What’s Your LinkedIn Engagement Rate?

(waiting to engage….with dinner)

 

I track my engagement rate for posts and articles that I publish on LinkedIn. I find that my engagement rate gives me a better idea of which content worked best, and what people want to see more of.

How I calculate my engagement rate

I take the total number of Reactions (what we used to just call “Likes”) + Comments + Rehares + New Followers + People Who Viewed My Profile, divided by the number of views.

I look at all these figures once my content has been out on LinkedIn for seventy-two hours. I typically publish around 8am on Tuesdays, so I just look at all these numbers on Friday morning at the same time. I include followers and people who viewed my profile over this time as almost all of the people who did so follow or view my profile did so based on reading my content.

Let me hit “pause” for a couple disclaimers here: you can argue that some of these types of engagement are better than others. I think we can all agree that a comment is better than a like, but what we will not be able to agree on is exactly how much better it is. Is a comment worth two Likes? Three? One a quarter? Combining all five works for me. You could come up with your own engagement consisting of just comments or comments and profile views. That’s fine. Just as long as you are consistent with it.

The second disclaimer is that yes, I understand that some people will engage in two and sometimes more ways with a post – they could comment on it, then go look at my profile and then decide to follow me. That’s fine too. I still count that as engaging three times because it is obvious that my content really struck a nerve with them.

So that’s how I do it. How do I use it?

Most of the content I use to publish on LinkedIn consisted of articles. Over time my engagement rate on articles has consistently been around twenty percent, that is if I have five hundred views, the sum of my reactions, profile views, new followers, reshares and comments will typically be one hundred.

What I am looking for is outliers, both good and bad. The outliers are always caused by one of two things.

The first is I wrote about an interesting subject, or I have a spin on a subject everyone already knows about, but in an interesting or novel way. The second is that I just happened to be on my game and wrote that article really well. It just came together, had all the elements like the subject line and call to action working, and just flowed.

Those are the good outliers where my engagement can get up to thirty, thirty-five or even forty percent, the ones that short circuit my schedule on Tuesday as I keep coming back to respond to comments, reply to messages from strangers, and look to see if there are people I want to reach out to myself that engaged with my content.

Then there are the bad outliers. The ones where I made a typo, went off track on tangents, forgot to add a call to action, had a bland subject line and in general just want to crawl under a rock because I know I am capable of better.

You need to be able to identify both of these types of outliers, and my engagement rate lets me do that.

Bonus idea: Like I said I write mostly articles, where my engagement rate is around twenty percent. For my posts, it tends to be around two percent or just under two percent, and so far for my LinkedIn newsletter, my ER is around eight percent. As I am the same person, writing about the same topics at the same day and time for posts, articles and for newsletters on LinkedIn, this has led me to conclude that one article view is the equivalent of four newsletter views or ten post views, because that is what it takes to generate the same amount of engagement. Your results may vary, but a handy idea to know.

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? I publish three weekly email newsletters on LinkedIn for Sales, LinkedIn for Marketing and Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics. Each is typically a two or three minute read, free, and and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

12 Truths About LinkedIn And Using LinkedIn

Staying focused and headed in the right direction.

