linkedin marketing

Is LinkedIn The World's #1 Blog Platform?

Top Sales World is the world's leading magazine and online community for those in professional sales. Once a year they publish their list of the top 50 sales and marketing bloggers globally. Last year when I reviewed the list I was struck by the fact that not one awarded author was primarily publishing on LinkedIn – the biggest blogging platform in the world.

"But if the world's #1 Blogging platform is LinkedIn, why has no-one who publishes exclusively on their platform been recognised as a leading blogger?"

That's exactly what I thought and last year I set the goal of being the first author to be be independently recognised as one of the world's best bloggers while publishing exclusively on the LinkedIn platform. Today that goal was achieved when Top Sales World recognised me in the 2016 global Top 50 bloggers in the field of sales and marketing. Click on the image below to see the full list.

I asked Jonathan Farrington at Top Sales World if anyone else in the Top 50 blogged exclusively in LinkedIn and he responded by telling me I was the only one. But why is this the case when LinkedIn boasts well over 400 million members with more that 1 million who actively publish more than 150,000 posts a week. Beyond these staggering numbers, consider these reasons for why authors should embrace the platform:

  • It can reach an audience based on context and relevance with their powerful Pulse Channels and intelligent mobile apps to enhance content readership and interactive engagement. Below are the free subscription channels along with the audience numbers.
  • It has unrivalled reach within the more than 400 million members. The average post is viewed by professionals in 21 industries and 9 countries.
  • It maps the business social graph with deep analytics and reporting
  • It engages a community in discussion while providing incredible detail about those who like, share, comment and engage in collaborative conversation.
  • It is simple to use and elegantly designed for PC, laptop, tablet and mobile devices
  • About 45% of readers are in the upper ranks of their industries and this includes managers, directors, vice presidents and CEOs.

These are the factors that convinced me 24 months ago to stop blogging on my own website and go all-in on LinkedIn. I decided that I needed to go and be where my clients are [LinkedIn] and surrendered the desire to capture contact details for a mailing list or newsletter... I had an epiphany:

"I must stop seeking to 'interrupt and push' with sales and marketing and instead 'attract and engage' through relevant insights and high value content."

This meant that I chose to allow my potential clients to be in complete control. I allowed them to choose whether to contact me based of the value I provided in advance of me ever charging them a fee or attempting to pitch my value or services.  So, what were the results and do 'social selling' strategies actually work? Hell yeah!!!!!

I have attracted 85,000 followers of my LinkedIn blog and incredible connections in just 24 months. I have more clients than I can cope with. I've been recognised as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific. I have been paid to speak at numerous events as a direct result of my LinkedIn publishing and activity.

I have also been recognised as a Top 50 blogger globally using LinkedIn exclusively and I am in negotiation for new book publishing contracts. When I took a white paper I wrote and re-purposed it to be LinkedIn blog post,it received in excess of 235,000 reads. Click on the image below to see the power of moving away from a website where this content received less than 100 reads as a white paper and onto LinkedIn where the audience and customers are.

I've adopted an altruistic approach where I freely provide my insights and intellectual property and avoided any form of 'click-bait'. I am well on my way to one million reads of my content and 100,000 followers in LinkedIn. But publishing content is not just important for authors. Here are four reasons for sales people to write content with their managers and marketing department supporting them with ideation, proof-reading, editing and publishing tools:

  1. Educate yourself and develop domain knowledge and expertise
  2. Connect with industry leaders to build your sphere of influence
  3. Attract clients and an audience to support your business goals
  4. Build your personal brand evidencing credibility, value and insight

In an online world we are known by who we are connected to and what we publish. According to IDC research, 75% of buyers research the seller before engaging. What do they see when they view your profile? We want people to see a credible domain expert worthy of trust and an investment of  time. We must also create a strong personal brand and here is how to begin.

The 'Updates' section of LinkedIn is also very powerful, and scheduling tools such as Buffer make the process easy for sharing other people’s articles, blogs, research, infographics and Tweets. Content can easily be sourced by identifying influencers in the market and individual content capture and scheduling is as simple as clicking a button in the web browser.

Sales people must consciously associate themselves with leaders who are respected by their potential clients and transform their LinkedIn profile to be a personal brand micro site instead of an online CV. Connect with leaders admired by your clients and then share their content as a 'content aggregator' who adds your own insights... working with other people's content is the easiest way to begin your content publishing journey.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

How To Generate Your Own Free Press Coverage

LinkedIn is the most powerful platform in the world for creating a strong personal brand with a network that transforms your professional life and business results.

If you're a consultant or own your own business, or if you are responsible for media and press coverage then this information will reveal how to gain direct access to those who can give your brand a rocket-ship ride.

