Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Seven things you need to know about the new desktop version of LinkedIn

LinkedIn has recently rolled out the biggest redesign of its desktop version since the platform was launched in 2003.

The aim, says LinkedIn, is to make the experience of using the world’s biggest business-to-business networking platform simpler, more intuitive and more valuable.

Things have been moved around so that the desktop version now mirrors the mobile version much more closely. This means that the experience of switching from using LinkedIn on your phone to using it on a laptop or PC is virtually seamless.

Platforms such as LinkedIn never stand still and you can be sure that its teams will continue to evaluate feedback and analyse how people spend their time on the site. They will use this information to continue to tweak functionality and design with the aim of encouraging more people to use LinkedIn more often and for longer.

Connections of mine, who got the new version some months ago, tell me they have seen features getting added back in and changed around – and, as always with LinkedIn’s roll-out cycles, users around the world will get changes and enhancements at different times.

Here are seven enhanced features and changes that I believe will be of particular value to business owners and professionals using LinkedIn at the moment:

1. SEARCH. LinkedIn now offers a simple search box in the top left of the desktop screen. You can enter keywords or names and then isolate results by clicking on one of the horizontal headings that run from left to right on the results page in this order: Top; People; Jobs; Posts; Companies; Groups or Schools (or universities). There are also more filters down the right hand side of the page to help you sort your results.

Search options on the new desktop LinkedIn

2. NAVIGATION. The next section of the navigation on desktop has been simplified into six key elements: Home (which takes you to your news feed); My Network; Jobs; Messaging; Notifications and Me (which has a dropdown giving access to LinkedIn’s help section, your privacy settings and any company pages that you have created or of which you are an administrator). To the right of these is a ‘More’ icon that leads you into other features including Groups, Learning (which has lots of online courses you can pay to access after a free months' trial) and Slideshare. The final element on the far right is an icon that leads you into information about LinkedIn’s advertising products.

Navigation on the new desktop LinkedIn

3. NEWS FEED. LinkedIn aims to give you the news and updates that matter most to you. It says it has improved the automated algorithm that decides which updates to show you but coupled this with the input of people in LinkedIn’s editorial team who also have a hand in that decision-making process. In the early weeks of using the new LinkedIn desktop version I have seen more timely, relevant and high quality updates in my news feed. I think it’s also easier now to ‘educate’ LinkedIn about what is relevant to you. When a sponsored item is suggested to you in your news feed you can click on the three dots top right and give feedback by hiding it. It’s not in the interests of LinkedIn, or the companies that advertise with it, to show irrelevant adverts to people who don’t want to see them. So DO use the ‘hide this post’ option for things of no interest to you.

Giving feedback on sponsored posts in your new LinkedIn news feed

4. INSTANT MESSAGING. In addition to the traditional inbox, which you can still access from the top navigation bar, you will see an instant messaging feature in the bottom right of your desktop screen where you can have quick chats with connections who are online.

Instant Messaging on LinkedIn

5. PUBLISHING ARTICLES. Any LinkedIn users can easily write their own articles and add in hyperlinks, images and video clips. These articles can be found by anyone on LinkedIn. This is a great way to raise your business profile outside of your own connections. The interface is really easy to use and you can quickly see which articles are getting you noticed on LinkedIn.

6. YOUR PROFILE. LinkedIn has removed the ability for users to re-order sections of their profile. This means that everything is in the same place when you look at anyone’s profile. There is also a new section near the top of all profiles that includes any recent activity by that person including what they have liked, shared or commented on and any articles they have created on LinkedIn.

7. MAKING CONNECTIONS. One of my favourite changes on the new platform is that when you click the blue button to connect with someone you are now encouraged to add a personal note. I’ve always believed that it’s good practice to add a personal note whenever you want to connect with someone. I rarely accept anyone I don’t immediately recognise unless they have personalised their request to explain why it might be a good idea for us to connect on LinkedIn.

Personalising connection requests on LinkedIn

That's my pick of seven things I like most about the new LinkedIn. Please feel free to share your thoughts below on what you find most useful, or anything you dislike about the new desktop LinkedIn.

You are also welcome to contact me if you want some one-to-one coaching on the new LinkedIn or if you would like me to run a session in your workplace to help your teams make better use of the platform.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Eight tips to boost your Facebook page reach

If you think that the only way to reach people on Facebook is to pay for boosts and sponsored adverts - think again.

Facebook does have a great advertising platform, which allows businesses to target the people they want to reach and offers good value for money, but I believe that there are also many things that small businesses can do to build their reach and raise awareness WITHOUT paying.

Eight tips on improving Facebook page reach

Here are eight tips to boost the reach of your page on Facebook
  1. Be clear on WHO you want to reach on Facebook and keep those people in mind whenever you are creating content for your page. It has to be content that they will want to read or watch. Getting 'likes', comments and 'shares' for your content will boost your page's organic reach on Facebook, but you have to earn your place in peoples' news feeds by giving them content that's valuable to them.
  2. Make sure it's easy for people to click through to your Facebook page from your main website and mention it now and then on other social media channels you use, Don't overdo it though. For example, some people on Twitter aren't fans of Facebook so they don't want to be bombarded with links to your Facebook content.
  3. Include a link to your Facebook page in your email signature.
  4. Promote your page's URL offline on your business cards, flyers and posters. If you have business premises make sure your Facebook page URL is on all your marketing materials, such as menus, tickets and feedback questionnaires. Remind customers to 'check-in' and share their love for your business. If they are fans of what you have created they will want to support you and be associated with your brand.
  5. Look for other Facebook pages that it is appropriate for your page to 'like' and 'follow'. These could include business customers and collaborators, suppliers, venues and non-competing businesses and organisations. By liking, commenting on and sharing their content you can reach their fans and raise awareness of your own page. It will also encourage them to return the favour and like your content. But, be true to who you are, and the vision and values of your business. Fake sentiment is quickly spotted by canny consumers.
  6. Make sure that high-quality images and short video clips are a regular feature of the content you create and post on your page. Where possible upload your video clips directly to Facebook. 
  7. Smartphones make it easy to respond quickly to comments and questions from your audience while you are out and about. You can use Facebook Live from your phone when you want to post a behind-the-scenes peek at how your business runs, the people you work with or an event you are holding. If possible, promote in advance that you are going to be live so that your fans can be there to watch. If they miss it, the video will be available on your page later.
  8. Finally, do encourage the businesses you work with and network with - and your friends and family on Facebook - to help you build some momentum. There's no shame in asking people you trust to like and follow your updates.
Every business is unique and so is the community of followers it will build on Facebook and the content it will create and share with them. Many of the businesses and organisations that I work with will opt to run some targeted paid-for boosts and advertising but their money will have the best return on investment if they have previously developed a clear Facebook strategy and understood who they want to reach and how they can develop a page that those people want to return to on a regular basis.

To read more, including a case study about the first day of a brand new business on Facebook, go to my recent LinkedIn post: How small businesses can still 'win' on Facebook.