LinkedIn the #2 Social Media Platform across Multiple Metrics

LinkedIn is now the number two social media platform by usage, advertising spend, ROI and analytics tools.  Facebook remains number one.  “While LinkedIn is often considered a hub for job hunters and corporate recruiters, the platform has also shifted to position itself as a marketing engine in recent years,” said Jerry Ascierto, executive editor of The Social Shake-Up Show. “The recent updates to its ad platform and UI seem to be encouraging brands to increase spend. As a result, more companies are experiencing better ROI from this network than others considered more popular and ‘fun,’ such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.”

Source: Social Shake-Up.
Source: Social Shake-Up.

LinkedIn has benefited from a native video feature that was launched last year and was recently extended to company pages.

LinkedIn’s last official member count was 546 million global professional profiles.

Microsoft Chairman John Thompson said that the LinkedIn acquisition has been “wildly successful” and that Microsoft would be “all in” on a similar deal.  Of particular interest are firms that would help connect users to the Microsoft cloud.

Thomson was critical of firms that share or sell user data.  “Many of them make money off ads and they have used that as kind of a leverage point,” Thomson told Bloomberg.  “At Microsoft, we don’t believe in that.”

While Facebook has taken a series of hits on its sharing of member data, LinkedIn has long protected member data (for example, Sales Navigator does not permit the uploading of member information to CRMs but makes it available for display).  What’s more, Microsoft has built GDPR compliance into its product line and set it as a global standard.

LinkedIn celebrated its 15th anniversary last month.  “15 years ago, we launched LinkedIn in Reid Hoffman’s living room with the tagline ‘relationships matter’,”  said VP of Product Strategy Allen Blue.  “I’m proud to say that this mantra still rings true today in both the halls of LinkedIn and on the platform. While the world of work has evolved immensely — be it the tools and products we use, the ways we communicate, and even the jobs themselves — our need to connect with one another to be productive in our careers remains at the core of all we do.”

InsideView UI Refresh

InsideView recently rolled out a beta user interface which follows a mobile first navigation structure and includes a redesigned News Feed view for followed companies.  InsideView describes the new UI as “fresh. Modern. And easier to navigate, with more engaging graphics and a common user experience across platforms – within CRM, mobile, and web.” 

The color scheme utilizes a monochrome palate with splashes of red, blue and green for accents (e.g. hyperlinks, highlighted tabs, buttons).  Unfortunately, much of the text is gray against a white background which may cause readability issues in brightly lit locations. 

Navigation is via a left-handed navigation bar.  For companies, the primary tabs are Overview, Company Information, People, and Insights.  Sub-headings under Company Information are Firmographics, Industry Profile, Financials, Family Tree, and Competitors.  Industry Profile has a third level of horizontal tabs, and really should be presented as a top-level navigation item. 

A Search bar provides a type-ahead feature to assist with company and contact searching.  The type-ahead feature begins as a Recently Viewed list of companies and contacts. 

The Insights Tab includes social integration, news filtering by agent, and keyword searching.
The Insights Tab includes social integration, news filtering by agent, and keyword searching.

The Insights Tab is an updated version of the InsideView buzz tab.  Users can view company news, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook in a single feed.  News can be filtered to a subset of their 17 agents and be shared via email, social media, or Yammer.  All four sources are keyword searchable.  Twitter is fully integrated with a Twitter handle summary along with reply, retweet, and favorite.  Facebook supports an integrated stream of posts with commenting support. 

One of the nice features that was carried forward from the old Buzz tab is the ability to switch between company posts and posts from others for Twitter and Facebook. 

In place of a static Home Page, the user is taken to the News Page which presents the user with news stories for followed companies in a grid pattern.  Users may filter the topics by one or multiple Agents (sales triggers) and Watchlists.  Individual articles may be shared with social media, email, or Yammer. 

The News view may be filtered by Watchlist and Agent.
The News view may be filtered by Watchlist and Agent.

The Company view still lacks an export to PDF feature similar to that found in D&B Hoovers and Hoovers classic.

