How LinkedIn Can Get Bigger and Better: Charlie Whyman

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

"LinkedIn is way too slow, too reactive and not pro-active enough ."

That's a blunt assessment from Charlie Whyman, a LinkedIn trainer and "marketing momentum builder".

In this episode, Charlie and I explore some of the ways that LinkedIn evolved in 2020 and what she expects will happen in 2021. This includes:

- Analytics for personal accounts; probably not going to happen.

- More use of Stories as conferences and events come back to life.

- Improve content discovery tools through the use of tags. 

- Better corporate pages

Charlie also offers insight into automation tools (they're evil) and how marketers are ruining LinkedIn by using these tools to drive leads and Website traffic.

You're listening to marketing sparks, the podcast that delivers insight, tools and tips from marketers and ar troopers in the trenches in twenty five minutes or less. I've done several podcast interviews about how to use Linkedin, but today we're going to focus on where Linkedin is going and the person who's going to help me look into the crystal ball. Charlie Wyman, marketing coach and Linkedin trainer, while kind of marketing spark. Thank you very much for having me. So, before we look forward, let's look back at Linkedin in two thousand and twenty. How would this is a tough question. I understand. I realize that. How would you summarize how people used linked in and, conversely, how linkedin evolved? Okay, so the first question. HOW DID PEOPLE USE Linkedin? I think to start with, especially with the global pandemic, everybody dived into Linkedin and it was a bit of a free for all. The the facebook police, we're going a little bit crazy, because I think so of online professional etiquette, let's say, was thrown out of the window because nobody really knew what was happening or how to behave, particularly, but the statistics show that there was a fifty five percent increase in the amount of conversations that were being had on linkedin between first degreek connections and an increase in six sixty percent increasing content that was being published. So I think more and more people were realizing that actually, in a world where we can't go and meet our clients, we can't go and meet our prospects and do those site visits, go to in person networking events, that online networking and social selling was something that people needed to really, you know, sharpen their skills and take a little bit more seriously. So I think things have quiteten down a lot now and especially with the introduction of Clubhouse, I think a lot of the noise has been taken away from Linkedin, which you know, I'm quite happy about. But yeah, it's definitely very interesting. It's definitely been very interesting to see how people are behaving, what is happening. A lot of people are getting good results from Linkedin, those that know how to use it well, and I think some people are still really struggling to find their feet, to understand right, okay, how can I turn connections into clients or how can I effectively use the platform? To market and make sales, because I think that that's something that I've always focused on, is that it's not just about generating leads and adding connections into your network broadcasting. It's about effectively using linked in as a social selling platform, as and online networking tool, and getting the results there. When we can meet again, when we can go to conferences and meet people for coffee. Do you think linkedin is going to change dramatically or is this the new way to do networking in a very efficient way at scale? Personally, I find that coffee meetings and car princes take a lot of time, a lot of energy. Sometimes you just know get the Roy you going an event for a whole day and you meet two people, whereas and Linkedin I can connect with somebody for half an hour, boom, we're done. I can connect somebody else in the day, so I can do multiple connections. I mean, I look at my own schedule and I've got five or six or seven or ten linkedin related conversations happening. I could never do that in real life. So what do you think we're going to do when we snap back to our former lives? You know, I think, or rather I hope, that people are just going to be a little bit more purpose driven when it comes to going to win person events and trade shows. I mean, I wrote an article on Linkedin back in t thousand and eighteen about how to use linkedins get more return on investment from events and trade shows, because that's my background. My background is events, trade shows, conferences and marketing. Using events and Linkedin for me, was always the biggest difference between getting actual sales from a conference or an event or just generate in a little bit of a buzz. I mean for context, and...

