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This Blog Has Moved

Posted on August 18, 2014. Filed under: News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

moving

After many years of using WordPress.com I have taken the decision to move this blog to my main site. It just seems more sensible and user-friendly to have everything in one place.

From now on all new posts (and all previous ones) can be found here.

If you are subscribing via RSS then the new feed is http://www.etn-training.co.uk/blog/?format=rss

I hope you enjoy the new home, my intention is to increase the frequency of posts which have somewhat suffered since launching the LinkedInformed podcast

See you over on the new site.

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This is why LinkedIn should never ‘retire’ a feature

Posted on June 24, 2014. Filed under: New features, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Linkedin Axe Man

This is the now infamous LinkedIn Axeman. He appears in my status updates every time LinkedIn ‘retire’ a new feature

This is happening quite frequently as LinkedIn ‘improves’ the user experience. LinkedIn rarely explain why they ‘retire’ features, other than a standard corporate PR type message that talks about focusing resources into new areas to improve the experience. It is all in our supposed best interests, of course, even if we do not see it!

Most of us do not like change and to be fair, it is often needed.  I have often moaned about change; months later I find that I am quite happy with a shiny new feature!

I do think, however, there is a serious issue that occurs as a consequence of dropping features…

The risk is that members will become reluctant to use features because they are concerned LinkedIn will end support for those same features! (tweet this)

Let me give you two new features that are suffering because of this;

LinkedIn Contacts is a fantastic feature; it is effectively a free social CRM system built into LinkedIn. So, why aren’t people using it? Well, what happens if I write notes, add reminders etc, and then find they have all disappeared because LinkedIn changed its mind, and decided that this was not the direction they want to go!

LinkedIn Publisher Platform LinkedIn wants us to abandon blogging on WordPress, or our website and instead restrict our content to LinkedIn. What happens to our content if they decide that the publishing platform was not such a good idea after all?!

Interestingly, I’m starting to wonder if the publisher platform will mark the end of the status update feature. Updates are primarily links to external posts and LinkedIn want us to stay on their platform so the master plan is to get everyone posting their content on LinkedIn so that ‘sharing is all within LinkedIn. I discuss this point in more detail in the latest episode of my podcast LinkedInformed. If you haven’t subscribed already then have a listen at http://linkedinformed.com/ or search for LinkedInformed on iTunes or Stitcher.

Someone recently commented that the ‘Apply with LinkedIn’ button that can be used for job adverts has recently been abandoned as well. Another feature which people could have invested time and money incorporating into their website, only to find it is no longer supported. I wonder if these people will be more cautious to adopt similar features in the future.

I don’t enjoy it when LinkedIn remove features but this is not my point, the real issue is that LinkedIn may find that they are ‘shooting themselves in the foot’ if they persist with this policy and that is significantly more damaging because members may stop using features and eventually the site altogether.

The cycle of introducing new LinkedIn features and then dumping them because no-one uses them is a self-fulfilling prophecy (tweet this) and LinkedIn need to address this sooner rather than later!

What do you think?

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Less fighting….more feeding!

Posted on April 23, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

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Have you read Gary Vaynerchuck’s new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook?

If not, you really must. Gary is, in my humble opinion, the world’s best authority on social media.

The basic premise is that you need to provide your audience – customers – followers with useful, interesting and relevant content 75% of the time and that earns you the right to ask for their business or something in return 25% of the time (the right hook).

This is such great advice because in my experience many LinkedIn users either;

1) Spring out of their corner aggressively swinging repetitive right hooks, failing to ever hit the target and eventually pass out due to exhaustion!

Or

2) Keep jabbing endlessly with no cutting edge until they too pass out!

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The only problem with this book for me is the boxing metaphor. Gary is a straight talking New Yorker who has achieved great things from humble beginnings by being a real ‘street fighter’ in the business world. So it makes perfect sense for him to relate his advice to boxing.

I however see things differently and a better metaphor for me would be based on a saying from old friend of mine;

“feed the pigeons”! 

Meaning that if you feed the pigeons, more and more will come and before long it will be easy to capture plenty of them….a little cruel perhaps but it has always stuck with me as a great metaphor for content marketing and social media.

The concept (via both metaphors) is pretty easy to grasp but harder to implement.

