LinkedIn Notifications: Updated

I published an article on all the changes to LinkedIn Notifications four weeks ago. Two weeks after I published the article, LinkedIn made one more change…a big one. So I took down the “old” article, and have rewritten it here, adding the new information (thanks to all who read, shared, commented and liked that article).

First of all, there are two terms that need to be understood: articles and posts. An “article” is written by clicking on “Write an article” at the top of your homepage feed. This takes you to LinkedIn publisher. Articles tend to be longer form content and LinkedIn publisher has more options for formatting and presenting your content. A “post” is short form content written after clicking “Share a post, article or update” at the top of the homepage feed. As often seems to be the case with LinkedIn, this can get semantically weird. For example if you take this article of mine that you are reading and share it, my shared article becomes your post.

Here are the types of notifications you will now receive:

Birthdays

Work Anniversaries

LinkedIn parses these out piecemeal over the course of the month, as for most us, dumping all fifty or five hundred people who have an anniversary this month in one notification would be overwhelming.

Job Changes

Job Recommendations

These are the jobs you may be interested in, based on LinkedIn’s algos.

Activity on your articles

These are Likes and Comments on your article. And a word about Likes. Likes are wonky in the new format. You are given less information (just the name, headline, and a photo) than we used to receive.

In these “activity on your articles” notifications, you are also offered the link to see who’s viewed your article, which brings up the new but not improved statistics for your article.

Activity on your posts

Likes and comments on your posts. And again, you are offered the link to see who’s viewed your post which takes you to the new hokey unusable statistics.

Activity on your post comments

This includes: People who liked your comment

People who liked your reply to someone else’s comment

Someone liked a comment that mentions you

People who also replied to a comment you replied to

Posts you were mentioned in

This includes: Someone mentioned you in a post

Someone mentioned you in a comment on a post

Someone liked a post that mentioned you (this is brutal. Makes for a lot of notifications)

Activity on posts you were mentioned in

This includes: Someone mentioned you in a comment or reply on a post

Someone liked a comment that mentioned you

Who my connections are following

There seems to be a bit of misdirection here, as the only notifications I seem to get so far are new people who are following me. Once a day I receive a list of any new followers I have. What’s alarming about this is that this is the only place in the new User Interface where there is any reference to my followers at all. I have approximately seven hundred followers. I know who the four are that followed me yesterday and the two from the day before. The rest of my followers? No way of knowing.

Who viewed your profile

 

Notifications that seem gone or are “to be determined”

New endorsements from your connections

A low level priority it seems. I see these occasionally.

Someone you follow has published an article

Rare. At least for me. I have had the new User Interface for about ten weeks now and have received one notification for a connection who has published an article. And I have a lot of connections who post every week. So out of several thousand possible notifications for this type of event I have received…one.

Shares

You receive no notifications when people share your post – unless the sharer mentions you. I think people who share my posts are the single most important engagement opportunity on LinkedIn. Either this is a mistake LinkedIn will rectify, or LinkedIn doesn’t think sharing is important anymore. In which case they need to change the Social Selling Index, as sharing is a critical part of the SSI.

 

Three takeaways from all of changes to Notifications

1) Notifications are now highly configurable. Hurray.

You now have the ability to turn any of the eleven types of notifications on or off. At the top right of any notification is a tool wheel (some people have three little horizontal lines with circles in them – equalizers? sliders? hamburgers gone bad?). Clicking on the tool wheel allows you to turn this type of notification on or off.

Here’s what the list of notification I have turned off looks like:

2) Mentions are insidious

This is the biggy. Mentions/tagging now rule the roost. Mentioning someone in a post, or in a comment on a post, or someone liking a post or a comment that mentions you, generates a notification, and these notifications seem to supersede all others.

A lot of LinkedIn users are already sick and tired of the mention feature, as it has already become the new way to Spam people on LinkedIn.

3) Notifications are still not there yet.

LinkedIn has consolidated some types of notifications into once a day types. This is good. LinkedIn will also consolidate your likes and comments for a particular post into one notification (as in “Bob Smith and twelve others liked or commented on your post”). This is also good.

There appears to be a hierarchy of notifications. Mentions are on top, along with likes and comments on your posts. Notifications for new posts by people you are connected with or follow are on the bottom and get lost. This is bad

Two practical suggestions for managing Notifications

Think twice before commenting or replying to comments on other people’s posts, especially posts that you can see already have a lot of likes or comments. Further activity on these posts will generate a lot of notifications. I am not saying you shouldn’t engage this way of course, just be sure you really do want to wade into a busy discussion. Your actions will have consequences that may wind up irritating you.