LinkedIn has far more value to offer than merely helping with recruiting and selling

This may surprise you but you're reading this article on the number 1 publishing platform in the world. LinkedIn has well over 420,000,000 members (with two new people joining every second) and their publishing platform, Publisher and the Pulse Channels, have unrivalled reach and engagement. LinkedIn is the most important software for anyone in business because it enables them to research, connect and engage potential employees, customers, partners, investors; and also journalists, media personalities, producers, publication editors, conference organizers... everyone who matters in building a business.

Access to the media was once the exclusive domain of Public Relations (PR) agencies who built relationships and knew how to pitch a client's value for press coverage. PR agencies can still play a role today but usually because their clients lack the ability to write good content or don't have expertise in how to create a multi-channel marketing plan. Even for those who can cover these two prerequisites, many then don't understand the power of social platforms such as LinkedIn.

According to a survey by Arketi media group, almost 95% of journalists and editors are on LinkedIn and 62% rate it as their preferred professional networking platform

I recently caught-up with Alex Pirouz, founder of Linkfluencer which is the best online training for becoming masterful at using LinkedIn.  I highly recommend his online courses for mastering LinkedIn for both selling and also PR and building your brand.

According to Alex: "For far too long the traditional methods of getting media coverage have either been too expensive, difficult or just too time consuming. But with LinkedIn you can now start connecting and building relationships with hundreds of journalists and editors from around the world." 

Alex knows what he is talking about and has himself secured significant press coverage and guest journalist spots with The Huffington Post and other publications. Alex recommends that you "write down the top three publications you would like coverage in, identify the journalists with those publications and then connect and build a relationship with them on LinkedIn."

This simple strategy enabled Alex himself to be featured in over 50 media publications and he now writes for Huffington Post, Hubspot and Entrepreneur. According to Alex; "The best thing about this approach it is that we've never sent out a press release or made a cold call."

Anyone in business who neglects LinkedIn is asleep at the wheel. I have many articles about how to use social media here in my LinkedIn blog. This post covers the basics ofbuilding a strong personal brand.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Niuton may - PR

Microsoft Acquires LinkedIn - What It Means

Microsoft has announced the acquisition of LinkedIn for a record US$26.2 billion which makes it the biggest deal Microsoft has ever done. In my view there is no product or 'solution' overlap which makes it look like a good fit but only if Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, allows LinkedIn to operate as a stand-alone business unit just as they've done with Skype.

Acquiring LinkedIn is Satya Nadella's first big play to reinvigorate Microsoft's growth but although LinkedIn's shares rose more than 45% on the news, Microsoft dropped almost 3% (Image courtesy of Bloomberg).

This is probably because Microsoft acquisitions have a mixed track record in recent times with both Nokia and Yammer (business instant messaging collaboration) failing to deliver the intended results. Skype, on the other hand, has been largely left alone to continue as the video conferencing giant... LinkedIn should be managed the same way.

Microsoft's heritage and core value offering is integrated office productivity tools and LinkedIn fits the bill while also being a mature and elegant suite of cloud applications. Approximately 420 million professionals (including recruiters, sales professionals, entrepreneurs and marketers) all use LinkedIn to manage their professional networks and careers. But where is the potential benefit for the huge number of joint LinkedIn and Microsoft customers?

Value Driver #1: Microsoft CRM (Dynamics) and LinkedIn Integration. The roles of LinkedIn versus Dynamics (Microsoft Customer Relationship Management) are fundamentally different and this is because one enables people to build both their network and opportunity pipeline, and the other manages qualified opportunities and provides the database for executing lead-nurturing and customer experience.

LinkedIn has the hearts and minds of salespeople because it helps them find the people they need to build pipeline and also the next employer to progress their career.

CRM should be the engine for managing sales process and with real-time LinkedIn data, Dynamics has the capability to do this as the 'single source of truth' about prospects and clients to manage the entire customer lifecycle for marketing, sales, services, support and finance. The very best implement CRM as a coaching platform for sales managers with their people to review opportunity qualification and discovery, call plans, relationship mapping, sales stage progression with action tracking, close/win plans, and much more... all integrated within the CRM.

LinkedIn helps build opportunity pipeline and CRM manages sales process. Integrating the two creates an accurate real-time platform to deliver game-changing customer experience for the entire interaction lifecycle.

LinkedIn and Microsoft CRM create value in their own right but together there are genuine synergies. Could LinkedIn replace CRM? This video discussed that very question and here is the transcript.

Value Driver #2: Integrated Cloud Office Productivity: Google will be watching very closely as this acquisition could enable LinkedIn's InMail adoption to skyrocket if Microsoft intelligently leverages Office365 against Gmail's cloud mail dominance. Salesforce and other CRM vendors will also be worried about this acquisition and what it means for them competitively. Real-time data within CRM is massively important. Microsoft have other cloud application capabilities that start to bring everything together. These include cloud collaboration, messaging and mail.

Image courtesy of LinkedIn.

