Episode 2: Diving Into A LinkedIn Algorithm Expert's Mind

In our 2nd Innovative minds episode, I sit down with fellow expert marketer and LinkedIn Guru; Richard van der Blom, to discuss all things LinkedIn.

Listen to Episode 2 on SpotifyListen to Episode 2 on Apple Podcasts

In our 2nd Innovative minds episode, I sit down with fellow expert marketer and LinkedIn Guru; Richard van der Blom, to discuss all things LinkedIn.

We discuss the LinkedIn algorithm, changes, challenges and opportunities.

LinkedIn’s algorithm can be a maze, and in this conversation we try unlock some of the questions.

If your business is exploring LinkedIn and wants to use it as it's secret weapon to scale, don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from 1 of the world's most knowledgeable LinkedIn Experts.


P.S. There's a great outbound LinkedIn strategy in this podcast at 30:44.


Transcript from Otter.AI

Mel Francis 0:03
You're listening to innovative minds with Melanie Francis, where we talk to some of the top thought leaders, business leaders and marketers around the globe.

Tune in every Thursday, and spark your money. And now, let's get into it. So, I was so excited to have you on my podcast because one of my clients that all been going to Richard's class and I was like, Okay, let me go check Richard out, what's he talking about? And I checked out what you've been talking about over in LinkedIn. And I was like, wow, like, this person really knows it. And then I started stalking you. And it looks like you started with LinkedIn before LinkedIn. Even I knew it was even born. So I'd love to jump in Richard and understand. Were you like, you know, one of the first people there promoting LinkedIn like, Were you born with the journey of LinkedIn? Tell me about

Richard Van Der Blom 1:07
That. Yeah, it's a big secret. But I actually invented LinkedIn. And then somebody ripped my ID and started LinkedIn that that's the real story. Now, to be honest, I jumped on LinkedIn in 2004, which is actually just one year after they launched it. At that moment, I was working for a temp agency in Holland, we had a sales training from an American sales trainer, and at night at the bar, which were always my favourite part of the training. So at the bar during a drink, he said, you should jump on LinkedIn. And I hadn't heard of it, obviously. So I logged into LinkedIn, I created an account, I started inviting people. And actually, nobody responded, like I even got, like, people say, Hey, are you spamming me or something? So I close LinkedIn again, because I was like, you know, I'm the only one there. And then I moved to Tanzania, I was a half year doing volunteer work in Tanzania. And when that came to an end, I, again logged into LinkedIn, I created an account. And actually via LinkedIn, I managed to get like a job application, a job interview. And that is actually where my journey started. So I've been using it since actually, since and 2005, beginning of 2006. And my first training was back in 2009. And that was very funny. Because I remember I, I booked a room, or I booked, like a conference room in a hotel. At that time, LinkedIn already had events. So I created an event, I had a small website. And I think about 12 to 14 people signed up. But they all had the same question. What is it? And what can I do with it? So it was not about how do I use it? Now? It was really, what is it? And why should I be on LinkedIn, that was my first training back in December 2009. And then, in 2010, I quit my job. I was fully dedicated to giving training, I met somebody else in Holland, who was already actually in the same business, he had a Sales Training Agency. And he decided to go 100% with LinkedIn. So instead of doing all that, like offline sales trainings, didn't know what I was going to focus on how to use LinkedIn, as an entrepreneur, as an interim manager to get you the next job or the next client. And I was more or less on the same journey. So I said, Hey, let's let's do it together. And within a half year, we managed to get one of the biggest banks in Holland as a corporate client for to train 300 salespeople on LinkedIn. So I'm talking now about the end of 2010. And that's where it really kicked off. So that's where we really started to well, actually to provide training on LinkedIn on a on a weekly base.

Mel Francis 4:06
Wow, wow. What, like looking back at the journey where you started, and it was like, literally for jobs, and that's where you started, and you saw the whole journey. And if I asked you now like, what is LinkedIn today, and if you're comparing it to what it was back then, right? How much is that platform really evolved in you know, and what has it turned into what you thought it was?

