With so many social media platforms at our fingertips, LinkedIn is an often neglected choice by business owners when considering marketing options. It could be that once you stop thinking of it as just a social media site but rather a bulked up CRM tool, then you can take advantage of the options it offers.
It’s clear that more business owners and marketers would utilize LinkedIn more if they were aware of all the aspects it has to offer in regards to lead generation, engagement and relationship building, not to mention LinkedIn’s features, tools and applications to assist with publishing and advertising potential.
Viveka von Rosen is the expert when it comes to LinkedIn. Her seminars, webinars and workshops have taught and trained well over 100,000 people on how to best use LinkedIn.
Rich: Viveka von Rosen is the author of bestselling LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour A Day and a contributing expert to several official LinkedIn publications. She has 32,000 followers on LinkedIn and 86,000 followers on Twitter. Her seminars, webinars and workshops have taught and trained well over 100,000 people.
Viveka has personally worked with several Fortune 500 executives and New York TIme’s authors, as well as both large corporations and smaller businesses. Forbes has her listed as a top social media influencer for 3 years, and she has been cited and featured in Money Magazine, Simple Living, CNN, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Mashable and the Social Media Examiner.
Viv, welcome to the show!
Viveka: Thank you so much, Rich. It’s an honor to be here, of course.
Rich: Of course. It’s obviously the crowning jewel in all those other stepping stones along the way.
Viveka: That’s exactly what I was thinking.
Rich: Good, good, we’re on the same page. Alright, you’re the LinkedIn person, you’re the LinkedIn expert, let’s get straight to LinkedIn. Now, you’ve had success as a LinkedIn expert, but how do you make the case for business owners or the marketers who work for them that LinkedIn is worth their time?
Viveka: It’s a little bit of reframing. The reason I picked LinkedIn is because most of my verticals were more comfortable with it than say, Facebook, Twitter, etc. So first of all I say you’ve got to stop thinking of LinkedIn as a social media site. Yes, it’s a social media site but it’s a business social media site, it’s a business tool. Think of this as a CRM system, a customer relationship management tool on steroids. Think of this as a publishing platform on steroids. Think of this as an advertising platform on steroids and focused on your exact right audience.
So one of the things I’ll do – because I do have such a good network and the results are usually positive – I’ll do a search for them and say, “OK, who’s your ideal client, let’s do an advanced search to find out who it is. Are any of these people good for you? Here’s how you reach out and engage with them, connect with them, build relationships with them. And then eventually of course take it offline to a phone call or a meeting.” But this is how you do it. And at that point they’re like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you can do that on LinkedIn.”
Rich: So, my takeaway from that is LinkedIn has a steroids problem. Because three times you told me that it was CRM on steroids.
Viveka, how do you use LinkedIn? Are you there daily, do you check out the feed, what’s your M.O. when you’re using LinkedIn?
Viveka: Yeah, I absolutely use LinkedIn everyday. And I’ll be honest with you, some things my assistant does for me, and that’s a little bit of a gray area, but I figure it’s my profile so she can do that. There’s some of the more monotonous things that my assistant will do, anyone that endorses me she’ll send a little thank you and we send a letter to anyone who invites me to connect. But I always go through – it’s a little more difficult now with the stupid new messenger feature – but I’ll go through and I’ll always put my eye on the people who communicated with me on LinkedIn.
It is by far the main source of all my leads for all my business so I definitely spend some time in the Inbox. I publish, of course, on LinkedIn so I’ll bop into my stats and go look at who’s responding, liking and sharing my publications. We’ll look at my activity and see who’s liked or shared either my company page updates or my personal updates. I would spend more time there if I didn’t have so much activity elsewhere. So for a new business owner I would say, yeah, your updates are one of the few places where people who are not in your network can communicate for you so you should definitely tuck those out. But since I do get a lot of activity in my Inbox I probably don’t spend as much time there as I should.
With the new Groups app I spend more time on my mobile now than I do on the desktop, so I spend a little more time in Groups. So I think having a checklist and if you’ve got an assistant or VA, it’ll keep you online and up front and center on LinkedIn.
Rich: Alright, you just dropped a lot of good stuff. What I’m hearing – and I want to come back and talk about all of them – but what I’m hearing is at least 4 different areas that you’re spending time in or that you’re recommending that people spend time on depending on where they are in the process.
One being your Inbox. I think a lot of us forget to check their LinkedIn Inbox. I know I have it forwarded to my regular email, but it is amazing how many people say, “I didn’t see this for 6 months.” And I’m like, well, that opportunity is no longer there.