Users will be able to switch between the classic and beta versions through April 27th.

Sales Navigator Q1 18: Revised Account Profiles

LinkedIn redesigned its Account Page display as part of their Q1 2018 release.
LinkedIn redesigned its Account Profile display as part of their Q1 2018 release.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator formally announced their Q1 release last week. The new functionality, which is rolling out to admins and trainers first, will be unveiled to sales reps over the next few weeks. The release focuses on a redesigned Account page, but also includes self-service seat transfers, new sales email alerts, seniority preferences, and additional SNAP partners.

LinkedIn describes the refreshed Account page as “the most efficient way to get the information you need about your accounts.”

The new company profile page is laid out in a series of sections:

  • Company Summary – a company overview with employee count, industry, revenue, short description, URL, location, and contact information. The section also supports Add Tags, Add Notes, and Save Account functionality.
  • People Tab – three categories of people intelligence: saved leads, recommended leads, and connections into the account. The saved leads section is displayed in a list format with headshot, title, connections, geography, and recent activity. Recommended leads may be filtered by spotlights such as job changes, mentioned in the news, recent LinkedIn posts, shared experiences, and company followers. Recommended leads highlights job changes, news mentions, recent LinkedIn posts, shared experiences, and company followers. Connections are broken into three strata: first degree connections, TeamLink (co-workers) connections, and alumni connections based on the user’s college or university.
  • News & Insights Tab – company insights related to news mentions, LinkedIn posts, and executive hires. The section also includes recent headcount growth by department.
  • Head Count Growth – the headcount growth data has been available to premium users in core LinkedIn for over a year, but finally made it into Sales Navigator (see image on right). Employee estimates found in sales intelligence vendors are often difficult to obtain or out of date. LinkedIn has access to probably the most reliable employee analytics on the market. Not only can they provide current headcount data, but they also include this data by eight job functions (Art & Design, Business Development, Engineering, HR, IT, Operations, Program & Project Management, an Sales) and the change at the departmental and corporate level over the past six months, year, and two years. This data is invaluable to sales reps as they can determine the mix of employees by function at the firm, whether hiring has accelerated or decelerated over the past few months, and even which departments are hiring. Not only does this data provide talking points, but an acceleration or deceleration in hiring is a valuable signal in assessing whether a pipeline deal is likely to move forward or stall.Sales reps should be careful about taking LinkedIn employee counts as gospel. While the data is more accurate than other sources, it is likely to lag M&A activity and layoffs as members update their profiles. Thus, hiring (except for embargoed executive changes awaiting press release) will be more quickly reflected than layoffs. Employees of acquired firms may be slow to update their profiles, particularly if their subsidiary retains its brand. As such, the trend data is probably more important than the displayed employee count.For private investors and competitive intelligence professionals, the head count data can be invaluable for comparing peers and evaluating growth and hiring patterns across a segment.

    Unfortunately, Sales Navigator does not yet display all of the employment analytics found in the LinkedIn service so sales reps may still wish to toggle between the core LinkedIn service and Sales Navigator to review New Hires data, Notable Company Alumni, and the Total Job Openings analysis.

  • Recent Senior Management Hires – The Recent Hires section lists Directors and higher that recently joined the firm. Both current and previous roles are displayed along with tenure in the current position. New hires may be saved as Leads without leaving the page.
  • People Also Viewed – This section lists similar companies which were viewed after the current account. While the firms may be in the same industry, this section could include partners, companies from which the firm has hired key execs, vendors, etc. Each company includes a logo, employee range, industry, and location. The companies may be saved as Accounts without leaving the page.

New content includes an expanded set of revenue estimates, headcount growth data, the Saved Leads module, Spotlights and Insights in the Recommended Leads module, alumni in the Connections module, and recent senior management hires. Previously, only public companies had revenue data, but LinkedIn is beginning to build out revenue estimates for private companies with at least $1 billion in revenue. LinkedIn plans on building down these estimates to smaller companies.