Richard Van Der Blom 4:34
Funny, I still have the first print screen. And at that moment, 2004 you could create a profile and that was more or less it, you could connect people that was it. There were no company pages. There was no feet. You could not make a post it was just like a virtual like a digital Rolodex. That was it. And the questions we have had in our trainings has have shifted from one Is it in? How do I start using it to now very clearly questions like, How do I optimise my sales process? How do I support my marketing process in using LinkedIn? So you see, for example, when I have for 80% of my business is training sales teams, most of the time working in big international companies. In the first session, we always do like a small introduction round. And I always have people that say, I will not use LinkedIn very much, because I don't like social media, I don't have Facebook, I don't have Twitter, I don't have Instagram. And I say, Okay, that's cool. Because in the end, in my opinion, is no longer social media. It's a business tool that you need, as an entrepreneur, as a salesperson, as a marketing person, as a recruiter. My guess would be that if LinkedIn would stop tomorrow, there would be a big problem, especially in the business to business with recruiters, marketing people and salespeople how to meet, and how to connect with a potential client. So I think LinkedIn has evolved from a social media platform into a not to miss business tool.

Mel Francis 6:15
asked, Where do you think the tools going? Like where? Well, it's interesting. Now.

Richard Van Der Blom 6:23
That's interesting, because I'm a bit worried, actually. And I also expressed my worries with several people working at LinkedIn, because I like a lot of things that are happening, you know, we have now like the newsletter was great, we have LinkedIn live, we have video, that's all great. But maybe you have the same money, I sometimes feel I'm in a bubble, if I look at my feet, I have a lot of wonderful LinkedIn experts, they share a lot of news, a lot of new features. But I think one or 2% of the LinkedIn users are using all the features and the vast majority being our clients. They are not using LinkedIn in the same way as we do. And sometimes I think that LinkedIn is evolving so rapidly, with regards to marketing solution, sales solutions, that maybe our clients cannot keep up with a base, lose interest in the platform, lose trust in the platform, and then we have a serious problem. Because then we can organise LinkedIn events, we can organise LinkedIn lives. But if we can't meet our clients anymore, that's a serious issue.

Mel Francis 7:32
I guess from LinkedIn perspective, what they're thinking is they also don't want to be left behind with Tik Tok and Instagram and Facebook, even though I don't really see them as competitors, but I guess they, they do see themselves on a market valuation level to compare themselves, right. They're always looking at the market cap as to what's feature rich and what what it is. So I guess, from their perspective, they are trying to bring some of those features that we see in these other platforms. But at a user level, you're right, we don't need that as business users so much, but they're trying to be that feature rich company. I mean, it was a great move that they got rid of the stories, right, and they're not trying to be instructed

Richard Van Der Blom 8:11
that for me, one of the best examples, and also they jumped on stories, much later than all the other platforms, and it was not embraced by the vast majority. I have my same doubts for LinkedIn audio, because they launched it. It's embedded. It's very buggy. It doesn't have the same functionality, same features as clubhouse has. And I've seen already some people like saying no, it's not an added value feature. So I think, you know, obviously LinkedIn since it has become a Microsoft company, they are really trying to like increase revenue, and they have much more new features. Yes. Still, I think they should be aware that 80% of the LinkedIn user is an average user has the profile KONEX maybe clicks on a link maybe views on LinkedIn live, but but that's it. Yeah, of course.

Mel Francis 9:09
I mean, we use this I think, probably 10 minutes a month is like sort of what I've heard is the average sort of time that people are using it. So yeah, you're right, it's moving way too fast. What about even like LinkedIn groups? Is that dead? Or what? What's going on in LinkedIn groups? What's your opinion on that? I just see, every group I'm part of is like a non value adding group. I try to add value to the group, but it just seems like people can just post anything doesn't seem to add much enrichment in my life.