Hide notifications that you are not interested in seeing. In my case, I dumped birthdays, work anniversaries and jobs you may be interested in.

In closing, what LinkedIn has done with Notifications is good. Not perfect, but moving in the right direction.

Like quite a few aspects of the new User Interface, notifications have been cleaned up and made to look more presentable, which is good for the occasional user. And the ability to turn off any combination of the eleven different types of notifications is a welcome addition. However, issues such as not being notified about people who have shared your content and connections who have published articles remain. And while this is not notifications specific, it is notifications related: for us power users, we would like to have more control over what we see in our home page feed (I will have a bit of fun with this idea Thursday).

Notifications are still a work in progress – for example LinkedIn hasn’t decided between the tool wheel and the equalizer. So maybe I will see you for another update in four weeks.

This article originally appeared on my blog, www.practicalsmm.com

What Does It Mean When Someone “Views” Your Post On LinkedIn?

Fifteen months ago I wrote an article trying to define what a “view” actually was on LinkedIn. In a twist of LinkedIn irony, it became the most viewed article I have written and still receives over one thousand views a week. And while many of the points I raised in that post still appear valid, there have been a lot of changes with LinkedIn, so this is an update to that original post.  

So what does it mean when someone “views” your post on LinkedIn?

Well that depends, because a “post” is not simply a post anymore on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has separated published content into “articles” and “posts” and views appear to be counted differently for  each one.

Article or  post? A critical distinction

From the top of your Homepage, when you click on “Write an article” you are taken to LinkedIn Publisher. This is intended for long form content. These articles stay associated with your profile in “Your activity” page under “articles”.  

But at the top of your Homepage when you “Share an article, photo or update”,  you are creating a post. For posts you write from scratch, you are allowed limited verbiage, and the post gets dumped into our homepage feeds. These stay associated with your profile in the “Your activity” page under “posts”.  

How are views different for posts and articles?

I wrote an article a few weeks ago. A couple of friends shared it (note that under the new post/article definitions that at this point my article served as the basis for their posts). One told me he had gotten 400 views on his post and the other had gotten 2,000. Meanwhile, my original article had received 200 views at that point. It was obvious that post and article views were being counted differently. But how is this happening and what does it mean?

 So what is an article view?

I think LinkedIn counts article views by recognizing the URL for your article is open on a reader’s device.

You need to click on and open the article to have it counted as a view. Note that a view is not the same thing as a “read”. Someone could open your article, read the first line and lose interest, or get interrupted at the office, or decide the article wasn’t for them, or stop reading for any number of reasons.  

The good news? All your article views are “legitimate.” Someone had to take a specific action to open your article.

Over the past couple of weeks LinkedIn has started using the word “clicks” in some places instead of “views” for articles. For my post last week in my “Bruce’s Activity” page, I see “1,095 clicks of your article” instead of 1,095 views. But on my homepage it still says “1,095 views of your article”, and on my profile page it still says “1,095 views of your post in the feed.”  I assume the homepage and profile page will be updated and that clicks will be the new and more accurate terminology.  

And what is a post view?

On January 31, this explanation appeared in the help section on LinkedIn:

When you share an update, a “view” is counted when the update is loaded on the viewer’s screen. Viewers do not necessarily need to click or read the update to count as a view, but rather have the update loaded on their Homepage.

This also would imply that if you open your homepage and page a down a few times, you have just “viewed” twenty or thirty posts. This would go a long way to explaining how posts seem to get so many more views than articles.

But…basing post views purely on appearances in the homepage feed would seem to favor people with huge LinkedIn networks, so there must be other factors at play – most likely with a heaping helping of LinkedIn algorithms.

I think the best way of thinking of article views versus post views is

An article view seems to suggest intent (to read my article), while a post view seems to suggest opportunity (someone could have seen my post).

Note that the counting mechanism for views and clicks may not necessarily be solid yet

Over the past couple of months under the new desktop User Interface, some LinkedIn writers have seen view counts go backwards in their articles, such as seeing 400 hundred views as of last night, but only 380 this morning. I can only assume this is a bug. You can withdraw a like or a delete a comment, but how would one go about “un-viewing” a post?

And in a different vein, a recent article of mine got it’s highest number of views – nine – from a company which was a one person consultancy.  

So what do views really mean?