...me and the team used Linkedin as a way to launch an MVP, so minimum viable products, at an event. We had eight weeks to launch, but we couldn't tell anybody about the product because we were a small business and if our competition caught wind of what we were doing, they could quite easily trumpers and, you know, get their first. So we had to launch a product and we had to create a buzz without actually talking about what it was, and we use linkedin as a tool to create lots of curiosity in the market and off the back of that we got our cells pipeline from one event for twelve and a half million pounds. So for me, Linkedin is always been a tool to help you get more from events because you can be more purpose driven. You know, especially now, there's like seven hundred and forty million people using linkedin today. So imagine if you could curate a very targeted, very specific group of people and invite them to your event or invite them to meet you or even invite them to your digital events. You know, it's for me, it's going to be nothing new. I just think people are going to start taking online networking and tools light linkedin a little bit more seriously and actually realizing that it's a tool to leverage. I'm not at all to replace. There's a really good point, and I think one of the most interesting things you said is that there are seven hundred and forty million people on link. That is a massive global audience and if you are doing business looking to attract prospects launch new products, that's an unbelievable way to get in front of so many people. You know, one of the things I think about is I used to spend a lot of time my blog and you know, maybe a hundred people visit a day. Maybe in a good day was five hundred, but I was very limited right in away, my little my little corner, little note. But on Linkedin my content can be seen by thousands of people and I think that's the one thing I think is going to change how people approach Linkedin as we move forward is that there's this realization that it's an amazing platform for connections content. If you want to do business these days, you have to be on like it. Yes, yes, you have to be on Linkedin. I think it's just more that you're leaving money on the table. I mean, I've been saying this for years. You are leaving money on the table if you're not using linkedin. You know, pandemic or no pandemic, but you know, from a content point of view and from a marketing point of view, I say, and I tell this to a lot of people, marketers are ruining linkedin. And back before I started my business, yeah, and and here's why. So, back before I started my business, I was working as the head of marketing for a group of companies and I was overwhelmed. I was under a lot of pressure to generate leads, I was under a lot of pressure to demonstrate Roy and all of the things that as marketers have to face on a day to day basis. And along came the growth hackers. And you know, I'm not a professionally trained marketer. You know, I trade as an engineer. I fell into a marketing role and ended up loving it, and I was kind of like wooed by the growth hackers that came to me and said, but you know, you can just automate these things, you can schedule these things, you can do all this and it'll save you so much time and achieve a much bigger result. And at the time I was thinking, I can see how that would work. That makes a lot of sense to me. Let's give it a go. So I used automation on Linkedin, which, for the record, do not use automation on Linkedin. Avoid it like the plague. It will do you more harm than good. So I didn't lose my linkedin account, for one, because it's against linked in's terms of use. And I didn't damage my reputation because I like to think I'm quite clever with content and messaging, like starting conversations with people online is is one of my things. So I didn't get a damage of a reputation, but I did see quite early on that that wasn't the way to go. And also I think a lot of marketers want automated tools, they want scheduling tools, they want to drive traffic to your website, because that's what we can measure. It's really easy to measure these things, but in reality that's what's...