So the Inbox, the feed, you’re also publishing on LinkedIn so I want to come back to talk about that, and then Groups being the 4th one. One thing I didn’t hear you mention is Pages. I always go back and forth on whether there’s a lot of value in Pages. My personal feeling is that they’re great if you are constantly hiring new people, but for small businesses, I mean you can publish to it in the same way that you might publish something to your Facebook page but it’s just now where I “hang out” on LinkedIn.
Viveka: Yeah, I have to agree with you. If Pages were more autonomous like Facebook pages – and I wish LinkedIn would go there – I think they’d be really powerful. Right now they’ve got great Google juice, and if you run ads you pretty much have to have a page. And if you’re scheduling things out on Oktopost or Hootsuite or SproutSocial anyway, then you might as well add your page to it. And even the showcase pages, I was so excited about showcase pages – total miss.
You have to have one for credibility but are you going to spend 20-30 minutes a day there? Not unless you’re hiring and you really want to create that culture for the individuals looking at your company to come work with me.
Rich: Cool. One other thing you mentioned – and I’ve talked about it on the show, too – but I don’t do all my LinkedIn work. You mentioned you have an assistant and there is a certain amount of grunt work that does come with actively using LinkedIn. And I’m the same way, I tend to batch responses to invitations and somebody from my office usually logs in on my behalf. But part of it is when they respond, then it comes into my Inbox, and then I can respond back to people similar to the way you’re using it.
Viveka: Yeah, that’s exactly how I’m using it. Now with the new Inbox it’s a lot more difficult because it’s all just mushed together. There’s no way of sorting – well, I have a tool – but on LinkedIn there’s no way of sorting anymore sent messages, received messages, archived messages, invitations, introductions, it’s all mushed together. I’m finding that extremely frustrating so yeah, doing it through email. I mean, isn’t that ridiculous, in order to better manage our Inbox, we have to go off LinkedIn.
Viveka: And that’s a fail if you ask me. Which you didn’t. Anyway.
Rich: That was a bonus for me, so there you go. So I think for people who are feeling overwhelmed by LinkedIn – maybe because they’re heavily connected – there is an opportunity to share the weight. So, let’s talk about the stupid messenger app.
Viveka: Why, why?!
Rich: Tell me a little bit about your frustrations here and maybe some ways that we can still work with the messenger.
Viveka: So I get the idea LinkedIn is pretty much following behind Facebook, and so Facebook Messenger has been very popular as its own app and of course on the website itself. So Linked in – I think – pretty much just adopted the “algorithm”, that same look, that same user interface, and it just, in my opinion, it doesn’t work for LinkedIn.
First of all, the average user of LinkedIn is older than Facebook, it’s like 42+ now on average. It’s an older group of people and we like our Inboxes and our Mailboxes, not everything has to be a chat, number one. Number two, taking away the ability to sort our mail – inbox versus outbox versus archived versus thrown away versus invite versus group invitation I mean, all of that is gone and it is incredibly frustrating if you are an active user on LinkedIn and you get 3-4 messages a week, no big deal. It’s almost like they’re slapping the hand of the users, first of all, for some odd reason.
I do like the ability to easily add images and attach files. So they’ve had that and it’s never really stuck, but it works now. So that’s good. They’ve taken away our ability to add a poppy subject line, so if you’re really good at email and poppy subject lines, that’s gone. And hey, we have emojis now, because we’re all 12. It’s just like, really, Seinfeld emoji? First of all you’re going to have an emoji and you’re going to make it Seinfeld?
Rich: I have not discovered the Seinfeld emoji, I’m going to have to look for this.
Viveka: Yeah. Go ahead through the gifs and there’s a couple Seinfeld gifs in there. Again, I’m not quite sure that was worth giving up. And then the thing that I miss the most which was kind of my secret weapon that I taught my clients was the Bcc option, so the ability to tag groups of people within your LinkedIn network and then Bc them messages, LinkedIn got rid of that and all group messaging now.
And let me tell you, my inbox is just a giant mess of being in way too many group messages that I’m not interested in seeing. And even when you delete them, if someone replies it pops back up again and you delete it. If someone replies it pops back up again, so again it’s just a giant mess right now.
Rich: Yeah, I got my first group message like that – I’m obviously not as popular as you – so I only got one, but yeah. I thought there was a way that you could mute it using those 3 dots or report it as spam, because it was completely inappropriate. Not inappropriate that way, but it had nothing to do and it was just spam and it was just clogging up the interweb.