Richard Van Der Blom 9:41
I've read somewhere and I totally believe the number that 98% Of all the link groups are like clinically dead. They there is no activity. No new members, no discussions. To be honest. I think a lot of groups were mismanaged groups were there. They were spammed either the manager would not delete spammy posts, or the manager itself would use the group as like a funnel, you know, to sell the stuff so then people lose interest. I'm still a member of a few groups. But to be honest, I very rarely check the activity. I've set all the alerts off, I don't receive emails, I don't receive notifications. And to be honest, the only reason why I think the groups are still there is that they're also a part of the targeting possibilities in the marketing campaign, you can target groups in your marketing campaign, which is, of course, a very interesting targeting possibility. Because well, groups are always centred around a certain topic, or job title or region or whatever.

Mel Francis 10:53
And someone might have joined and left it Yeah, and you've got the data there. To

Richard Van Der Blom 10:59
play. I think it's a missed opportunity, because like groups, like the old fora on the internet were like the place where people love to hang out to get new news. So I think LinkedIn should really do something about I don't know, revitalising the group's, maybe make it more difficult to have a group have some guidelines, some minimal requirements, you know, to make it like more active because Now,

Mel Francis 11:24
interestingly, what they did with the groups, I tried to make a LinkedIn group, they won't let me name the group LinkedIn anymore. But there's so many groups that would LinkedIn already in it. So anything that's legacy, they're allowing to keep it, they're punishing anyone that's trying to create a legitimate, you know, group and actually monitor that and have quality. They're not even letting you name that. So it will be difficult to be found in a group, if people are searching for quality grips when it comes to LinkedIn.

Richard Van Der Blom 11:54
Yeah, we have a product, it's called LinkedIn sites. So linked inside or LinkedIn sites, and I can't do anything with the name. Even if you if you claim the URL, they will reach out and say you cannot you cannot have the URL because it has LinkedIn in the URL. So

Mel Francis 12:11
100% 100%. So you're saying that you've got a product called LinkedIn insights in the market? I wasn't aware of this. Yeah. Is there something that? Can you share that with us? Because I mean, I think there's so much data in LinkedIn right now. And the amount of data that you can collate, it's actually very difficult to sift through the amount of data for an organisation to find their actual audience, you would understand that from a sales perspective, right? That here we are getting followers every day, we're not able to just get that dumped in a quality way. We're getting so many points of profile views. That could be meaning nothing. There's, you know, high touch points, people subscribing of newsletters, very hard to know who subscribe. So what does your insight tool actually do?

Richard Van Der Blom 12:58
Not it's not a tool, it just it just, it just a name of a product where we share every two weeks. The length insights. So, for example, two weeks ago, we shared a link inside how to leverage the power of the featured section. And we we create like a carousel, and we send it to our clients and say, Hey, this is a carousel and explains to your employees how to use the featured section. And they can share it internally. So that's why we call it linked inside because we provide LinkedIn insights to our clients on a data perspective, which is very interesting. Yes. It's still like really annoys me. You know, I have 20,000 newsletter subscribers. I don't need our I have 4500 Hashtag followers on my personal hashtag. I don't know who they are. Exactly. Have a lot of people ringing my bell. I don't see who they are. So so that really annoyed me. Because you know, you have like your tribe is not only your connections anymore, you have your followers, you have your followers. Absolutely. I would pay a lot to have a dashboard where I could say who is like a connection, but also a hashtag follower also NEWSLETTER Subscribe, because it provides you a huge amount of data. As far as I know, it's not there. For my content data. I use shield, you probably know. Yes, yes. So I can track on like, how's my content performing? But like this data on growing your your tribe growing your audience and who is where that would be really interesting. And well, LinkedIn has the data, they just are not willing yet to share it.

