If You Aren’t Measuring Your Results, Maybe You Shouldn’t Be Doing It 

I see this all the time. Someone will tell me about their great habit of finding content to share on LinkedIn, or commenting on posts, or publishing posts, or participating in LinkedIn groups or any number of LinkedIn related activities. 

And I will ask them what their goals are in performing these activities. 

“To generate sales leads.”

“Great! How many leads have you generated, and how many do you expect to generate over what time period?” 

“Um…”

Exactly. They have an idea of what they would like to do, they are putting lots of work in, but they aren’t measuring the results coming out. Are their results commensurate with the effort they are putting in?

If you or your company are in this position, let me offer a couple suggestions, using my early days as a content creator on LinkedIn as an example (this was back before “creator” came with a capital “C”).

  • Have a specific goal in mind. 

Back when LinkedIn first granted publishing abilities to us users, I figured I could write content that would generate leads. I didn’t know if generating leads was possible, but I thought that if I posted regularly I would be able to devise a way of tracking the response to my content and turning that into a lead generation system. I figured if I could generate ten leads a month, I could convert one or two of them into steady customers. This was just my hypothesis though, and as writing content can be fairly time consuming, I was going to track and test everything I did.

Back in those days (six years ago), articles seemed like the best type of content to use, as I could write longer pieces if I wanted to, and there were more formatting options than with posts. So I started writing and publishing one LinkedIn article every week. 

  • Track what you are doing

Whenever I published an article, I measured everything – views, likes, comments, new connection invites, new followers, the number of people who visited my profile – you name it, I tracked it. Spreadsheet madness (and I hate spreadsheets).

  • Figure out what is meaningful

Over time, I came to understand that there were people buried in all these statistics that could be prospects. How did I find that out? By reaching out to them. I made a habit of reaching out to all of the people I could identify that interacted with my content who appeared to fit my ideal client profile and I sent them outreach messages. If they were amenable I would connect with them and see where things went from there. I found that people that fell within certain categories were more responsive than others – for example, I found I could get a response from upwards of seventy percent of the people that commented on one of my articles, but a less than fifty percent response rate from the people that liked my articles.

An unexpected benefit from all this outreach was I got pretty darn good at writing outreach messages.  

  • Apply what you have learned and narrow your focus

In my case, I set about developing a system that went after the commenters and followers that fit my client profile. By that time there were a lot of people publishing on LinkedIn talking about new features and changes to old features, so I tried to focus on writing content that was interesting and novel in the way I looked at using LinkedIn. This helped to gather followers and comments from the type of people I was looking for. 

Here’s the key to this whole endeavor: after a few months I found that I could predict pretty accurately how many leads I would generate from an article by late in the same day I published it. 

Note that the one thing that most people measure – views – is the one thing I discarded almost immediately as being worthless to me. I wanted to be able to contact people and I couldn’t tell who my specific viewers were.

How I personally use LinkedIn continues to evolve, both as the platform changes and my needs change. I am constantly experimenting – there are LinkedIn engagement metrics I still monitor every day, and I am tracking another idea with this Newsletter – and measuring the results of those experiments.

So that’s today’s message: there are multiple ways you can use LinkedIn. Once you have figured out what you think you can use LinkedIn to do, figure out how you are going to do it and especially how you are going to measure your results. And even when you find success, keep measuring to ensure you are on the right path. 

 

Is LinkedIn Throttling Back Our Content Distribution?

Is LinkedIn barring the door to wider content distribution? I don’t think so.

I have been hearing a lot lately from LinkedIn users complaining that they are not getting the same number of views that they used to get on their content, and that LinkedIn is throttling back on content distribution; the upshot being that LinkedIn is not as good a place as it used to be for publishing content and should we be putting the effort in and so on.

So why does content distribution seem to be growing smaller and smaller?

Some people are gravitating to the theory that LinkedIn is limiting distribution in order to make everyone pay for enhanced distribution, and indeed LinkedIn is offering a “pay for post boost” feature for company page content.

But I think there are several factors that, taken together, offer a simpler explanation.

New feature experiments

Think of all the new content oriented features that LinkedIn has introduced over the past two or so years – videos, LinkedIn Live, polls, newsletters and so one. Every time LinkedIn introduces one of these, the algo gets tweaked to feature these and get us users interested in them. I know that for a while last year all it seemed I saw was LinkedIn Live, and then this past summer that changed to a blizzard of polls in my feed. And if LinkedIn is pushing polls to the forefront, all other types of content are being pushed further back in the queue.

