Congrats LinkedIn on turning fifteen years old earlier this month. In digital terms, you are so well beyond your awkward teenage phase.
As a network that I have relied on for writing a book, discovering a community, hiring staff and getting new clients, I find LinkedIn gets massively short shrift in discussions about breakthrough digital platforms. Simply – if you want business decision makers, there is no better place to be.
In our tour of interesting facts we’ve learned about the LinkedIn of 2018, here’s the best of what we found.
A) LinkedIn; The Future is Faster
At Wikibrands, we love charting growth curves of some of most interesting technology and digital phenomena.. We recently took a stab at mapping LinkedIn membership from 2002 projecting out to 2020. By social media standards, It was not an early gangbusters success, and shows a flatter increase over its first 8 years than many other social networks. Part of that might have been attributable to its slower moving audience, the geographic competitors it had in the early days (French-speaking Viadeo and German-speaking Xing) and it’s arguably more staid, less engaging technology features.
Slow starts aside, LinkedIn has fended off its rivals incredibly well and powered by the winds of Microsoft’s purchase and a wave of new features, we see LinkedIn continued growth eclipsing 700 million+ members worldwide by 2020.
B) LinkedIn: The Early Early Days
If you have ever launched a fledgling business, it’s interesting to compare LinkedIn’s first six month trajectory. Somehow, some way, they struck lightning in a bottle. I think about those first 2,500 members that joined week one (likely employees, friends, colleagues and family). There mustn’t have been a lot to do on the network with such little content and people to link up with. As you see, the next circle around LinkedIn came quick as it expanded at a rate of 12X itself over the next 6 months.
C) LinkedIn: At It’s Core, Why Do We Link
I remember the early days of joining LinkedIn in 2006, going down all these weird digital back alleys and gravel roads, trying to find value and new connections. I was not a LinkedIn model citizen, hacking and experimenting. As i have matured, so have LinkedIn’s norms. The interesting thing vs. many other social networking forums that have evolved into content, self-expression, commerce and utility avenues, at the base of it, Linkedin is really still a professional networking, career and prospecting engine. Here are the core 9 reasons why we like to participate on LinkedIn as people and businesses:
D) LinkedIn: Where Do We All Come From?
Not surprisingly, LinkedIn members are in over 200 countries (I always find those country membership stats so vaporous, are there 10 people in Togo that qualify that as a country?).
I remember when i keynoted LinkedIn’s big launch event of their Canadian office, Canadian membership was vieing for 2nd place with U.K.. Oh, how times have changed as global expansion and sheer scale has dropped Canada into 6th behind the U.S., India, Brazil, U.K. and China. Now, if LinkedIn can take those 20 million users from China and turn them into 200 million – well there’s an expansion strategy. Attached are the top 16 countries that have more than 5 million LinkedIn members hailing from inside their borders.
E) LinkedIn: Age of Membership
When I guest lecture at universities, I used to be appalled at how little students knew of LinkedIn and its benefits for personal branding and career advancement. Both anecdotally and by the numbers, that dynamic has changed. The “old person’s” social network has now become younger and younger with the participation among the 18-24 years old and 25-34 year old age segments among it’s top three demographics.
F) LinkedIn: Top of The Charts Connections
If you’re in the UAE, UK, the Netherlands, the ‘Valley, Staffing Industries, Venture Capital, HR, Product Management or Marketing, you’re likely using LinkedIn quite a bit.
G) LinkedIn: How Does it’s Effectiveness Stack Up Vs. Other Social Networks
In aggregate, as a B-to-C networks, Facebook and Instagram overwhelm LinkedIn for ad dollars.
If you look at it more narrowly though, LinkedIn is not only the most used social media by B-to-B marketers but is also considered the most effective (Source: Demandwave).
