Tag Archive for linkedIn groups

Dear LinkedIn, Heres What You Need To Do About Spam

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

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

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

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

> Networking. 

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

> LinkedIn jobs

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

Taking people away from the channel.

Not great for PPC or increasing engagement on the channel

Over populated updates in the feed.

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

Job links in company page updates.

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

> Updates to groups

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

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

Bill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whats happening in LinkedIn groups?

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

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

You can read the full post HERE

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

> Total members: 343,010

> Average members per group: 11,433

> Largest Group: 134,980 members

> Smallest Group: 40 members

> Total Discussions: 2,144

> Average Discussions Per Group: 71

> Total Comments: 412

> Average Comments per group: 20

> Discussions per member: 1:168

> Comments per member: 1:596

> Comments per discussion: 1:3.5

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

> The Boolean Strings Network

> Recruitment Consultant.Eu

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

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

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

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

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

Bill

>

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