LinkedIn has over 230 million users, doubling in size the last calendar year, with 2 new members per second and an estimated 180M unique visitors per month.
It’s a no brainer to have a personal profile on LinkedIn; but, it has its associated costs (time on site) like any social media platform.
Our no frills review- what works and what doesn’t based on my eight years and 13K+ connections on the platform.
Why you Want to be On LinkedIn with Personal Profile #nobrainer
- For B2B brands LinkedIn traffic converts better, has more brand engagement, less bounce rates than any other social media platform. The traffic rocks!a
- LinkedIn is in “expansion mode” and they have the financial and marketing resources to keep growing.
- If you are looking for a job you want a profile on LinkedIn, Probably 30% of my connection requests are from recruiters. It’s an endless stream of requests underscoring how vibrant this platform is for careers opportunities.
- Your LinkedIn profile is going to pop up in Google in a matter of days and “live” there forever.
- There are over two million LinkedIn Groups, think of these as a smorgasbord of conversations. Some of these Groups have stellar managers and others (50-60% in my estimation) are the Wild West, with just a lot self-promotions. So, pick your Groups carefully. Pro tip: if joining a Group take the time to message the Administrator directly and make a concise business case for why and how you’ll add value to the Group.
- Creating and managing a Group on LinkedIn can be a great way to build brand for yourself or your company: time intensive: 90-180 days on average to scale to some success.
- It’s “free” and ad supported: you probably will be fine with a free account- the vast majority of LinkedIn users (85%) are not paying for the platform. More on Premium (Paid) Memberships below.
- It’s a global platform, with over 50% of the community based outside of North America.
- To a certain extent, not having a profile on LinkedIn is a faux pas today for just about anyone. Your personal branding will suffer accordingly and you can use your personal profile as an introduction in just about any marketing process or communication method you can think of.
- This platform is still rocking and rolling (growing): new user every two seconds, over 300M users, reaches over 200 countries, 40% of user check it daily, 3 million business pages, 200 conversations per minute, 41% access via mobile, aiming for 3B users.
Average User’s Most Popular Features
- Understanding who has viewed your profile, although some users block their profile visits so you can’t see who they are. In my experience about 20-30% block their profile with privacy settings and this can be easily turned on and off via your profile.
- Discovering old friends, people or other professionals you may have worked with earlier in your careers. Yes, it’s sort of like Facebook and many people use these two platforms concurrently to find and connect with others.
- Contributing to and belong to Groups; sourcing information, building relationships and/or self-promotion.
- Direct messaging (approx 47%) others that you know.
- Researching companies listed via Company Pages (plain vanilla assessment).
- Background checks for busy professionals.
- Competitive review: take snapshot of the company and export out to a Word doc but takes time for analysis: departments, job title, execs and more.
- Using LinkedIn to pull up Profiles during Skype or Conf calls. Multiple windows open for all Profiles help to keep track of conversation flow.
Creating a LInkedIn Personal Profile: Best Practices
- Create a full Profile: Keyword driven Profile Summary, Past Jobs/with dates, Bio picture, Education, Non-Profit Work, Skills/Expertise, Add Presentations/White Papers - prepare to spend 8-10 hours on a robust profile and use LinkedIn’s completion percentage algorithm.
- Don’t create a profile w/out a bio picture; it increases your connectivity by 11X - so many ignore this and also don’t put quality time into profile.
- Pay it forward and provide Endorsements to others and others will reciprocate in kind - this is a part of LinkedIn’s social fabric (these show up in your profile).
- Join some finite number of Groups (10-20) that you want to at least check out once or twice a week and also provide comments and/or share topical news via your Groups and be mindful of Admin’s “rules of the road” and group etiquette
- Connect your WordPress Blog to your LinkedIn profile account during setup so blog posts are automatically shared on the platform.
- Pro Tip: LinkedIn owns SlideShare; so, integrate any PowerPoint Presentations with your Profile.
- Share your Content (Blog Posts, Valuable News) with Profile Status Updates 2-4 times per day; remember, content curation is important. Some Pros use TwitterFeed to share News from 3rd party sources.
- For better or worse, LinkedIn’s Newsfeed is becoming image centric; so, don’t rely solely on textual updates - be creative with your images.
- Remember your connections drive your newsfeed - demographic targeting is a good thing. Although some pros just look for high volume connectivity with minimal targeting.
- Use LinkedIn’s publishing functionality as it can drive significant traffic, adds luster to your profile. Don’t forget to add a blurb at the bottom thank others for reading & commenting, and cross link all of your published content on each single piece of content, add links to web site and social profiles.
- Update your Profile frequently: 3-5X per every 60 days at a minimum.
- Pay attention to LinkedIn’s new profile analysis tools which show your levels of engagement: these are not robust but will give you some perspective.
- LinkedIn’s “People You Know Tool” has been recently upgraded (integrating an algorithm with import features via email) - useful for building connections. And their Outlook Pllugin is cool too.
- LinkedIn has a cool Mobile Phone App that has good basic functionality (picture below) and mobile growth is skyrocketing.
- Linkedin has opened up their API (Application Programmer Interface) and there are a large number of plugins that work well - here is a great collection of the top ten via Mashable.
Make Sure Your Publishing Content on the Platform
LinkedIn just opened up their Publisher Platform enabling any user to publish content on the site. Previously this was limited to a very select (under 500) group of “thought leaders.”
