Looks like LinkedIn is revamping the layout for “company pages”–and it’s testing the concept with some of its biggest customers (GE and IBM are the two I’ve seen so far).
Since I’ve seen no official news from LinkedIn or other media organizations so far, I can only assume this is a beta version (see the URL for proof) and that the new layout (with additional tweaks) will be rolled out to all other brands in the near future.
As we wait for the new layout to roll out to the rest of us, there’s a lot to review and prepare for if you manage a LinkedIn company page. Let’s take a look at the new layout and what changes you can start preparing for now:
Cleaner look and feel
Right at the top, you can see content is now allotted in three distinct buckets: Overview, Jobs and Life. A simple click on each produces additional content below. The design is much cleaner than the current design and (in my view) much easier for users to navigate. Net win for everyone.
Overview doesn’t change much
Click on the “Overview” tab and you’ll see a collection of information you most likely have on your current LinkedIn company page–about, recent updates, showcase pages and similar companies. The only new content here is “company photos”, which will give organizations a nice way to provide prospective employees a deeper look into the company. Win for companies.
On the downside, company updates are relatively minimized with the new layout. Not only do you have to click on the “Overview” tab to see them, you have to scroll down a ways as well. Obviously, most people will see these updates in their newsfeeds, but this is probably a net loss on the company side.
Jobs section simplified
This section, again, seems cleaner and easier to navigate than the previous “Careers” tab. I’m sure some might see this as a “downgrade” since it appears there are more branding opportunities on the current Careers tab, but I tend to think simplicity rules and this makes it much easier for job seekers to get to the information they want faster.
I also love sticking the “Employee insights” in this section. This is useful information for job seekers can use to make employment decisions. No additional work required here for brands, but I think this section is a big win for job seekers.
Life tab paints culture picture
What’s great about this completely new tab is that it aggregates all the information that would help you paint a picture of the company’s culture in one spot. It looks like company’s have the opportunity to feature a video right at the top of the tab–which some companies have now, but it’s at the top of the “Careers” tab. But, right below is where things get REAL interesting–and useful, if you’re a job seeker (and an employer).
I love how they highlight the leaders at GE right below the video. Now see THIS is key. Sure, GE’s leaders have complete LinkedIn profiles. Beth Comstock is one of its “influencers.” But, how many other companies have senior execs who have LinkedIn profiles worth perusing? I’ve researched this before–I can tell you the number isn’t that high. So, this is an area of “opportunity” for many, many brands. Start working with your senior-level execs now!
I also love the ability to add more detailed content around “About” and “Culture” sections right on the page. The opportunity to add more videos is HUGE! This is all great, useful information job seekers will undoubtedly be reviewing when making hiring decisions. The “Culture” section is new–so this is an area where you might want to think about what content you’ll add there now, rather than later.
If you keep scrolling down in the “Life” tab, you’ll then see a section titled “Employee Perspectives.” This section aggregates LinkedIn posts from any employees who may have used the LinkedIn Publishing feature in the not-so-distant past (I’m speculating here–hopefully, LinkedIn will give us the opportunity to highlight the employee posts we want to highlight here). But here’s the key for brands: You need content published by employees to highlight! Again, GE has this content because it’s leaders have been at this for a while. Other companies can’t say the same thing. I’ve been highlighting LinkedIn Publishing as an untapped resources for leaders for more than a year now–finally, it now has an official spot on the company page.
Finally, the “Life” tab gives us even more useful info right at the bottom in “Languages we speak”, “Causes our employees care about” and “Organizations our employees support.” Most likely automated info, but I’m also hoping LinkedIn offers companies some options here. For example, “Languages we speak” is relevant for GE since they operate and hire around the world. That same section might not be as relevant to a company based in Montana that operates in just 20 states.
Before you click away, I encourage you to read on. Because this isn’t one of those typical “Twitter is dead” posts.
It’s more like “Will Twitter be dead to businesses within 2 years”-type posts.
Because, I’m starting to believe it might.
Brands have long (well, as least for the last 7-8 years) relied on Twitter as a customer service tool and a brand management tool. And, in spots, it’s worked for some companies.
But recently I’ve started to think differently. It started when I began a number of research projects for a few of my clients. When looking over competing brands’ Twitter accounts I noticed a trend: Very few of them were responding to any tweets. And I mean ANY. I realize this doesn’t mean ALL companies are ignoring customer feedback on Twitter. But, I’ve anecdotally noticed it more and more recently.
So, that got me thinking: Could Twitter legitimately go away as a company social media tool within two years?