Mel Francis 14:49
Correct. I mean, we tried to get into the LinkedIn API and look at doing a product so that our clientele and you know that we can actually sift through this data and we were saying you know, It will be called sift the product because we're not able to sift, I don't, you've got 20,000 followers. But out of that maybe only 1000 is your key target audience, you need to be able to get to that very quickly with a snap of a button that this is my people that I really need to talk to, because I've got an offer for them. Right. And from a sales perspective, but he can't do that. Yes, you can download your followers, but you can't download your newsletter subscribers, we've had to use scraping tools to get down to those subscribers. And then we have to manually fill in the LinkedIn profile URL, their job, anything that's not given on that screen of the subscriber list means nothing. So the data is not meaningful. And I think this is a huge issue. And I really am passionate about talking about it, because everyone wants sales as part of their marketing. And you know, the biggest thing that we always get complaint about is we're doing content or we're not getting sales. But then the issue is the reason you're not getting sales, because you're doing content is because you're not sifting through your data, and checking for all the imprints that are left right there for you, as one leads, you're not scraping your comments. You're not scraping, you know who's engaged with you. And it's LinkedIn is actually making it so difficult to do that.

Richard Van Der Blom 16:14
Yeah, Fairport because one of the things I teach my people in the training is, you know, it's hard enough to convince sales that they should create those themselves. You know, you have a lot of salespeople to Tilson that are creating content, something that marketing needs to do, and we try to explain to them, if you are only going to be like, the mailman that delivers the corporate content to your audience, it's not going to work, you need to be out there, you need to comment you need to, you know, you need to publish your own content, your own vision. And then people do that. And they actually like it because it's an increase in views. It's an increase in engagement and get more invites. But then simply to just click on your post two days after you published it and scrolled through the people that liked your post, look for your target audience that is not connected and send them a connection request saying, Hey, thanks for liking my post about digital transformation. please connect with me because I'm about to share more content on the same topic. Yeah, that's like, so a lot of people go like, Okay, you might think about that. So it's no, no, they publish content. And then they expect the lead to come in there in Mill saying, like, Hey, I just saw your post, let's let's, you know, have no, it's not gonna happen. Yeah. And this is just a small thing. You know, I'm also with marketing, communications, they have followers, they have 1000 followers. And then we ask, have you given the list of 8000 followers to your salespeople? Yes. No, them to go through the list, which people are following our company cannot reach out on the individual level saying, Hey, I saw you follow the company. Probably because you like this. Let's connect on a personal level. They don't do that. It's no so yeah, I think there's a huge challenge in analysing the data that are transferring the data to the right people and then Absalon the data insights.

Mel Francis 18:10
Absolutely. And then getting that key messaging right on how you communicate with that data as to where they are just because they subscribe to your newsletter isn't doesn't mean that they're ready for a sales conversation. That not you know, and they're probably, but then they are more Walmart than someone that viewed your profile. I mean, I see people going for a low hanging fruit of just because they've viewed your profile, it's like, their, their act, okay, you got to start somewhere. Okay, but that's really, really hungry, you know, to go and go at a profile review level, but that's you can start there. But if you've got newsletters, subscribers, and you've got that type of warmth, that's your low hanging fruit right there. You've got someone that's engaging with you on a much deeper level. And I cannot believe they don't give us the video views. And I don't know if your experiences but the video views has gone down so much. I've seen Gary Vee I've seen Chris Walker, I've seen everyone experienced massive, low in videos, and I've experienced almost like a 70%. Look, why do you think they're doing that? What you know, I know. And other thought leaders have had thoughts on that. But why do you think that LinkedIn is all of a sudden not putting videos as a main thing on our feed, which is so engaging and so purposeful?