“Our redesigned account page experience streamlines the process of landing new accounts or building relationships within existing accounts, by giving you the information you need, when you need it.  Now you can better understand whether the account is a good match, who you should be targeting, and how you can get a warm introduction.”

  • Doug Camplejohn, Head of Product at LinkedIn Sales Solutions

This is the first in a series of blogs discussing the Q1 2018 Sales Navigator release.  Part two discusses additional enhancements.

Twitter Supports Verbosity! #HipHipHooray

Twitter had doubled its capacity to 280 character tweets noting that in countries where there is less character cramming (e.g., China, Japan, Korea), there are fewer full-length messages and a higher propensity to tweet.  “Twitter is about brevity,” blogged Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen and senior software engineer, Ikuhiro Ihara.  “It’s what makes it such a great way to see what’s happening. Tweets get right to the point with the information or thoughts that matter. That is something we will never change.”

“Historically, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending. With the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced – that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit.

  • Aliza Rosen, Twitter Product Manager

Twitter noted that during a test, the length of tweets quickly returned to its terse style, but with few tweeters bumping up against the limit.  “We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people Tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained,” said Rosen.

So, I guess we’ll all be fine, but what does this mean for the Tweeter-in-Chief and posterity?  Will some future historian performing data analytics pick up on the change in length?

Will Trumpish remain its own special language?  Will Sad! become So Sad! And was cofeveve an acronym he can now spell out for us?

Nimble Prospector

The Nimble Smart Contacts App captures the Name, Email, Mobile Phone, Work Phone, Job Title, Company, Website URL, Physical Address, Facebook URL, Twitter URL, and LinkedIn URL contained within an email signature.
The Nimble Smart Contacts App captures the Name, Email, Mobile Phone, Work Phone, Job Title, Company, Website URL, Physical Address, Facebook URL, Twitter URL, and LinkedIn URL contained within an email signature.

Nimble partnered with CircleBack to add two contact maintenance features into its social sales and marketing CRM for individuals and teams.  Users can capture email signatures or take a photo of business cards to populate Nimble.  Email signatures are gathered from Gmail, Google Apps, Outlook / Exchange, and Office 365.  Furthermore, CircleBack appends missing fields such as social links, corporate addresses, and URLs which may not always be available.  It then updates the records to ensure they remain accurate.

“CircleBack’s collaboration with Nimble brings tremendous opportunity to leverage and enhance our open API ecosystem, and to enable Nimble to enrich contact information from social data in new and increasingly effective ways.” said Manoj Ramnani, CEO, CircleBack. “What makes Nimble such an incredible Social CRM is its ability to provide instant context to its users, and now through the power of our APIs, we want to empower Nimble to do it with greater precision.”

Nimble browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge allow sales reps to capture and enrich contacts while browsing the web.  Thus, a sales rep could be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or a corporate website and add the contact record with a single click.  CircleBack then enriches the record with missing details.  What’s more, the sales rep doesn’t need to key information into Nimble or guess at email structures.

Nimble plans include 25 free lookups per user per month.  Additional contacts are priced in bundles between 20 cents (50 credits per month) and 10 cents (1,000 credits per month).  While credits are shared across the team and reasonably priced, they do not rollover.  Thus, the true per record cost is higher.

Nimble Prospector Pricing
Nimble Prospector Pricing

Microsoft Relationship Sales Solution

Microsoft Dynamics - LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Lead and Contact widget display.
Microsoft Dynamics – LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Lead and Contact widget display.

Microsoft announced Relationship Sales, a bundled version of MS Dynamics for Sales Enterprise Edition and LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team.  The new bundle will be available for sale on July 1st.  The service is priced at $135, which is “about one-half the cost of competitive solutions in the market,” according to Microsoft EVP, cloud and enterprise group Scott Guthrie.

LinkedIn also announced a set of insight enhancements for its MS Dynamics connector. Insights help sales reps by

  • Leveraging signals across email, CRM and LinkedIn to get contextual recommendations for the next best action within Dynamics 365 for Sales, facilitating introductions directly through the company’s network and sending InMail, messages and customized connection requests.

