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Entries in LinkedIn (4)

Wednesday
Apr042012

Using LinkedIn for targeted member recruitment 

The Bottom Line

LinkedIn can be a very effective tool to acquire new members for your association at a lower cost, especially when compared to some of the methods more commonly used today.

How do I know when to use LinkedIn?

Depending on the level of your membership dues, using LinkedIn as a highly targeted one-on-one membership recruitment tool can be an excellent strategy.

Two factors are key in deciding how much time and effort is justified in a LinkedIn one-on-one member recruitment campaign:

a.) What is the lifetime value for one member?

b.) What is the total cost of acquisition for one member?

Lifetime Membership Value - what is a member worth?

For example, for a trade association that charges $10,000 for an annual member company to join and that expects members on average to remain in the association for 5 years, produces a minimum of $50,000 in dues revenue. Add to that income from the sale of education, training, books, events and other items and you could easily arrive at an average $75,000 or more as a lifetime value per member.

For a professional association, the calculation will of course be different but it is still equally relevant. Assume an annual membership fee of $300 and an average retention period of 7 years and you arrive at $2,100 in lifetime membership dues receipts. Add in the participation of live and virtual events, training, education, books etc. and this can well exceed dues revenues over the lifetime of the membership. We'll assume conservatively that it is only equal the membership fees for a lifetime total of $4,200 for every new member recruited.

Cost of acquisition - What does it take to gain one new member?

Associations regularly run membership recruitment campaigns. These can consist of direct mail, email, Search and Pay Per Click advertising or telephone direct recruitment campaigns as several examples.

Regardless of what type of campaigns you are running, it is important to know a.) what is the rate of conversion and b.) what is the actual cost per new member for the campaign?

Let's take a look at a Pay per Click keyword campaign that you might be running on Google (they call these campaigns "Adwords"). In an Adword campaign you would select one or more key search terms (single words or phrases) that you think your target group would search on in Google and write a short three line ad. Here is an actual example of an ad using the keywords "Membership Recruitment". 

Conversion rates

Let's assume that we are paying $3.00 per click for our ad on Google and that we convert "clicks" into members at the rate of 5% (a pretty high actual rate of conversion). That means we are paying $60 to acquire a member (20 clicks X $3.00 ea). If the actual conversion rate is more like 1% we are now paying $300 (100 clicks X $3.00) to acquire one member.

This simple calculation shows why it is critical to choose the right keywords, know how much you are able to pay per click and to maximize your conversion rate from clicks into a paid membership. Your actual results will depend on factors unique to your association.

First step, make some conservative calculations to understand your cost of acquisition.

Note: You would use the same approach to calculate your cost of acquisition for other channels. For example; with direct mail, you would calculate your total costs for design, printing, distribution (postage) and any other directly related costs that need be allocated. You would then divide these costs by the number of new members to arrive at a per member cost of acquisition.

If we paid $2,000 for a designer, $5,000 to print 10,000 pieces, $4,500 for postage at $0.45 per piece to mail and $1,000 for handling we come to a total of $12,500 for this campaign. If we recruit 200 new members as a result (a conversion rate of 2%), we are paying $62.50 per member for acquisition ($12,500 costs divided by 200 new members).

Is LinkedIn a more effective and efficient member recruitment tool?

The beauty of using LinkedIn as a one-on-one member recruitment tool is that you can use a very highly targeted approach to identify and contact well qualified prospective members. This in turn can justify the dedication of staff time to use this approach as opposed to Search and Adword marketing, direct mail or any other more general broadcast channels you are currently using.

Let's assume we are a trade association and we know which companies we want to convert into a member but we do not have good information on who to contact in the company? Using Advanced Search for People in LinkedIn, we can identify everyone that works for a target company and see which position they currently hold.

 

 

The Advanced Search function in LinkedIn allows you to use any number of filters to find your prospective members, using a combination of keywords, job titles, company names, geographic location (right down to a specific zip code!) and many other criteria to narrow your search.

In this example, we want to find all current employees from "Diversified Clinical Services".