I think I have been guilty of feeding pigeons without taking any in the past and more recently, whilst launching my new 3 Day Start programme, I have probably been catching too many (or swinging too many right hooks) and potentially scaring off the flock that had gathered!

Its a difficult balance to find isn’t it?

What do you think?

Have you ever been guilty of swinging your right hook too much (or a brutal pigeon massacre!)?

Do you find yourself surrounded by a happy flock of overweight pigeons whilst feeling hungry yourself?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

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Who’s Viewed Your profile Gets a Makeover

Posted on February 26, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

…and its pretty good.
Good enough to suggest you might want to think again about upgrading!
9 mins video. Let me know what you think.

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LinkedIn’s Disappointing Results for Q4 2013

Posted on February 10, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

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LinkedIn announced their Q4 results last week which showed a 47% increase in revenue from the same period last year. I’m sure most of us would be delighted to deliver such growth (profit is less impressive as you can see in their earnings announcement) but for LinkedIn this represented another drop in sales growth, a trend which was the flavour of 2013 and one they are finding hard to reverse.

I can recall an ex boss of mine once explaining to me that actual figures (of anything) are much less relevant than the direction in which they are going. In business you are either going forwards or backwards and these figures prove that (despite year on year growth) LinkedIn’s growth is going backwards.

stock fall

A closer look at the figures shows that the guilty party is advertising sales (marketing solutions). Premium upgrades have remained stable and talent solutions (the darling of LinkedIn sales) has increased its percentage of the overall sales volume but advertising has dropped from 27% to 25% of sales from the same period last year.

I must admit that I am surprised by this, I really thought that advertising would begin to increase its share of sales but the opposite is true. Maybe advertising on LinkedIn is just not proving to be a great ROI for marketers. I must admit I haven’t met too many that swear by it (if your experience is different please get in touch, I would love to hear from you).

So it seems that LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner has some serious challenges ahead and I am fascinated to see how he reacts to this – Wall Street was clearly not impressed with shares dropping by 10% on the announcement and whilst they rallied towards the end of the week, they still showed a drop of over 6%.

One early indication of their reaction has been the announcement that they will now be rationalizing their products/services, initially by dropping Slidecast and more notably LinkedIn Intro. Intro was a controversial mobile email service that was introduced in October last year and hit immediate issues with concerns over security. I can’t say this is a massive surprise, after my initial excitement over the launch I reduced my use of the app and over time found I was very rarely using it. I assume this proved to be the case for many and so LinkedIn have decided that the effort involved in running it is not worth the return. I have to applaud them for this, like a football manager who buys a player who turns out to be a ‘dud’ it is better to cut your losses quickly rather than waste more time for the sake of pride! It will be interesting to see what happens to Rahul Vohra who was the architect of Intro (and Rapportive) – A bright, innovative and bold tech entrepreneur who is beginning to look a bit like a ‘fish out of water’ in the increasingly Wall Street driven ‘corporate’ world of The LinkedIn Corporation.

ImageOne thing seems certain, the LinkedIn Axeman will be working overtime looking at every initiative and product at LinkedIn and asking the difficult questions that are inevitable in a publicly owned company;

  • How does this increase our sales?
  • How quickly will we see a return?
  • How much resources will this require?

One thing I am quite sure about is that the real losers in this are likely to be us – the normal LinkedIn user (or member as LinkedIn like to call us). We have already seen some great features disappear with no explanation (Signal and updates on profiles to name a couple). What is going to be next?

I suspect that the much wielded phrase ‘Members first’ is going to be harder and harder to justify for LinkedIn as their shareholders demand to have their short-term objectives placed as a higher priority!

Interesting times are ahead.

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Networking – An Unhappy Tale

Posted on February 4, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

I recently told this little story at a speaking gig and it seemed to go down well so I converted it into a little video.
Its NOT a story about LinkedIn……. 😉 !

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Offline / Online Networking Workflow

Posted on January 30, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

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Over the last few years LinkedIn have acquired companies such as Connected and CardMunch as well as developing functionality on their platform to assist in bringing offline networking and online networking closer together.