Lots of views are an ego boost. But note that with the new User Interface LinkedIn has stopped showing us how many views someone else’s post or article has received, so LinkedIn obviously doesn’t want us focusing on views as end to itself.

Let’s say you publish one article or post and it gets 500 views and thirty comments. Then you publish a second one and it gets 1000 views and five comments. Which was the more successful post? The first one. More people found that one compelling enough to comment on.

Views are nice, but engagement with your posts or articles can lead to conversations that can lead to connections that can lead to networking and other  business opportunities.   

 

Rule Number One For Getting More Out Of LinkedIn InMail

Use them.

This is pretty obvious when you think about it, but bear with me for a moment so I can provide some context.

As someone who spends a lot of his day involved with InMail, I have found four broad categories of InMail users on LinkedIn.

The tiniest category of InMail users are the ones who use it all the time and are  successful with it.

The next smallest category are the people who use InMail and have a little success with it. Their attitude seems to be that “what the heck, we get twenty of these things each month in our premium subscription, we might as well use them.” Their attitude is that any responses they get to their InMail is a bonus, a windfall.  

Then there is the “fire, fail, and forget about it” crowd. These folks have tried using InMail, failed miserably, given up, and just ignore the InMails they receive from LinkedIn each month.

And lastly, the biggest group are InMail users who never use InMail at all. They either don’t understand how to use it, or they haven’t figured out where it fits with their other outreach efforts, or both.

So the vast majority of InMail “users” aren’t users at all. They have either given up or never tried.

And that is the biggest mistake InMail users make: they don’t use their  allotted InMails every month. And as the celebrated philosopher Wayne Gretzky once said:

              “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”

How will you ever get better with no practice? You get sharp at using InMail by actually using InMail. By experimenting and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I have one InMail message I have been using for over two years. I have probably made a couple hundred tweaks and changes to it as I constantly experiment, trying to find the optimal wording.  

To a lot of LinkedIn users, InMail is a dirty word and practically interchangeable with the word “Spam”. But that’s because most InMails are just embarrassingly  bad sales pitches. LinkedIn users will take a message they wouldn’t dream of sending via email and think nothing of sending it via InMail. Then they are mystified when they get no response.

A badly written InMail is spam.

A well written InMail is one where I stop and go, “That’s interesting.” I may respond, I may not. But it wasn’t spam. 

If you are a premium Linkedin subscriber, you have paid for these InMails. Get out there and use them. But use your brains. Try different wordings and calls to action. Experiment, experiment, experiment. If you are a Sales Navigator user, you get 20 InMails a month (and some plans get more). Going from zero to just a measly five percent response rate will bring you one extra conversation with a prospect every month for each sales rep on your team with a Sales Navigator subscription.

So take some shots. You may not score as often as Wayne Gretzky, but that’s better than watching from the bench.   

 

Here’s Why You Don’t Like The New LinkedIn User Interface

It wasn’t built for you, that’s why.

Virtually everyone who has been complaining about the new LinkedIn User Interface is missing the point. The new interface is not for me, it’s not for you, and for that matter, it’s not for anyone who will read this article.

The new User Interface is there for the occasional user. And when I say “occasional,” I mean the person who checks their Linkedin account every few months, or even less often than that.

LinkedIn wants more engagement, more people to show up. A nice clean interface, easy to use, without too many confusing bells and whistles, where a user can go “Ooo, now this looks easier to use.”

We interrupt this article to include some arcane math that illustrates the LinkedIn dilemma:

When LinkedIn reported their results for the quarter ending Sept 30, 2016, they reported 467M users, of whom 106M logged in at least once a month.  That translates to 77.3% of all LinkedIn users logging in less than once a month.

That number is “officially” out of date as LinkedIn no longer reports results, so I use 75% and still feel it is valid for the simple reason that if the number of users logging in more often than once a month was improving, I don’t think LinkedIn would keep it a secret.

So we have the occasional users, less than once a month, and the regular users, once a month or more often.  Now let me introduce LinkedIn power users.

I have read in numerous places that 40 million LinkedIn users use it every day. I have searched all over but can find no provenance for this statistic. That being said, this number “feels” right. I did some work eight or nine months ago to come up with a guesstimate of daily users and based on comparisons of Facebook and Twitter’s monthly user to daily user ratios, I came up with a figure for LinkedIn of “somewhere south of 50M”, so I am comfortable with the 40M figure. Note that the 40M number represents around 8% of LinkedIn users. One in twelve.