“Knowledge is good.” – Emil Faber

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

  1. Money talks and companies have money. 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. If you don’t have money, LinkedIn is not that interested in you. I have had two people from LinkedIn reach out and take an interest in me and what I was doing in almost ten 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, I became radioactive and the calls ended very quickly. As an individual, the most interaction you personally will get with LinkedIn will likely come in the form of a survey to complete.
  2. LinkedIn’s primary customers are sales, marketing, human resources and recruiting people. If you are not in one of these four groups, you are not so much a customer, you and your data are the product LinkedIn sells to those customers. LinkedIn makes changes to the platform that will serve their customers, not you. For example, if LinkedIn can persuade us to become more active on LinkedIn, that is good for ad sales.
  3. You are going to be contacted by people you don’t know. Expect recruiters and salespeople to contact 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 to LinkedIn with extreme prejudice.
  4. LinkedIn will never be a fabulous user experience. There are just too many different constituencies inherent in seven 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 the user experience is concerned, “serviceable” is probably the best you should hope for.
  5. 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 goals, do those things, and leave.
  6. Using automation on LinkedIn makes you less social. You can use automation and go for quantity in your messaging to connections for example. But treating your connections like an email list doesn’t seem very social to me. And if you use automation for things like profile views, connection requests, or messaging, LinkedIn will come after you. Engage one on one with your connections and other people on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a contact sport.
  7. 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). Remember that LinkedIn is a tool. A good one, but it’s not the Holy Sales Grail. This is mostly because people think LinkedIn is a social network, but it is really a big database with a very small social network embedded in it.
  8. Along those lines, LinkedIn is an excellent people database with good search tools attached, though you need a Sales Navigator or Recruiter premium account to take full advantage of these tools.
  9. LinkedIn can be used to find paths to people you don’t know via people you do know. This is a very underrated and underutilized aspect of LinkedIn.
  10. You get out of LinkedIn in direct relation to what you put into LinkedIn. By all means you can do LinkedIn in ten minutes a week, just expect to get results corresponding to ten minutes worth of effort.
  11. It’s still a give to get world. The minute you start looking at someone’s LinkedIn profile and start 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. The single best thing you can do on LinkedIn is invest your time developing your relationships with your connections. Very few people do this.
  12. For B2B sales professionals, LinkedIn is a game changer. What originally attracted me to LinkedIn ten years ago was that it was what I had wished for since I started in high tech sales in 1985: A searchable database of most every customer I could ever want, a treasure trove of researchable material on those people and their companies, and the possibility that LinkedIn itself may be the best method to reach out to them.

If you see LinkedIn for what it is, and not for what you wish it was, you will make effective use of the time you invest in it.

What would you add to this list?

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.

Don’t Let The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good

(this photo isn’t perfect – there’s a tiny boat on the horizon – but I am okay with that. Photo courtesy Mark Johnston)

I do a lot of walking, a minimum of two hours every day. It’s my pandemic exercise. To keep from getting bored I have a good set of Bluetooth headphones and I listen to podcasts. 

In one such podcast, there was an interview with Dr Anthny Fauci, who no one had heard of a year ago, and everyone has heard of now. 

And during the course of the interview, Fauci had a great line:

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

The context was Fauci was talking about vaccines and the idea was that the first vaccine that comes out may only protect some of the population, or it may only work for a limited amount of time. But, even a vaccine that only protects some people is better than waiting for one that protects everyone. 

This whole line of thought made me think of blogging and posting on LinkedIn. When you blog or write a post, perfect is the enemy of good. I can write a “good” post in one or two hours. I can polish the heck out of that post in another two hours. But the good version is ninety or ninety-five percent of the polished version. Polishing the post may result in a little more eloquence, but the key in a post or a blog post is the thought or idea that you want to convey. When you have reasonable substance, people will forgive some style points. 

I tend to write five pieces of content each week for my newsletters, my blog and to use on LinkedIn. They take me somewhere between five and eight hours to write. If I wanted to polish those five, my time commitment would jump to fifteen or twenty hours. Which doesn’t leave me much time for my clients, the folks who pay the bills around here. What it comes down to is this: 

I have a max of eight hours a week to write. 

What can I get done in that time? 

There comes a time after you write something, and you give it an edit, maybe put it away for a while and then look at it with fresh eyes, you edit it again, but then it is time to let it go out into the world. Hit publish. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Thanks Doc.

An Under Appreciated Use Of LinkedIn For Salespeople: Research

There are three core aspects to using LinkedIn for sales: search, research and outreach. Most salespeople figure out pretty quickly that you can use LinkedIn to find and identify possible prospects and that you can use LinkedIn to reach out to them.