...ruining Linkedin, because I get complaints from people every single day are I'm just swarmed by people trying to sell me stuff. I'm swamped by people that just want to connect for no apparent reason. All I see is group messages by people just sharing blog post links and things like that, and I think it's we're living in the world now where we don't want to be broadcasted to. We want to find things to engage with, we want to find things that are interesting, you know, and also we don't want generic marketing anymore. We want things that are specifically aimed at us, and we have the tools in the ability to do that. But I think marketers are so under so much pressure that, you know, and I felt this before, so I know this from experience. But I also know that when you take a step back, you slow down, do less but better. That's where the magic happens, that's where you get engagement. That's where you reach the people that you know are going to make the biggest difference. So yeah, I do say that market is rid Linkedin, but also the curious market, is the moxes that are genuinely interested in helping clients and understanding things from that perspective. Those are the Marxes that are really going to win. Before we move forward, I want to touch a little bit on automation. So I did some coaching for an organization that helped entrepreneurs do better and their primary channel was linkedin and one of the tools that they were all though was duck soup, which is an automation tool, and the ideas that you would send dozens, if not hundreds, of connection requests out in an automated way, and I always thought that that was a really strange way to do business. It's your blasting out to the world hoping that somebody will pick up on your your your can message and you can establish some kind of connection. I can understand the interest in doing things at scale and to your point, marketers love automation tools. We love things that make our jobs easier and more efficient. But why do you think automation is this evil thing on Linkedin. I'm not in the automation camp. For sure, I do everything organically, but I'm curious about the evils of automation and and and do you think that linkedin will start to clamp down on on these tools? Linkedin are already clamping down on the tools. So I think the main reason why automation on Linkedin is bad is because that it's against linked in terms of use and they that's specifically targeting chrome plugin. So if using a chrome plug in, that's usually the beggest warning sign. They don't enduse automation and they are actively going and shutting down accounts that use automated tools. One of the biggest reasons that you should be aware of just in general, rather than relying on people giving you feedback, is that if you send, say, a hundred automated messages to your ideal prospects prospect then let's say, get sort of let's say you get three people replying to you saying yes, I'm interested, please send me more information. That's like ninety seven people that have either ignored you or you've annoyed and a lot of the people that you've annoyed will do one of two things. They'll ignore you or they'll block you. Now you've got no visibility on whether you've been wrecked or not, also if people are ignoring you. But that's also you damaging your personal reputation. You know, it's not the brand's reputation, is a personal reputation which also does in turn have an impact on the brand. And so I think the more you can see linkedin as an online networking tool and a platform to build reputation, it's easy to realize actually automation can really hurt that reputation because I think, you know, we're living in a world where Google search is so advanced and we expect that from all different search engines and the linkedin search engine is not as advanced as Linkedin. So if you're sending mass connection requests, mass messaged people, there will be people that aren't suitable for what it is that you're trying to offer them. And again, I think is that you know, we want a more personal approach. If you meet...

...somebody at trade show or an event, you don't go straight in with a pitch, you say hello. You know, write. You more genuine about your approach. So I think the biggest piece of advice that I give people is behave on Linkedin as you would do at an event, at a trade show, at a networking meeting, or if somebody, if you met somebody in the lineup of a coffee shop and you wanted to ask them what they do, or there was a you know, an indication that they could be a prospective client. You know, we all have those interactions, but you wouldn't approach it in the same way. It's like marketers as well. I work with a lot of marketing agencies and they're like, well, why are we being ignored on Linkedin it's like, well, if you received the message that you were sending out to people, what would you do? And that response is almost always I do I'd ignore it because it's not using natural, using language. You know, there's a lot of talk about what linkedin could do, the features that it could launch, the new services that could get into, but I want to ask you, given all those ass on Linkedin, how do you think linkedin reacted in two thousand and twenty in terms of the way that people are starting to use the platform and the demands they were making to make it more interesting, interactive, useful? It from the outset, looking and it doesn't look like Linkedin did very much at all, although there could be a lot happening behind the scenes. Yeah, well, in my opinion, Linkedin is is way too slow, way too slow to react, if not proactive enough. So, prime example, if we look at like the introduction of Linkedin Stories, which was quite a new thing last year, you know that they're talking about what new stickers can we integrate into the platform? It's like, well, first of all, give us a search function so we can search for the sticker that we want rather than have to sort of mindlessly scroll through groups. Last year, Linkedin made a few tweaks to make groups more interactive and managers a able to, you know, alert their members as to what's going on. You can recommend one post in a group every seven days. You can now set notifications so that your members can get a notification with new group activity. You know, you can now send an unlimited amount of messages to people in the same group as you that are not necessarily connected to you. So there's lots of new features that have been released, but because linkedin on always as transparent in terms of what they are, you know you have to stumble upon them or you have to be in a network of other people that are looking out for them. So I think linked in a little bit too reactive for my liking. They're not that easy in terms of rolling out new features and they're quite slow, but I always think the pros massively outweigh the cons and the frustrations and I think again, if you just keep thinking right. Okay, actually, just in its most basic form, it's such a powerful tool. You know, the so much you can do with it, like with the free version, the Ad Fund search filters that you can tap into are incredible. You know, there's loads of people that think I need like links in cells navigated to be able to search for people in a particular industry or with a particular job title and things like that. You don't know at all. So I think you know, I always say avoid that painful trial and error process. You know, if you can't get business from Linkedin, work with you know. It's not just me, there are thousands of the linked in trainers out there. You know, work with somebody you know fast track your success. But also that there is way multi using linkedin than just knowing how to use linkedin. You need to know how to market your business on Linkedin and generate engagement and use as a social selling tool. It's funny that you mentioned Linkedin Stories, because I love Linkedin. I love commenting and creating content and I tried linkedin stories and it didn't work for me. I just didn't see the value. I tried to make a few videos. They got minor, very minor, pick up. It struck me that Linkedin was trying to jump on something that instagram had done and snapchat, and it didn't work for them. At may have not been native at may have not been introduced properly, but that was something I think I was a fail. Let's look forward in terms of what linkedin could...