Finally, let’s talk Premium Subscriptions. In the last quarter of reported results LinkedIn reported $162M in paid subscriptions. This number would be based on Business Plus and Sales Navigator (Recruiter and Lynda are both part of the Talent Solutions Group and their sales are not included in the $162M number). Let’s be charitable and say that a subscription to one of Business Premium or Sales navigator subs costs, oh, $162 a quarter. Therefore, around one million LinkedIn users have premium subs.

All this math comes down to this fundamental statement: LinkedIn sees upside in getting the 360M occasional users to show up more often, and LinkedIn thinks that upside will be much greater than any possible downside in pissing off the 1M who have premium subscriptions and the 39M “free LinkedIn” power users.

In the end, many LinkedIn power users don’t like the new interface, but the new interface wasn’t designed with power users in mind. It was designed for people who may not even, at this point, know there is a new interface, but will find out in a few months when they next check in.

So here’s my question for you today: Does LinkedIn risk losing the faithful? While many people are to – put it mildly – unhappy, how many will follow through on their threat to leave? If you are in sales, recruiting, consulting or a similar profession, who else has the huge searchable database you absolutely have to have?  

Why You Should Think Twice About Using Automated Tools On LinkedIn

One of the odd side effects of the social selling movement is the seemingly endless stream of messages and interactions required. This has given rise to automated tools on LinkedIn – apps and browser extensions that will do a lot of this work for you. And I can understand the temptation. But doesn’t anyone else find the whole idea of “automating your social selling” a little contradictory?

Here are reasons why you should think twice about automating your LinkedIn interactions.  

Many of these apps and extensions violate the User Agreement.

Specifically section 8.2 (the points that follow are a subset of the forty-five or so  bullet points in this section).  

8.2. Don’ts. You agree that you will not:

  • Use manual or automated software, devices, scripts robots, other means or processes to access, “scrape,” “crawl” or “spider” the Services or any related data or information
  • Use bots or other automated methods to access the Services, add or download contacts, send or redirect messages;
  • Send spam or other unwelcomed communications to others;
  • Scrape or copy profiles and information of others through any means (including crawlers, browser plugins and add-ons, and any other technology or manual work);

As the sole arbiter as to whether you have overstepped the lines, LinkedIn is judge, jury and executioner.  And good luck explaining yourself to Microsoft, the company that just paid twenty-six billion dollars for that data they just caught you scraping.

Note that while getting caught may be a low probability event, the consequences –  excommunication – can be nasty. Think of crossing the street with your eyes closed. All the cars will probably stop. Would you bet your life on “probably” ?

Anybody who recommends products like these are not looking out for your best interests.

Automated messages have to be generic

This is the easy way to tell when someone is using automated messaging with you. In order to cover all the possibilities with all the people the message will go to, the message has to be generic and bland. It doesn’t sound authentic. In attempting not to alienate anyone, it doesn’t appeal to anyone either.

And being boring at scale isn’t something you should aspire to.  

It can be sorta, kinda, well…fraudulent

You set up your browser extension to look at LinkedIn profiles. What you are doing is giving the other person the impression that you found something interesting in their activity so you had to go and look at their profile.

Merriam Webster defines fraud as  “deceit, trickery; specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value”.  

That would be you committing fraud. Great way to start a relationship with a connection, isn’t it?

Let me close with a hypothetical situation and a final thought:

Here’s a partial list of abilities I have seen one company advertise:

  • You can set up their browser extension to search and view profiles one after another (in the hopes that the people will think you are interested in them and invite you to connect).  
  • And speaking of connecting, you can set up a search and the browser extension sends connection invites to everyone in the search results.   
  • Then the browser extension accepts invitations to connect for you
  • And then the browser extension sends a welcome message to the new connection
  • And then it takes the three popular social selling trigger events – birthdays, work anniversaries and new jobs – and sends messages to all of those connections.
  • And then the browser extension will “like” your connections’ posts and add generic comments like “This is a really good post!”  

So you could set up this software to look at a certain type of person’s profile, automatically accept their invitation to connect when they bite at your profile view, automatically send them a “welcome to my LinkedIn network” message, congratulate them on any birthdays, job changes or work anniversaries, and then start liking and commenting on their posts. Four months later, you have this lovely, completely automated relationship with this connection, whose real  existence you are blissfully unaware of.  

It seems to me that your browser extension is the one with the connection, not you.

 

The Odd Little World That Is (the new) LinkedIn Notifications

Notifications have become a bigger deal under the new LinkedIn Desktop User Interface. It’s now one of the “big six” tabs across the top of your screen, along with Home, My Network, Jobs, Messaging and Me.  