H) LinkedIn; Contribution to Microsoft
The fear with Microsoft buying LinkedIn in 2016 for such a hefty price ($26.2B) was that they would expect their return back quickly, ruining the experience for everybody. Two things happened: 1) arguably the experience has improved for users as LinkedIn seems to indicate a 60% recent rise in engagement and 2) LinkedIn is growing its revenue numbers +10% annually to about $1B per quarter and is a decently sized 7th largest contributor to Microsoft’s overall revenue.
Hopefully, the brains in Redmond, Washington realize the “goose that laid the golden egg” and continue to invest in improvements that help business people get to what they need through better interfaces, AI, immersive media and automation.
I) LinkedIn: Breakdown of Revenue
LinkedIn makes over $1B in revenue each quarter and has three principal sources of revenues that have been pretty steady splits over time: 65% from talent solutions, 18% from marketing solutions and 17% from premium account subscriptions:
J) LinkedIn: When To Post
Usually it’s fool’s gold to determine best posting times, because once everybody knows, they all try to market at the same place, leaving other windows of opportunity open for more savvy marketers and practitioners.
Having said all that, given the cadence of business life, there is some wisdom for the preferred posting times on LinkedIn so you are not missing dad as he drops his kid off at hockey practice or mom before she heads off for a morning jog. The middle three weekdays for the 7am early readers/risers, 12pm lunch-at-the-deskers and 5-6pm end-of- the-day grazers are LinkedIn rush hours..
K) LinkedIn : What to Post
OK Dork’s Noah Kagan has produced some nice rigorous analysis on the type of posts that tend to work on LinkedIn. I don’t buy into all of his stuff, because like most research, it’s based on history and doesn’t reflect changing user behaviours, but i have attached a set of the things based on my own experience, really do hunt:
- A) Neutral sentiment – LinkedIn users really don’t go for the hyper-inflated, inflammatory headlines – this is a forum that is decidedly un-Buzzfeed
- B) Long from posts – if you have a good enough topic or content, LinkedIn users will dive deep going over 2,000 words long
- C) Sections – as per point B, people like their content long, but they do like it sectioned up into 5-8 headings
- D) Lists and How-Tos – people are looking for good counsel from others who have done stuff before – given them shortened lists and How-To Do It articles are the grist of LinkedIn surfing
- E) Visuals – LinkedIn users are moving to video slowly (most business video is horribly done), For now, they don’t mind 8+ visuals to support and section out some of the content you are talking about on the platform
- F) Title Length – not an extreme skew, but 30-40 word titles is the sweetspot on LinkedIn (this is longer than other platforms) – likely a lagging indicator in that the best posts have a good hook and call to action (separated perhaps by a colon)
L) LinkedIn: How to Post
No earth shattering surprises here, perhaps infographics and images are still big engagement drivers on LinkedIn, having become commonplace on most other digital platforms. LinkedIn is moving to a native video environment, but for now if it’s multimedia, links are best used.
M) LinkedIn: The Why of Your Post
People undeniably spend more time on LinkedIn as they ponder casually or seriously new career paths and opportunities, therefore content around that topic area makes sense. Encouragingly, employees are not just looking to find insight to jump ship, they are 70% more likely to interact with your own company’s content. More generally, people are looking for a digest on what’s really going on in the world outside their own company.
N) Linkedin: Frequency and Active Voice
A LinkedIn account holder can easily post 20+ times per month without risking turning off their followers. In fact, the most followed and prolific posters go well above that number. Crossposting from other social sites is most dangerous on LinkedIn where the tone of voice and communication style is much more professional. Using an active voice that personalizes, lists out and provides answers to questions is also good practice.