Viveka: Yeah, you can, but I still keep getting them. So you can absolutely mute a conversation or report a spam. The report of spam seems to get rid of it, the muted conversation, like I said when someone else hit “reply”, it will pop back up on mine. So, yeah.
Rich: They still need to work that out.
Viveka: My hope is that they fix it. I found a third party tool but it’s also $50/month to be able to do what I used to do for free last month.
Rich: Right. Alright, so the Messenger is stupid. It’s got some strengths, it’s got some weaknesses, maybe they’re on the right path, we’ll have to find that out. Now you also mention that you’re publishing on LinkedIn. This is something that I have been debating, I can barely keep up with my own blog and yet here I am saying, “Oh, let me publish somewhere else where I can own the landscape.”
But obviously there are benefits to publishing on LinkedIn. You also have a blog. How do you decide what you’re going to publish to your blog versus what you’re going to publish to LinkedIn?
Viveka: If it’s LinkedIn, I do it to both. I will change up some images maybe, or change the header line, or maybe not. It really depends on how relevant it is to my audience. Now we have to understand not all of us are Rich Brooks, so I have found for most of my folks who are not as influential as you are, they actually do better on LinkedIn because you’re competing with 300 or 400 million other people and not 3 billion other people as compared to Google. So you’re going to get more visibility. And still even though I’ve got a lot of traffic to my LinkedIn To Business blog, I still get more likes, more comments, more shares, more activity on Publisher. So far I haven’t seen any Google slaps, my traffic hasn’t gone down on my personal blog, I haven’t’ seen any downside to repurposing.
Rich: Are you publishing at the same time or are you staggering those publishings?
Viveka: Stagger. So there’s a ninja trick and statistics seem to show that if you publish Sunday night at 8pm EST, you’re going to get more visibility and you get almost the whole weekend plus the Monday morning crowd across Europe and then the east coast for the analytics, you tend to have a better chance of your post being seen. So when I remember to do it – and there’s no way of automatically scheduling it yet, if there is please tell me – so 8pm, that’s usually when my post goes out I’ll remember to do that as compared to my website.
Rich: Of course now the millions of listeners we have on the show are all going to post at 8:00 PM.
Rich: So don’t do that people.
Viveka: Not Sunday, I meant 4:00 PM on Friday, my bad.
Rich: So Pulse is the name of the platform that you’re publishing on, correct? Or is Pulse like the curated list? And I guess that’s another question, how do they choose what is the cream of the crop, is that done by algorithm or done by people?
Viveka: Combination, from what I’ve heard that I’ve been able to get out of LinkedIn. So Publisher is the platform, Pulse is the news reader that if you’re lucky enough to get one of your published posts into Pulse you have a better chance of getting seen, viewed, etc. Now all the numbers have gone down, you say you don’t publish but almost everyone I’ve talked to their numbers have gone way down from when only 2 million people were publishing compared to 12 million now. But anyway, if you get on Pulse you have a better chance of someone else seeing, liking, sharing with you through that post.
So yeah, the algorithm for getting found as been told to me is that initially it’s an automatic algorithm of likes to shares to views, but also there are real life human being LinkedIn editors who will actually look at the content and move it into channels. I don’t know if that’s been automated completely yet, but what I have heard is there is actually real people doing that. If you can develop a relationship with one of those LinkedIn editors, that is awesome.
Basically you just want to write really good content. Now blogging and published posts differ a little bit, there’s the old saying – and I don’t think this is necessarily true – that blog posts should be 300-800 words. Longer posts seem to do better, but anyway on LinkedIn they definitely do better at 1900 or 1400 words. Do a little research on the existing channels and see what can be shared and then kind of maybe repurposing and customize your existing content to be more in alignment to what’s being liked and shared on LinkedIn.
Rich: Alright, that makes sense. And are the tools the same or similar to WordPress? Like can I upload images, can I embed video, or it is pretty much a text-based medium?
Viveka: No, it’s like WordPress 1.0. So you can add 2 different headers, you can align left and center but not right, you can embed YouTube video and Slideshare. Things like embedding a Blab, you can’t do that yet. You can certainly add images, you can do quotes, you can add hyperlinks, you can put a Johnson box at the bottom with a link back to your website or even to a landing page. Although actually, if you get a lot of views and people are actually reading all the way through to the bottom of your LinkedIn post, so there’s a lot of opportunity to drive traffic, too.
