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During the COVID-19 lockdown, we all had to spend more time working in the Home Office. In turn, our use of digital communication platforms for work and personal reasons has increased. For instance, data from Linkedin tell us:

  • There was a 55 percent increase in conversations, such as comments, between March of 2019 and March of 2020.
  • There were 300 percent more “live broadcasts” during February and March/April 2020.

The use of webinars or web events and viewing of videos has also increased:

  • 272 percent more comments were made during live stream events during February and March 2020 alone; and
  • 180 percent more hours of watching videos on #LinkedInLearning =>  4 Million hours in March, 7.7 million hours in April 2020.

By the way, our focus here is on using these platforms for work related purposes, not our hobbies or entertaining ourselves during our spare time. That’s why we chose LinkedIn, which is considered a business exchange platform.

LinkedIn ROI (Return on Investment)

Today people might tell you that time, personal as well as professional, is a very valuable asset. Accordingly, using social media platforms such as LinkedIn during work hours should benefit the individual as well as the company. With that in mind, some questions may arise:

  • If I share an update my employer made to the corporate LinkedIn page with the followers on my personal LinkedIn profile, is this time well spent?
  • Besides maybe getting one of my friends to smile when they see my comment on the shared company post, what other benefits are there?
  • Does my sharing help raise brand awareness for my employer with my circle of acquaintances?

What we do know is spending too much time on social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn may result in higher occurrences of signs of depression than if you spend time outdoors. LinkedIn and Instagram are both transaction platforms, while Baidu, Match.com, Uber, AirBnB or Hotels.com are intermediaries or online marketplaces that make it possible for users to exchange goods and services or information including contact data.

Most platforms have different objectives, such as trying to be a glorified Rolodex and helping you keep in touch with your career-related pals and acquaintances. For this, LinkedIn has created a means that should make it easier for us to stay connected. We will give you a short run down based on personal experiences and reflections.

Interesting read to check out: Cusumano, Michael A., Yoffie, David, B. & Gawer, Annabelle (Spring 2020). The future of platforms. MIT Sloan Management Review, pp. 46-54. Accessed on 2020-06-01 from http://sloanfreview.mit.edu/x/61304

How do you keep LinkedIn groups alive? Personal reflections

We started a group in November 2009 and did pretty well until about 2013. The focus was on how lawyers could use social media and what legal and economic issues they had to consider for themselves and their clients. Many legal luminaries were actively participating. But at that time LinkedIn was very new for lawyers and the world had yet to begin with using social media channels in earnest. Here are some facts for you about our former group.

  • Title: Originally ‘Social Media for Lawyers’, now Social Media for Lawyers with Nancy Myrland
  • Founders / Owners: Founder Nils Victor Montan (lawyer), I was asked to join shortly after it got launched as a social media expert, Nancy Myrland (the current owner; also a social media expert) became a co-moderator around 2013.
  • Founded: November 2009
  • Members: 3,327
  • Moderating: No pre-approval needed, but violating the principles and the focus may result in the deletion of content.

At the beginning we spent at least 15 minutes each day ensuring we replied to every comment left by a member. We also used to monitor this group 24 hours a day. Not that difficult, considering that Nils was in the US, and I was in Europe. But it took A LOT of time.

Then, my colleague Nils Montan (a crackerjack lawyer) felt that his interests had shifted. I was working in a start-up, so I had to be very careful with my time. Another problem for me was that in those years, I was unlikely to serve clients in Argentina or Singapore, but many of our active group members came from far away places.

So we passed the baton to Nancy in about 2013. She is a very savvy social media consultant and had worked with us as a co-moderator for a while beforehand. She does a great job of sharing interesting stuff and tidbits for lawyers using various social media platforms even today. But things have changed. Nancy is the most active poster, yet lawyers – our primary target group – have become pretty much inactive in the group.

Fact 1: You need plenty of stamina to keep going. Even if you have the resources (most large firms such as Philips do), is it worth the trouble to spend maybe three working hours every week on moderating a LinkedIn or Facebook group? Is a once-weekly activity enough, or do I need to engage daily?