O) LInkedIn: The Personal Profile Best Practices
A huge swing factor exists for what represents a good personal profile page and a bad one on LinkedIn. Aesthetics, tone of voice, completeness and investing the time in succinct communications is fundamental. Take my connection Tim Peters as an example (who I see a lot on my LinkedIn feeds – kudos Tim). Beyond having a lot of different and interesting things going on with his business life and causes, Tim nails the “price of admission” stuff in his profile:
- Members with a profile photo can get up to 14-21x more traffic and 36x more messages than those that don’t
- The quality of photo is quite subjective, but let’s start with no selfies, and high enough resolution, visible face (at least 2/3rds of the window) and professional personality and wardrobe -consistency with image are good rules of thumb. Likability, competance and influence are what people want to project about you in the 20% of the time on their profile analyzing your photo
- Listing Location and Education gets you into LinkedIn searches 21x and 17x more than people that don’t
- Contacts – your power in the marketplace is proportional to the size of your network, so at minimum, you should strive to get up to 300-500 contacts
- A Concise 40-120 word Punchy Profile Headline – here is somebody that has spent a lot of time thinking about this one
- A Smart 1,200-2,000 Summary Statement -the words contribute to the LinkedIn internal search engine, so use all of them, especially the key ones you’re trying to be noticed for
- A Well Constructed List of Professional Experience– going deep on your last 3 roles with action verbs, statistics that stand out and ensuring the company you worked for links to their actual company page,
- A Deep List of Skills & Endorsements – people who list at least five skills receive up to 17x more profile views and the more you have the higher ranking in searches you will be, With changes to LinkedIn’s algorithm, the skills visitors see will be ranked according to the mutual interests of the reader and profiler.
- Recommendations from Customers, Peers & Colleagues – profiles with recommendations get up to 7 times more inquiries than profiles who don’t. Asking for them as matter of practice after good work makes sense. People read the genuine ones vs. the ones that have been brokered for favours in return.
- Involvement in Select LinkedIn Groups – although groups have become ghost towns of engagement, they still project common or positive affiliations and group-joining participants create 5X more traffic for themselves than those that don’t join groups
- Highlighted Projects – an underused area , ensure you are profiling the best stuff you have worked on, executed or had successes with
- Publications / Written Works – for authors, bloggers and journalists, it may be easier, but there may be something public-facing that you’re particularly proud of that will show off your interests, knowledge and skills
P) LinkedIn: Why Business Love It?
More than its research & intelligence capabiiities, marketing & content effectiveness and vendor sourcing reasons, one of the biggest reasons why business loves LinkedIn is its ability to generate leads. When your conversion rate is more than 4X its closest social network cousin, you can hear that Alec Baldwin voice from Glengarry Glen Ross in your head “the leads, the leads”.
Q) LinkedIn – Company Pages’ Best Practices
LinkedIn hosted a 2017 competition on the best company pages among the 20 million that exist out there currently. Have a look at the top 10 pages that rose to the top, Schneider Electric was one of the them,. Here’s a list of acknowledged best practices for these and other good company pages:
- Logo and Cover Image – those that use a logo have 6X more traffic and have their image show up on employee profiles
- Sponsor Your Best Content – ensuring that others, not just current followers get to see your good stuff
- Consistent, High Quality Content – the best do it as little as 2x per week or as much as 7-8X per day, a consistent pattern is key.
- Variety – spread out effective content across company: community highlights, news/promotion, employee-features, and thought leader/informational content.
- Employee Engagement – exciting a strong visible core of employee advocates, coordinated to extend that news out to a bigger circle outside the company
- Showcase Pages – use sub-pages to outline individual brands, ventures or initiatives the company owns or has undertaken
- Career Pages and Featured Groups Offshoots – more opportunities for targeted content & activities and cross-pollination of parent content
- Keywords – use them in a regular stream of content but particularly in two areas: your company description and specialties.
