Category Archives for "Branding with LinkedIn"

Jan 10

LinkedIn Switches Favor to Conversations Over Content Sharing

By LinkedIn Ninja | Branding with LinkedIn , Latest Articles , LinkedIn

LinkedIn Switches Favor to Conversations Over Content Sharing

We’ve seen massive changes on LinkedIn this past year. While most of them were right in front of our faces with the new format, the most important change is hidden in the shadows.

Worse yet, since most people haven’t noticed this change, if they’re posting content the same way they’ve done in the past, they’re likely wasting their time and their money.

In March 2017, LinkedIn announced that it was implementing a new system for generating the news feed. This new system is a game changer. In the past, the LinkedIn news feed algorithm focused on the order of the content coming from your connections, those you follow, and notifications. It tried to put the content that you thought would be most relevant and that you would want to engage with at the top and everything else was ordered below it. Theoretically, all of your connections would be able to see your content if they scrolled far enough.

Notice that I said, “everything else.”

LinkedIn is now REMOVING content from the news feed that they deem as spam or irrelevant. Additionally, content that it sees as “low quality” is only shown to a small percentage of your network to see if they engage with it. If they don’t, bye-bye from the news feed.

Of course, LinkedIn doesn’t bother defining “low quality.” Personally, I’m still seeing stuff that I think is low quality and wonder what I could have seen instead.

However, if your update initially gets the “clear” thumbs up from the algorithm, that still doesn’t mean that you’re good to go. In the first several hours, it has another algorithm monitoring its “virality” score based on the amount and velocity of engagement. If you get no or little engagement, the update is then “demoted” meaning that people have to scroll pretty far to find it.

 

It’s Not Just What You Share, But How You Share It

So, what should you share?

First and foremost, LinkedIn uses the adjective “professional.” But what people see as professional often depends on the view from their own “profession.” Is an article about nutrition professional? What if you’re a nutritionist? We have no guidance on this.

Bottom line is that LinkedIn’s goal is to get people to stay on LinkedIn as long as possible so that they can show ads to you, which generates revenue for them. Therefore, sharing a link that takes people away from LinkedIn isn’t their top preference. While LinkedIn has never said that they demote external links, there is growing anecdotal evidence that they may be. Creating an update that elicits long comments and replies from many people keeps people on LinkedIn for longer periods making LinkedIn happy.

If you want to share a link to an external article, you better make sure that people will want to engage with it; simply posting the link and letting the preview do the rest will likely land you in the land of “low quality.” That means that the update that you craft to go along with that article link must start a conversation – quickly or it will get demoted.

If you’re using an automation service or RSS to auto post curated articles (like Buffer or FMG Suite for financial advisors) that automatically sends a pre-crafted update or that you just pop into a queue and don’t craft a custom update, you’re in trouble – and this goes for plugins that auto post your blog articles. If you consistently post your content via the API and it’s nothing but the link, then LinkedIn will tag your ENTIRE account as “low quality” and it will take multiple high engagement posts to remove it. I know because it happened to me.

It is possible to post a status update that is just an update – link not required. Believe it or not, but a LinkedIn Post allows up to 1300 characters. It allows for paragraphs, blank lines, and even emojis. You can essentially write a mini article directly in the update.

A status update should be crafted to address a point that you want to make and start a discussion about. It needs to tell a story. The first couple lines have to make people click on the “read more” link to open the entire update up. Yes, that means you have to be a good writer or hire a good writer to get the best results. To learn more about how to craft an effective status update in this new paradigm, please check out this article by Josh Fechter of BAMF who goes into so much great detail, I’m not going to try to duplicate it: http://www.bamf.media/linkedin-views/

 

LinkedIn’s Paradigm Shift

This change signals a major paradigm shift. Before this change, LinkedIn’s stated goal was to be the place that people came to find and read news and professional content. That’s the entire reason why they created the Article Publishing and Influencer platform (previously known as Pulse).

What they got was a link pushing fest that became extremely noisy and made it difficult to find high quality content that led to actual engagement (keeping people on LinkedIn longer). Further, when people followed the links, they didn’t always come back. What they thought would keep people on LinkedIn longer, didn’t actually happen.

Now LinkedIn wants the news feed to be a place of discussion. Since they’ve essentially killed Groups with the changes over the last couple of years, there aren’t as many good conversations happening on LinkedIn. By encouraging conversations in the news feed, they’re essentially creating a public square as opposed to members only club houses.

Instead of demonstrating your expertise by writing an article (whether on LinkedIn or your own website) and pushing it into your news feed, LinkedIn wants you to demonstrate your expertise through discussion.

