps with Google juice. The blog app will automatically add your blog to your profile update, though I update manually as well. Manually updating your profile allows you to add the image from the post.  Share your updates in all the groups you belong to using the share button just below updates. When you are posting in the group remember to add a discussion point related to the post asking a question to justify your posts inclusion, and remember to answer any replies or discussions by monitoring the e-mails coming in.

There’s plenty of other features I would pay for because they offer me the best value. Over the next 12 months I see the LinkedIn profile becoming the default sign in on many web places and social sites where professional information is required.     Given that your profile will become your professional reference point, extra attention is needed as to what it says.

LinkedIn are moving in to a unique position in the social media mix, both for sourcing and reference, I would pay for it, would you?


Posting To LinkedIn

At the end of February LinkedIn announced the launch of a new feature that is already proving a hit. The new feature enables you to add a “follow company” tab on any web place.When you follow a company, updates come by e-mail, meaning people can elect to get all the latest including jobs from prospective employers, and they don’t need to log in to LinkedIn to do it. It’s a great feature, and one you should be adding to all your internet places.

Increasingly the channel are looking at more and more ways that people can interact and use the channel without logging in.This is an inevitable move in response to user behaviors. Increasingly, users are spending more time in Facebook, and less time anywhere else. They are looking to use the features of the channel, in particular using LinkedIn profiles for social sign in’s and populating information fields required by third-party applications. The users see LinkedIn as their professional reference site, a kind of default C.V.

Increasingly the channel is also becoming a powerful news source. There’s lots of sharing going on, when you consider the average network size is 220 connections. The top shared post last week on the LinkedIn follow button launch was shared 805 times. Next on the list was a post titled “Winners and losers in the great recession” was shared 754 times, and the post entitled “Guess which 10 countries think they are the luckiest professionally” was shared 205 times. Thats a lot of reach when you multiply it by the average network size. My own post on LinkedIn recently was my most viewed post in a single day, and my last 3 posts aimed at my LinkedIn network have trended in the top 10 shared recruiting posts in the respective weeks. LinkedIn has proved to be my biggest referer, and the LinkedIn posts have come out top in my SEO figures. Writing with the network in mind makes all the difference to traffic.

There’s a few things you need to think about when writing for this section of your audience. Start with looking at the make up of your connections. You can find this by looking at your connections page. You get a break down of industries, locations and companies. You probably know this data already, but it’s worth looking at. Next look at the most active groups you belong to. Which are the most active with comments and what are they talking about? It’s worth considering the hot topics when considering your content. Writing with groups in mind helps to get shares.

Whilst you probably already have the WordPress or blogger application installed on your profile that automatically updates your profile each time you post, you need to do a bit more to get the real benefit from the channel. Add your blog post to the update section of your profile. Write a twitter style update to your profile to grab the attention and attach the post. This will add the opening paragraph and image. Once you’ve updated, you can share in groups and to targeted individuals.

You don’t need to go in to the individual groups to post. Select each group by entering the first letter of the group name in the group section. You need to do more than just share the post. Start a discussion around the blog topic asking for comments. Give an outline of your opinion, your post will be automatically added. You can also elect to send your post to specific individuals by LinkedIn messages. To do this just click on “send to individuals” and use the search options to add up to 50 people within your network to send it out to.

If  you are posting a discussion in groups, make sure you are answering any comments. You don’t need to go in to the groups to do this. Open your settings to get updates by e-mail. When you get an e-mail notification, you can reply back by e-mail.Finally, monitor which groups get you the most shares. The analytics on your blog will show your referrals from LinkedIn. Open up the list to see which individual groups are opening your post the most. The groups which open or comment on your post the most will give you an indication of future content.

Despite changing user habits, operating more outside rather than inside LinkedIn, the channel remains the number one referer to this blog. Keep the channel in your mind when writing, and use titles that will stand out when the e-mail updates land in your connections in-box.