But for most people research is misunderstood. They think it means a quick look at someone’s LinkedIn profile to find an opening hook, something like, “we went to the same school”, or “I see you have been an astronaut too.”

I preach the benefits of more in depth research for two reasons:

To help judge whether LinkedIn the best method for outreach to this person

By having a look at someone’s connections, quality of their LinkedIn profile and activity on LinkedIn, you can infer whether they use LinkedIn often. Someone who uses LinkedIn more often and “gets” using LinkedIn will be more likely to read your outreach message. And that is all we want: an honest shot at someone reading our message.

If I find someone interesting who obviously doesn’t use LinkedIn that much or place that much emphasis on it, then I would much rather try and reach out through another method – introduction, email referral, cold call, carrier pigeon, anything.

To help hyper-personalize my message 

By looking more deeply at their profile, you can gain insights into what someone is working on or has worked on, and in particular what accomplishments they are proud of. This will help you really personalize your message.

Where do we look for these clues? Everywhere. The About section, and the Experience sections are obvious places to look but by no means the only places. Endorsements will tell you what knowledge and skills they want to emphasize. Recommendations can be a gold mine. Even which Groups they belong to can give you ideas to work with.

But I don’t recommend just looking at the one person. By researching the people at the company and their company page, you can get important insights into tenures, personnel changes, new people, and even hiring.

If we do this research well and incorporate it into or outreach messages, the recipient can see that we have not just sent them some cookie cutter crap with their name swapped in at the top. They can see we have really put some effort into finding out more about themselves and their company, and that we really are different from everyone else out there.

Is this time consuming? Yes, but not as much as you think it would be. And with a much higher success rate, it is absolutely worth it.

And if we really want this person to become a customer of ours, someone we want to have an ongoing successful business relationship with, why wouldn’t we invest the time to show them some respect up front?

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.

A Highly Automated LinkedIn Cautionary Tale


 

I have a lot of clients who are always looking for email addresses and phone numbers for prospects, especially the prospects they find on LinkedIn. As such, when I see or hear of tools that say they can gather this type of info, I will usually check them out, as I will get asked about them sooner or later. Often they don’t live up to the hype. 

A couple months ago I attended a webinar / online demo for one such company. They’re hot, getting a lot of buzz and claim to be the first to use AI for real time results. 

The first screen they showed was one with all their high profile customers. Among them were LinkedIn and Microsoft. Well, that’s reassuring. 

Part way through the demo, the presenter showed how this tool integrates via a chrome extension with LinkedIn. How it appeared to work was you set up a search on LinkedIn and then  the tool took over. It went out on the web looking for emails and phone numbers for the people found in the search and overlaid them on the LinkedIn results screen. All very well done, good looking and all around cool. 

At this point another webinar attendee asked whether this tool was approved by LinkedIn. The presenter did not reply directly but pointed out that LinkedIn was a customer. 

Except…

It didn’t seem like something LinkedIn would be happy with them doing. Among other things, LinkedIn doesn’t like tools or chrome extensions that:

  • Take control of your LinkedIn account
  • Scrape data from LinkedIn
  • Change the appearance of a LinkedIn screen

…and this tool appeared to be doing all three. Oh, not in a major way, but it still appeared to be doing it. 

So I opened up Sales Navigator – with the presenter still droning away in another window – and contacted LinkedIn tech support. Got a very chill dude in the tech support department and asked him flat out, “I am watching a  demo right now for a software tool called <redacted name> They claim it is okay for use with LinkedIn, but I am not so sure. Can you confirm that for me?” I had to wait a few minutes for him to look it up, but he did confirm it for me. That is he confirmed LinkedIn was pursuing all avenues in going after this company and preventing them from using their tools on LinkedIn. And that anyone using that tool on LinkedIn could be doing irreparable harm to their LinkedIn account. LinkedIn appears to have no problem tossing people that don’t follow the user agreement. Because – and this is my spin on it – LinkedIn signs up two new members every second, so terminating your account or mine won’t even count as a rounding error. 

