It's the place to be. Join 50 groups. Ask questions. Answer questions. Connect. Like discussions. Contribute comments. Is it a means to an end or is it all a huge waste of time?
LinkedIn is a tool that I use more than some and less than others. As busy as I am, I'm unable to spend an hour on LinkedIn each day, but I do visit daily. I am engaged. And I always wonder if it's a complete waste of time. In this article, I'll share the highlights and lowlights from my informal LinkedIn effectiveness analysis and you may be very surprised with my conclusion. [Click to Tweet]
How much of our business comes from LinkedIn? We should know this, right? The first answer is easy...NONE of our call-in business comes from LinkedIn and it shouldn't, right? But what percentage of the business coming from landing pages on my Blog, the Kurlan & Associates website or the Objective Management Group (OMG) website come from LinkedIn, either directly or indirectly?
Of the 115,000 plus visits tracked to my blog in the past 6 months, less than 1% of that traffic came from social media although most of that small amount was from LinkedIn. Did any of that turn into business? 21 forms on landing pages were completed, but the majority of those landing pages were blog subscriptions, not downloads, samples, videos, white papers, nor requests for more information. None of those 21 ever came close to entering the pipeline. There was no business as a result of visits from LinkedIn.
In comparison, about a third of those 115,000 visits were the result of organic search and many visits were from referral sites where someone was visiting another website and clicked a link that brought them here. 1.2% of all visitors completed a form on a landing page and the sources that converted best were the referral sites, followed closely by email marketing and organic search. Some of these contacts become clients.
So where is LinkedIn in all of this? Nowhere, really. Except first degree connections. They'll sometimes reach out to me - sometimes to do business - and I'll sometimes reach out to them.
Let's look at LinkedIn in another way.
One of the groups I belong to, Sales Management Executives, has 205,000 members. With a group that large, you would expect to see incredible engagement, right? This morning I looked through the current discussions and counted 9 new discussions from today, but because we are looking for engagement, I looked at the discussions that were started 3 days ago. Between them, there were 2 comments and 29 likes from 25 discussions posted to 205,000 people and 14 of those likes all belonged to a single discussion. My knee-jerk reaction is that this group is a complete waste of time as there appears to be only 50 or so people or .004% of the group engaged. Is this the norm?
I looked through a second group I belong to, ATD Sales Enablement Community. This group is more of a niche so I expected better engagement from their 11,000 plus members. In the past week there were a total of only 5 new discussions which, between them, collected 5 comments and 0 likes. Historically, there have been a few good discussions in this group but it is the exception, not the norm.
Next I checked in on Executive Round Table and its 17,000 plus members. There were 40 new discussions posted in the past 3 days with 2 comments and 3 likes. Of those 40 discussions, 15 of them were SPAM - income opportunities, loans, investments, etc., and 8 of the 25 remaining conversations were redirects back to the poster's blog article or website. Yikes!
I'm not suggesting that there isn't any meaningful content, nor am I suggesting that I never find a discussion in which to participate. But they are few and far between. You would need to look very hard to find one worthy of your time.
I'm connected to more than 1,000 people on LinkedIn, but a quick trip to my LinkedIn home page, where updates from my connections are posted, suggests that on any given day, there are probably fewer than 25 people - or 2.5% - that are actively engaged.
Another way of looking at LinkedIn is to dissect the discussion topics in the groups. For this analysis, I visited a newer group, Sales & Marketing - Top Management (Worldwide), which has nearly 8,000 members. Of the 15 discussions posted in the past week, all 15 were started by experts (including me) - where the discussion was either a rhetorical question (not me) to which the expert already knew the answer, or a link to the poster's blog article (I did that) or website. The only people engaged are the experts who are looking for more business! Who would want to be part of a group like that?
Until today, I had always believed that if I wrote good blog articles like this one and then shared my content in the LinkedIn groups, that it was a good thing - people would benefit - and it would improve visibility. But today, with my critical eye, I concluded that content like this is not what belongs in these groups and additionally, taking the time to post there is a complete waste of time. I have proof. In the first 6 months of 2015, I have written 50 articles and shared each article with around 10 groups on LinkedIn. If only 3,000 of 115,000 visits can be tracked back to LinkedIn, that averages out to around 60 visits per article or 6 per group, per article. It would be more productive to get an extra hour of sleep each night!
Today I read an article - it was posted on LinkedIn - that said Twitter was the more powerful social medium for business. Really? There are about 25 other sales experts that regularly tweet updates to their followers when we all post new articles to our Blogs. Let's suppose that one quarter of my articles got tweeted by half of those experts to an average of 1,000 followers each (I don't know any of these actual numbers, so I'm trying to be very conservative.) That would be 13 articles x 12 tweeters x 1,000 followers or tweets that reached 156,000 which resulted in 70 visits over 6 months. Yup, Twitter will be really useful!
At OMG, we have a private LinkedIn group for the 150 global partners who recommend and use our sales force evaluations and candidate assessments with companies like yours. I wish I could say that this group is the exception and utilizes LinkedIn exceptionally well. Unfortunately, that isn't the case and engagement is no better than in any of the other groups I used as examples.
At the beginning of this article I said I would share my LinkedIn highlights and lowlights and all I have shared so far is lowlights. Are you ready for the highlights?
To me, the phone is looking better and better every day. Read this article for more information on the next big game changer for sales.
I still think LinkedIn is important for making connections, visibility and getting found. But the additional time we spend on LinkedIn would be better spent on the phone, talking with prospective customers and clients.