Tag Archive for how is LinkedIn changing

Did LinkedIn just become BranchOut? The endorsement story

I got the title for this post from a conversation I had earlier this week in relation to the much talked about endorsements feature on LinkedIn. Just in case you have been offline for the last three months, the way the feature works is that users add up to 50 skills to their profile. LinkedIn offer suggestions and alternatives to add. When you get an endorsement you get asked if you want to endorse back, then if you do you get offered 4 more profiles with skills to endorse. You can endorse these individually or with one click, or you can choose to close the window. Each time you endorse a skill another one pops up. If you close off one of the windows by clicking on the cross, then another one pops up. It is quick and easy to endorse. Personally, I never endorse all 4 at once, but I endorse those profiles that I think are deserving. Some of the people deserve endorsing, so I endorse them, whilst others just make me laugh. I’ve been asked if the likes of Glen Cathey know about sourcing (hell yes), and then I’ve been asked if others (who I won’t mention), know about social media which has just made me laugh.

LinkedIn seem to be experimenting about when they ask you to endorse. I’ve seen it when I log in, when I look at another users profile, or when I receive an endorsement. They will figure out the best place for this interaction, I’m sure. The reference to BranchOut in the title refers to the Facebook application who grew to 25 million users really quickly when they introduced a mobile app, that automatically enabled you to invite 50 friends with one click (and set up profiles for them to claim). I documented their growth in users HERE. The decline in users was almost as rapid as the rise, and the constant spamming of invites proved universally unpopular. Having alienated many Facebook users, the business is now building a network off Facebook, in theory to rival LinkedIn. Because of the way that the endorsements are easy and take no effort to complete the comparison with BranchOut, and the question over the value of the endorsements are inevitable. The interesting thing about the “BranchOut” method of growth was that Glassdoor adopted the same method when they launched their Facebook app, with one click invites to 50 friends at a time. This has been so successful for Glassdoor that they have been able to grow user numbers quickly by over 9 million, and significantly grow the number of reviews on the site to make them genuinely global and valuable, hence the recent huge investment. The difference here is that people saw Glassdoor as valuable when they got there, not a feeling they shared about BranchOut. These two examples show that when you ask users to do something when they log in, and make it as simple as one click, they usually comply. That is the BranchOut legacy, and is a method LinkedIn have followed to spread the endorsement of skills quickly.

To understand the reasoning behind this we need to look at why populating the skills profiles is so important to LinkedIn. It has been possible to add skills to profiles for about 18 months now, but because a profile showed 100% complete without it, very few people actually added skills to their profile. This was a bit of a problem because the LinkedIn search and recommendation algorithm that drives the channel was built on skills and location. Endorsed skills provide much better results than free text job titles or summaries, hence the drive to skills. The skills endorsements are also important because they should give us much better results to need than the free text and inconsistent recommendations in the old style LinkedIn. If LinkedIn can get an accurate breakdown of skills for every user, and get them endorsed by other users, it adds a very useful dimension to the channel, particularly for search, as skills, rather than experience become the new currency.

Much of the criticism from some of the great and the good is that the new style of endorsements are just too easy, and are taking credibility away from the channel. If we have learnt anything about social media, it is that users don’t like change. Just when we get comfortable, the channel goes and changes things and we feel like they are changing our place. They rarely tell us it’s coming either, which gives us no time to think about it. One day we log in and it all looks and feels different. As a result, I expect to hear some complaint around new things, but the noise over endorsements seems to be gathering momentum.

I was a bit surprised about the approach from LinkedIn, but I have kept an open mind to see what the real impact would be on profiles, after all, I was hearing that these endorsements had little value, because they were so easy, just like BranchOut. Now that we are about 6 weeks in, the endorsements are starting to have real impact. For a start, nearly all the active profiles on LinkedIn now have enough endorsements to get a good picture of the skills of the user. this is because the skills on the profile are defined by the user and endorsed by others. This has real value in search and recommendation, where the results have become noticeably more relevant as the endorsements have grown.

I’ve also noticed that on the whole, users are being fussy over their endorsements. They might not have as much knowledge of the users to give a detailed endorsements, but they don’t appear to be saying yes to everything. Endorsements to some degree are earnt on reputation, and are not being given on mass because it is easy. To test this theory, I have looked at 5 people I know quite well, and the top 5 things they are endorsed for. I haven’t found anything I would dispute or disagree with. These are the 5:

> Matt Alder

  1. Digital Strategy – 62
  2. Employer Branding – 51
  3. Digital Marketing – 35
  4. Social Media Marketing – 23
  5. Internal Communications – 9

>Glen Cathey

  1. Technical Recruiting – 80
  2. Internet Recruiting – 55
  3. Talent Acquisition – 51
  4. Sourcing – 51
  5. Recruiting = 31

>Andy Headworth

  1. Recruiting – 31
  2. Social Media – 23
  3. Talent Acquisition – 21
  4. Social Recruiting – 18
  5. Social networking – 15

>Laurie Ruettimann

  1. Social Media – 62
  2. HR Consulting – 45
  3. Social Media Marketing – 34
  4. Human Capital – 26
  5. Blog Marketing – 24


>Bill Boorman

  1. Recruiting – 27
  2. Social Media Marketing – 23
  3. Recruiters -21
  4. Social Media – 20
  5. Public Speaking – 15

If you don’t know all the names on the list, check a few who you do know. Knowing each of these individuals, I would agree with all these lists. This gives me confidence in the endorsements held by the people I don’t know, and in the search results and recommendations based on the endorsements. Despite the criticism  this looks like being another really useful feature, based on the results rather than the noise of the moaners.

In the process of researching this post, I also got to see the new profile layout that are slowly getting rolled out. This changes the look and gives some extra really useful data. If you want to see what yours will look like when you get it check the profiles for Laurie Ruettimann and Glen Cathey.

Now go check the endorsements of people you know, and see if you still think they are of little value,


Sign up for the #SocialAgency Hangout hosted by Bill Boorman on 15th Nov



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: