Tag Archive for is linkedIn social

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.

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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

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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!

Bill