 

Search Results

This produces a result that includes a Company Profile Page as well as a list of more than 400 employees that work for our target prospect company. If we are interested in employees that make purchasing decisions, we can easily identify the people we want to contact:

 

 

Making the connection 

The next step is to contact our prospective member directly in a professional and positive manner. It is necessary for you to have a premium account with LinkedIn in order to take full advantage of the tools available to you, in particular, the "InMail" system. InMail allows you to send a personal message directly to another member of LinkedIn. Although not all LinkedIn members accept InMail, most do.

Craft a message that allows your prospective member to get some useful information and to find out more about your association for free and without the feeling of being a "sales pitch".

 

How to convert prospects into Members

Using LinkedIn's advanced search function you can invite prospective members to join your LinkedIn group(s), subscribe to your newsletter,  download useful information or to join your associations private social network. All of which can be steps towards recruiting another new member.

Because you are able to really target a very qualified potential member using this approach, you will find your conversion rates higher than general mailings or pay for click advertising. If it is done right, using LinkedIn for targeted marketing as described above can be done efficient with from only 1 -4 hours per week. By using a template and saving your search criteria as a "Saved Search", you can send as many as 25 targeted messages in an hour.

Assuming you are using staff time that costs $60/hr, if only two of these contacts converts to a member, you are now paying only $30 or roughly half as much for member acquisition as the other examples cited earlier.

Even though your are initially reaching a smaller audience compared to mass email or direct mail, your results in terms of actual member recruitment can be much more effective when using LinkedIn as a one-on-one communications tool.

Thursday
Dec152011

New "Polls" for LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn has introduced a new feature for LinkedIn Groups - Polls 

If you are a LinkedIn Group manager, you should understand what this means for your LinkedIn groups.

PRO's

You can now get instant feedback from directly within your LinkedIn groups on important and interesting questions. Members of your group can participate and see the results.

This is a great way to stimulate thought and discussion on any topic and it is very easy for your members to participate.   

 

For example, in TheSocialCEO group, we are asking association CEO's what is their most pressing social media related issue for their organization?

Depending on your group settings, Polls can be created by the LinkedIn Group Manager/Moderators or they can be created by any member of your group!

You will want to consider which of these options best suits your particular group.

CON's

Note: By default, LinkedIn has enabled any member of your group to create a polling question.

On the one hand this may be seen as a "pro" but on the other, it can also be easily abused.

For example, your groups may become innundated with numerous polls from service providers and consultants. You may have a large number of poorly worded or frivolous questions posted in your group. All of which can have a negative impact.

If there are too many polls running, your members will also experience "poll fatigue" which can negatively impact the results your get from your own, organization originated polling questions.

Our recommendation is that most group managers will want to adjust your group settings so that only the group manager can create a poll. You can still ask your members to submit polling ideas or questions that they would like to see and you can then judge if it is appropriate and adds value.

How to adjust your group settings:

1. Go to your group tab on LinkedIn.

2. Click on "Manage" and then click "Group Settings"



3. At the very top of the page you will see the check box for "Enable the creation of polls". If this is enabled, you have a sub-box for "Allow only moderators and managers to create polls." Check this box.

 


4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Save Settings".

Whether you decide to leave the poll creation option open to all of your members or you decide to enable only your LinkedIn Group Manager to create them, Polls are a welcome and powerful new tool to help make your LinkedIn Group more interesting, engaging and valuable.

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Are you a LinkedIn Group Manager or Moderator?

Join the "LinkedUsers" group to share ideas and experiences with more than 750 peers and colleagues!

 

Thursday
Aug112011

LinkedIn pulls a "Facebook" - How to get LinkedOut!

Did LinkedIn just pull a "Facebook" privacy move?

LinkedIn has recently changed user privacy settings, by default, to give it permision to include photos, posts and related activities of LinkedIn Users together with third party paid advertising. Thus making the user an implied endorser of a company, product or service, without his/her explicit consent.

The actual text reads as follows: 

This change was made to users privacy settings without any public notification.

In an age of transparency and the need to trust the owners of social media platforms, this was a ham-fisted way of gaining permission to use (abuse) LinkedIn Users' images and implied affiliations in order to shift more advertising.