...do in two thousand and twenty one and I created a list. Have a long wish list of the things that I would like Linkedin to do, and one of them, let's go through the list here. One of them is analytics for personal accounts, even while analytics for corporate accounts are not that good and not that use your friendly. What are your thoughts about analytics, because there's a company called shield which seems to have darmate the linkedin analytics marker. Linkedin is basically allowed them to have this established as really solid woodhall. Do you think that Linkedin will introduce analytics in two thousand and twenty one? I wish they would, I don't think that they will. I think they need to differentiate between their paid, paid versions of linked in a little bit more, like linked in premium and linkedin cells navigator. The lines are very blurred at the moment. They used to be a clear distinction as to what you would get for each, whereas now it's not as clear. And Stories, I actually think that there's a big opportunity with stories, I think. I think the fact that most people still use linked in with their desktop. I know that my market I target of very like technical company, like tech companies, engineering companies, manufacturing companies. They use linked in on desktop mainly not mobile, and you can only access stories on mobile. And also there's still too many features that are missing to make it interactive and use a friendly which is stopping people investing time on them. And also the fact that we're living in a global pandemic and we can't go to events and trade shows, whereas I think that when we can do those events, in those meetups, that's where like Linkedin live and linkedin stories are really going to come alive, whereas I think because we haven't had access to those, we've not really been able to leverage them to their their maximum capacity. I think that last year we saw some updates to groups and from what I've been told and from what I've heard directly from Linkedin, they're still working on making groups a much better resource for people and companies. So I think in two thousand and twenty one we're going to see more features specifically in groups. I think we're going to see more updates to linkedin company pages. So recently they've launched product pages on company pages, which they saw of had years ago and then they got rid of. Now they brought them back again in a slightly different way. Yeah, so, yeah, yeah, so we've got product pages and and I think you know, we've got retargeting now. That was another update from last year. So if you're advertising on Linkedin, you've got way more control and flexibility to be targeted and to be more specific, which I think is really exciting. So clubhouse is an interesting one because I remember seeing that on your list. A lot of people are making what people are making big speculation. Yeah, that's whether likely included. Yeah, whether like Linkedin will buy club hasn't mean Microsoft and Linkedin. So I personally don't think they will buy clubhouse. I'd be surprised if they do. Twitter or launching spaces there. That's underway. I actually think twitter spaces will be better than club has longer term. That's just my observation, right, he said, and I just think twitters more established and I don't think that clubhouse has figured out where it's main niche or where it's main purposes. There's a lot of issues with clubhouse in terms of data protection and privacy and all of these things, and it's a very noisy, very distracting place. I do think that there are massive opportunities for it, but I think, you know, because I love twitter, I'm a bit old school. So I think the fact that twitters giving you the functionality you know, and they already have the built up infrastructure. They've been working on this for a while. You know, I keeping my eyes and is open and I'm reserving judgment too much, but I think twitter spaces are going to be the thing, especially for a be to be marker and other things to keep an eye on. But then clubhouse linkedin product managers are hosting regular rooms on clubhouse where you can actually direct directly ask linkedin questions. They're...