LinkedIn Check: Groups have lost their shine, finding added value is getting to be difficult.
LinkedIn Check: Groups have lost their shine; finding added value is getting difficult.

What is LinkedIn groups’ latest illness?

Many of the factors above can be used to describe even some of the most successful groups. One example is the one listed below (see also screenshot above), from global consumer brand Philips. But why would Philips decide to close such a group?

  • Innovations in Health group on LinkedIn (not hyperlinked because Philips closed it June 30, 2020)
  • Owner: Philips
  • Founded: September 2009
  • Members June 2020: 165,142
  • Moderating: Members’ posts require admin approval before they become visible to others
  • Closing: At the beginning of spring 2020, the page had this text: “The Innovations in Health group will be closed on June 30, 2020. Please follow the Philips LinkedIn page to continue the conversation: https://www.linkedin.com/company/philips/

Clearly, the group had amassed plenty of members since its launch. Already with its name, it was clear its primary focus was health and innovation. Nevertheless, moderating such a group is not an easy job and takes time and patience. In other words, you need to enforce the group’s charter. If posts do not fit the charter, they have to be pulled and people have to be warned. This gets to be a pain after a while, but you have to remain courteous, polite, and professional – despite needing to deal with members who know they overstepped the charter or group guidelines. Even if caught, some people still react surprised and irritated when told that what they did was neither nice nor according to the rules.

The greatest challenge is keeping up the engagement and participation of the members. The Philips group on Innovation in Health and our former Social Media for Lawyers group illustrate this very well. Especially because exchanging ideas, and hosting discussions of people’s differing opinions is what we are after. At least in theory.

Fact 2: Just broadcasting seems to be perceived as more resource-effective than running a community group (see Philips corporate LinkedIn profile as a corporate page).

Do some of these platforms that supposedly want to foster discussions and dialogue belong in our rearview mirror? Is it like a balloon – the air is out, the novelty has worn off, and LinkedIn ROI is a thing of the past?

LinkedIn ROI Check and Engagement KPIs

Marketers find that increasing value in user-generated content is one of the pipe dreams we are being sold. Specifically, we are supposedly able to gain traction in terms of engagement rates and ROI. But how many times will you look at Made.com’s Instagram posts that showcase its products in customer homes?

Buffalo Wild Wings created an ad in just six days using homemade fan videos. In reference to the absence of live sporting events, the ad shows a number of people creating their own made-up sports at home. Yes, it created 100,000 views by now, but did it help sell products? Since it was mentioned in the press as a laudable example of how to do it right, the brand awareness certainly went up. Great.

The above two examples are Business to Consumer (B2C) situations, but if we look on LinkedIn, it does not seem to be vastly different in the Business to Business (B2B) space. To illustrate, social media is supposed to have moved us all from a broadcasting culture (few send to many) to a culture where many send to a few or maybe many who follow, but all engage, discuss, reply, and so forth. Some TV shows use hashtags and Twitter polls during live events, apparently to better engage with their audience.

The moderators of the closing Innovations in Health group directed me to the Philips corporate page on LinkedIn that has 1.6 Million followers, but:

  • 100, 20, or fewer likes per post – 80 percent of them Philips employees it seems, and
  • zero comments / engagement from the followers over the last month or even longer… okay, maybe one post with a single comment, but no reply from the author.

If we just post about our products as Philips and many other large companies do, we have downgraded a dialogue opportunity to an advertising channel. It basically provides little if any added value to our customers and potential clients. Is this bad or just a shift in what we find more effective for our company and how we communicate with clients on platforms like LinkedIn or Xing?

Fact 3: Navel-gazing metrics, such as simple follower numbers as a “possible reach” are not the whole story. 50 likes may be fine, but unless you get more substantive reader comments that in themselves add value to the original (i.e. more than just “great post”), who cares? Of course, the author(s) replying to the comment is a must, or the commenter is unlikely to feel appreciated, and chances are they’ll never comment again.

Time Sink: ROI von LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. brauchen viel Zeit. As lohnt und was nicht?
Time Sink: LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. require plenty of time. Is it worth it?