Value Driver #3: Customer Experience Platform. Outstanding 'customer experience' (CX) is what CRM, marketing automation, business intelligence, process automation, mobile, social engagement and other technologies are meant to enable. Microsoft has assured its relevance in the CRM arena with this acquisition and also brings and new dimension to professional 'productivity', in the office and working mobile. If Microsoft 'does no harm' to LinkedIn while they carefully create a strategy to become the world's leading customer experience platform, then the result will be good for shareholders and customers alike.

The verdict. Although Microsoft is paying top price, this acquisition makes sense if they can deliver the world's leading suite of solutions for creating customer experience. CX is more important CRM... it's already the next big thing. The biggest negative for LinkedIn members is that the acquisition almost certainly means there will be more advertising on the platform as they seek to recoup their investment... let's hope that LinkedIn does not become as cluttered with ads as Facebook.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo Source: CNBC screenshot

How Secure Is Your LinkedIn Account... Really?

Last month LinkedIn announced to the world that username and password data from 167,370,910 accounts had been obtained illegally from their site. Fortunately the data breach did not include credit card details and was directly associated with an earlier incident in 2012.

Ironically, the timing meant that Microsoft would have been in the middle of acquisition negotiations following due diligence. It was an opportunity for LinkedIn to show their values and culture... they passed with flying colors... but not everyone agrees with me.

LinkedIn immediately got on the front foot to protect their members and the LinkedIn brand. Here is LinkedIn's official statement on May 18, 2016. They also e-mailed all members who were potentially affected and forced password changes before those users could log back in.

Never seek to hide what can be discovered. Transparency and honesty is always best.

If you're wondering if you are one of the LinkedIn users impacted by this breach? Well, stop trying to figure it out and just change your password immediately. Seriously, change it right now. You should change passwords regularly on all online accounts as a matter of course.

The biggest risk does not come from hackers or cyber-criminals... you personally are actually the weakest link in the security chain.

Watch this video and you'll understand that the way users create and manage their passwords is the biggest security risk... and many use a common password across many platforms.

I discussed all this with a IT security expert, Olsi Selfo, and here is his advice based on years of experience working with some of the biggest banks in the world and cyber-security specialists from defence and other rigorous security environments.

The following is from Olsi Selfo.

It’s always a good idea to change your passwords regularly and to never, ever use the same password for two different accounts. And no, you shouldn’t paste all those different usernames and passwords into a plain text file so you can remember them. Instead, use a secure password manager that can sync your passwords across all devices and keep them safe but easily accessible.

LeakedSource published a table showing the most commonly used passwords on LinkedIn and it’s just as bad as you think it might be. The most commonly used password is “123456” and it was found on 753,305 accounts. The second most common password was “linkedin” which was used on 172,523 different accounts, and then “password” on 144,458 accounts. Login credentials - especially to social media sites - are a valuable commodity for 'black hat' hackers. One of Olsi's sources claims that '123456' appears more than a million times (1,135,936 to be precise) in another dump, a long way ahead of 'LinkedIn' with 207,000. The most common "base word" used in the passwords is, unsurprisingly “LinkedIn”.

Regularly changing your password is always a good idea and be proactive.

Voluntarily changing passwords manually on a regular basis is a goof idea but do not create passwords based on very simple and very predictable patterns. This means it is very predictable to hackers. Two-step verification is the next level of security to be considered.

Linkedin introduced 2-step verification using SMS. Although not immune against a determined hacker in a targeted attack, it is much better than nothing. What Linkedin really should do is to promote the existence of security risks better, and go beyond mere password changes. That really isn't enough with today's threat landscape.

Personally I recommend two-step verification as a good tradeoff between security and usability for most applications. I'll even admit that a single password might not be enough in all cases. So go ahead and configure 2FA wherever you can.

Hackers use stolen e-mail information to lure users into giving away more information including birth dates, credit card numbers and bank account access. In 2014, cyber criminals stole $16 billion from nearly 13 million consumers.

All the more reason, say experts, to regularly change passwords — even monthly. ‘And more importantly, you should also be thinking about one site, one password,’ said Lucy Millington, head of corporate security for Sophos Cyber Security. ‘So don’t re-use a password, don’t use the same password for the bank, as you do for retail shopping, as you do your email.’

So what’s a good password? Well, for starters, don’t include the names of your children, pets or home addresses—all information that could easily be found online. Instead, use abstract combinations of letters, numbers and characters that a criminal’s computer program couldn’t easily guess. Mixing languages is another way to throw off hacking programs. Running together the lyrics of a song could also help strengthen passwords.

Experts advise paying for credit monitoring to watch for suspicious activity. And be very suspicious of all incoming emails that could be phishing for more sensitive information.

‘A breach is inevitable,’ Payton said. ‘That information that you’ve entrusted someone else with is eventually going to be hacked.’ Experts say a moment of distraction and a click on a bad link can invite cyber-crooks a world away.”

Thanks Olsi for sharing your experience and provide such valuable advice!

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Ken Yeung - President Obama at LinkedIn for Town Hall