...a bit frustrating to be part of because the same questions keep popping up and some of them like really, really basic questions. And also like everybody's Linkedin expert on clubhouse at the moment. You know. I mean if you spend every day on it. Seems to be the way you could be an expert in whatever you want. If you spend every day or every waking minute on clubhouse and call yourself an expert and just keep volunteering information that you've heard from somebody else, and obviously you know people are going to think that you are that expert because there's no credibility behind her. That's what I love about Linkedin. You can really find out. If somebody tells you something and you like that sounds really interesting. I wonder what this person's backgrounded, you can go to Linkedin and find out what their background is, where you can't get that on clubhouse and it only links to twitter and instagram. So I think for B tob is great because coach you can host like ask me anything. So like Bruns can have like ask me any things with that product managers with their CEOS and invite their customers, but it's still very limited because it's only iphone. So I think it's one of those watch this space, but I would be surprised if clubhouse is bought by facebook or Linkedin. I think they will have plans of their own. A couple other things that I wanted to talk to you about in terms of how linkedin could improve. One of them is messages, which I find to be so arcane, and the way that it's structured and the way that you can search. And the other one would be connection requests, the fact that I get a request connection requests and I don't really get a lot of insight into whether the connection request makes sense. I'm in the camp where I'm very selective in terms of who I connect with. I've did a poll recently and there are a lot of people who accept every single connection request. So maybe talk a little bit about how linkedin could improve messages and how you see connection requests being taken to the next level. Last year they did actually release a couple of updates to make management of your inbox a little bit easier, so you can now multi select messages and archive them. And delete them. You can also use filters for own road messages and things like that as well. You can also say if you got premium on Linkedin, you can nounce that an out of office, which is really helpful. You know, if you go on holiday and you want to let people know that you know you're not going to respond for a week or two weeks or however long. And I think as well, like Linkedin, are going to try and encourage more people to block and report messages that are not legit or people that are just trying to be two promotional. It's bummy. So I think they're going to try and do more with that. In terms of other functionality with messages, last year they enabled voice messages. Now, personally I love the voice messages feature. I've gained loads of conversions as a result of using that. But I've also spoken to a lot of people that don't like that feature and they're sort of saying that they find it too invasive. They would ignore a voice message. They don't like it. So I think this there's a different difference of opinion going on around voice. One of your questions was around whether you thought linkedin would have their own video conferencing tool. You can actually schedule a zoom a team's or a blue jeans meeting in the Messenger, which is really handy. which is really handy. I think they also have a calendar integuation feature, which I think is a little bit clunky. I don't like it very much. So I think next well, next year, this year, I think they'll do a little bit more with that. But what I would really, really really love, and I think that they're going to do this as a premium feature, is that tagging, so you can tag messages and create specific lists, so not like you would get from sales navigator, but just so you can understand where those connections have come from. I always encourage people to put a reference in the message that you're sending to people. So if you met them at a particular event or a trade show, making no, it's in the message. So Oh, you know, great to meet you at the PSA Conference Two Thousand and twenty, so you can search for that right right as so there are little hacks that you can use, but in terms of future updates, I'm not really sure what they could do. Ideally, they should overhaul the whole thing just to make it a lot easier because, like you said, it is very archaic.