LinkedIn: Conclusions

Like Xing and other platforms, the fact remains that LinkedIn is a glorified electronic Rolodex (originally a rotating file device used to store business cards of contacts). I can get information about a person even if one changed has jobs. Unfortunately, in some cases, users make that difficult by not providing a phone number or contact email on their profile. However, this helps LinkedIn or Xing sell paid subscriptions that enable one to contact people via the platform directly.

The people whom you really wish to reach and who can help you in your B2B business are maybe executives in the purchasing or product development departments of your targeted client company. They may neither have the time nor be willing to take the time to be on LinkedIn or Xing.

LinkedIn Groups are a way you can connect and interact with like-minded professionals in your industry.

Neil Patel

Neil Patel’s (a British author, entrepreneur, marketer, and blogger) quote is interesting but it presumes that those you want to reach are active on the platform and want to engage. Who has the time, besides people like Neil, who is trying to convince us that it is worth it? Even if you are one of the top 40 digital strategists, as Neil claims to be, you cannot change these facts 😅.

For Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME – see EU definition) having business contacts in markets where they are not active might make one feel good. Obviously, their marketing and branding campaign worked, right? Nevertheless, those contacts and their interaction won’t make the cash register ring – today or tomorrow. Nor will such LinkedIn contacts help you to pay the rent at the end of this month.

Overall, we found that most active people on LinkedIn use the platform as an information and idea exchange marketplace. In addition, they find it helpful to stay in loose touch with (former) colleagues, since everyone will probably keep the profile updated. We also heard from some really small entrepreneurs (coaches, one-man-shows, etc.) that they do get inquiries for talks, sessions, or small business opportunities. For large companies such as Philips, LinkedIn and similar platforms represent a brand-building exercise, not a sales funnel.

Please share your experiences with us in the comments:

  • How much do you like and use LinkedIn and how much time do you spend engaging, commenting, or posting?
  • How do you know it is worth the time?

Interesting read to check out: Heffer, Taylor, Good, Marie, Daly, Owen, MacDonell, Elliott, and Willoughby, Teena (2019-06). The longitudinal association between social-media use and depressive symptoms among adolescents and young adults: An empirical reply to Twenge et al. (2018) (see also ResearchGate). Clinical Psychological Science, 7(3), 462-470. DOI: 10.1177/2167702618812727. Accessed on 2020-07-20 from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2167702618812727?journalCode=cpxa& or ResearchGate

Happy team working with a blockchain.

SEO techniques are supposed to help a website get more traffic from the target audience. One can spend plenty of money on hiring an SEO consultant. But is the expense worth the cost? We explain this by telling you about 10 tricks SEO experts use. Social media plays an important role as we explained previously here:

Read this entry in German here.

How can I save the cost for an SEO consultant?

When I got another question from a client in Europe 2 weeks ago I decided to put these 10 tips together to help us all save some serious cash.

Recently somebody in Europe asked me something similar to

Why should I not hire an SEO consultant?

Client asking drkpi®

The question is a good one since you can spend quite a lot of money hiring an an SEO consultant. The short answer we gave is below

Just follow our 10 tipps for avoiding the necessity for hiring an SEO consultant.

drkpi®

Download the checklist: Quick SEO Check: Tips and Tricks?

Traffic from organic search results experienced a sharp downturn at the end of March 2020. But so did Google’s search engine advertising. Nevertheless, during later April, things have again improved. Ruth Porat (Chief Financial Officer) pointed out that Google had seen “some signs users are returning to more normal behavior in search.” Hence, SEO techniques are again very important to get the traffic you need to succeed after the Corona lockdown.

Which SEO techniques are popular? 10 secrets SEO experts won’t tell

Some of the things you will here is that great content is king or organic content (i.e. content you wrote yourself) adds value. Such content that helps your target audience is the type that answers questions, a guide on how to overcome a problem or a video explaining how to put together an IKEA bookshelf. We have put these together below:

Why should we refrain from hiring an SEO consultant? Many SEO consultants are not that much better than you are if that. Things like building 5,000 links for x dollars… that is a waste of time and money. Instead, spend it on writing organic content that adds value and solves your target’ audience’s problems.