More paid content in the feed

More sponsored content and now, more boosted content from companies. Every time one of those shows prominently in our feed, something else has to be moved out of the way for it.

More people are publishing 

Using my Sales Navigator account I can get a good idea of how many people are posting on LinkedIn. Over 17 million in the past 30 days. And that’s just people’s posts, that does not include companies.

So it’s also just plain more competitive out there.

The net net here is that I agree it’s tougher to get noticed but I don’t think LinkedIn is purposely throttling back. After all, LinkedIn keeps offering these new posting features like polls and video in order to get more people involved. Getting them involved and then immediately cutting them off would be weird.

So what can we do about all this? May I suggest that you stop thinking in terms of reach or views? That’s because I think focusing on views misses the point. I think the big opportunity is in writing content that will be discovered when someone comes across your profile or searches for a topic or hashtag associated with you. For example when someone goes to my profile they can see three things – I have featured content I have written, they can see my activity and what I have written and they can see I have a newsletter and can read my back issues.

Let me put it another way. Which would you rather have: someone by chance seeing that post you wrote appearing in their feed. And “someone” could be anyone. Or… someone visiting your profile and seeing what you have written. That person has found you and your content by intent, not by chance. They are looking for more info on a topic, or have heard of you somewhere and want to know more.

I will take one of the latter over twenty of the former any day.

That’s who you are writing for. Not the possible ten thousand largely random people chosen by LinkedIn who could have viewed your post, but the few dozen who chose themselves to come to your profile.

Write for your ideal reader, not for the masses.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) I publish a weekly email newsletter where I don’t talk about “levelling up” or “surface new ideas”, just about using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

More and more people have LinkedIn Newsletter privileges these days. Thanks for choosing to read this one.

Connecting vs Following On LinkedIn (part 2)

I wrote one of my newsletters a few weeks ago (October 6th) about how LinkedIn seems to be gently pushing us towards a “Follow First” strategy instead of just connecting with anyone we come across. I received some comments and messages pointing out that for all practical intents and purposes, following is just as good as connecting.

While you may not think there is much of a difference, there are some differences you should consider in whether you would rather be a connection or a follower.

Some interesting characteristics of connecting and following:

  • In order for me to connect with you, you have to accept me as a connection. Following someone does not require such permission. I can follow you and there is nothing you can do about it. Oddly, as the follower, I am in control of our relationship (such as following constitutes a relationship).
  • As a follower, I can’t send you messages. If we are connected, I can send you a message. Whether you welcome that message and wish to respond to it is another story. These days, having messaging privileges is a double edged sword. People accept connection requests more easily these days than five years ago on LinkedIn, but being connected does not mean you have a collegial relationship with your connection. You still have to establish that.
  • In most cases, you won’t even know that I am following you. You can see a list of your followers by clicking on the number of followers when you look at your activity. Most LinkedIn users don’t ever have a look to see if anyone is following them
  • You can’t search your followers. I search my connections at least once a week. People are always asking me if I know someone with a certain skill or experience. I have over five thousand connections so out comes the LinkedIn Search tool. I also have around five thousand followers. I can see a list of them, and scroll through them one by one, but that list can’t be put in any order and is not searchable.
  • Another aspect of this that is kind of backwards is what we see in our homepage feeds. Typically, you follow someone in order to see their posts and content. And LinkedIn has talked about this. But there is a difference between appearing in our homepage feed and appearing prominently in our homepage feed. At any given time you or I will have hundreds of posts of all types in our feed. What’s important is what is at the top where we are more likely to see it. LinkedIn tells us what we see featured prominently in our feeds is largely based on our Connection Strength Score, which is based on the interactions we have on LinkedIn with our various connections. To my knowledge, there is no Follower Strength Score. And how would you measure it?

The bottom line? If you want to see the person’s content, follow them. Following tends to be a one way street. The person you are following sends information your way. I say “tends to be a one way street” because you can always comment on their content.

If you want to connect with someone on LinkedIn, then by all means do so. But realize that in order for you both to benefit that you will need to put some work in.

And a suggestion for LinkedIn: get a move on with the implementation of the LinkedIn Newsletter to everyone. If I subscribe to your newsletter, I know I will be notified when you publish your next issue. Following is nice, but I think subscribing is better.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. For some reason LinkedIn gave me early access to the LinkedIn Newsletter. I have no idea why, but thanks for reading.

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/