There are plenty of people that would love to have the exposure of being included in paid advertising that is served up to the LinkedIn community. LinkedIn did not need to try and "sneak" this new permission into their relationship with the users that pay the freight and create the demand.

When will the owners of social media platforms learn to trust the users as much as they expect the users to trust them?

UPDATE!

Since this was posted, LinkedIn reacted to the negative feedback it received from its users and issued an apology and a change to how the ads display. However, all users are still opted-in! 

It is good to see that LinkedIn responds quickly to its users, however, the real right thing to do in this case is auto-opt out all users and ask those that want to participate in the program to opt-in.

There are more than enough people that want to share their interests that LinkedIn does not need to force the users into the option. It is this kind of forced sharing that prompts the user community to look for alternatives like Google+.

By failing to opt-out all members, they have missed an opportunity to do the really right thing and regain the trust of their users.

Read the official LinkedIn response here.

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How to Unsubscribe from LinkedIn Social Advertising

If you want to know how to unsubscribe, the following steps describe the process:

  1. Click on your name at the upper right hand side of the LinkedIn home page when you are logged in. then Click on "Settings".
  2. On the Settings page, click on "Account"
  3. Click on "Manage Social Advertising to get to the page where you can choose to opt-out.

 

Once on the page, simply un-check the box and save. 

Thursday
Jul142011

Is GOOGLE+ the missing link?

Do Need a GOOGLE+ invite? request one from tbarkan@socialstrat.orgyou feel that Facebook is just too social?

Do you struggle to use LinkedIn effectively?

Hate the idea of “tweeting” every fleeting thought?

You might just find the new GOOGLE+ is the missing link you didn’t realize you were missing!

GOOGLE+ is the newly unveiled social application that fills a very unique and important niche in the social media landscape that is currently dominated by the big 3 of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Even in its just released Beta version, GOOGLE+ has gotten a lot of things right. In GOOGLE fashion, it has made its solution simple, clean and intuitive. I think GOOGLE+ is going to be very attractive, even to social media skeptics that are put off by Facebook’s hyper social/casual interface, LinkedIn’s increasing narrow application and Twitter’s flotsam of never ending status updates (I mean who can really “follow” 1,000+ contacts?).

Circles of Influence

GOOGLE+ is an incredibly easy and intuitive way to organize connections and contacts by allocating them to “Circles” like family, friends, business contacts or any category you care to define for your various classes of contacts and connections. The way that GOOGLE+ has provided this feature is both natural and easy to apply and is visually easy to organize.

Let’s Huddle and Hangout!

One of the most powerful features of the new GOOGLE+ is the ability to collaborate with multiple colleagues, right from within the circles you have created. For example, you might have a “finance team” circle that needs to work on your annual budget. Using GOOGLE+ it becomes incredibly easy to share documents, use live chat or to hold a video conference with up to 10 simultaneous participants. Whatever the purpose, the point is that real collaboration is very easy and spontaneous, even if the participants are using different devices (PC, Android and Apple for example).

Sparks of Interest

Making use of GOOGLE’s powerful search engine, you have the ability to follow any topic or item you choose. You also have the ability to share the interesting links you find with individual circles or with all of your contacts. This is an easy way to keep track of ongoing topics that you want to monitor right from your GOOGLE+ profile page and includes links to web pages, blogs, videos or any other media you can find on the web.  

The bottom line…

GOOGLE+ seems to span the gap between being too social and public (Facebook and Twitter) and having too narrow a use (LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups). For someone like myself who tends to use social media for professional and business purposes, GOOGLE+ let’s me feel comfortable to use it for professional purposes while managing more social contacts.

For associations that have established Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups, there is no feature yet in GOOGLE+ to establish a corporate page. However, as a collaboration and communication tool, it looks to be a great solution for internal teams, committees, task forces, member special interest groups or any other application where a defined group of like minded people want a really easy to use tool to share information, collaborate  and communicate in real time.

GOOGLE+ is worth a look, even by the most ardent social media skeptics!

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Need a GOOGLE+ invite? Just send me a request at tbarkan@socialstrat.org!