Why do social accounts in our brand name matter? You want to own the brand name or your URL in the “eyes” of Google. Thus a social media page for your brand or company is a must. There are many more than just Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, … So for the main ones, do it yourself and post 1 x a week if at all possible or 3 times between Monday to Friday on LinkedIn.
You can also hire a person to open 50 brand pages for you for the price of about US $ 3 to 10.
PS: but you still have to add content… :-) So choose wisely. Get a guy to do it (click)

How often should we update our website and blog? In the beginning, 2 x a week might be ideal. Thereafter, use 2 x 4 times a month. Sometimes you can simply not afford to spend more than 5 to 10 hours to create more than one blog post or webpage entry a month.

Why should we write so-called White Papers? These can be checklists, research reports or more extensive things. Allow people to download these papers. For instance, create a landing page / Wiki for a topic with many white papers, checklists, guides to download.

Which Google Tools should we use? Use the free Google tools – Google Analytics, Google Business Page (your entry is placed prominently in organic search results when people search for your company or brand name), Google Search Console, Google Scholar (research results), Google Question Hub and Google Trends.
PS. Comparing yourself to and mentioning your competitor’s name or brand will very likely bring you some of their

Why is the structure of a website important? Google looks for content that it beliefs users can understand. Accordingly, it looks for content that users can scan on their smartphone. Headers in html code such as H1, H2 and so forth in the text as well as bullets and short paragraphs/sentences help. Headings or sub-titels (e.g., H3) that ask a question that you answer in a few sentences right below is what Google is looking for (see also point 9 below).

Why is it worthwhile to talk about one’s competition? Start-up should talk about competition – it is maybe a bit touchy. Nevertheless, comparing your product to the competition helps attract potential customers and tells them why your product is a viable alternative.
PS. Comparing yourself to and mentioning your competitor’s name or brand will very likely bring you some of their traffic from Google searches.

Why do conversations help with Google? Links are like votes, they indicate to Google that your content is important. Moreover, if you link to content on the corporate website from a comment you write on LinkedIn, it also permits you to gain targeted traffic.
PS. Never buy backlinks from websites or social media channels. Google does not reward you for it. It wants links from websites where the content that links to your website is relevant (e.g., an SEO entry links to this entry about 10 SEO tricks experts will not tell). Similar to Likes or Shares, Google interprets backlinks from quality site as confirming that what you do is worthwhile.

How can Google questions and answers help? You should make use of Google questions and answers – just use your search window and type them in – also see Google Question Hub and sign up right now.
PS. Make it easy for Google to understand (point 6 – structure). Use a question as a heading for your page or blog entry (H1) or an H3 type header, followed by text answering the question.

How can you build on what content you have already? Don’t worry too much about design, perfect font and so forth. In other words, websites get constantly improved upon. Do not wait until things are perfect, do a soft launch (just launch and tell a few people). Work right now with what you have, preferably today not tomorrow.
PS. In the internet age, launching beta software, tools and websites has become the norm think. Tools get released before they are 100% done, except for medical technology or a Corona vaccine, of course.

SEO techniques: Final things to keep in mind

SEO techniques are often simplified by focusing on keywords. But a list of 100 keywords is as useless as one with 5 keywords that you fail to use in your texts or videos.

If you have your 10 keywords or thereabouts, you have it pretty much covered. For us these are such as data protection, GDPR, content marketing, digital marketing, analytics, social media audit, website audit, search engine optimisation audit, brand buzz, metrics and technology management. But now you must make sure that these words are used in your website content or blog as well as white papers. That is a never ending marathon that you need to take care of.

Besides keywords and using them in text, you need to continuously focus on updating your social media accounts, updating your website, commenting on other relevant websites and so forth (see our 10 tips and tricks above).

If you follow our 10 tips and tricks, you should be well on your way to receive more targeted traffic to your website.

Creating organic content takes time and effort and what ROI (return on investment) it delivers can be questionable. We outline here how it can help your reputation as an expert and strengthen your brand. As importantly, after social distancing and lockdown, your digital marketing efforts are what is needed to get your customers to return after the return to the new normal. Rest assured, the competition is fierce.