Why You Want to Publish
- LinkedIn visibility is in part driven by the frequency of your profile updates - your “refreshing” your profile every time you publish.
- Drives credibility within the community.
- Enables you to leverage your content marketing costs. You can now upload a blog post that you think will represent your personal brand (be selective).
- LinkedIn now let’s others follow you even if they are not connected with you, giving you the ability to build our more connections on the platform.
- Gives you another content source you can reference via other platforms.
- Be aware at present their is no ability to share your published content via “channels” - LinkedIn has an algorithm that selects Published Posts for this.
- Getting featured via LinkedIn’s “Pulse” is also an arbitrary process driven by an algorithm based on my conversations with their staff. But, also looks like some “human” editing is in the mix somewhere.
Baseline Content Publishing Guidelines
- Share stellar content - we recommend only republishing high quality content - probably 50% of the content shared is blog posts and articles cross posted from other marketing initiatives.
- Content length should be 500-1K Words.
- Use at least 2-3 images per Published Posts (this is now a visual platform): one at top (attention grabbing, not boring) and 1-3 others in post, depending on length.
- Add a Title and Link out to all other Published Posts to drive incremental traffic
- Headlines, bullets and underlines are as important here as they are for any content marketing processes (that links to one of our posts)
- Add a “thank you” note (be sincere) note to the bottom of all posts and include links out to your Twitter and web site. Many don’t do either and miss a great opportunity to drive incremental traffic.
- Cross promote via other platforms with a rinse and repeat cycle.
- Comment back and thank people for commenting; this is standard social etiquette. It’s a social platform right?
You get standard reporting via LinkedIn’s platform: here is a group of posts done and traffic for a 30 day period. Note is shows View, Likes and Comments
LinkedIn will also send you status updates on a weekly basis showing “engagement” on their platform with posts you have published
Free or Paid? Premium Version is More Robust but not a Significant Difference for Most Users
- I recommend going with a paid LinkedIn Account - it’s well worth the extra $200-300. per year (approx depending on yoru plan) for the incremental exposure you now get with an customized profile. It’s a bargain when contrasted with advertising costs on other networks too.
- You get much more Advanced Search and Filter capabilities with a Premium (paid) version (three pricing tiers) but in my experience the search function is not robust, you can only use one tag at a time for searching, which is inherently limiting.
- Additionally, the overall Advanced search function is not much better than the standard search capability with a free account - you get more results; but, it’s impossible to really pare the results down. even with upgraded sophisticated filters provided with paid accounts.
- With a paid account (top tier) you get 25 InMails to others per month - but this just a “cold call” email - is it cool? Yes, But, you can easily reach most of these people with a well worded invite. And, a “cold” email is still a cold email. An @atmessage may work better on Twitter in some cases.
- You can see more profile views than with a free account; but, if these people have their profiles blocked your not getting much more bang for your buck/euro.
Platform Gotchas that Make us Pull our Hair Out!
- LinkedIn Newsfeed now has an unending array of junk you have to wade through: brain teasers (really?!), new bio pictures, “congrats on the new job,” self-congratulatory pablum and of course ads (sponsored).
- Like Twitter’s move to more image platform centric content, LinkedIn has done the same: your going to see some “Instagram like” images. You can “Hide” some of the dreck/accounts but your connection’s content cannot be filtered in any sophisticated way.
- You cannot easily export your LInkedIn connections to an email provider; the functionality does not work well if you have more than 2K connections it’s going to take time and your going to get “we are working on this” back from customer service.
- We were able to export a list of over 10K connections but we had to use the import in feature of an email newsletter provider: GetResponse (full disclosure: we use their services). We had challenges (business case or technology) with: Constant Contact, Vertical Response and MailChimnp. But, to be fair, this functionality is not part of LinkedIn’s overall TOS. We are being picky.
- Real data mining on this platform, even with a Premium Membership is not possible; the back end functionality is just not robust. But, we would expect to see this functionality or something similar in the next 6-18 months.
- The new “social” features to a certain extent are mirroring Facebook’s functionality: Likes and Comments which show up in your account summary. These are baby steps to turning LinkedIn into a mature social platform.
- Connection invites are not what they seem: many skilled pros have a thinly disguised profile that hides the fact they are HR execs or recruiters. We have nothing against either; but, if you don’t click in to the profile your going to have a lot of connections that are meaningless.
Why we Love and Recommend this Platform
- LinkedIn has done a stellar job with the product. It’s evolved the last ten plus years from a rather static, geeky site to become a powerful social media platform.
- Traffic from LinkedIn converts better than any other social traffic for B2B brands. Twitter is a close second but typically LinkedIn traffic stays longer on a sites and engages with the brand better via pages visited, lead generation, actions take, etc.
- LinkedIn’s move to enable publishing for all was a great idea and we expect their Comscore numbers and traffic will accelerate moving forward as millions of individuals and brands embrace LinkedIn’s publishing capabilities.
- Every competitor (it’s a long list) of professional connectivity portals, sites, etc. pale in comparison to the ROI LinkedIn can deliver.
- Whatever your industry you’ll find peers on this platform - it’s just a great place to build connections, engage with others, etc. It’s the very definition of what any good social platform should be.
Do we recommend and use the platform? Absolutely - agencies and social execs shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds them and regardless, our “warts and all” review should end on positive note underscoring how much we like and recommend this platform to our clients.