I never did finish watching the demo.

So today’s lesson is one I have been saying for a while now: don’t use automated tools that integrate with LinkedIn. And courtesy of my little adventure today I can expand on that a bit: “…even if they say that LinkedIn allows them to.” 

Why do you think I put all these funny disclaimers all over my website, on my newsletters and on my LinkedIn profile saying I am not affiliated with or endorsed by LinkedIn. I want my prospects, my customers, my readers and especially LinkedIn to know I am not claiming any special endorsement or relationship with them.

These automation companies may make the claim that LinkedIn won’t come after you, but you are taking the risk, not them. Act accordingly.

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.

 

What Your LinkedIn Company Page Says About You

You can infer a lot from how a company presents themselves on LinkedIn via their Company Page.
There are five “classes” of company pages, and which class you are in sends the perceptive LinkedIn user signals about your company.
Steerage class: no LinkedIn company page at all
A company with no company page presence on LinkedIn is one that doesn’t understand what LinkedIn is, and quite frankly, doesn’t care. Even a static company page only takes twenty minutes to set up (including photos and logos) and constitutes free advertising.
What conclusion would you draw about someone who doesn’t care about free advertising?
Tourist class: skeleton LinkedIn company page
Companies with skeleton pages also don’t “get” LinkedIn. These companies provide the boilerplate information LinkedIn asks for – a description of what the company does, where it is, what industry it is in, how many employees – and that’s it. Boring and old school, these types of pages look pathetic next to peers that are using  LinkedIn company pages to actively market their products and services.
Middle class: good looking page, but static and still boring
These pages look sharp, but never change. In other words, the company doesn’t use status updates. These types of pages are usually a sign that the company in question has low or no staff devoted to marketing, sales support, or inside sales.
When I am working with my customers and we see they are competing against companies with pages like those above, I start getting excited.
Second class: good looking pages with posts
This is the level where LinkedIn company pages can start to have a positive effect for a company. However, many of these second class companies make the classic mistake of using status updates as naked sales come-ons such as specials and limited time offers. These companies are so close to having it all, but their aim is way off. Blanket sales pitches are hilariously ineffective, as LinkedIn users will come back to the company page a couple times, see that it is just an advertising channel, and don’t come back again.
First class: good looking pages with regular posts that provide value
This is where a company is firing on all cylinders. The company publishes regular status updates that provide value to their prospective customers. Their followers see this and keep coming back for more. The company becomes a resource to the prospect.  When the prospect is in the market for the company’s products or services, the first class company is a natural to be invited to participate. Note that by this time though, the first class company will have likely offered an ebook or a success story or a webinar, will already have the prospect’s email address, and will likely already know the prospect and be well positioned to compete for their business.
So, be first class. It takes work, yes, but not as much as you would think, and the rewards are more than worth the effort. And sure beats competing on price like the lower classes.

The First Hour After You Publish On LinkedIn Is (Maybe) Critical

It’s an accepted best practice that getting engagement for your post in the first sixty minutes is important. But is it critical? I am beginning to wonder.

When we hit publish, LinkedIn takes our content and presents it in the feeds of a small group of our connections. It is generally accepted that the figure is five to ten percent of your connections. Typically it gets put in front of people that you share a high “Connection Strength Score” with. Simply put, these are people who you have directly interacted with lately on LinkedIn. So, in theory, LinkedIn is putting your content in front of a crowd that should be favorably disposed to engage with it.

What happens in the next sixty minutes is important. LinkedIn looks at the engagement your content generates. They don’t explain what that means, but it is widely thought to include likes/reactions, comments and shares, and that comments are weighted more heavily than the other two. If you get a lot of engagement in that first hour, LinkedIn expands the circle of people that are presented with your post in their feed. If that second “wave” gets good engagement, LinkedIn sends out more and more in further waves until the engagement waves “crest” and slow down.