 

Time to Change

This means that your entire LinkedIn content marketing needs to change. The advice that I’ve given in the past is to post something every day. Find a relevant article from the news if you don’t have anything original and share it to stay visible to your network and remind them what to do.

If you continue to do this, you will be put into low-quality jail. Practically no one will see your updates. Even more painful would be if you were paying a company to push this type of content out for you; you’re wasting your money.

It is now better to craft one long, high quality discussion post per week and follow through by replying to comments in the discussion to keep it active through the week. This means strategically tagging people whose opinions you’d like to hear and who you know would enjoy participating. But, be careful to not constantly tag the same people as it can get annoying and they may disconnect from you. This strategy is important, but it must be used judiciously.

Timing is important. Getting significant engagement in the first 4 hours of the post is what sets it up for possible virality. The running definition of a viral LinkedIn post is when it has more views than you have Connections & Followers. The best time to post is the best time that your target market would be active on LinkedIn. I tend to focus on the 8am and noon ranges of whatever time zone I’m targeting.

I know that many people may see this change as a bad thing; I don’t. Yes, it is going to take more time and thought to craft an update to get the amount of visibility you want, BUT the return that you get from those updates will be much higher. Those who are trying to spend as little time, effort and money to get the benefits of LinkedIn without truly using the platform will be out of luck.

LinkedIn has made it very hard to “game” the system. If LinkedIn is the platform where your target market is and that will help your business grow, then you will have to bite the bullet and truly invest in it.

If you have a well-developed strategy and system, then the time and/or money you invest in LinkedIn will return exponentially.

 

Struggling to put together your own efficient and effective LinkedIn system? The LinkedIn Ninja can help with the LinkedIn Personal Funnel Filling System. With this service, the LinkedIn Ninja personally creates a turnkey system so that you know what to do every day and then trains you to it.

 

 

Dec 03

Who Should I Invite to Connect on LinkedIn?

By LinkedIn Ninja | Branding with LinkedIn , Latest Articles , LinkedIn , Marketing on LinkedIn

InMapsAfter you’ve finished building out your LinkedIn profile, then next step is to grow your 1st degree Connections. Ideally, you do not want to build your network until you’ve fully built out your profile. Inviting someone to connect is the one time that you can almost guarantee they will read through your entire profile, so you want to have everything in place so you don’t lose that messaging opportunity.

The real money level of your network is the 2nd degree; not the 1st  – because that’s the direct referral relationship. You’re going to vet all new people you meet as client material anyway, but the gold is in the people they are connected to who you don’t know yet. However, you’re not going to find good prospects in the 2nd degree if you don’t have a sizable and continuously growing 1st degree network.

It’s important to be smart about who you invite to connect. LinkedIn’s philosophy is that you should only invite people to connect who you know. The definition of “know” can vary. For me, if it’s someone I’ve engaged with outside of LinkedIn or inside LinkedIn, then that means that I “know” them. For others, “know” means that you’ve actually met them and had at least one in depth conversation. I’ve even met some people with very elaborate criteria. So, what should you do?

Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself what your “networking philosophy” is going to be and it should line up with what you’re trying to accomplish by using LinkedIn. If you only connect with people you believe to be prospects already, then you’re limiting your prospect pool to your 1st degree and not focusing on the 2nd degree which I called the money level above. If you connect with anyone and everyone, then you don’t have a true relationship with most of your 1st degree meaning that they aren’t going to introduce you to their connections (your 2nd degree) or that introduction is not going to be very convincing and you’ll have a lower success rate.

I recommend inviting people to connect who you’ve met or engaged with online AND who would be willing and open to introducing you to their connections. The #1 criteria is, “Are they willing to help you?” This means that you need to temper any assumptions on how helpful they may be. You never know who someone is connected to and how strong their relationship is. So, if you meet someone who is less than your ideal target market – say a coffee shop barista – don’t assume that they can’t and won’t help you. People who buy $6 lattes on a daily basis have some money! If the barista will introduce you, then she’s a valuable connection.

Whenever you invite someone to connect, you should ALWAYS customize the message inviting them to connect. It doesn’t have to be very elaborate and LinkedIn only gives you 300 characters, so you can’t be very verbose anyway. Simply remind them of where you met or how you’re connected outside of LinkedIn. If it’s someone who may not recall you, I would also add a sentence about your intention or motivation behind wanting to connect – and it shouldn’t be because you want them as a client! Build a relationship first.

YES, you should connect to your clients. It will make asking for referrals much easier because you can tell them who you’d like to be referred to.