  • Engaging buyers with tailored content throughout the account lifecycle and getting account and lead updates, including news mentions and job changes.

  • Building strong relationships with existing contacts through access to LinkedIn profile details including photos, current roles and work history.

The new service displays company and contact intelligence across Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity records.  Insight features include icebreakers, TeamLink introductions, Lead Recommendations, and LinkedIn intelligence.  Daily synchronization ensures that active accounts and contacts are shared between the services and that Sales Navigator activities (e.g. InMails, messages, notes, tags, and call logs) are uploaded to Dynamics 365.

“Sales Navigator with Dynamics 365 will dramatically increase the effectiveness of salespeople by tapping into their professional networks and relationships, giving them the ability to improve their pipeline,” said Guthrie.

“Microsoft has been focused on integrating its acquisitions and the LinkedIn to Dynamics 365 [to] Office 365 is the latest [iteration],” said Constellation Research Principal Analyst Ray Wang.  “Customers already use these three products in disparate fashion spending time doing arm chair integration. What they’ve been looking for is the ability to take the data and insights in these three products and put them to work.”

Wang believes that cross-platform functionality can be quite useful.  For example, “How do you find out who knows whom inside a company? Traverse your Office 365 data, your [Dynamics 365] CRM database and your LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and you realize Joe and Abdul have known each other since university days. Let’s put Abdul on the sales call.”

As LinkedIn member content is view only, Relationship Sales does not provide any member content enrichment or data maintenance.  Thus, Relationship Sales would need to be used in conjunction with other services such as Insights Enterprise (InsideView OEM with MS Dynamics) or D&B Hoovers for CRM to obtain a full sales intelligence and data maintenance solution.

Microsoft Dynamics - LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Account widget display.
Microsoft Dynamics – LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Account widget display.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Enterprise Launched

An embedded User Guide is displayed within a PointDrive page. Commentary is provided by sales reps.
An embedded User Guide is displayed within a PointDrive page. Commentary is provided by sales reps, allowing them to personalize embedded documents or multi-media elements.

LinkedIn unveiled a series of enhancements to Sales Navigator including a new Enterprise Edition, CRM widgets, and integration of PointDrive into the Team and Enterprise editions.  The Enterprise edition includes Single Sign-On, PointDrive sales messaging, 50 InMails per month per user, and TeamLink Extend.

These features are on top of recent Sales Navigator screening enhancements.

While the original TeamLink feature was limited to Sales Navigator subscribers that opted into the service, TeamLink Extend allows opted-in co-workers to share their personal LinkedIn networks with sales reps, even if they are not Sales Navigator licensors.  “That means, if you’re trying to reach a prospect, you can quickly see if anyone in your company has a connection with that person, and reach out to your colleague to ask for warm introduction,” said LinkedIn Sales Solutions Head of Products Doug Camplejohn.

The first 1,000 TeamLink Extend seats are included as part of the Enterprise Edition contract.

PointDrive, which LinkedIn acquired last summer, is designed to solve two problems with emails: attachment laden emails lack “control over narrative” as emails provide little flow, story, and “experience for the buyer.”  Also, they provide no visibility into who is viewing the email.  Thus, post-demo messaging is haphazard as emails don’t communicate a story very well.

According to LinkedIn, there are 5.4 decision makers involved in the buying decision which means that there is a high probability that sales emails with rich media attachments are being forwarded to others.

Bill Burnett, Director of LinkedIn Sales Solutions stated that the goal of PointDrive is to “turn this [email] exchange into a truly more engaging experience” which provides real-time sales signals about what content decision makers are viewing.  Instead of sending long emails, buyers are directed to a PointDrive landing page which allows the sales rep to control brand, content, and commentary.  PointDrive was designed as a “mobile first” interface with landing pages supporting both traditional and mobile browsers.