Richard Van Der Blom 19:30
I don't know for sure. As you probably know, we do an annual research to the algorithm. And over the past years, comment from 2019 video was increasing until 2021 when it suddenly stopped growing. Okay, we didn't saw a decrease but it stopped growing. And, and most of the time when like in favours certain kinds of format. And it's because there is like a new revenue model they have, for example, we have seen an awful amount of faults over the past one half year in our feeds. It was like Blake, no, I Yes, I opened my feed and six out of 10 posts will Yes, yes. And they have turned that down. Yes, since like a month or three, we I guess I see much more or less both. And I've heard about the series decrease in views of videos. So most of the time, what they do if they turn something down in the album, they give less visibility is because they want to make room for other type of content, where they can make money more money with I don't know, I what I still see is that text posts are really generating a lot of views. So you don't have you don't have nothing, not picture. Nothing, nothing. Next post textbooks. Yes, I see that documents. Yes. If you have the right documents, I mean, like the carousels with various words that are still performing well. I don't know why suddenly, video has become less popular by the algorithm. I do know that it was favourite from 2019 until 2021, mainly because they also wanted to boost LinkedIn live. And now obviously they had they implemented I think 2019 The possibility to have a video ad that was introduced in 2019. correctly, if you would like to convince your clients to use video ads, you must show them that more videos are turning up in the feed because otherwise, nobody is willing to buy video ads. So that's why they tweaked video in the timeline. And maybe I don't know, maybe that Fidel of video advertisement has reached like the adults level of growth, there is no more growth. And that's why they don't need to tweak video anymore. I don't know.

Mel Francis 22:07
I want to put it to you. This is what I heard Chris Walker talk about last week about video views because I was like he gets about 80,000 views still on his videos, which I thought was massive amount of views. And I'm having him next week. And this is his thought on it. LinkedIn is pushing vanity metrics to us. And if we have videos, we don't, we don't can't show as many views. Because that person is stuck on that particular video, they observe the video they take that thought they go, they leave the platform, they spend the 10 minutes or five minutes, that's all they're gonna give that platform like you know, they don't have all the time. So they observe this really high quality content. Now they're not going to scroll and give the vanity metrics to all the text and image post. So guess what people then get upset that of producing content because they're not getting the viewership. Because the video takes up so much room in a space and that even though the user is happier, because they got a rich piece of content, because we know video is a much more richer piece of content. It leaves us with a brand recognition of face recognition. But why would why would they not push that one in every platform, we see stories and so forth being videos within you know, every other Tik Tok is a newest thing with videos. So put LinkedIn to move. That was one of his thoughts. What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree?

Richard Van Der Blom 23:25
Yeah, yeah, if I hear that, yeah, if I hear that makes perfect sense. Yeah, definitely. Because we analyse some behaviour. And it's true. If people watch a video specialists, if it is more than a minute, after watching the video, they leave because they have they have used their time on LinkedIn. They were like impressed or they were engaged. So that definitely makes sense. While if you don't show as much videos in your timeline, and you have all the snackable post, people tend to scroll more through the posts, which gives more views to people, which makes people think that LinkedIn is working for them. So yeah, that makes sense. I haven't thought about that. But yeah, it definitely resonates with what I'm thinking.

Mel Francis 24:11
I think so I think it makes a lot of sense as well. I think it was a very smart thought. And you know, be able to think like LinkedIn and push vanity metrics makes a lot of sense. So I really want to know about what you then measure metrics on because you know, there is these vanity metrics that we've just touched on, very easy to measure vanity metrics, you know, and sell vanity metrics, you know, yes, I got organic 250,000 views. I'm so proud of it. But really, what does that really mean at the end? If you're not going to scrape all the engagement through and push it into your CRM data? What do you think that we should be measuring? From a brand awareness a point of view because that's one part and then from a sales part, what should we be measuring? thing like is it followership? Where does Where do you? Where do you see that, you know, key metric set on both of those aspects?