LinkedIn, FaceBook Or Twitter: Social Pay Per Click Recruiting

The Kevin Costner principle of if you build it they will come, rarely applies to social recruiting. The first part of any social recruiting plan starts with building the social places, setting up the feeds and preparing the accounts for activity. The second phase is generating content and encouraging contributions from others. This starts with enlisting the help of brand advocates. For many organisations, the failure point is an over reliance on recruiters for content and managing the content. This falls down because the recruiters just don’t have the time to maintain it with their main  responsibility of sourcing and managing open vacancies now.The other down side of recruiters providing the content is credibility with the outside world. It’s not a case of knocking the recruiters, but candidates expect them to say the workplace is great, who they really want to hear from and see is the people who work there. It’s a simple principle, programmers want to hear from programmers, they don’t want to hear from recruiters. Recruiters contribute to the communication on jobs, the process to apply and to be accessible when wanted, the rest of the content comes from the business. Once you’ve got brand advocates contributing content, promote your social places in the business to bring in new fans, friends, followers etc. Your most important employer branding is your internal employer branding, and your internal talent community. Once they start talking in public, the outside world wants to listen in, and some even want to come in and look for themselves. So far all the growth has been organic, and if your going to start spending on bringing people to your social places, you need populated and busy sites to attract them to, with regular content and engagement. To speed up the process it’s time to start considering social advertising. In my view pay-per-click rather than pay per impression campaigns provide the best first option and the best value. This is quite different to traditional advertising, where the objective is to reach as big an audience as possible. Social advertising works best when you take a much more targeted approach, thinking sniper over broadcast in approach. The smaller the target audience, the lower the pay-per-click cost. Targeting a smaller audience also means you can be very specific in copy and image. Better to place multiple ads to small audiences, than one catch-all ad, In my experience, the click-throughs and conversions are much better when you take this sniper approach. It’s worth taking time over this, or looking to automate this process.

Facebook in particular lends itself to automated research and advertising using applications designed for this purpose. My preference is for Work4Labs, where target groups come from parsing the job spec for interests that match, and automating the ads, including the essential analytics off the back-end. My other recommendation for social advertising is to split test ad’s. Because you are paying per click, it’s not going to cost you any extra cash. Try 3 different texts or images aimed at an equal size section of the market e:g: 50 possible candidates in the target market per ad, then run them and test the results and go with what works best. Better to make decisions on what you know works rather than what you think works. Too many decisions of what works in social are based on guesses, data tells the real story. Each of the social channels offer different options and require a different approach:


LinkedIn pay-per-click ad’s are proving very effective, and I think are under rated by many. The ads are usually job ads, although you can also promote community spaces. talent networks or your LinkedIn group. The benefit of this channel is that you can target by geography, employer, job title, skills, keywords, any of the LinkedIn fields. The targeting in this channel is a little more obvious because the data in the profile is all related to work. The other optional feature of LinkedIn PPC advertising that is proving to be very effective is the photo ads that take the profile picture of the target and puts the image in the ad, under the heading “picture yourself here.” I think the association of the personal picture associated with the job makes these ads really stand out, and makes the target candidate really consider themselves working with you. If you do go down the route of LinkedIn PPC, you need to include the “apply with LinkedIn” button at the end of it, or a social sign in that uses LinkedIn data for a one click registration. It’s logical that when candidates come to you from any of the channels, they are going to want to use the data from the attraction channel to apply. The other benefit is that when you place the ad, you get shown 26 profiles that match the job based on location, skills and keywords. LinkedIn is clearly getting better at matching, and you might find who you want in this list before you start advertising.


Facebook is the life channel that has the largest population of users, and the widest range of people. Advertising in the channel is less obvious than a professional network like LinkedIn, where you can target on professional information. What I’ve found on Facebook is that advertising fan pages work, but advertising jobs is a lot less effective. I would advise building an active fan page first, and adding an application for seeing, sharing and applying for jobs.Your fan page will work best when the name of the page (with the exception of graduate recruiting) is not careers or jobs. No passive job seeker or the curious want to be seen liking or commenting on content on a page that points them out as a job seeker. The campaigns I’ve been involved in show that candidates coming from Facebook need to stay within Facebook when applying. You lose an average of 35% of applicants when you push them to an ATS, and an additional 30% within the ATS who never complete. The desperate stay with it but the good tend to disappear. Make application simple and quick, and remember that the majority of applicants coming this way will be coming from mobile. This means a mobile application process is essential. In my last post I reported how over 50% of the traffic on Facebook career application BranchOut comes from mobile, and how the real hike in  sign ups came when they made inviting and sign up simple by mobile. If ever you needed the evidence of the importance of mobile, this is it. The new time line for brand pages will also enhance this. Historically the application tabs weren’t visible on mobile, but the new layout positions 2 apps in larger buttons at the top of the page. Positioning the job app at the top of the page, together with the mobile accessibility and the whole timeline design, will increase the effectiveness of Facebook as a recruiting channel significantly. Watch this space! PPC ads can be targeted against interests, location, education, fans of pages etc. If you have never considered the channel before, check your target audience size by clicking the place an ad button on your profile. Set up a dummy ad, which will take you through to the targeting section. Test different combinations to identify target audience size, and think copy variation to entice the audience to click-through. It’s worth remembering that ads are the most liked and shared content on Facebook, and that linking ad’s to a Facebook destination, rather than an external site reduces the cost by at least 65%.