While I have read that some people don’t like the new format, I do like the  dedicated stream that opens up when you click Notifications. I always used to hate the little narrow slider on the old notifications pop up window. That was user nasty.   

For the purpose of this article, consider the terms “post” and “article” to be interchangeable, as LinkedIn appears to treat notifications similarly for both (a post is a short piece of content that goes right into the homepage feed, while an article is long form content that stays attached to your profile).

Here is what I have seen that is changed or different in Notifications. Like many aspects of the new User Interface, there appear to be bugs and omissions in Notifications, so I should qualify this article by saying that this is what I see on my screen as of writing this post March 20th.   

What you get notified for

* Likes or Comments on your posts or articles.

You get notified when someone likes your post or comments on your post. I will talk more about Likes when I write about Publishing, Views and Statistics but likes are wonky in the new format. They are hard to track and give you less info (just the name, headline, and photo) than they used to.  

* Jobs you may be interested in

I seem to get this several times a week.

* Wish connections a Happy Birthday

Arrives daily. A list of everyone who has a birthday that day.

* Congratulate connections on work anniversaries

Arrives daily. A list of some of the people who have a work anniversary this month. LinkedIn parses these out piecemeal over the course of the month, as for most us, dumping all fifty or five hundred people who have an anniversary this month in one notification would be overwhelming.

* Congratulate a connection or connections on starting a new position

Daily. A list of those people starting a new job.  

* Mentions

This is the biggy. Mentions now rule the roost. Mentioning someone in a post, or in a comment on a post, or someone liking a post or a comment that mentions you, generates a notification, and these notifications seem to supersede all others. I usually hide these posts from other people after I have weighed in, as the mention related notifications will push out all my other notifications – like comments on my own posts – and completely dominate my notifications feed.

Conjecture: get ready to get mentioned to death as the social sellers discover and start gaming this feature.

* New endorsements from your connections

A low level priority it seems. I see these occasionally.

* Someone you follow has published an article

Rare. At least for me. I have had the new UI since early February and I can remember seeing one notification for a connection who has published an article. And I have a lot of connections who post every week.

* Further engagement with a post you engaged with

Someone commented on a post you commented on.

* Followers

Once a day I receive a list of any new followers I have. What’s alarming about this is that this is the only place in the new UI where there is any reference to my  followers at all. I have approximately seven hundred followers. I know who the four are that followed me yesterday and the two from the day before. The rest of my followers? No way of knowing. I think your phantom followers have taken the place of the anonymous LinkedIn profile viewers, as in: “There are several hundred people who are interested in you Mr Johnston, and have signed up to follow you, but we are not going to tell you who they are.”

What you do not get notified for

* Shares

No notifications of people sharing your post – unless the sharer mentions you. I think people who share my posts are the single most important engagement opportunity on LinkedIn. Either this is a mistake LinkedIn will rectify, or LinkedIn doesn’t think sharing is important anymore, in which case they need to change the Social Selling Index, as sharing is a critical part of the SSI.

Summary: the new somewhat improved notifications

LinkedIn has consolidated some types of notifications into once a day types. This is good.   

LinkedIn will also consolidate your likes and comments for a particular post into one notification (Bob Smith and twelve others liked or commented on your post). This is good.

There appears to be a hierarchy of notifications. Mentions are on top, along with likes and comments on your posts. Notifications for new posts by people you follow are on the bottom and get lost. This is bad, as most people would like to define their own hierarchy thanks.

There appears to be a maximum number of notifications of 9.

This is smart. No one wants to open up LinkedIn and see three hundred notifications waiting, in the same way that no one goes, “Oh goody, I have three hundred emails!”

You receive a lot more notifications when you are logged on to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn seems to detect when you are on LinkedIn. When I first logged in yesterday morning there were nine notifications waiting for me. Over the next three hours (a Sunday morning mind you) I received a dozen more.  This is good (more timely notifications) and bad (potentially interrupts my workflow).  

The most powerful tool on LinkedIn is the Mention.

For now anyway. Mentions appear to be the guaranteed way to get a notification to someone. Expect to see your name in bold on a lot of posts.

 

Suggestion: Hide posts that are dominating your feed. I have found that commenting on a post that then gets a lot more comments can really clog up my feed. I have started going back to the post and clicking on “Hide this post” (it’s under the three dots at the top right of the post). This frees up a lot of room in the feed for notifications I want to see.