Richard Van Der Blom 25:09
Well, for me, an important indicator is the growth of your follower base. That's a very important one for me, because to give an example, I changed my content strategy about one year ago. Yeah. And I grew my followers base from 20,000 to 40,000, or nearly 40,000. So I'm definitely now seeing a lot of people hop on my profile in order to see more of my content. If I work with clients, I have, we have like input KPIs, that very easy to measure, you know, how often do you comment? How often do you publish? How do you grow your network? But more importantly, are the output KPIs output KPIs, the thing I measure is how many one on one conversations do I gain from LinkedIn? So you don't because you can have a lot of use, you can have a lot of engagement. But in the end, you want to have like the 30 minute time to let have the first introduction meeting with your client. Because without being arrogant, and I think this goes for the, for the best salespeople. If I get the first 30 minutes of my clients, normally, I sell the trainings, I sell our services, because I can convince them the most difficult step is to get them to to get them as far as to jump on a call with me, that's the most difficult step because obviously there are a lot of people out there trying to get our attention. They receive tonnes of emails every week. Yes. So one on one conversation, that's a KPI measure. Also, the inbound messages I receive, how many people during the week sent me a message and saying, Hey, Richard, we would like to invite you, we would like to talk with you because on because that's what the content needs to do. You know, it needs to convert people from being a follower or even a silent follower to like, literally sent me an email or sent me a LinkedIn message and say, Hey, we would like to talk to you. Interesting enough, and I published a post about that a week ago, is that a lot of people are always looking at the same people that like or comment, you know, I call this like the inner circle, we all have our inner circle, if I publish something, I can give you like, 50 names that I'm sure within the first hour, they will be commenting or liking. However, they will never become my clients. This is my Ambassador group. Yes. They follow everything that's new on LinkedIn, they follow everything that's new on social selling, and they follow Me they follow like 100 experts, and they just like comment, everything. We have a huge silent community on LinkedIn, those are the people that might follow you, so you don't know who it is. Or at least they don't like your content, they don't engage with your content, they don't leave a comment. But suddenly, after like four or five months, you receive a message saying, I have been a huge fan of your content. I've been following your content for half a year and I would like to invite you to discuss possible trainings. For our company, I receive these messages like almost like every week, and it always surprises me that ever then look at the profile that I've never seen this profile, liking, commenting, or engaging with me before but apparently they are they are like watching belonging to the sun and community there. Yeah, they are watching and they really love your content until the moment that they are convinced enough to reach out to us so yeah, we should still there.

Mel Francis 28:35
until they're ready.

Richard Van Der Blom 28:36
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely get so for me, like, for me, like views, likes comments. It's an indicator but it's it's no more than that. For me. The real thing is the conversion how many one on one conversions? How many requests? How many inbound messages do you get? That's for me to real convert?

Mel Francis 28:55
And what about outreaching? Back out? What do you what's your viewpoint on that? Because yes, you have a substantial enough following to probably inbound in what about your views on do you use outbound out to you know, make that initial conversation to engage potential target market or do you leave it completely to inbound and maybe for yourself it's a different strategy to someone else at Elsmore starting out new and content marketing Yeah, I

Richard Van Der Blom 29:26
I really think you need an outbound strategy as well. This is actually what we teach our clients probably you teach your clients the same you know how to do an outbound strategy, how to create content, how to put it out there how to follow up. We personally, we don't do that as much as we should do. But that's more or less like a luxury problem. If you have like, an inbound huge inbounds then there was like almost no time or no need to have like also a huge albums. because we don't at this point, we don't want to grow in much more staff. And we are focusing on providing our current clients with the best learning, possibilities learning experience on social selling. But as we speak, we are planning to have an album campaign, which is actually not paid. It's pure organic, what we are currently doing, we are creating three or four pieces of content. People like researchers, now people like rewards where you say, hey, this, we investigated the market. And this is what happens people likes that. They like best practices. So we are currently creating four pieces of content to aimed at the decision maker and sales towards us aimed at the decision makers in marketing. So the CMOS marketing directors, and what we're going to do very simply, we have created the lead list and Sales Navigator, we have created 100 global operating companies that we really want to work with. And we are going to target at the same time, their sales decision makers and their marketing decision makers with valuable content, this content is not available on our website, it's not. So it's really like exclusive because if you send something to a potential client, say, hey, we have this exclusive and he goes to your website, and he can download and we can see it, it's not exclusive. So if we create content in the first two months, we like only use it to do to reach only use it for one, one on one reach out. And we say hey, we have an exclusive new report. It's about a benchmarking in virtual selling. How do companies perform and virtual selling? What are the common pitfalls? What are the key success elements? Do you want to have a please let me know. And then if they say yes, that will be interesting. We send it. We use all kinds of tracking tools like smart lens and everything you can have. And then we follow up in order to get the first like, conversation, you know, the first 30 minute introduction goal. But so yeah, I really think every company and every sales should have an outbound strategy. We are currently ourselves, we are not using it as we probably should do because of well, we have this moment we have a luxury, but I'm perfectly aware that this can change in a few months.