Rich: Sounds good. So Viv, you mentioned groups earlier, years ago when I first got on LinkedIn one of my favorite things is the “Answer section”. They ask questions, you get answers, great stuff. I miss that a lot, I was bummed when they took that away. Then they switched over to groups which was equally as good, but then at some point the groups were just overrun with spammers and what I call “drive by postings” – and I’m as guilty as anybody else – posting from your own blog post, never engaging in conversation. And then you go visit the group and suddenly everybody is promoting their blog post and nobody’s talking.
I know that LinkedIn made some really big strategic changes to groups, can you just kind of give us the rundown and what that means to us as marketers?
Viveka: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s funny because after the spamfest LinkedIn came in with SWAM – Site Wide Auto Moderation – then it was totally throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So now if you got flagged even once, now all of your content goes into the moderator queue.
So with LinkedIn with the changes they’re making to Groups, I don’t know what happens with people who have already been put into auto moderation, but what happens to people who have already joined their 50-ish groups. But what is happening with the new groups that are starting out now and with the new user interface is that first of all to join a group you either have to be invited by the group owner or the group moderator if it’s an unlisted group, or by another group member if it is a private group. There are no more private groups and content is no longer open, which is kind of a bummer for those of us that were just using it for marketing. And in private groups you can apply to be a part of the group, but then the moderator has to go in – and most moderators are super lazy – so if they even go into their moderation queue and look and see if there’s an invitation there. So it’s going to mean more work to the moderator, but that’s not a bad thing.
I think why groups were so good at the beginning is people were really active and engaged and the moderators were really engaged, and then it got to be too much. So I think this new user interface and some of the new restrictions are actually going to cut down. It’s going to increase the work for the moderator and cut down on all the topical spammy stuff. Hopefully it will encourage deeper conversation, and one of the things I love is the new iOS app. I’m as guilty as you are. You write a post, you click on the groups and then you pick 5 of the relevant groups and then you send the post to the same 5 groups. So I’m just as guilty as that.
But what I will tell you, I really like – right now it’s only on iPhone – I like the new Groups application. If you literally just go into your iTunes and do LinkedIn Groups, it’s like the 3rd or 4th one that shows up, it’s not the 1st one. The new LinkedIn Groups app is actually really good, it pulls up the most popular conversations so you can actually engage when you’re standing in line. It’s for those in between times when you’re not sitting necessarily trying to be productive at work, you’re standing in line, you’re on the subway, you’re on the toilet, I don’t know.
Rich: You said it, not me. Just a reminder that I’m never using your phone.
Viveka: I would never do that, of course. But it’s great for those in between times and what I’ve found is I’m catching more notifications, I’m responding to more people who have responded to my posts, the relationships I’m building are better, so I’m hopeful. A lot of people are kind of naysaying this new look and this new feel of Groups, but I’m actually really hopeful about it.
Rich: Well I’m sure that a lot of people who thought they were driving a lot of traffic to their website for those amazing blog posts that they were sharing on Groups are upset, because it makes it more difficult now. But I think for those of us that really did get benefit out of the groups and miss those conversations, I think for the rest of us it’s going to be a positive thing. And of course I find myself in both camps, I do the drive by posting occasionally, less now because I just don’t think it’s effective anymore.
Viv, this has been great and you have shared a lot of awesome information with us. I know that a lot of people are going to want to learn even more from you, where can we find you online?
Viveka: So my main blog site is LinkedInToBusiness.com. For the B2B crowd, more for lead gen with B2B, I’ve got b2blinkedintraining.com. There are some free videos and some free ebooks there you might want to take a peek at, especially if you’re newer to LinkedIn. And then we’ve actually got content marketing at linkedincontentmarketing.com where we do a whole program on publisher and how to use publisher.
So those are three ways to find me, and I’m @linkedinexpert on Twitter and always happy to respond to you there. And I’m Viveka@linkeditobusiness if you have any other questions for me.
Rich: Awesome, Viv. Thank you so much for your time today, I absolutely appreciate it.
Viveka: My pleasure. Thank you for the honor of speaking with you, Mr. Rich Brooks.
Got a burning LinkedIn question for the LinkedIn expert? Shoot Viveka an email.
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Be sure to check of Viveka’s blog site for all the information, tips and tricks you need to know about LinkedIn.
If you’re interest is more B2B and lead gen specific, check out Viveka’s training series where she has a free ebook and free videos to help you learn the ins and outs of LinkedIn.
If you’re interested in a startup guide to business marketing on LinkedIn, you will definitely be interested in reading Viveka’s book on the topic.