NEVER drop a connection’s name as a reason to connect without that person’s permission. Ideally, you want that person to introduce you via LinkedIn first before you invite a mutual connection to connect anyway.

ALWAYS invite the new people you’ve met or encountered to connect on a weekly basis. Block it into your calendar or add it into one of your processes – such as adding someone to your CRM. This will ensure that you continually have new prospects just an introduction away.

Dec 07

Why You Shouldn’t Use Twitter to Post LinkedIn Status Updates

By LinkedIn Ninja | Branding with LinkedIn , LinkedIn , Marketing on LinkedIn

I’m going to hazard a guess here…if you’re using Twitter to send status updates to LinkedIn, you’re probably not spending a ton of time in LinkedIn. That also means that you might not have noticed the small print change to LinkedIn that is harming your social media efforts as a result of the choice you made to try and streamline your social media activity.

History of LinkedIn and Twitter Integration

When LinkedIn first added integration with Twitter, if you pulled tweets into LinkedIn, they became standard LinkedIn status updates. That meant that you could interact with them only as LinkedIn status updates. At that time, LinkedIn didn’t have the “Like” feature so you could only comment or reply privately. Additionally, when it first started the link attachment and pulled in article feeds to status updates, any tweets with such links were just listed as links and the feed wasn’t pulled in.

The next evolution added the ability to adapt your Twitter settings to pull in the feed that LinkedIn saw attached to your link to give it the same visibility as a LinkedIn status update, but it still became a LinkedIn status update with interaction via LinkedIn only. LinkedIn added the “Like” functionality that would allow you to send someone’s status update or tweet out to your entire network’s news feed telling them you “Liked” it.

For a very brief time, we had advanced double integration. When you sent a tweet into LinkedIn as a status update, you could interact with it as Twitter with controls to Retweet, Favorite and Reply AND you could interact with it via LinkedIn with controls to Like, Comment or Share. Interact with both networks directly in LinkedIn!

The Status of Status Updates Today

Now, if you send your tweet into LinkedIn, it stays a tweet. What that means is that there are no controls for your LinkedIn network to interact with the tweet inside LinkedIn. They can only Retweet, Reply and Favorite. No Liking…No Commenting…No Sharing.

THAT MEANS that you’re missing out on a huge opportunity for your LinkedIn network to share you and increase your visibility. There are a lot of people on LinkedIn who don’t have Twitter accounts, so you’ve essentially eliminated their ability to help you get the word out and to share your information with their network.

The Solution

If you’re only using LinkedIn and Twitter, then launch your status updates from LinkedIn and you can check the little box to send them out to Twitter. If you’ve tied your Twitter account to LinkedIn and you’re using the mobile app, then the status updates automatically go out to Twitter. If your social media activities include other social networks, then use a social media dashboard that allows you to post to each social network as if it’s an original status update.

 

So, will this change how you do LinkedIn Status Updates?

Oct 07

LinkedIn Company Pages – Status Updates, Recommendations, and Followers, oh my!

By LinkedIn Ninja | Advertising on LinkedIn , Branding with LinkedIn , LinkedIn , LinkedIn Company Page , Marketing on LinkedIn

Today was a very exciting day in the land of LinkedIn. This morning was Connect 11; LinkedIn’s marketing conference during Advertising Week 8. The focus – brand engagement on LinkedIn. The big announcement – we can now make status updates from our Company Pages to communicate with our Followers.

Over the last many months, LinkedIn has quietly been adding new and amazing functionality to the Company Pages that few people have noticed. And, until now, LinkedIn hasn’t been screaming from mountain tops to tell people. Well, I’ve been telling people about it, but all I’ve been getting back are questioning stares because people seem to have a hard time believing that LinkedIn Company Pages are good for anything but seeing who just got fired. Maybe now they’ll believe me!

By now, you may be asking yourself what’s so special about these LinkedIn Company Pages. Let me tell you!

First, you can list up to 25 products and services. Each product or service gets it’s own page with it’s own description, it’s own link and even it’s own YouTube video. Most importantly, your clients can RECOMMEND that specific product or service and share a testimonial about why others would want to buy it.

Second, the recommendations don’t “live” only on LinkedIn. If you go to their Developers Tools (found in the footer), you can get html code to transport those recommendations back to your website. The recommendation button will tell your website visitors how many times that product or service has been recommended and will link them back to your Company Page to read the recommendations or even write one themselves. Of course, when they write the recommendation, a status update goes out into their network’s news feed telling everyone that they have recommended your product with a link to check it out themselves.