Advertising and COVID-19

During recession or a crisis such as the coronavirus, advertising and marketing costs get cut to the bone. This is understandable – when my hairdresser has to close shop, cash becomes priority number one. After all, he has to pay rent at the end of the month.

But if you have the time, energy, and cash you should continue to spend on marketing and advertising. Similarly, staying active on social networks is a smart move. It helps you create visibility and build your personal as well as corporate brand further, as the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) suggests.

IPA zieht Rückschlüsse aus einer Stichprobe welche nicht repräsentativ ist.
Even though IPA UK uses a convenience sample to communicate its point, the point is still pretty interesting.

In addition to spending money on advertising, therefore, you should use organic content to further improve your reputation as an expert, i.e. building your brand equity. It also helps increase your visibility while strengthening both the personal and the corporate brand. For instance, during the coronavirus lockdown, homeworkers ditch deodorant, wash their hair less often and put off shaving, according to Unilever. Hence, sales of personal hygiene products have slumped during COVID-19, Unilever is trying to use advertising, organic content and social media to turn things around.

Organic content on social media: Building brand on LinkedIn and Twitter

While working from the home office or remotely, people consume vastly more organic content than befroe the crisis.

When others go quiet
your voice gets louder on social media

drkpi

During recession or a crisis, organic content on LinkedIn, Twitter or any other network that your target audience frequents, can help. Start before the lockdown is over or continue posting organic content if you have not already :-)

LinkedIn is a professional network, that was founded 2002-12-28 and launched 2003-05-03. I am one of Linkedin’s first 60,000 members. As with all networks, how many contacts on LinkedIn or Twitter you should strive for is a difficult question. But the theory of Dunbar’s number can help. He suggests that we can only really maintain about 150 connections at once. But 150 alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Other numbers are nested within the theory by successive layers of:

  • 5 (loved ones)
  • 15 (good friends),
  • 50 (friends),
  • 150 (meaningful contacts),
  • 500 (acquaintances), and
  • 1500 (people you can recognise).

People migrate in and out of these layers, but the idea is that space has to be carved out for a new member to join. Dunbar and his colleagues’ work suggests that we can only ever have 150 meaningful connections at most.

So, if you have 500 or 1,000 contacts on LinkedIn or followers on Twitter, few of these will belong to your group of 150. Sometimes it can happen that somebody says hello to you at an event and you do not even recognise the person’s face from their LinkedIn photo. Nevertheless, you are connected with them on LinkedIn or Facebook. But being connected on such a platform is no indication of whether:

  • your organic content is of interest to your “followers”, or
  • you can build your visibility and personal brand.

P.S. Besides LinkedIn or Twitter, CEOs use corporate blogs to actively market themselves as experts in their industry or chosen field. In today’s digital age:

personal brands are becoming the vehicle by which larger brands are being seen.

drkpi
Using organic content to strengthen your personal brand.
Using organic content to strengthen your personal brand.

10-point guide for using organic content to strengthen your personal brand = building brand equity

Below we give you a short list of tips for how to spread your quality organic content on LinkedIn or Twitter to strengthen your personal brand while building your reputation as an expert.