Let’s dissect this a bit more because I want you to understand what’s happening here and what isn’t:

  • If you thought everyone you are connected with was seeing your content or having your content put in their homepage feeds, you’re sadly mistaken.
  • LinkedIn acknowledges their role in boosting posts, especially during the first hour, and further boosting if your engagement is good.
  • But everything else is guesswork. While it is generally accepted that Likes, comments and shares constitute engagement, LinkedIn does not define what engagement is in the context of their intent to further distribute content. And note that LinkedIn also does not define or explain what “further distribution” is – how much further? Another five to ten percent? A lower number like three to five percent? How about a larger number as your high engagement is a sign of a successful post? LinkedIn doesn’t say.

The bottom line is LinkedIn has a big hand in you going viral, or at least achieving widespread distribution on LinkedIn. But…a big hand doesn’t mean the only hand. Does a mediocre first hour doom your post to obscurity? I am beginning to wonder.

Let me illustrate why with one of my own posts. On July 14 I wrote and published a quick post about a company follower hack. In a nutshell, the only way LinkedIn presents followers to company page admins is chronologically, with the latest ones on top. So I suggested that if you were following a company you could un-follow it, removing yourself from the middle of the pile, and then follow it again putting yourself on the top of the pile. Just a simple way to take advantage of the way LinkedIn had set up company page followers.

So I published this post at 7:30am which is when I usually post. Around 8:30am I checked back in and these were my statistics so far:

Views – 104

Likes – 1

Comments – 0

Shares – 0

New profile views* – 0

New followers* – 0

(* As posts drive profile views and new followers, I have always considered new profile views and new followers to be a part of my engagement, purely because I can identify the individuals who view or follow me and contact them if I choose to.)

Well, I thought, looks like this one is headed for the scrap heap. LinkedIn had likely put my post in front of four or five hundred people, and was certainly not going to reward a hundred views and 1 like.

But then an odd thing happened. During the course of the day I kept getting notifications about people liking, commenting and sharing the post. And the commenting was lively – I had two different people who said I was incorrect and a third person questioned whether what I was suggesting was ethical. All three of these people wound up drawing more and more people to the post, as every time they argued their case, LinkedIn’s algos automatically alerted more and more people to my post.

A week later, and that same post that looked like it was headed for the scrap heap had the following statistics:

Views – 14,200

Likes – 208

Comments – 57

Re-shares – 10

New followers – 40

New profile views – 80

Oh…and three direct inquiries from people interested in talking to me about my services.

Well that sure turned out differently from what I thought was going to happen. I didn’t get a boost from LinkedIn, so where did I get it? I am thinking that it was two things: the comments and the re-shares. While there were only ten re-shares, eight of them were from second level connections, exposing my post to people who had never seen my content before. And the three people that started lively side conversations wound up unwittingly promoting the post.

So what did I learn from this? First, that while important, a lousy first hour doesn’t mean your post is toast. Second, being original starts conversations and perhaps generates more re-shares. And third, those conversations appear to drive more views and more engagement.

I have been writing and publishing for a few years now on LinkedIn, but it never gets old. I am constantly being taken by surprise and learning something new.

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.

The Only LinkedIn Profile Advice You Really Need

 

Yes they are nice, but be honest, they all kind of look the same.

 

This is the opportunity that more people miss on LinkedIn than any other.

And it’s partly LinkedIn’s fault. LinkedIn is the place people put their online resumes to get a better job. And what do you put in your profile? How great you are now, and how great you have been everyone else. 

This creates the missed opportunity for sales people. When someone comes to check out our profiles, they don’t want to see how great we are, they want to know what we can do for them. 

Instead, think of framing your profile so that it answers their “what’s in it for me” question. Ask yourself, “What are the benefits that accrue to someone that is a customer of mine?” After a while you will start rethinking your profile in ways that a prospective customer would appreciate. 