This might not be your first thought when considering a PPC campaign, but the introduction of sponsored tweets last year has changed this considerably. It’s proving to be the cheapest of the channels, with the highest apply and click-through rate. Sponsored tweets benefit from being promoted to the top of a search stream for anyone searching for related content or jobs, and lots of people use twitter as a search channel, (something that gets often overlooked.) You can also position ads against hashtags for industry events and chats that will attract your target audience. Twitter attracts browsers who are passing through the stream and get attracted by headlines.

When you’re considering text, it’s worth remembering to include hashtags that include location, principle skill and the word jobs. 8 x more people search twitter for jobs rather than job, one letter makes a big difference. I can’t explain the logic, but tweets with links in the middle of the text are 5 x more likely to be opened than links at the end. As with all PPC advertising, because you are paying for clicks, it’s worth running 3 different tweets to test what works best before committing to one ad. Tweets also get sent to the timeline of users with matching bios or a history of posting relevant tweets. As with all twitter recruiting, remember the geek words. Thats those words that are unique to a discipline, but identify the users as doing the job. Targeting through geek words in bios or content reaches a very relevent audience.

My experience with twitter is that you will attract a greater level of click-throughs, with less applications and efficiency, but the volume makes it well worth considering, particularly when you are trying to populate a talent community or network. Click troughs should go direct to a single job page, with a twitter style blue cloud background. This gives the feeling of still being in twitter, with a simple CV upload or apply with LinkedIn button. like Facebook, a lot of traffic is going to be coming via mobile, so the process needs to work easily with mobile job seekers.

PPC is an essential part of your social recruiting effort, supported by a simple application process, mobile friendly, and a social presence to provide extra content and attraction. Good luck in your efforts and let me know what works best for you.




LinkedIn 2012: King for the recruiter?

Coming from me, this blog post might come as a bit of a surprise. I’m well-known for having had great success in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and other channels. I’m always looking for other places for my clients to recruit. Fishing in ponds where no one else is gives you the pick of the fish, but no matter what recruiting plan we put together, there is always space in there for LinkedIn. It is top of every recruiters list, even if it is not the most social of places. LinkedIn doesn’t need to be social, for where it’s going in my opinion. If there was only the option to choose one channel, recruiters would choose LinkedIn every time. It’s more than just habit, and here’s why:

Last week Oracle acquired Taleo to integrate in to their range of enterprise HR and recruiting products. This is a move to position Oracles HR suite ahead of competitors like Workday, and the recently acquired Success Factors and Jobs2Web by S.A.P.  It’s been a busy time in the market. In June Taleo announced a close integration with LinkedIn which added new features that took LinkedIn’s biggest asset, the volume of professional profiles, to job seekers and to recruiters. The acquisition of Taleo brings LinkedIn in to the heart of Oracle, and it will be very interesting to see how this evolves on a global scale. The more technology moves to the cloud and goes mobile, the greater the need for an easily accessible, up to date professional profile.

My feeling is that 2012 is going to be the year of collaborative technologies. Technologies that work in harmony to put all the data in one place, and provides analytics to understand what the data is saying. This is LinkedIn’s biggest asset, and they control their position aggressively. 2 days ago, a tweet  from LinkedIn software developer Yevgeniy Brickman came across my time line, announcing 150Mn Users.

Thats 150 million global users of LinkedIn, and however out of date some of those profiles may be, it is the biggest source of professional data in one place. If you want to build any type of recruiting product, from social referrals to job sharing, you need access to the LinkedIn A.P.I. Products like BeKnown from Monster, and BranchOut learnt this the hard way. If you compete with LinkedIn for the professional network space, then they close off access. Any recruiting product needs to collaborate with LinkedIn, and that positions the business in the ascendancy.

A few weeks ago I blogged how LinkedIn wasn’t social, and why the channel didn’t need to be. It generated a lot of traffic and mostly agreement. The more I think about it, the more I see LinkedIn in a different position to where we see it now, and the what the channel represents.