I have always felt that the two should really compliment each other but its only recently that I have figured out how this can actually work in practice. By using a mobile app and a LinkedIn feature I have devised the following workflow which is really starting to pay dividends for me;

Step 1

Once you have met someone make sure you swap business cards (nothing revolutionary in that I know….stay with me here!)

Step 2

Take a snapshot of the business card using the CardMunch app on your iPhone and upload it, you could even give the business card back at this point!

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Step 3

CardMunch will do its magic and match the email address to a LinkedIn profile and send you back a digital record usually within 48 hours. From this record you can connect on LinkedIn but (as with all mobile apps) you can’t personalise the message so I wouldn’t recommend that. You can save the contact to your phone and send an email (see below) although you may wish to delete the horrible 90’s phrase ‘touch base’ in favour of something less cheesy!

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Step 4

Now this is where it gets clever! Once the digital record has been received from CardMunch the new contacts profile (who at this point is probably not a connection) is automatically saved to LinkedIn Contacts on the desktop version of LinkedIn. Go to your LinkedIn account and click Network > Contacts and then change the ‘sort by’ field to ‘new’

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Note the Cardmunch symbol on the right of the contact entry.

Alternatively you can find the new contact by filtering by ‘source’ and ‘CardMunch’ as below.

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Step 5

Now hover over the person you added and you will see the option to connect (see 1st pic in step 4), click on this and you are able to send the invitation to connect without the need for email addresses or a silly ‘reason’ as with normal invites. In addition you can personalise the message.

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Step 6

Now ‘tag’ the contact to categorise them in a way that makes sense to you (you can create up to 200 of your own tags). I use tags such as ‘associate’, ‘prospect’, ‘customer’ etc. This can also be done in the ‘relationship’ tab in their profile but the easiest way is from this page in Contacts.

Step 7 

Now you can go to the profile and in the relationship tab type notes in the ‘How you met’ section. The ‘who introduced you’ field is where you can (in theory) type the name of the connection who introduced you, creating a link to their profile – unfortunately this feature rarely works in my experience (I reported this fault about 6 months ago and nothing has improved!).

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As you can see you can also make other notes, set reminders and further tag in this section.

(more…)

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Showcase Pages – A Practical Use

Posted on January 21, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

It was mid November last year when LinkedIn launched their Company Showcase pages (see here) and since then I have been observing how companies have been using them…or not!

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The idea of a showcase page is to allow members to follow the specific brands and products they care most about rather than see updates that relate to the whole company. In a sense it seemed that this new feature was a hybrid between a company page and a products/services page in that it gave us the opportunity to share updates about a specific type of product in certain markets. LinkedIn have certainly used them this way by creating showcase pages for marketing, recruitment and sales products (see right). Each of these have very different markets and contact points.

So how are other companies utilising this feature? I took a look at the 12 company pages heralded as being ‘best in class 2012’ by LinkedIn and was shocked to find that only one of them (adobe) was using the showcase page feature…just one!!

OK maybe that list is a bit out of date so lets look at the 10 best company pages of 2013….errr just one again and guess who that was? Adobe again (who have over 3000 followers for each showcase page).

Below is the showcase page for their Creative Cloud product.

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So what is going on here?

Why are companies not using this feature?

I think it is because it seems confusing. Why have a showcase page about products when we already have products and why have one when we can target our main company page updates to specific ‘audiences’?

Perhaps they have a point but surely the likes of Mashable and Hubspot have enough creativity to think of an effective use of this feature? I use a showcase page for my podcast LinkedInformed (I’m on my 3rd episode by the way and I strongly advise you check it out :-)). Its not a product but it seems that the opportunity to have people ‘follow’ it and receive updates announcing each new episode is an ideal use of a Showcase page.

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How about this as another idea….Recruitment!

 

This could be an ideal use of a showcase page. People generally follow companies for one of 4 reasons in my opinion;

  1. They are interested in your products/services and relevant information about them.
  2. They are a competitor ‘spying’ on what you are up to!
  3. They are a potential supplier i.e. they want to sell to you!
  4. They are interested in working for you.

Now if I fell into the first category and I was a potential customer of yours I would get pretty fed up if I kept seeing updates from you promoting vacancies. The problem is that from my profile you would not always be able to differentiate between a number 1 and a number 4 and so I would not be prevented from seeing vacancies by how you define your ‘audiences’.