Like quite a few aspects of the new UI, notifications has been cleaned up and made to look more presentable, which is good for the occasional user. For us power users, the same complaints remain: I would like to have more control over what I see in my feed.

 

11 Fundamental Truths About Using LinkedIn



If you keep these ideas in mind, you will make better use of LinkedIn and the time you invest in it.

Individual LinkedIn users will never get the respect companies do

Money talks. If you have lots of money to spend on lots of premium subscriptions, ads or sponsored updates, LinkedIn will be keen to talk to you. I have had two people from LinkedIn reach out and take an interest in me and what I was doing in the past six years. In both cases once they realized I did not have twenty-five thousand dollars a quarter (I’m not kidding) to spend on job or marketing related ads on LinkedIn, it was like I was radioactive. The calls ended very quickly.  

You are a data point to be sold

Expect recruiters and salespeople to try contacting you. That’s the price of admission. Be gracious to people who approach you intelligently and respectfully. But if they don’t approach you intelligently and respectfully, all bets are off. Spammers and people who send automated crap messages should be treated with the lack of respect they deserve and reported with extreme prejudice.  

You’ll Pay For Everything On LinkedIn

This idea looks prescient after the User Interface changes we have just gone through. A lot of LinkedIn users have problems with this idea, because they are used to using LinkedIn for free. But using LinkedIn as a place to build your business’s credibility, and to find and interact with prospective customers and still expecting it to be free?  

LinkedIn will never be a fabulous user experience

There are too many different constituencies inherent in five hundred million users. You have people who use it every day and people who show up once a year. You have people using it for sales, research, recruiting, networking, job search and a hundred other reasons. And each of those groups has a laundry list of features they wish LinkedIn had. As far as user experiences are concerned, “serviceable” is probably the best you should hope for.

If you don’t have a plan, you can waste an awful lot of time on LinkedIn

Plan what you need to do to accomplish your LinkedIn related goals, do those things, and leave.

Using automation on LinkedIn makes you less social

You can have quality and be one-on-one social or you can have automation and go for quantity. But treating your connections like an email list doesn’t seem very social to me. Engage one on one with your connections and other people on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a contact sport.

LinkedIn makes LinkedIn impersonal too

LinkedIn is partially at fault for making LinkedIn impersonal too, courtesy of the one button “congratulate” features for things like birthdays, work anniversaries, and new jobs. Here’s what I think when I receive one of those canned responses: “Wow, that person reached all the way to their mouse and moved it over the “congratulate” button. Then – using their other hand, mind you – they reached all the way over and pressed “enter”.  How thoughtful!” Actually I don’t feel that way because LinkedIn has trained everyone to think this is something we should do.

Social selling on LinkedIn is just like regular selling

In that, if you do it well, it works. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of people doing it well (just like regular selling).

You get out of LinkedIn in direct relation to what you put in to LinkedIn

By all means you can do LinkedIn in ten minutes a day, just expect to get results corresponding to ten minutes worth of effort.

It’s still a give to get world

The minute you start looking at someone’s profile and figuring out how you can help them, instead of how they can help you, is the minute you will start moving towards effective results using LinkedIn

And one final thought. For business professionals, LinkedIn is still the best game in town

I have tried a lot of the flavor of the month social networks and despite all its warts, LinkedIn beats them all. The only social network that could challenge LinkedIn is Facebook. Everyone else is just too tiny.


 

LinkedIn Search: What’s Changed In The Free Edition

I had a good look at the free version of Search under the new LinkedIn desktop user interface over the weekend, as it seems that while not totally eliminated, many of the bugs are at least known at this point. And while I am disappointed in a couple of the things that were lost or moved to Sales Navigator, the overall search “experience” is much better than I thought it would be, with one rather large caveat that I will get to later in this post.  

Here’s what’s new, what’s changed and what’s gone.

Types of searches

We used to be able to choose between: 

People

Jobs

Companies

Groups

Universities

Posts

Inbox

Changes:

“Inbox” has been lost, but the other six remain. However, as LinkedIn allows you to search your messages in your message center, losing Inbox search  isn’t a surprise.

Bugs:

I have heard from many users who seem to be missing one of the tabs, usually “Companies” or “Groups”.  

I like the new presentation where you enter your initial search term or name and then choose which type of search you want to perform.

Filters we have now and changes

We used to have these filters:

Keywords                       Title

Location                         Relationship

First name                     Last Name

Current Company        Past Company

Industry                        School

Profile Language          Non Profit Interests

Changes:

“Relationship” is now “Connections” as you now can only choose among 1st, 2nd and 3rd. No fellow group members.