1: Open Sign In/Apply

One click sign in to an ATS, or pretty much any social site is becoming standard. People want to give as little data as possible, and take as little time as possible. It is what LinkedIn was built for, a single source for professional data. I don’t need to provide my data, I just need to link to it. The more intelligent technology does not export data, but the location of the data, and searches in this way. Profiles are tagged, but the information is kept in real-time. With a traditional database, the data is stored requiring server space and security. What is the need to keep the data as long as you have a location and permission to access? Every time a profile gets updated in the old tech, the data gets more out of date, this way it stays current forever. The sign in is the permission, the access and the location. Theres also no need to scrape data and risk breaching LinkedIn’s terms of use.

2: Sourcing:

Using the channel as the reference source, and InMail for messaging is still the most succesful use of LinkedIn by recruiters. The research I conducted with hiring companies who quote LinkedIn as their principal source of hire showed that 45% of hires came from direct sourcing, and nearly all of them had a Recruiter Account. This won’t change any time soon. Most recruiters don’t get engagement. They either don’t have the time or need to talk to people outside of when they have a requirement, and LinkedIn gives them a channel they can learn quite easily. All of the job board research and data is showing that hiring companies are spending more and more time in the C.V. data-bases, in many cases seeing this as being more valuable than job posting. Taking this in context, LinkedIn is the ultimate C.V. database, so it stands to reason that the channel is featuring at the start of any source, either using LinkedIn’s own search engine, or via Google or another search engine. The reference source is still LinkedIn. While Facebook might have many more users and profiles, there’s less professional data, and it’s harder to search. Facebook requires a different approach, based on fan pages, engagement and targeting by interest. It’s more of a community platform, where as LinkedIn is the direct sourcing/finding channel.

3: PPC

I think this is a grossly under used area of LinkedIn. From the companies surveyed, 19% hired through PPC advertising. The data on the profiles makes targeting the right people easy by location, skills, employers, job titles, any of the profile fields or key-words used. Much like the principle and pricing behind Facebook advertising, it pays to place multiple ads aimed at smaller audiences. This reduces cost, and means you can target and images specific to the target group. A sniper approach brings real results. I’ve also been surprised by the success of the “picture yourself here” ad’s that use your LinkedIn picture and data to produce an ad featuring your face.

The only downside of this is that users have less and less reason to visit the channel. Updates, groups etc are mostly accessed from outside the channel, typically via e-mail. Users can even e-mail back without the need to log in, and this presents a challenge to the effectiveness of advertising, though targeted messaging from within the channel could provide the solution. Although time spent in the channel is reduced year on year, use of the features are increasing, and social sharing features highly. Could be an opportunity to locate on LinkedIn and message via another channel or source.


Mobile is the major consideration in social recruiting. 55% of social content is posted via mobile. People spend their down time on trains, in ques etc browsing their mobile, and this includes jobs. Access to the major job boards via mobile is currently running at 18% of all access and rising each month. The biggest frustration and barrier at the moment is the inability to apply for jobs by mobile. Mostly this means e-mailing or bookmarking the job and hopefully picking it up later when they are back at a PC.

Peter Gold of HireStrategies ran a track at #trulondon on applying by mobile. The conclusion of  the assembled masses was that actually, people don’t want to apply by mobile but they do want to register their interest and come up on the radar of recruiters. Connect with LinkedIn gives the perfect opportunity to do this. Results are showing that when you ask people to connect rather than apply, the results go up considerably. The commitment is much less. Once a recruiter gets access to the LinkedIn profile, they can make an informed decision as to how they want to proceed, and it’s one click on the mobile for the potential candidate, and one click back (or call), by the recruiter. This is why I favour LinkedIn connect over LinkedIn apply, (it’s less commitment on either side). A connect button and mobile will make a major difference to future recruiting campaigns.

5: Reference Anywhere.

LinkedIn is the reference site for looking at professional profiles governing work history, skills etc, and for seeing how you are connected within an organisation. When I’m teaching sourcing in twitter or any other channel, it’s a case of locate the name, check the LinkedIn profile. With the channel recognised as the source for professional information at a glance, I don’t think it will be too long before we will be able to see profiles and connection information outside of the channel. it could be that we can see the profile and connections on a Facebook profile or from a tweet. this would require some collaboration between the channels, but I don’t think it is too far away.

6: Predictive Internet Behaviours.