  1. Why we use it. Among other things, LinkedIn is today’s Rolodex. If people change jobs, you can still contact them through LinkedIn. So, be sure your contact details allow people to phone or at least email you.
    Twitter is more of a news network that allows you to get links to interesting material. Politicians including President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson love to broadcast their “news” through Twitter.
  2. Connect and follow, maybe. If somebody follows you on Twitter you do not have to follow them back unless you find their content adds value for you. P.S. People whose content seems to matter / provides added value, or are very social, have many more followers than people they follow back.
    If you do not know somebody personally or have talked to them before, I am not sure if it is advisable to connect on LinkedIn… unless it is somebody you just want to connect with.
  3. Follow conversational receptiveness. You have to be willing to engage with another person’s views on LinkedIn or Twitter, even if you disagree with them. Please be polite and always ask yourself, what would my loved ones think if they saw this post / tweet down the road? If they think it’s rude, tacky or uncalled for, it probably is, especially if somebody shares your work out of context later on. Don’t be a bull in a china shop.
  4. Social strokes. People love to be mentioned, have their posts liked or re-shared / retweeted. Remember it is all about Give > Receive. So if you mention somebody such as @Lumendi (@drkpi) on LinkedIn or @Lumendi_USA (@drkpicom) on Twitter those people may share / like one of your future posts / tweets, but don’t expect an even exchange of one for one.
    P.S. When you mention people either on LinkedIn or Twitter, they will get a notice about it, so they will probably read that content, and hopefully comment on / like it.
    P.P.S. Please comment on other people’s LinkdeIn posts as well, it helps.
  5. Hashtags. Develop your set of hashtags, such as the brand (#drkpi) or terms related to your business (i.e. #digitalmarketing #contentmarketing). Use about 3 to 5 in the text itself if appropriate, or just 1 or 2 at the end. These help people find your content if they search for or follow a particular hashtag.
    P.S. Do not think that the hashtag you created will go viral and be used by everybody. We have tried with #metrics2watch #trends2watch and in both cases it flopped (i.e. besides us, barely anybody else uses it). We have had limited success with the hashtag #BlogRank or #brandbuzz.
  6. Visuals. People in a picture works better than 2 screwdrivers or wrenches in an image, so strive for something that adds more than just color. Please never use pictures that could negatively impact your personal brand, for example you holding a glass while attending a reception. It could be misconstrued, unfortunately.
  7. Frequency. There is no ideal number of LinkedIn posts or tweets on Twitter. But remember, if you post an average of more than 7 times a week… it takes time to do that well. Also, your followers or friends may be very busy people, so they will not necessarily have plenty of time on their hands to read all your stuff. Accordingly, sometimes posting less but of greater quality (3 times a week on LinkedIn or Twitter) might serve you and your fans better than overloading them.
  8. Ideal posting times. If you want to reach people on LinkedIn it is probably better to do so from Monday to Friday during office hours.
  9. Time management. Set some time aside for your social media activities. If you want to manage Twitter and LinkedIn from your computer or mobile, check out an app called Franz to save time (you can schedule your tweets, for instance). But please, avoid spending more than 20 minutes each work day on social media… Getting a customer to place an order thanks to your telephone conversation still matters more than a social media update!
  10. Show me the numbers. KPIs (key performance indicators) are increasingly important. Engagement on LinkedIn is a KPI. Use post likes, comments, and views, with the most valuable form of engagement being comments. In our time-pressured world, leaving a comment that takes 25+ seconds to type means that person is genuinely interested in the organic content you are sharing.
    Content shared by employees has 2 times the engagement than what gets shared by a company page. When we think about this it makes sense, since people want to interact with your sales reps; their online voice helps a great deal.
    P.S. Salespeople benefit from posting organic content – if they post regularly, LinkedIn claims they are 45% more likely to exceed quota.
    P.P.S. A social media audit (light) will help. Download the checklist.

Conclusion: What is the ROI for publishing organic social media content?

You cannot really quantify the ROI of organic social content that you post on LinkedIn or Twitter. The primary reason being that it is very random. To illustrate, it is not direct response marketing because you are not driving installs of your product. People might see your LinkedIn post, then a journalist gets in touch with you or a conference organiser wants you to give a speech and so on.

But the ROI of organic content is all about indirect benefits. These range from job opportunities, speaking engagements, and even media inquiries or building your visibility and reputation as an expert in your field. Selling medical, manufacturing or household technology requires that your buyer has confidence in, and trusts you. Being an acknowledged expert surely helps. Therefore, posting content on LinkedIn or Twitter and writing white papers helps get you recognised for knowing your stuff.

LinkedIn is very generous with its algorithm, giving you a chance to see second- or third-degree connections with many video views. LinkedIn serves up content to users at a really good clip. Facebook is stingier because it has to make room for ads every four posts.

What are your most successful posts on LinkedIn or Twitter? Tell us below in a comment! If you want more about brand equity, click this link.