I think so. And here are five big reasons why:
1: It’s increasingly not a safe place for users
Just ask any celebrity or athlete. Increasingly, Twitter has become a place where trolls and hate groups surface to dole out their tirades. Some celebs have even bowed out. Just follow any trending hash tag for 10 minutes–I liken it to the old comment sections in digital newspapers (just one troll after another). It’s not a pretty place anymore. It’s not the same Twitter we know from 2009. Not even close. And, if that’s the case, why would brands want to interact there?
2: It’s not an easy place for new users
According to a recent eMarketer report, Twitter growth is stagnating. I know I’m not breaking big news there, but Twitter has flattened out the last couple years. And, many speculate that the reason new users aren’t flocking to Twitter is because it’s tougher to use and understand. Twitter has never really overcome this obstacle–because, let’s face it, it’s always been an obstacle (remember those “I don’t get it” statements in 2008–they’re still happening). If Twitter isn’t attracting new users, it’s not growing. And what brand wants to invest time in a platform that’s not growing?
3: It’s not nearly the social ad darling Facebook is.
Sure, Twitter has a broad smattering of advertising options. It offers much of the same functionality Facebook does, in fact. But, the results are often less than what Facebook offers. Especially when it comes to driving traffic (see below) and CPC. I know there are certainly brands who have seen success with Twitter advertising, but I have to think the lion’s share of brands have seen much more success with Facebook and Instagram than Twitter. And, as social media progresses further and further toward a pay-for-play model, social advertising is everything.
4: It’s not nearly the engagement tool it once was for brands.
For you early adopters, think about Twitter of 2016 vs. Twitter of 2009. Remember actually talking to people on Twitter? When was the last time you did that? When was the last time you participated in a Twitter chat? Engagement simply doesn’t happen like it did before on Twitter. And really, that was always the strength of Twitter–as an engagement tool (and, a customer service tool). Go back to my research above. I recall sifting through many corporate Twitter accounts where many tweets had 2-3 likes and 1 RT. I mean, at that point, it’s probably not even worth the effort, right? So, if Twitter is not the engagement tool it once was, what’s in it for brands?
5: It’s almost a confirmed non-traffic driver at this point
We all know Facebook is king when it comes to driving traffic. But, did you know that Twitter is essentially the opposite? That it’s really driving NO traffic for brands? A 2014 Shareaholic survey claimed that Twitter drove just 1/15 the amount of referrals to publishers as Facebook. Now, I know that’s publishers and not brands, but that’s pretty damning evidence. Anecdotally, I can tell you Twitter is always near the bottom of traffic-driving sources for this blog–and many of the companies I’ve worked with in the past.
So, to recap:
- Twitter isn’t driving the engagement it once was.
- Twitter isn’t driving traffic for brands.
- Twitter isn’t as safe a place as it once was.
- Twitter is still hard to understand.
- And Twitter isn’t the advertising vehicle Facebook and Instagram are.
If you’re a brand, how are you continuing to justify your time spent on Twitter? I’m legitimately curious.
In case you missed it, LinkedIn announced some “big news” last week: It gave 500 influencers the ability to post videos right in your feeds.
I say “big news” because I think LinkedIn really missed the boat with this move–and it’s indicative of a strategy that may miss an even bigger boat down the road.
These influencer videos are most likely a nod to the burgeoning growth of video across the social web. Can’t you just hear the conversations at LinkedIn HQ?
“Hey, video is blowing up people! We need more videos in our newsfeeds. How do we do that?”
“I know! Let’s ask influencers to post 30 second videos that lack punch and depth and everyone will comment on them and share them!”
I mean, that has to be how the conversation went, right? Why else would they do this?
You see, I think LinkedIn is missing the boat here. The lion’s share of folks on LinkedIn don’t go there to hear from influencers, they spend time there to do one of three things:
- Find a job.
- Or, find out what’s going on with friends/colleagues in their networks (new jobs, etc.0
Now, you could make the argument that people could learn by following these influencers. And, that would be a valid point. But, I would argue most people aren’t seeking out these influencers. If Guy Kawasaki has something interesting to say on a topic I care about (the last time he did that, by the way, it was 2010), I’ll stop and read it. But, I don’t SEEK OUT Guy Kawasaki on LinkedIn. And, I can’t believe anyone does, really.
So, to me, these influencer videos are contrived. They feel forced. And, by and large, they don’t add a ton of value.
Instead, why doesn’t LinkedIn focus on making the user experience even better by figuring out new and better ways for me to connect with people I care about (i.e., colleagues, former managers, college classmates, etc.)?
Since I’m never one to criticize and not offer up ideas, here’s a few free ideas LinkedIn on how to better the user experience:
- Fine-tune the ability to sort contacts. For some reason, LinkedIn recently changed this. I used to be able to filter my contact list by location and a bunch of other factors. Now, I can only do it by first and last name. What good is that? For someone who sifts through his LinkedIn database A LOT, this is a huge perk that they took away. Suggest refining it ASAP.