LinkedIn has the most structured data on professional backgrounds. It’s also the place that gets most updated when things change. I’ve blogged in the past about how the radar function in Bullhorn Reach monitors changes to LinkedIn profiles to identify who is moving in to job seeker mode. It is frighteningly accurate. Consider how profiles and changes in user data can be used to predict the future, and make informed decisions now. You could identify a course of study based on the profiles of people in roles you want to take up in the future. You could identify employers where employees could be most likely to be open to your approaches. You can identify traits in organisations, and job seekers can identify the companies most likely to hire them. These are just a few thoughts on how data mining within the channel can assist decision-making and influence planning for anyone. The challenge for LinkedIn is to develop the tools to do this, and they have a very active lab doing this, as well as a history of acquiring third-party applications. They have the data, recruiters will pay for access and the tools to understand it. I’m expecting predictive tools to feature heavily in LinkedIn’s offerings during the coming year. If you can combine LinkedIn’s professional data, and Facebook’s social and personal data, imagine the possibilities.

7: Talent Networks.

I’m a fan of the talent network approach. I think that many companies can sustain this approach over a talent community. A talent network is dependent on simple sign up and being able to segment professional data to ensure relevance of . LinkedIn sign up makes this simple, and combined with CV upload and parsing, very relevent for messaging. It’s why I like products like Tribepad and Find.Ly. Talent networks are fast becoming a reality for smart hiring organisations, and will grow in importance during 2012, and access to the LinkedIn A.P.I. is essential to making this approach work.

8: Social Referrals

More and more organisations are recognising the importance of harnessing the social connections of their employees for referrals. Applications like Work4Labs, TalentBin and Bullhorn Reach make this easy and effective, but are dependent on gaining access to employees LinkedIn networks, as well as the other social channels. The average LinkedIn network consists of an average of 220 connections, and my research with client organisations show a relevance of about 70%. The potential here is huge, either through one of these applications or LinkedIn’s own referral engine. As social referrals increase in importance within hiring strategy, so more organisations will actively encourage their employees to build their networks. It’s the one channel that is rarely barred by HR or other departments, and because of the obvious business benefits, not seen as a time suck.

Increasingly I’m also hearing of businesses adopting these technologies in areas outside of recruiting, in particular sales and marketing functions. As other departments switch in to the social referral methodology, user numbers will continue to grow significantly, as will network size. The twitter factor has resulted in the growth of personal networks and our openness to connecting. It would not surprise me to see the average network size having doubled to 440 by the year-end, as more businesses adopt referral networks throughout the organisation.

Given these applications, a detailed professional profile on LinkedIn is a necessity, and users will pay more attention to getting the detail on their profile right. They have a unique and dominant position in the market, and one that is well protected. Access to the LinkedIn API is increasingly critical for recruiting technology companies, and this is where I see the main revenue streams coming. There will be less and less access and interaction in the channel, but more use of the data. Expect to see companies paying for access and use, and a real change in how the channel works. LinkedIn is not a job board as some would allude, but it is the biggest and most accurate professional data source, and we are going to see this becoming more and more important during 2012.

Just my thoughts, what do you think?


The LinkedIn Contradiction: A Social Channel?

I think LinkedIn is having a bit of a crisis of identity. It’s driven by the search algorithm that impacts on search results and matching, and  the way in which connections are encouraged, and the way LinkedIn rules apply over invites to connect. I think it is part of the struggle the channel has with itself over weather they are a social network or a professional network, or if the two are really any different. There is a constant battle over features and functions between the big 4 social networks, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. (I see YouTube sitting outside of this.) with each trying to find it’s place. No one channel can be all things to all users, and each has its place in the mix.

Facebook applications are moving in to professional networking in a big way. This week Glassdoor.Com, the employer review site launched an app that links reviews, jobs and connections, (more about that later this week,) BeKnown from Monster, BranchOut, Indeed, BraveNewTalent and others. These apps overcome the Facebook barrier,in that users can connect with employers and view jobs without needing to connect with their personal accounts, or show anything that they would rather keep hidden. Facebook users have responded by adding professional details to their profiles and interests, in numbers. It’s a big play on the LinkedIn space when you consider the difference in user numbers.

In the UK there are 8,373,511 LinkedIn users, or 13% of the population, compared with 30,249,340 Facebook users, or 48% of the population. (data from SocialBakers.Com.)

In the US there are 58,553,631 LinkedIn users or 19% of the population, compared with 155,701,780 Facebook users, or 50% of the population. (data from SocialBakers.Com.)