PointDrive Profile
PointDrive Profile

Brand and product information are “now presented in a way that truly differentiates and engages the buyer” through personalization and organization.  PointDrive also provides easy access to sales rep bios and contact information (see image on left).  Each attachment is displayed in a framed box with sales rep narratives and document descriptions alongside the marketing piece.  PointDrive supports embedded collateral, pricing sheets, presentation decks, multimedia, and images which are all displayed within the PointDrive landing page.  Users do not need to download content or window out to other documents.

PointDrive is customized to the seller allowing firms to convey their brand identity.  Burnett claims that creating a PointDrive is “as simple as creating an email.”  Users upload content and grab links, videos, and Google Maps.  “We’ll lay your brand and identity on top of it for you so that when you are ready to share with your leads [and] share with your connections,” said Burnett.

Real-time alerting metrics are provided for each document view.  Thus, PDF analytics indicate who viewed the document, when viewed, how much total time buyers or influencers spent viewing the document, total pages viewed, and how much time was spent on each page.  It even captures the viewing browser and location of the viewer.  This intelligence is available for both the original recipients and any forwarded viewers.

Sales reps have control over actions taken on PointDrive embedded content.  They can block downloads, password protect the element, set expiration dates, and track forwards.

Burnett calls this a “new way for sellers within Sales Navigator to engage with customers and prospects much deeper into the sales funnel.”  The service also provides “tremendous value for account managers or anybody inside of your organization that’s communicating on a regular basis” with customers and prospects.

“The new Sales Navigator features are to enhance the overall customer experience of Sales Navigator, and to integrate it into daily workflows to get people the information they need as easily as possible,” said LinkedIn Senior Marketing Manager Derek Pando.

PointDrive is available as part of the baseline Team and Enterprise editions.  While Enterprise Edition users will have unlimited access, Team Edition users will be limited to ten PointDrives per seat per month.

The Enterprise Edition includes additional management reports.

A new CRM Sync feature allows sales reps to take notes, send InMails, and track calls from their iOS and Android devices.  Information will initially only synch from Sales Navigator to SFDC, but additional platforms will be supported later this year.

Finally, Sales Navigator added new SFDC and MS Dynamics widgets which display Sales Navigator profile details such as photos, work history, job titles, and TeamLink shared connections.  Widgets will soon be available for Oracle, SAP Hybris, NetSuite, SugarCRM, Hubspot and Zoho.

“LinkedIn is a valuable pool of data that’s a great fit for CRM,” said Ian Campbell, CEO of Nucleus Research.  “As long as it doesn’t limit or preclude users from using other CRM options,” he told CRM Buyer, “this is a good move that will add value.”

Camplejohn told TechCrunch that LinkedIn is not looking to muscle in on Salesforce or other CRMs.

“We’re not competing at all with Salesforce.  We like the position that we are in. Ours is about the connections and activities that are happening. For us, the best play is to be a complement to all CRM systems so that we can exist in that world.”

  • LinkedIn Sales Solutions Head of Products Doug Camplejohn.

The Enterprise Edition begins at $1,600 per seat per year with multi-volume discounting available.  LinkedIn Sales Solutions published the following feature table for the three editions:

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is offered as a three-tiered service.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is offered as a three-tiered service.

EY (Ernst & Young) has already signed up for 30,000 enterprise seats but will be able to leverage TeamLink opt-ins amongst its 250,000 global employees.

Camplejohn hinted to Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch that gamification and other incentives will be deployed in a future release to encourage TeamLink participation.

Sales Navigator “has good traction with companies focused on B2B sales,” said Constellation Research Principal Analyst Cindy Zhou “Navigator’s ability to facilitate social sales through third-level connections is one of the primary revenue generators for LinkedIn, and a key driver for the Microsoft acquisition.”

Furthermore, PointDrive “provides one centralized location for prospects to access content, and it’s all trackable by sales and marketing.  This is a bonus for organizations considering the Enterprise Edition and a good bundling strategy.”

On the negative side, Zhou raised concerns about whether sales reps would manage the TeamLink opt-in responsibly.  “Organizations using TeamLink will need to be aware of their responsibility to properly train users to not abuse the access to connections.”