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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New LinkedIn Podcast – LinkedInformed

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: linkedin advice, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

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I was driving my car to a training session, as usual I had my radio on to keep me entertained for the 3 hours I would be in the car. The presenter announced the next song and I thought “Oh no not that awful song again, why do they always play the same rubbish again and again?” so I switched channels…this time the presenter was interviewing an artist who had nothing interesting to say so I switched channels again, this time to a talk station…..they were debating whether we get our bins (garbage) emptied often enough!!

“There must be a better way!” I screamed out loud to myself. “Why am I having to listen to something that someone else chooses for me? My Tony Robbins CD has been played to death and there are only so many CD’s I can carry in my car. I needed a better solution – enter the wonderful world of Podcasts! (more…)

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LinkedIn Intro – Security Concerns

Posted on October 28, 2013. Filed under: linkedin advice, News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Following on from my last blog introducing this new app, it would appear that various security concerns have been raised so I thought I would share my thoughts on this matter.

In my opinion the internet is full scaremongers and security obsessed people who seem to be able to find fault with just about every new idea/product/advancement. I happen to know that Matt Alder is not one of them so when Matt raised security concerns in the comments of my last blog, I took it very seriously.

Matt’s concerns were based on an excellent article by a very credible organisation called Bishop Fox which I strongly suggest you read.

Unusually for LinkedIn they responded to this article by issuing a statement on their blog which I also strongly suggest you read. This is very unusual for LinkedIn, in my experience they tend to keep quiet about negative comments from others regarding LinkedIn – unless they feel very strongly about it.

I must admit that some of the language they both use is ‘over my head’ but my thoughts on the issue are as follows;

  • I am not too concerned about email going through LinkedIn’s servers, I am using Gmail after all which is clearly going through Google’s servers so why should I trust LinkedIn any less than Google?
  • To use Intro you actually create a new Mail account within the mail app, this can easily be switched off. There appears to be no other reconfiguring of my iPhone going on but maybe this is hidden from me.
  • I did have to give LinkedIn my pin to set up Intro, I’m really not sure why this was necessary and that does cause me some concern but LinkedIn strongly refute the allegation that they change the iPhone’s security preferences.
  • Bishop Fox are internet security consultants. It is in their commercial interests to write about such issues.
  • LinkedIn would benefit from collecting data about us – such as who we are communicating with via email.

I have therefore decided to continue using LinkedIn Intro (which is after all, very useful!) but only on a limited basis as follows;

  • The new Intro account is kept live in the Mail app on my iPhone but I do not use it actively and never send any emails from this account.
  • My primary app for email is the excellent Mailbox app which I have been using for some time because it has better features than the native Mail app in my opinion.
  • When I receive an email from an unknown source I simply switch over to the LinkedIn Intro account on the Mail app and check the very useful profile information of the sender.

I know its not exactly how you are supposed to use LinkedIn Intro but given all the issues, it feels safer to use it purely as a reference aid rather then as my main Mail app.

I am not suggesting you do the same, my only advice is to make sure you read both articles and make up your own mind.

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Introducing LinkedIn Intro!

Posted on October 24, 2013. Filed under: linkedin advice, New features, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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LinkedIn have announced a brand new line up of mobile apps and for the first time ever, they are worth getting excited about!

I will be reviewing the excellent new iPad app soon, this piece however is focussed on their brand new LinkedIn Intro app for the iPhone.

Firstly let me apologise to all of you who are Android or Windows mobile users (or anything else). This product is currently focussed on iOS only and because it is built into the Mail app, I am not sure when or if it will be available on other platforms – LinkedIn didn’t mention anything about this in their presentation.

Apparently the average professional spends 28% of their day dealing with email, this seems an astonishing fact at first but when you think about it you might find you can relate to it….to be honest I’m probably spending more than that in my email! Another fascinating fact revealed by LinkedIn was that more than 50% of emails are read on a mobile device these days and that number is increasing.

LinkedIn are increasingly focussed on mobile so it made sense to introduce an app that links your LinkedIn account to your email account.

In 2012 They acquired a business called Rapportive which is a Gmail plugin that shows you the latest social network updates from whoever you’re corresponding with. I have been using Rapportive for 18 months or so and found it very useful when dealing with emails at my desk but like most people I am increasing managing email on my phone so I have found I am using Rapportive less and less…..Enter LinkedIn Intro.

Intro is integrated into your Mail so that instead of an email looking like this;

normal mail

It now looks like this;

intro email

The key difference as you can see is that the LinkedIn profile of the sender is now embedded into the email itself.

If you are not connected to this person there is a link (see arrow below) which gives you the option to connect. DON’T CLICK here! As with all mobile apps, LinkedIn just send the recipient the basic and unfriendly “I’d like to add you to my professional network message” which is poor practice.

intro mail red

However when you click on the profile link you get to see more information from that individual’s profile (see below). How cool is that?

intro email info

It’s not just clever and cool, it’s really useful. How often do we receive emails from people who we don’t really know? This way we can check out more information about them which allows us to respond more effectively.

Of course this also has an effect on the sender in that it yet again proves just how important your LinkedIn profile is. If you need help with that click here.

I had forgotten how much I missed using Rapportive until I started using Intro today, its fantastic!

Unfortunately it’s not perfect, I have noticed some emails have an intro link that is so small you can’t really read it! See example below;

intro email small

This above screenshot is larger than it appears on the phone and even then its difficult to read! I can only assume this is something to do with the format of the email and may be fixed in future updates, lets hope so.

So if you have an iPhone, open your browser of choice (Safari perhaps) and go to intro.linkedin.com, follow the installation instructions and once you have had a play, let me know what you think.

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