With changing attitudes as to Facebook as a professional as well as a personal channel, there’s a real battle on for recruiter attention and spend. There’s also the difference of time spent in the channels by users which is significantly different.This becomes important when you are considering the best place for a P.P.C. campaign. When there’s a fight for dollars, it is understandable why LinkedIn are looking for new ways to be social. More of the applications and functions are making it easier to communicate via LinkedIn, without ever going in the channel.You can e-mail direct to groups or respond to messages, post using applications like LinkedIn jobs insider, and updates from Tweetdeck, Hootsuite etc. These all lead to more time out of the channel by the users, with even less interaction.

Any good sourcing trainer will show you that the search results that can be achieved by searching LinkedIn via Google, Bing or other search engines rather than LinkedIn’s own search engine, gets more comprehensive results, and you get to see the full profile. Theres less reason to log in to LinkedIn as it gets easier to communicate from the outside, so is LinkedIn still working, and what do the users want from the channel?

This post isn’t intended to be a LinkedIn v Facebook post. Both channels have their place in the recruiting mix. My question is over the contradiction between how LinkedIn reward users with larger networks with results, and the way LinkedIn invites work. To get the most out of the channel, bigger is better. The more people you are connected with, and the more groups you belong to, the higher you come up in searches, the more jobs you get recommended to and the more people get recommended to follow you. While it makes sense to focus your connections on your area of recruiting, you want to connect with as many people as you can in your niche, because this returns you in more searches and more recommendations. LinkedIn however, don’t see it this way, and I think they should.

The twitter factor changed the way people are willing to connect. Before Twitter, networks were largely personal and connections were known. More of a means of keeping in touch or reconnecting, and then Twitter came along with its 140 character messaging, and the opportunity to follow anyone you wanted without the need to be known or accepted. The users liked this type of networking, and began to follow people in large numbers regardless of geography or relationship. New friendships got made through following and conversation, with no previous relationship, and most people liked that.

This new attitude to connecting switched to other channels. Even Facebook, which had very much been the personal channel, made it easier to find people and accept their friend invites. Whilst there was the opportunity to report people you didn’t know, this mostly didn’t happen. Both Facebook and LinkedIn responded by repeatedly suggesting “people you might know” to send invites to. This was based on groups you belonged to, companies you had worked for, or shared connections with those you were connected with. At the same time, the way in which invites were accepted changed. Despite what the “LinkedIn experts” might say, non-personalized invites with the standard text, were far more likely to be accepted than the ones where you try to justify an invitation.

The most successful invites are where you have a shared group, hence the benefit to joining all 50 groups you allowed.This is why many people belong to groups, and when they do comment, it’s via e-mal rather than from within the group. Whilst groups are seen as the most social part of LinkedIn, I don’t really see this. I looked at 6 of the groups I belong to at random. The combined membership of these groups is around 70,000. There were 266 discussions posted, which attracted a total of 106 comments, less than 0.5 per discussion. The comments figure was 90% from 1 group, Boolean Strings, which bucks the trend. These numbers tell me that they are largely inactive, and mostly noticeboard for posts. The ease of posting in multiple groups encourages the practice of posting, without visiting.

This is not all bad however. LinkedIn remains the highest referrer to my blog, and this comes from shares via groups, or reads from groups.(Taking in to account the e-mail update effect.) This tells me that on the most part, users are choosing to use groups in this way. It’s effective for posting, audience and reach, but can it really be considered social, when there is very little engagement? My view is that LinkedIn should forget about trying to be social, and look how the users use the platform. It’s a notice board, from updates to group postings, and is effective in this way. users should note the same to get the best out of the channel.

There have been plenty of occasions where I’ve considered that LinkedIn can’t be working for me because I’ve not been getting engagement, but then I’ve traced back business to either being found or seen in the channel. As a notice board, and largely a broadcast medium it works because the audience is targeted, and see notifications in their in box. The key to getting read is headline, (think writing for twitter), as most group updates are received and opened in this way. An occasional update catches the reader’s attention and tempts them to explore further.

When you accept an invite, or get an invite accepted, LinkedIn suggests other connections you might know based on this. The encouragement is to connect where there is relevance, even if there is not a relationship, and I would recommend this, in the same way as I would recommend looking at the section on a profile that lists the “People who looked at this profile also looked at …”, and to take a look for yourself for relevant connections, if nothing else, you can always follow them on twitter.