Third, if you have more than five products or services on your LinkedIn Company Page and more than one target audience, you can customize which five products and services the different target audiences see first when they land on your Company Page. Also, you can have three linked graphical banners above those featured products and services and select which banner each target audience sees.

But wait! There’s more! LinkedIn has even built in analytics to let you know how many people are visiting your page, if they’re engaging and how the activity on your Company Page stacks up to your competition.

So, what’s the key to success with a LinkedIn Company Page? Followers! In an interview just before the start of Advertising Week 8, SVP of Global Sales Mike Gamson highly encouraged companies and brands to start gathering their Company Page followers now – while it’s cheap! Mr. Gamson predicted that we won’t see a Facebook phenomenon with every member following lots of different Company Pages. The average LinkedIn member is going to be more discriminating in who they choose to follow and will likely not follow very many Company Pages. So it will likely take a lot more effort and advertising dollars to get someone to switch from following your competitor to following you.

So, what are you waiting for? Get that LinkedIn Company Page completely optimized! Too busy? The LinkedIn Ninja can help out! Check out our LinkedIn Company Page building services.

What creative ways can you think of to use the new Company Pages? My first big strategy is to begin offering a FREE LinkedIn Company Page or LinkedIn Personal Profile makeover to one Crystal Clear Buzz Company Page follower every month! The winner will be selected on the last day of the month. So, FOLLOW NOW for your chance to be selected!

Sep 25

Effective Use of LinkedIn Groups Takes Strategy, Time, and Effort

By LinkedIn Ninja | Branding with LinkedIn , Latest Articles , Marketing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Groups can be the most valuable part of your LinkedIn strategy to grow your business, but a Groups strategy can be the most difficult to understand and implement. Add into that the fact that it also takes the most time and I hear a lot of groans and moans when I suggest it.

However, a recent study from LeadFormix on traffic from LinkedIn to their B2B client websites found that 38% of the people coming to the site from a LinkedIn Group resulted in a completed form on their website! True, tangible leads are coming from LinkedIn Groups!

LinkedIn currently has almost 1 million groups! And more are started every day. Some LinkedIn Groups are big and some are small. Some are super active and some are dead. Finding the right LinkedIn Groups for you and your business – let alone the right discussion opportunities within those groups – can be a very daunting task.

To help, LinkedIn created the Daily and Weekly Group Activity Digests that land directly in your email inbox. But if you’re in 50 groups (the limit available in LinkedIn for free and premium members), getting those every day can be just as overwhelming. So having a clear strategy is crucial to your success in using LinkedIn Groups for sales and business development.

Choosing the Right Groups

First and foremost, the LinkedIn Groups that you select should be the groups where your target client is spending their time. Depending on how the group is set up and who is allowed to participate, you sometimes may not be able to get into all of the groups that would be most valuable. Most of the time, I see sales people in mostly industry related groups and they are wondering why they aren’t finding any new clients and customers. The answer is that they’re spending all of their LinkedIn “group time” with their competitors! A few of those are great for professional development, but I would recommend limiting the number to only those that actually helping you.

Essentially, you have to evaluate each group that you join and decide how you’re going to use it. You have to be an Opportunist. I have 3 main purposes for the groups that I’m in.

Market reach to prospects – What’s important is match to target market, size, and a low level of duplicate members in other groups. I’m using these groups mostly for hunting and if allowed, advertising.

Establishing myself as an expert – Those are groups of my target market where there are good discussion happening and I can demonstrate that I really know what I say I do. Those are groups like Sales Playbook. I don’t have too many of these because they take a lot of time so I’m very selective.

Groups for broadcasting/advertising – These are large groups that are a bit more general in their make up so that it may pull in some prospects in need of my services that I may not have thought about. They would be the large local groups and the like that address many different topics.

You probably aren’t going to like this, but the bottom line is that you have to look at and evaluate each group individually to develop the strategies that will work within that group.

Since the owners have free reign to decide who can be in their group, what they can post and how everything operates, you have to abide by their sandbox rules. In some groups blatant self promotion is fine and in others it’s not.

 

Case Study

Let’s use a case study of a popular LinkedIn group focused around the topic of improving sales. Now, nothing that I’m going to say is meant to be disparaging to the group owner in any way, it’s simply a distant, academic evaluation of how I have observed him successfully using groups. (disclaimer: The owner of this group did not participate or provide feedback in my analysis so his views may be different. To be honest when I shared this analysis in response to a question in my own LinkedIn Group – LI Ninja Black Belt – he disconnected from me and wouldn’t reply to my email messages. I can only assume that he was not happy with the light I shed on his activity even though it is very clearly a positive review of his activities.)