- Visuals/Video – as shared in section L, we live in a visual era and we also presume LinkedIn will prioritize natively playing videos vs. YouTube links in the near future
- Thought Leadership – items of interest that lead thinking for your industry, your organization or your customers (see section R)
R) LinkedIn – Thought Leadership
Content marketing firm BuzzSumo went through 10 million LinkedIn articles to crack the code on what headlines make the most sense and get more shares. If you look at the top five LinkedIn headline phrases (“the future of”, “X ways to”, “need to know”, “in the world”, “of the year”), it’s all about understanding a perspective that other people don’t have yet and sharing it on a timely basis (conversely, Facebook’s top phrases focus on the reaction you will have after reading the post “will make you”, “this is why” and “can we guess”).
S) LinkedIn : Cross Interaction with Other Social Platforms
Content and communications doesn’t exist in a vacuum. A lot of back and forth exists between major platforms and specifically, Pew Research Center has proven much higher likelihood of users switching between LinkedIn and the “simple, just the facts/pics” Twitter and Instagram platforms
T) LinkedIn : The Biggest Soft Skills of The Future
LinkedIn hosted research that went deep on what recruiters are really looking for. More than hard technical skills, 57% of them weighted the general soft skills of leadership, communication, collaboration and time management as most integral.
U) LinkedIn – Top Jobs in Demand
If you don’t believe we’re living in a technology universe, have a look at LinkedIn’s top 11 jobs in demand.
V) LinkedIn – Top Companies to Work For in the US
Some expected culture magnets here. I suppose Comcast might be the only one that raises a Spockian eyebrow given some of its reputational and historical customer experience issues.
W) LinkedIn : Top Companies to Work For In Canada
As a dyed-in-the-wool Canadian, I had to include the 15 companies to work for in the great white north. My fear is LinkedIn’s Canadian list might have a little more to do with scale than passion as four banks, two consultancies and our biggest telco make the list. Good to see and heartened by genuine Wikibrands – Hootsuite, Shopify and lululemon cracking the higher echelons of top Canadian corporate cultures.
X) LinkedIn – Top Industry Growth Over Last 15 Years
The web has such a short memory, it was good to see LinkedIn do a summary of what industries have grown the most over a generation of time. With “outsourcing” and “recruiting” cracking the top 5, it makes me wonder how the heck did we ever hire people and firms pre-2002?
Y) LinkedIn – The Fastest Growing Job Segments of the last 5 years
The Linkedin Emerging Jobs list almost mirror perfectly our Top 30 technologies list. AI & Machine Learning. Check. Data Scientist and Big Data Developer. Check. Sales, Customer Success and CX technology. Check. Collaboration, partners & head of partnerships. Check.
Z) LinkedIn – The Catch All Category of Things We Didn’T Know Yesterday
- Plenty of Room to Grow: the typical LinkedIn user uses the platform 17 minutes per month vs. a comparable 10 hours for Facebook.
- The 1% Rule – only 1% of LinkedIners have more than 10,000 connections – see distribution below (don’t know how that makes me feel about my 15k+ – blissful or dysfunctional?).
- They’re Rich – 41% of millionaires use LinkedIn
- Just Don’t Use That Word – “motivated” was the most overused word on Linkedin three years running
- The World is Small – 59% of Linkedin members have never worked for a company with more than 200 employees
- We Really Do Like Each Other – there have been over 1 billion endorsements on LinkedIn.
- Big Dreams – LinkedIn currently has 20MM companies and 500MM people on its platform; it’s long term goal is 70MM companies and 3B people
- No Ordinary Eyeballs – 45% of LinkedIn article readers are in upper-level positions (managers, VPs, Directors, C-level)
- Company > Personal Pages – Company pages convert 17x better on their posts
- They’re Smart – 50% of college grads are on LinkedIn, 72% higher than the average population
- Mister, You Forgot to… – only 51% of LinkedIn users have complete profiles, even though complete profiles get 40X more traffic
Given all this knowledge and the value LinkedIn provides businesses and their professionals, someone should really consider setting up a one-stop grading and makeover business for LinkedIn users and company pages. Between the photographers, designers, copy writers and culture/talent mavens we use, we could become the NAPA Autopro of Linkedin driving. Maybe next year.