Company pages show who you are connected with at a company, and who works there that you are not connected with. This encourages sending invitations to potential contacts at companies you want to make friends with whatever the purpose. I know you can send requests for introductions through people you are connected with, but judging by the number I receive (a handful in the last 3 years), and the number I have sent out (maybe 3), I’m guessing this is not really used by others either. I’m far more likely to look if we share a group, then send off an invite based on this. I don’t list myself as a friend, colleague or having worked together (unless I have.), though I receive plenty of invites each day from people who claim this. It doesn’t really concern me, and must be working or people would stop doing it. I’m quick to disconnect with anyone who spams me, however. The second message is far more important than the invite.

This is where I think LinkedIn terms of use contradicts the reality of LinkedIn use. The user agreement, section 10B.5 states:

“Don’t undertake the following:”

“Invite people you do not know to join your network.”

Whilst the “I don’t know” function has been removed, to make reporting and suspension less likely, users are still encouraged to report violators, with the threat of either suspension of account, or only being able to send invites where you know the recipients e-mail address, and it matches the e-mail address on the LinkedIn database, recorded at registration.

This is an area I think LinkedIn should take a look at, considering how users are connecting, moving to open rather than restricted networking. Remove the conditions, and leave the choice of the type of invites users want to receive with the users. Users should be able to choose at sign-up the types of invites they want to receive, leaving the choice in their hands. On a personal note, I don’t want to discourage anyone from connecting with me, and neither should LinkedIn.

I have been looking quite closely at what is working for hiring companies recently, in preparation for this post. In particular, I have contacted companies who have either spoken or written about hiring from LinkedIn, to see where their success is coming from. I was really interested how much of their hiring success came from active sourcing, using the channel as the point of search, and how much was from groups, company pages, ads etc. The feedback and numbers for hires I got back show:

> 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

This tells me that recruiters get the most success sourcing from the channel, and this is where the most attention should be devoted, ensuring that everyone in the team are trained in search techniques, and in making approaches to target candidates. For potential candidates, they should be ensuring think of their profile as a findable document, rather than a sales document, and the LinkedIn search engine prioritizes by: (in order of importance.)

> Location

> Skills

> Job Title

The PPC results show that this is an option that should feature highly on the list of considerations. Similar to the approach that should be taken by advertisers using Facebook PPC, the strategy should be multiple ads, segmenting the audience according to key words,location and skills, changing text according to the target group. The lower the target audience, the lower the PPC cost, and the more relevant the ad and response. Think sniper approach rather than shotgun!

Moving forward, particularly as companies look to enable mobile applications or simple sign up, a LinkedIn profile will become the most likely source of information. The new referral engines from companies like Bullhorn Reach and Work4Labs actively find matches from LinkedIn. I expect this trend to continue, with more third-party apps looking to reference LinkedIn data as the main source of professional career information, and this is where the company should be concentrating their efforts, perhaps charging the apps for accessing the data, and finding new and innovative ways to make user profiles more accurate.

The update and missing data notifications to users made a big difference to users adding data. The 100% completion notification needs to be looked at to bring it up to date. At the moment this does not include the skills sections etc and misleads users in to believing they have a fully complete profile, and it has been out of date for some time. With the importance of the skills section to the matching/search engine, users need this fixing to get the best out of the channel, and the users should always come first.

If you’ve made it to the end of the post, thanks for baring with me. My conclusion is that LinkedIn is not really  a social channel, it’s a very effective notice board and directory of talent. This is the function I’d like to see the channel build upon moving forward. I think there is potential to add some other user functions, like Skype calling or instant messaging, to make direct connecting easier. I’d also like to see the “rules” on connecting relaxed to reflect user practice rather than a dated notion on how people network.

The LinkedIn tracks at #trulondon will feature super users, trainers and recruiters Jacco Valkenburg, Jonathan Campbell, Mark Williams and Gordon Lokenburg, covering a range of LinkedIn topics. You should join the conversation!