End result – I might take my business elsewhere and follow a competitor instead!

If however you could guide company page followers who want to work for you to a separate showcase page explaining that all vacancies will be promoted via updates from this page, then you have a solution…and a useful purpose for a showcase page!

What do you think? Are you using this feature and if not, why?

 

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LinkedIn’s New iPad App is a Game Changer for All.

Posted on November 6, 2013. Filed under: New features, News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Don’t be put off reading this if you don’t own an iPad – there is some important information here for anyone using LinkedIn to engage with those that might be using this app (and many people are).

LinkedIn recently relaunched its iPad app, it’s not an update from the previously hopeless version that was unstable and frankly useless. This is a completely new, built from scratch app….and its really excellent!

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In the UK, mobile is now responsible for 44% of visits to LinkedIn and this figure is expected to reach 50% early next year.

That 44% is based on a phone app that is nothing special and a truly terrible iPad app – imagine how much more traffic will come via mobile now that they have a really good iPad app?

This isn’t just an interesting stat, it has a fundamental impact on how we should be using LinkedIn. When users access LinkedIn via either mobile apps they are visiting at significantly different times of the day. The graph below shows the amount of visitors at different times of the day (weekdays).

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The blue line represents the traditional desktop users, signing in first thing in the morning and peaking at that point but showing consistent levels of activity throughout the working hours.

The orange line represents visitors using the mobile app on their phone, the activity stays constant throughout the working day but also continues into the evening.

The most interesting line is the purple one which represents users visiting via the iPad app, lower numbers throughout the day but it then peaks late in the evening at which point it beats the other two and records the highest number of visitors at any time of the day. Presumably this happens because people relax on the couch after their evening meal and flip open their iPad!

This is a truly remarkable statistic and in my opinion, a game changer for LinkedIn users!

I have been advising delegates in my workshops for years that the most effective time of day to post a status update is first thing in the morning, this is not only when a high number of people are online but it is also the one time you know they are going to have eyes on their homepage and the stream of updates from their connections.

Now we see a massive shift towards 8-9 pm in the evening as the most active time and most of these visitors are viewing on their iPad which is designed in such a way that the update feed is most prominent (see below)

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As a test I am going to publish and promote this blog at 8-9 pm initially followed by 8-9 am the next day and continue this schedule for the next few weeks to see how it makes a difference to the number of views, likes and comments.

Another important thing for everyone to know about the iPad app is that website and email links in your profile become active.

When you view a profile on the desktop version or the phone app, the links or email addresses that someone has put in their summary or work experience sections only appear as font (ie you have to copy and paste them into a browser or email)

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Desktop View

However on the new iPad app the links now become active.

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iPad App View

Again this changes my advice on the information you put in your profile, previously I was ambivalent about putting links in your summary – now its essential to have links high up in your profile.

The new app is far from perfect, LinkedIn have yet again made the decision to severely restrict its functionality, for instance you can’t send Inmails from the app (although you can from the iPhone app) and many other essential features are missing but this is clearly a policy decision rather than a faulty design. Overall I am very impressed, I will soon publish a full and detailed review but for now lets give LinkedIn a big ‘thumbs up’ for a much improved app.

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LinkedIn Charges Job Seekers!

Posted on October 30, 2013. Filed under: News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I’m annoyed.

Premium accounts are OK in principle, if you want to pay to use LinkedIn for business purposes then you can make an investment decision. Will you make more money if you pay for a premium account? If not then don’t buy it.

I do however have an issue with LinkedIn showing vacancy ads to job seekers and then expecting them to upgrade their account in order to see the most important piece of information – what salary the job pays!

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Not happy with already charging the company to place the ad in the first place, they now want to make extra money by charging the applicant as well!

OK so job seeker upgrades are not the most expensive but its the principle of charging both the advertiser and the applicant that gets me annoyed.

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I have advertised vacancies more times than I care to remember in the past and one thing is clear – If you don’t put a salary in the ad’ – the response will be poor, so I can’t imagine the advertisers being too happy about this move either.

This incidentally comes from a company who expect to generate a turnover in the region of $1.5 billion and profits of $364 million this year……it just seems an unnecessary strategy to me that will lose them far more friends than it will make them extra dollars in profit.

Rant over!

What do you think?

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