“Keywords” now includes sub-fields for first name, last name, title, company and school.  This is a much more user friendly setup than the old search which had one general “Keywords” field and another specifically for “Title”.

“Location” hasn’t changed and this is too bad because locations kinda sucked in the old version of search (ie it still does). Search in the free version of LinkedIn is still set up for recruiters and not for salespeople. For example, I pity any salesperson who has New Jersey as their sales territory because New Jersey does not exist in free LinkedIn search. It does in Sales Navigator, so I know that LinkedIn is capable of locating New Jersey on a map.

“Industries” has changed minorly. There are 148 industries listed as of Friday March 3rd. By my count there were four new industries added in the last year: Construction, Music, Investment Management and Outsourcing/Offshoring.

What’s gone?

Location by zip or postal code

Location by proximity (number of miles or kilometers)

Groups was part of the “Relationship” filter along with 1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections. The Relationship filter is now the “Connections” filter and allows filtering by 1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections only (cue ominous music re: future of groups on LinkedIn).


The (evil) Commercial Search Limit  

Microsoft has asserted they can grow LinkedIn’s sales, and one way to do so is to get more Sales Navigator and Recruiter subscribers. And one way to do that is to limit how many searches a user can execute for free.

As the “old” commercial search limit was never publicly defined by LinkedIn, it is hard to tell if this has changed, but lowering the CSL would have a bigger impact on many LinkedIn users than all the more obvious changes to functionality. I tried an experiment last week,  sharing a screen with a colleague who has a free LinkedIn account and the new UI. He performed 53 searches, defined as entering a term of one type or another in the Search Bar and hitting the “Search” button. No problem. We even took a bunch of the searches and refined the results four or five times. No problem. While this is not conclusive evidence by any means, it seems to indicate that the commercial search limit has not been changed to  something awful like five or ten searches.

 

Saved searches

Once you perform a search, Saved Searches show up at the bottom of the filter column on the right.

 

You appear to get three Saved Searches.

Bug: some people don’t have Saved Searches yet.

 

Conclusions / Some closing thoughts on the new LinkedIn Search

  • The new Search is much easier to use and much more intuitive. I think LinkedIn users will be able to use this version more effectively than the old search.
  • We lost some functionality. People who made heavy use of searching by zip code or proximity are out of luck. But not as much functionality was lost as we were led to believe.
  • The marginalization of LinkedIn Groups continues
  • The wild card remains the Commercial Search Limit. If the CSL has been reduced again (and this certainly seems likely), a lot of users won’t really care about all the changes to functionality and the user interface.
  • If you are not getting the search results you are looking for, or you keep running into the Commercial Search Limit, you are either searching ineffectively or you need Sales Navigator. Know the difference, because if you are searching poorly it’s just going to cost you eighty bucks a month to get the same lousy results.  
  • In my experience – as teaching LinkedIn search and performing searches for clients is a lot of what I do – most LinkedIn members still use search inefficiently and ineffectively. They wind up with the wrong results, or too many results or too few. A lot of using LinkedIn Search still depends on you the user, so
    • Be clear about what results you want.
    • Understand how Boolean search works.
    • Define what information you have that will help narrow the search  down.
    • Use the filters for help. Check each filter to see if they will help narrow your results.
    • If you have important searches, do them early in the month before you risk hitting the CSL.
  • It is unclear if the weekly updates with new people found in your saved searches counts towards the CSL. It probably doesn’t. You get three saved searches. If you have a lot of repetitive searches, save them.

While everyone likes to call it the “professional social network”, LinkedIn is more accurately described as a database of 500 million people with the advanced search tools that can be used to search and make sense of that database. Know how to use those search tools to get the most out of LinkedIn.

 

A Path To Success On LinkedIn


It leads through your connections.

If you are an average LinkedIn user, you may have something on the order of five hundred connections.

A few questions to ponder:  

Why are you connected with them?

What is the purpose of your connections?

If you have five hundred connections, does that mean four hundred is bad and six hundred would be better?

What do you want from them?

What do they want from you?

How much do you interact with them?

What do you know about them? “My connection Bob Smith is an engineering consultant.” Great. What type of engineering? What’s his real specialty?  Who are his typical clients? Industry? Local? National? Big companies? Startups? What’s that? You say you don’t have time to find all that out about him. I see.  And why are you connected with Bob then? Because he may refer clients to you? You want nothing to do with helping him but you hope he helps you? Well, good luck with that.