3 Things You Should Know About LinkedIn

This seems like a simple post. A bit out of date for this blog,whose readers for the most part, know LinkedIn well. Heres the thing, the more LinkedIn profiles I look at, and the more books I read on the topic, the more I see it needs to be said.
LinkedIn is increasingly becoming driven around the internal search engine, and most of the books are giving information that is out of date. Many a social signals service consider it outmoded and are impinging onto better alternatives. Some of the trainers are selling training that doesn’t quite match the way the channel works.
One of the problems with LinkedIn, (and I love the channel), is that they change things in secret. you might get an occasional notification if you dig really deep in to the channel, but mostly it’s a secret.
I’m also not convinced that many of the LinkedIn staff actually use the channel very much. Following some of them on twitter, the advice they give tends to be about the way the channel was 18 months ago, and not the way it operates now. that said, there are some great people who work there, and it is still the number one referrer of readers to this blog.
My 3 tips for being getting recommended either as a connection or for a job when it is posted (and that’s when you really want to come to a recruiters attention if you are jobseeking) are based on how the matching engine works, in order:

1: Location.

Results are weighted to those closest to the search. Advanced searches by job seekers or recruiters are also usually set to the 25 – 50km radius banding. Set your location for where you are recruiting or looking to work, not where you live. If you are working in london and hiring for Moscow, your location needs to be set at Moscow, for now at least.
2: Skills.

The skills section was launched after the 100% complete notification, but if you haven’t completed this section, and many haven’t, then you are really 60% complete. don’t be deceived by the 100% rating, it’s a lie. Use as many skill combinations as you can. Less is not more!
3:Job Title.

Don’t try to be creative here. Search for the titles that are most searched for or advertised in jobs, not what your job title might be. Don’t expect anyone to search for a candidate who is unemployed or in transition. People search for common job titles. If your’s is strange, unusual or funky, you are not going to come up in a search. I know mine says “Conference Disorganiser”, but my profile is set up for something different. If you want to be found, go with the common, whatever it says on your very large business card. When was the last time you searched LinkedIn for a Ninja?

These are 3 simple tips, but I wanted to share them for those who might need them.
Anything else you would add?

What the LinkedIn Apply For button will really mean

I’ve followed with interest the development of the “apply for” button recently launched by LinkedIn. I didn’t get quite as excited as some other commentators. The benefit is that it makes the application process quicker and simpler, by integrating the LinkedIn profile in to the process. This is not dissimilar to Social Job Match from BernardHodes (except Social Job Match also allows applications from FaceBook,).
Applications using LinkedIn profiles are restricted by the lack of ATS integration. (Once again the ATS is the Applicant Turn Off System.). As I understand it, LinkedIn profiles integrate with 5 ATS’s namely SmartRecruiters, Jobvite, Bullhorn, People Fluent and Job Science. Thats a start, but hardly conclusive. Hopefully more ATS’s will follow suit.
What I would be interested in knowing is if the data from the apply for button is used to proritise active job seekers in LinkedIn searches and job matches. Using the data in this way to identify who is most likely to be active would be a real benefit to employers.


LinkedIn Messages Or Spam Sandwiches: The 3 R's #In

Messages or Spam Sandwiches?

I was running some LinkedIn training recently for a team of Recruiters, when the question came up about how to message effectively once possible candidates had been identified, particularly when you’re not connected. This answer to this question in my view, extends to all social channels, not just LinkedIn. It’s also important to apply the same simple rules to e-mail, LinkedIn advertising and even phone calls. I call it the 3 R’s.

1: Research.

Research is about finding the right people to message in the first place. I’m always mystified by the post and spray approach. Sending the message about a job to as many people as possible in the hope that it lands in the right place. This equally applies to posting jobs in groups without any real consideration of the groups members.
Research is about understanding:
1: Location (country and continent in particular.)
2: what the role is really about.
3: The required skills.
4: Indicative salary and seniority level.

This is for both the client and the target candidates you are considering approaching. It also means making sure you take the time to read the profiles you find before you send off a message. Too often this is clearly not done.

2: Relevance.

Relevance is about only messaging those candidates that match the profile. The candidate may not be interested at this time but if the detail is relevent to them they will understand why they have received it. I think relevance is the biggest difference between messages being regarded as intrusive spam and a possible conversation. Be sure all your messages and job postings are relevent to the people you send them to, it’s far more likely to end up in a conversation.

3: Reference.

If you chosen to message someone based on your research and their relevance, then you need to reference this in the message. invite people to have conversations rather than apply for jobs. Show interest in what they want in your message rather than just what you want. Make sure the relevance of your message is clear and conclude with a clear call to action.

A lot of recruiting teams are investing heavily in sourcing training in order to find candidates via LinkedIn in particular, as well as buying recruiter accounts.More attention needs to be paid to the messaging and engaging with people once you find them, or else it is a wasted message.

How do you message potential candidates once you find them?