The owner provides sales coaching services and training, so his target market is sales professionals and teams. So he built a group around discussing best sales practices. He set very strict criteria prohibiting any and all self promotion. Even if someone is asking for your services, you cannot reply or provide a link back to your site. If you do, these are immediately deleted. Despite these tight restrictions, this group has grown to over 20,000 members and is very active. This is a group where active participation and giving first is a requirement to get any benefit. The owner provides one outlet in the group and it is a running discussion called “Pimp My Company.” Although I get frustrated at how tight of a line he is keeping with not even allowing you to fit in a little promotion where it’s asked, makes sense and you’re still adding value, I recognized the value of that one discussion item. There are over 1,000 comments in that discussion. When you add your comment to a discussion item, an email message with your comment is sent to all who are still following that discussion item (which is likely most). So, I became active for a couple of weeks and built some relationships and visibility within the group. Then I timed how I used that discussion when I was launching something important instead of doing a basic introduction of myself. The result was 3 people buying the program that I “pimped” in that discussion.

Now, the owner has sent out announcements to all 20,000+ members “selling” his free services and resources on his website – thereby promoting himself when he doesn’t let other members do so. He has effectively created a competitor-free fish barrel of prospects for his business. Bravo! That is what we should be aspiring to.

Now, if you were able to watch the owner’s activity in other groups, you would see that he doesn’t live by his own group’s strict rules in other groups. He posts links to his blog without adding a discussion. He promotes himself in the groups where that is allowed. He gives links to other sales related freebies.

To be honest, I was a little surprised when I first noticed it, but I have no problem with the double standard. There are some “true believers” who would find this different behavior practically sacrilege because they believe groups should be these sales free, equal societies. I think it’s brilliant and can only hope to aspire to such success.

It’s brilliant because he has recognized – as should you – that each group is it’s own sovereign entity and that it’s foolish to essentially apply a socialistic theory to a group that is running based on pure capitalism (and that would be those spammy groups that everyone says they hate yet those groups remain some of the largest groups in LinkedIn).

Conclusions

Bottom line is that there is no cookie cutter approach that you can take to truly get the most out of LinkedIn Groups. However, with a well developed, targeted strategy, dedicated time, and true engagement with the groups, you can benefit from participation and get new clients.

As of the writing of this post, I am conducting a LinkedIn Poll to get user feedback on what they see as the biggest challenges to using LinkedIn Groups. It has about 2 weeks left until it closes. If you haven’t answered it yet, I would love for you to participate. If the poll has closed, you can simply check out the results. CLICK HERE.

There is also a lively discussion of the problems taking place in LinkedIn Answers: Click Here.

Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments below. I would LOVE to hear about some LinkedIn Groups success stories!

To join the LI Ninja Black Belt Group where I give out TONS of free LinkedIn advice, CLICK HERE!

Aug 02

Does Your LinkedIn Profile Match Your Purpose for Using LinkedIn?

By LinkedIn Ninja | Branding with LinkedIn , Latest Articles , LinkedIn , Marketing on LinkedIn

One of the most common errors I see when reviewing LinkedIn profiles is when people fill out the profile as if it’s a history document without first considering what their purpose is for using LinkedIn. Now, don’t get me wrong, people are interested in learning about your experience because it gives your credibility. However, experience and history are two different things.

When you treat your profile like a biography, the problem is that it’s not likely to compel people to action. Further, if it does, it’s not created to compel a specific type of action, such as contact you about a job opportunity or to do business.

Essentially, I have found that most peoples’ purposes for being on LinkedIn can be boiled down to three main purposes: Business Development, Personal Branding, and Job Seeking.

Business Development: The goal obviously is to find clients and customers on LinkedIn to grow your business. If this is your purpose, then your profile should be focused on what you do. It should identify the services or products you provide, who your target client is, and what results you get. Your summary is your elevator speech. Your past is only as important to the extent that it builds the case of why people would want to do business with you.

Personal Branding: A personal branding profile is for people who are career oriented but not working in a sales capacity. This profile is about who you are. It should address your mission and values and identify your future career goals so that those opportunities can find you.

Job Seeker: The job seeker profile is a combination of the business development and personal branding because it has to address both what you do and who you are. Recruiters want to get to know both sides of you as a candidate. With the third party applications, LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to show recruiters that you are much more than a resume.

Ultimately, when people land on your profile, you want your purpose and message to be crystal clear. If you’re looking for a job, say you’re looking for a job. If you offer payroll services to small and mid-size businesses in the Greater Cincinnati area, then say that! The more fancy you get with your language and the more you leave up to interpretation, the less likely people are to understand what you want.

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