The other place where that I want to talk to you about is in terms of content discovery. So let's say, for example, I you make, you left to comment on my one of my posts. I went to your profile to check you out and I wanted to say I want to check out Charlie's content. There's really no efficient way for me to really go through your content because I'm going to have to scroll down all the Post that you've written over the past how many years, and some of them are going to be great. I would like a way to focus on post that, for example, that are all about linkedin tips, so I can I can filter out all your other posts and just focus on the tips or focus on or able to be able to search by tagging it or hashtags. Do you see that as a lowhanging fruit for Linkedin, something that they may want to improve? Absolutely, and I think I think they are. So I the last product manager ask me anything. Club has chat that I joined. I did ask linkedin whether they were going to add filters to Hashtag searches, because I think if you had the ability to search for particular types of content from an individual and search for hashtags that that using in that content as way of tagging or indexing that that will be really how full and they did say that they are improving their search, that they're working on the search filters and things like that. I don't know how long we're going to have to wait before we see that type of thing, but I think that you and again Hashtag. So many people have no idea how to use hashtags. So it's one of those that, you know, kind of people need to use hashtags a little bit more before we get the search filters and things, but I completely agree with you. It would be lovely to be able to say right, okay, I want to search for this particular type of content from, say, UK content creators about like Linkedin or about clubhouse or about clubhouse on Linkedin, you know, and be able to use the boolly and search logic that you can use when you're searching for people. To be able to use that when searching for content will be really, really powerful and useful. One final question in terms of new people to Linkedin, I think you and I live in a world in which we think everybody's on Linkedin, everybody's creating content, everybody's leaving comments. We look at it and wonder, why wouldn't you be engaged on Linkedin? Why wouldn't you have an active presence? But there's lots of people who are not on linkedin actively or using it in a really bad way. So what's your advice to newbies, people who are hearing people like you and I talked about Linkedin and the power of Linkedin and saying themselves I'm missing out on something really amazing. How do they get started? How do they move in the right direction? And you've got years of experience as a linkedin trainer, so any insight onto on how you can make the right move to take advantage of what is a very powerful lad form? Best piece of advice I can give you is take it one step at a time. Try Not to think that you can achieve everything that you want overnight, to put your put your curious hat on, put your marathon mindset on, be in it for the long term, but also explore, and I really need to emphasize this, explore what is going to work for you and the business that you're trying to promote or the business that you're trying to work for with and the reason I say this is that everybody has an opinion as to how you can use linkedin. I've been very fortunate to use linkedin across multiple different industries and there is no one size fits all approach. So there isn't you have to allow yourself the time to explore what's going to work for you. You have to ask questions when people give you advice. Make sure that you're adding context to your questions and you're challenging advice or at least understanding who's giving you that advice and where their experience come from, because there are a huge amount of people that are, you know, spending, you know, days and days and days on clubhouse listening to everybody giving all of this advice away but not understanding how to actually apply it to them and their business. Because, you know, at the end of the day, Linkedin is just a tool. You know, I could teach you how to use at all and half a day or in an hour, depending on how text ever you are, but...

...it's applying what you you know, it's something like apply the Otter. The O in the otter behind me is all about objectives. Yeah, so really focus on what do you want to get out of it and how can you leverage Linkedin as a way to achieve that, because there are so many different ways that you can use links to him. You know I've used it across lots of different business objectives. But focus on one thing, do it really well and then move on to the next thing or do more of it. So where can people learn more about you and what you do as a digital marketer and Linkedin trainer? So your best way to learn more about me is to connect on Linkedin. So, Charlie Wyman, woman's belt? WHYMA and? Or you can visit my website's Charlie wymandcom you listen to my podcast, the curiosity key. But yeah, just connect with me on Linkedin, drop me a personal note or a message and just say that you heard me on this podcast, because that it's always good to have context and I'm one of those people I like to talk to my connections. So yeah, Send Me a message dad, more than having to have a conversation. Thanks for listening to another episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review and subscribe by Itunes, spotify or your favorite podcast APP for show notes of today's conversation and information about Charlie. visit marketing spark dot cost blog. If you'd like to learn more about how I helped EDB SASS companies as a fractional CMOS to teaching advice were in coache, send an email to bark at marketing sparkcom. I'll talk to you next.

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