- Create a new “Ask Me Anything”-like experience. If you really want to exploit the influencers (uh, I mean, give them a better platform from which to speak), why not take a page from Reddit’s book and create an “Ask Me Anything”-type platform within LinkedIn where people would ask these influencers questions about a particular topic in real time? Now THAT’S something I think people would find useful–not these throw-away 30-second videos.
- Offer more robust advertising options. I’ve been frustrated with this for a while now. LinkedIn is such a great platform for so many businesses (and continues to be under-utilized by many). But, ad options still aren’t up to snuff (and, they’re usually more costly than Facebook and Instagram). Why not beef up those options so more companies can participate and engage more effectively? I know this doesn’t really get at the whole “creating a better user experience” angle, but I’d like to see them spend more time here than creating more useless influencer stuff.
That’s my two cents. Your thoughts on the new Influencer videos?
These days, you can’t read too much in the digital marketing realm without running into someone talking about how hugely popular podcasting has become.
Forrester and Edison Research seem to come out with a new study each quarter telling us how huge podcasting is with consumers.
But, have all those numbers and charts translated into more companies producing podcasts as part of their marketing mixes?
In fact, if you do a few quick searches for popular (or effective) corporate podcasts, you really won’t find much.
What you DO find is a bunch of tech companies/startups (Slack, Basecamp), a very small number of Fortune 500 companies (General Mills, locally), and a few others that have globbed onto a trend I see accelerating in the months and years ahead.
Take a peek at what GE, Prudential and Umqua Bank are doing with podcasting.
Each isn’t necessarily producing their OWN podcast, as General Mills, Slack and Basecamp seemingly have. Instead, they’re SPONSORING (or, essentially co-producing) podcasts with a third-party vendor.
In this case, the third party vendor is Panoply, an arm of publishing giant, Slate.
Why do I think this is a trend that will take off in the next few months? I see four big reasons:
Easier to outsource than produce internally
General Mills recently started producing a solid podcast under its blog banner, A Taste of General Mills. The podcast is produced by my podcasting partner-in-crime, Kevin Hunt. Makes sense for GM since Kevin also oversees the blog and other corporate social accounts. Except, here’s the thing: Not every company has a Kevin Hunt. Kevin’s unique background of media production coupled with digital and PR experience make him a perfect candidate to put together a regular corporate podcast. But, that skill set is not easy to find. Which is why you see companies like GE and Prudential outsourcing production of their podcasts to a third-party vendor (and why you see audio/video production among the most sought-after skills on the agency side).
Hire a specialist vs. relying on your generalists
Panoply is a “podcast network that connects sophisticated listeners with top publishers and thinkers.” Read: they probably know what they’re doing when it comes to putting together a podcast that people will actually listen to. They’ve done it many times. And, most likely they’re much better at it than any person within your organization. So, why wouldn’t you hire a specialist like Panolpy to create a podcast than rely on a generalist in your organization that might have a fleeting interest in podcasting. I’d probably take my chances with Panoply, too (given I had the money :).
Connections and talent matter
Prudential has public radio host and actress, Faith Salie hosting its 40/40 Vision podcast. Umqua Bank has former MTV personality, SuChin Pak hosting its Open Account podcast. Without Panoply’s connections and know-how, Prudential and Umqua Bank most likely aren’t connected with those hosts. And, hosts like Salie and Pak count for a lot. First, folks like Salie and Pak bring in listeners. I’m not talking about millions of listeners, but Panoply chose those two for a reason (Salie, most likely, because she’s more well known about the 40+ audience). Second, people like Salie and Pak who are experienced broadcasters have actually hosted shows before. They know the drill. They’re seasoned. They’ve been through this before (vs. the communications manager at Prudential, who probably hasn’t). Talent matters in producing a podcast. And, in this case, the connections Panoply (and vendors like them) brings to the table matter, too, because they’re the conduit to talent like Salie and Pak.
The podcast network doesn’t hurt either
One of the big questions–and challenges–brands have when starting a podcast is a fundamental one: How do we acquire listeners? Sure, most brands will promote their podcasts via their own social channels, which in some cases, may be quite large. They will probably host the podcast somewhere on their site, too. But, how much traction will they really see from that? In many cases, it takes a lot of time and patience to build a following. Much like it would when starting a blog. But, in partnering with a vendor like Panoply, who already has a built-in network and audience on Soundcloub (to the tune of 300,000 followers), Prudential, Umqua Bank and GE have access to ears they might not otherwise have. And sure, maybe not all those people would fall in Prudential, Umqua and GE’s “target audience”, but when you’re building something from the ground up, it always helps to have momentum from the get go. Panoply’s podcast network provides that.