Many LinkedIn users seem to have connection networks that are a mile wide and an inch deep. They collect connections but never talk to them. These connections are assets. These are the people that have the ability to open doors for you. Ignoring them isn’t an optimal strategy. You will notice I said “they collect connections but never talk to them.” I used the word “talk” for a reason.

Not automated messaging, not bots, not templates.

Not LinkedIn messaging, not text, not email.

Talking.

I have conversations with a lot of my connections, especially with people I have not met prior to meeting them through LinkedIn. Want to know what the first thing is they usually say to me when we talk via Skype or phone?

“This is the first time I have had one of these calls. No one does this on LinkedIn.”

Think about that statement for a minute. What does it say about LinkedIn and LinkedIn users when a LinkedIn member is surprised when one of their connections wants to talk to them?  

LinkedIn is supposed to be about professional networking, yet it seems hardly anybody does. When did connections become something to be collected and pulled out and admired from time to time like old baseball cards? A LinkedIn network isn’t numbers, it’s people.

I set aside time time to have calls with ten or fifteen of my connections  every week. Every week. Just fifteen minutes each. But in that fifteen minutes I find out what their real specialties are. What they are passionate about. And that helps me help them. In January I introduced twenty-four of my connections to people I thought might be a good fit for them. And a lot of the connections I spoke with referred people to me. The result is new connections and new business, for both my connections and myself.  

If you are like most LinkedIn users, you come to LinkedIn, read a couple of articles, add a like or a comment, follow a company or two, and call it “networking.” Instead, invest just a little effort in talking to a few of your connections. You will stand head and shoulders above their other connections, because hardly anyone networks on LinkedIn, and almost no one networks effectively.  

The New LinkedIn User Interface: 2 Good, 4 Bad And 4 Ugly Changes

Plus conjecture, other oddities in the new LinkedIn UI, and a possible win win suggestion.

One oddity of the new UI is that with all the bugs and hiccups, I am not sure if there is one new UI or 460 million individual unique LinkedIn UI’s. With that in mind, some early (based on one week) observations on the new User Interface…

Good: Notifications get their own feed. Hallelujah. That little slider thingee in the old notifications window drove me nuts.

Bad: your followers have disappeared. The only ones you can find are ones that are new, that you have been notified about today.  

Ugly: The list of who liked a post only seems accessible from a notification that someone liked your post.

Ugly: Groups have been shunted off to Island of Misfit Toys, also known as the  “More” tab. Methinks this doesn’t augur well for Groups. Note that “Jobs” get their own tab while Groups do not. This decision hardly reinforces the idea that LinkedIn is more of a social network than a jobs board.  

Even uglier: Creating a company page fared even worse than Groups. You have to use the little slider on the More tab to slide down and reveal “Create Company Page” which is otherwise hidden.

Just plain weird: The “More” tab has ProFinder on it. Unfortunately, ProFinder is not available where I live (Toronto) yet. If LinkedIn is going to have tabs that aren’t functional, they might as well have some fun ones, like having a tab that says “Free Money.”

I ambivalent about:  Pulse disappearing

Good: A lot of what seemed like five or six hundred possible profile sections have been eliminated.

Bad: thank you to anyone who shares my post. Normally I try to send messages  and thank people who share my posts. Unfortunately, the new UI won’t tell you who shared your post. Anywhere. Because…well, actually I can’t figure out why LinkedIn would do this. To discourage sharing and engagement?

Odd sidebar: you get notified if someone mentions you in a post. So if someone shares your post and mentions your name in the share, you do get notified. Otherwise, no.

Conjecture on the odd sidebar: get ready to get mentioned to death as people figure out the only way to spread the word is through mentions.

Really really really bad: I have had the new UI for a week. Number of notifications that someone I am connected with or someone I follow has posted: zero. What’s the point of following someone?

Now some of these may be temporary situations, bugs or oversights or miscalculations that LinkedIn has made. But I have an idea that is even better than patching all the mistakes. Let us pay a nominal sum to get the old UI back. Let me explain.

I have read in a few places that the estimate on daily LinkedIn users is 40 million. Based on my own research and anecdotal evidence, of that 40 million daily users,  roughly ALL OF THEM hate the new interface (and associated changes in functionality). So LinkedIn should offer us the old user interface back for $1 a month each. That’s a half a billion dollars a year right there in cold hard cash for Linkrosoft. We get a functional LinkedIn with some search capability, they get money. That’s how you make lemonade out of a lemon.