Here’s a simple example: 

“I made President’s Club the past three years.”   That’s all about you. 

“98% of my customers from three years ago are still with me.” Now it’s all about them. 

Small change. Big difference. 

This applies to all things you do on LinkedIn: less on your features, more on their benefits. 

 Why Writing Good Content Is Worth The Effort


Because it yields results way out of proportion to the time and effort you put into it.

When you put the time and effort into your writing, it shows in the results.

When you think hard about what your prospective reader really wants to see, it shows in the results

When you take the time to think all around the subject you are writing about, it shows in the results.

When you write from the standpoint of thinking “What’s in it for them? And how do I give it to them?”, it shows in the results.

When you get input from your readers, and take that into account when you write, it shows in the results.

When I write, I have two things going for me: After writing hundreds and hundreds of LinkedIn posts, articles, blog posts and now newsletters, I have a pretty good idea what my readers want to know more about.

The second thing I have going for me is I am willing to take the time to write it out and explain my thinking. I take my first draft and put it away for a week and come back to it with fresh eyes. Then I usually take that draft and edit it again before it goes in a newsletter or on LinkedIn or my blog.

I write three newsletters a week, a blog post or two, and usually an article or post on LinkedIn. Writing, editing, and posting takes me around 12 hours a week. That is significant. And it is also untouchable. If I have work for my clients that is cramping me for time, then I write in the evening or on the weekend, but that writing is going to get done, and I am going to put the time into writing it that it deserves.

And it shows in the results. The average open rate for consulting and coaching newsletters is nine percent. The open rate for my three newsletters is just under forty percent (and by the way, thanks to all my subscribers for that).

Put the time and effort into your writing. It will show in your results.

Should You Have A LinkedIn Company Page?  

This may seem like a silly question, but there is a case to be made for not having a company page – or as LinkedIn calls them these days a “LinkedIn Page.”
Here are the pros and cons of just what you can do with a Page and what a Page can do for you. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
Con – Your reach with your Company posts will be pretty poor
The fact is LinkedIn just does not distribute company page content that much. Yesterday, I got a notification that one company I follow had published a post. This company publishes two or three times a week. This was the first notification I had received or post I had seen this year. Your organic reach just isn’t there. I have even seen conjecture that LinkedIn will go to a pay-for distribution model like Facebook’s.
Con – It takes work!
Setting up a Page is easy. Populating it with really good content – on a regular basis – is another story. Pages need content, and the more the merrier. And that content needs to do one thing: show the visitor that you have the answers to their questions. Your content should be “benefits loaded”, that is less about your capabilities and more about your customer’s results. Even for companies that have that mindset, coming up with a steady stream of that content is a lot of work.
Pro – A Page allows your Company to be found on LinkedIn
Your description and the keywords, phrases and the company specialties you list all provide “hooks” that searchers on LinkedIn can use to find your company. I think this is a vastly undervalued part of a LinkedIn Page, and many companies do not take advantage of it. And it only takes five minutes to set up or fix.
Pro – You can use it to establish your credibility
This would be the role of that content I talked about above. Establishing credibility is a missing part of many companies’ sales process. You need to have credibility in order to be considered your prospect’s purchasing team. A Company Page is a good place to start that ball rolling, because then you can send them…
Pro – You can use your Page to send people back to your website
LinkedIn doesn’t really give you much room to stretch out and write posts – the character limit for Page posts is 700 characters including spaces and punctuation, and you can’t say very much in that amount of space. The solution is a teaser for your content and then have a link back to the content on your website.
Conclusion & Recommendations
A company page is good for credibility, but not for reach. For companies with the resources to keep up with the commitment to write good content, a Page is worthwhile. If you work for yourself, I would suggest that you can do a good job building your credibility without a Page by publishing articles – which can be found via LinkedIn Search, and are also indexed by Google Search.