Opinion

How are brands, agencies and marketers performing on LinkedIn?

Chris ReedIt’s that time of year when lots of people are looking to change jobs – so spend a lot of time on business social network LinkedIn.

Mumbrella caught up with Chris Reed, the head of Singapore-based LinkedIn agency Black Marketing, to find out what people and companies are getting right and wrong on LinkedIn, how the platform has changed over the past year, and whether LinkedIn is a worthy replacement for recruiters.

Chris, we ran a Q&A with you just over a year ago which asked how brands and agencies can use LinkedIn better to brand themselves. How do you think things have progressed since then? What are companies and individual still getting wrong?

The biggest things that people underestimate are:

1) Having a poor or non-existent company page.

2) Letting HR control it if they do have one and then all you see is jobs… Apple and facebook being two of the worst

3) Blogging on their own website where no one will read your blog rather than putting it on a socially engaging content platform where there are 350 million potential readers all looking for great business content.

4) Is still some people’s perception that LinkedIn is purely an HR tool and not a sales and marketing one.

Marketing agencies are often the worst at, ironically, communicating their own brand, service and using content marketing techniques to engage and win/keep clients, they can do it for clients but not to engage clients.

What are the most important changes LinkedIn has made to the platform over the last year in how people and companies use it?

Three massive areas of change in the last year have been:

1) Allowing everyone to now blog or post (as LinkedIn for some reason calls it) on their own profile.

2) Introducing Sales Navigator as a separate sale and marketing platform.

3) Coinciding this very positive development with a negative one of reversing the InMail policy, which is resulting in everyone running out of InMails. This seems counter productive to me, but is making us and our clients more creative with ways of contacting potential clients on LinkedIn.

It seems that pretty much everyone is trying to become a thought leader on LinkedIn. Got any advice for writers on how to create a compelling piece on LinkedIn that stands out?

Indeed, this is a growing problem and as LinkedIn allows everyone of it’s 350 million users to blog getting your content to stand out is becoming more challenging. Ideally you need to post about compelling and unique content with a distinct point of view, be controversial, don’t do the usual safe blogs on safe topics, write about things that no one else is, or write about things which are relevant to your business in a way that other people had not thought about. You must also use interesting and outstanding pictures to illustrate your post to try and grab the attention of the LinkedIn user.

Who do you think is the best person in the media and marketing industry at using LinkedIn for thought leadership right now?

Callum Laing on LinkedIN

Callum Laing on LinkedIn

The quality is so wide and varied. I actually think that there are a few underrated stars on LinkedIn like Luke Janssen at TigerSpike, Alan S. Giebel, Matthieu Vermeulen, Callum Laing and although Rob Campbell doesn’t post directly to LinkedIn he shares his thought-leading posts on LinkedIn where I see it. He demonstrates perfectly that he can write as much content as he wants on his own site but I’ll only ever see his update on LinkedIn not his website, as his website doesn’t update my LinkedIn feed. Many people don’t seem to realise that their website is a wasteland for content. But Rob’s an exception as I’ll look out for it on LinkedIn because he really says what he feels!

Who do you think is the best company in the media and marketing industry at using LinkedIn right now?

Ogilvy on LinkedIn

Ogilvy on LinkedIn

Without doubt it’s companies like HP, SAP and L’Oreal and from a marketing agency point of view there are very few people, ironically, who appear to be good at marketing their own agency! Razorfish and Mindshare are ok, Ogilvy have a great approach as does J. Walter Thompson, Leo Burnett, Y&R and DDB.

The worst ones is an easier question to answer!

Apple, Facebook, Twitter all have terrible pages as does Dentsu Aegis, Carat, GroupM as do hundreds of others agencies.

Why have these great communications agencies handed over their B2B communications and content marketing plan on a B2B content marketing platform to their HR team, who clearly know nothing about engaging using content and marketing to B2B audiences? And why should they? They’re in HR not marketing. Let marketing people run a marketing platform like LinkedIn.

Some people think that they can use LinkedIn to avoid having to hire a recruitment consultant. What’s your view on this? Is it possible?

Yes, without a doubt at the junior to middle management level. WPP and Standard Chartered have in-house teams sometimes working at the exclusion of headhunters. I think it becomes difficult at the top end, as you still need that personal touch to find out whether that senior hire has the personality to lead and fit in the organisation.

The cultural fit is much more important for senior people, and that can’t be discovered purely through LinkedIn. There must be an experienced hand at work to discover this both directly and through reference checking. If you have a team of juniors in house doing this, you will end up with the best presented people on LinkedIn rather than the best cultural and leadership fit. That way spells disaster.

Any feedback for LinkedIn on how the platform could be improved to better help advertisers and agencies?

Yes, they need to reward people who are genuinely trying to develop new business on LinkedIn and not penalise them as with the new in-mail policy. They should also similarly reward consistent and good quality blog posters and have some kind of ranking that does not skew all content posted on The Pulse as being good because it’s published in the US and all on the same subjects like leadership. The impression you get when you read most of the articles is exactly that. Lots of posts about irrelevant topics for us in Asia. There should potentially be an Asia platform on the Pulse such is the vast difference culturally and content-wise with the US and UK’s posts.

LinkedIn is a gamification platform, but these are two areas that they haven’t cracked yet and would undoubtedly help with content marketing, agencies and advertisers. Ironically, LinkedIn is trying to exploit the sales and marketing potential of LinkedIn and change the perception that it is just about HR. But their new InMail policy coupled with the launch of Sales Navigator gives conflicting signals. To put it in a nutshell, you can buy Sales Navigator, but if you run out of InMails due to their new policy then what’s the point of having it? You may as well just exploit second connections through first connections, openlink/premium members, groups and content instead.

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