Looking back at 2020
Last year is one many of us would prefer to forget but there are plenty of lessons that can be learned from our LinkedIn experience in 2020.
But before we look back, some more things I have discovered in recent weeks…
LinkedIn have changed the desktop posting box again. I noticed this week a new icon in my posting box ‘Goal’ – I’m not sure if this is just a new year thing or a permanent change but I’m really no fan of these ‘nudge’ type options. Give me practical post ‘types’ such as Document which has recently been relegated to the secondary posting box.
Some people have ‘Event’ rather than goal so they are obviously A/B testing something here, at least Event is a type of post rather than a subject for a post – I really shudder when I see LinkedIn trying to influence what subjects we should post about but maybe some people find it helpful.
I have also heard that LinkedIn are testing a new option that allows you to set who can comment on your post. We are currently allowed to set who can see our post but this is a step further giving you the option to allow ‘Anyone’, ‘Your connections’ or ‘nobody’ to comment. To me this seems a somewhat pointless feature – why wouldn’t you want people to comment on your post?
Let me know if you can think of a good reason.
This week will see the introduction of a new feature in Stories – Swipe-up links! This could be a very exciting development allowing quick links to posts, articles, profiles, and even external websites allowing you to announce something in a story and take your followers directly there in one simple swipe up. The condition is that in order to qualify for the feature you must have at least 5000 followers and the ‘follow’ button must be primary on your profile (as opposed to ‘connect’). This is an interesting change of direction from LinkedIn and is perhaps a clear indication that they want to incentivise growing your followers but not your connections.
Initial impressions are that it is VERY buggy and only works sporadically!
In my last article I detailed my predictions for 2021 but what do other LinkedIn specialists think is going to happen this year? Check the video below from Jo Saunders who asked many well-respected LinkedIn experts from around the world what they thought would happen. It’s a mixed bag of ‘pie in the sky’ ideas, some that are more requests than predictions and some that sit on the fence but on the whole, there are some really interesting ideas – it’s well worth a watch.
Don’t bother with Groups for engagement! At least not for now until some forthcoming changes are made. Those are not my words (although I would tend to agree) but ones mentioned recently on Clubhouse by a very senior LinkedIn exec! What I love about Clubhouse is that it’s still relatively new and as yet the dreaded comms people at LinkedIn haven’t started censoring what their employees can say in Clubhouse rooms!
On the subject of Clubhouse, I’m a real newbie so haven’t fully experienced it yet but from what I can see it’s exactly what LinkedIn groups should be! Great engagement with a notable lack of keyboard warrior trolls (it’s a voice app) and spammers. I’m enthusiastic to use it more over the next few weeks although the word is it can be very addictive! It’s definitely worth some of our time for now until it’s swallowed up by an evil corporate-like Facebook and ruined!
Are video captions really worth the effort?
It’s generally accepted as good advice to add captions to your video because most users do not have sound switched on. This makes sense but adding captions is no simple task and whilst there are tools you can use such Zubtitle & Subly, they are not free and even then it can still take 2-5 minutes to add and edit them for a 2 minute video. That is just too long, fiddly and expensive.
Update: I have recently come across another captioning tool called Veed which is free (with some limits). I haven’t tried it yet and intend to fully review it soon but it could be worth checking out.
I’ve come to the conclusion that if you have something to say for 2-3 minutes in a video it is better to add short summary text boxes to your video (as well as a clear headline) that educates the viewer what you are talking about – this way they can decide if they wish to switch sound on. This is common practice on Instagram stories and TikTok and I think it would work well on LinkedIn, most people are working from home these days so enabling sound is not the issue it used to be in an open office.
It’s much easier and quicker to do than captions and free! What do you think?
What we can learn from posting in 2020
I measure the success of a post primarily by the number of comments it receives (apart from Live) so this is how I judged my top five posts of 2020. They are as follows;
- White Privilege – Image, personal story, highly topical with potential for disagreement.
- My Dad has Dementia – Document, personal, emotional story
- ‘I help’ headlines – Video with no talking just word bubbles, Tips, debatable
- 300th episode – Text, Personal story and a positive message
- Algorithm changes – Newsletter article, tips.
John Espirians top five were as follows;
- Stop copying my homework – Image, personal experience, tips
- Self Tagging – Text, tips, experiment.
- Content DNA book – Video, promotional (rare & with an invested audience)
- The only male role model I ever had – Image, personal story, topical
- Volunteers needed for experiment – Text, experiment, call to action
The type of post seems to be much less relevant than the content, all four post types (text, video, document & image) are featured in all 10 above although it’s fair to say that three of the ten were text only and three were image but it’s clear that how you deliver content is nowhere near as important as what your content is about.
- 50% of the the above post include content that is personal
- 40% include tips/advice
- 40% include a story
The evidence suggests that followers respond to posts that reveal more about you personally. That doesn’t mean we should only post personal content but it does mean that we should consider the benefit of authenticity and allowing our followers to get to know us better as people.
Helpful posts (tips) continue to perform well and stories are always a great tool for delivering content. I guess a personal story that concludes with helpful advice must be the perfect type of post then!
We both used Shield to analyse the performance of their posts.
The third user I looked at was Mark Lee who posted the excellent article below with fantastic detail on his posting experience in 2020.
I would highly recommend reading the full article (click on the image above) to see a completely different experience and a good balance to the above conclusions. As Mark is very keen to point out his results are only relevant to his market and specific circumstances – this is also true of myself and John.
I actually think we can learn more from Mark’s results than mine and John’s!
So why are Mark’s conclusions somewhat more negative? I would point out that his results are actually pretty good and many would be delighted to attract the amount of engagement that his posts do but it’s clear from his conclusions that he isn’t entirely happy.
Firstly he is working in a tough market – I know from experience that Accountants can be a difficult audience to engage.
Laser targeting is ineffective
I also think that Mark is guilty of being too targeted in his approach and this can ironically prevent the people he is targeting from seeing his content. I know it sounds counterintuitive but being so ‘on topic’ for his accountancy audience with his posts means that he is reliant on that audience engaging in order to distribute his posts – and we know they are reluctant to engage. In addition it would be wrong to assume that Accountants are predominantly followed by other Accountants.
If he posted content that had a wider appeal then he might find that it reaches a wider audience which will likely include people followed by accountants he is not currently reaching. This may increase his relevant followers but also his relevance to those who engage with his content, thus increasing the chances of them seeing his posts in the future.
Laser-targeting on LinkedIn is just too difficult, it’s more productive to vary your content and type of content (Mark mostly uses text only). It is clear from my and Johns results that people respond to all content types (the post of the year for the last 2 years has been an image post).
I will start with the post of the week, the first of 2021 and it will take some beating for the rest of the year!
Another example of the power of image posts. Flavia has clearly touched many with this image and accompanying explanation.
This was the highest performing post of the week throughout 2020. A highly topical (in July) and helpful image post. Well done to Laura.
That’s all for this week. Let me know if there is a specific subject you would like me to cover in future editions of LinkedInformed.