Mel Francis 32:22
Yeah, absolutely. No, thank you so much for being open and sharing that strategy because people listening on I mean, that is a strong outreach strategy right there. We love to also bring our, I guess, once we've done a connection on LinkedIn, we'd like to bring them back into the email platform, if we can, because sometimes people don't want to have that conversation on LinkedIn. And we try to take them on. And, you know, everyone's so excited about newsletters. And as I am, and I wanted to experiment, right, without going well, I've got these subscribers, but it's disappointing that the way the data is served, I can't know who read which m or which which newsletter, I don't know who's engaged in Red Five. So I do like to bring them back onto an email platform and connect it because at least I'm getting a know who's warm and who's engaged, because I don't want to irritate and do an outreach strategy on someone that's not there and not engaging with my content, you know, so that data again, because it's lacking in LinkedIn, I've brought it back into making sure that our clients are also aware that email marketing, unless you own the data, I still feel like LinkedIn is not allowing us to own the data. And with our clients, which a lot of these CMOS you would know, they'd love to get trained, but then they don't have the resources to execute that content consistently. So that way, you know, my clients still sitting with you and getting the learning. But when it comes to execution, they want a marketing partner that also knows LinkedIn deeply, but can execute and is very much aware that you know, yes, I'm not going to go invest money now, so much into videos, even though we did a full production on videos in LinkedIn is doing this type of behaviour. But I still go and I think video investment, regardless of views has huge amount of brand credibility, if you don't measure the metrics of views anymore as your ideal with the fact that that's on your feature profile. And you know, that's there that someone actually can feel and touch you, I think that cannot be measured. And that brings me to the conversation of ROI. Because this whole conversation is always about ROI. But how do you explain to a client that that that that video that's going to sit there as a asset, someone's going to maybe watch it in sort of seven, eight months time, when they come and visit your profile? Maybe they didn't visit it in that incident, you didn't get the vanity metrics, because of the algorithm. What's, you know what I'm saying? It's really hard when you're being measured as a CMO of a company going, you've come in, you've got to make a difference. You've got to scale up my company and you're being measured and saying, show me what you're doing. And we're left to make these decisions. And if it was made just on those metrics, we would never do a video would never do certain pieces of content.

Richard Van Der Blom 35:00
You know, to be honest, I still get some times especially from from the board or the CEO, or, you know, the question, what is the ROI know, if we're going to train, let's say 100 salespeople, obviously, that's an investment, then, you know, they need to know seven modules to ours. What is the area? Right? And actually, I understand that question. Yes, but I don't, but I don't like the question. Because yes, if you say the beginning, what is the ROI? Then I can counter I can counter attack the question. So what is the ROI of your people not involving on social and guess like spamming people with emails and phone calls? While we all know that that is not working anymore? Yes, if you follow us, researchers from McKinsey research from Gartner, they all say that the average business to business buyer spends more time than five years ago on LinkedIn, and 65 to 70% of the buyer journey has been completed before they reach out to the supplier to have the first face to face meeting. So a lot of clients potential clients, they go from a long list to a shortlist without any contact with suppliers, they just do it on desk research, case studies. And all stats show that buyers are not willing to engage in a phone call without knowing why people are calling they do not want to be cold cold, they do not respond to cold emailing. And also and that's more interesting, they are more reluctant, more hesitant to exchange their data for gated content. Okay, so more or less all the traditional ways, the buyers, and especially in the past two years with a pandemic, we were all trained also our clients to engage more online to be more active virtually to do more depth research, to have a quick chat online to watch a webinar to watch or listen to podcasts. So we cannot deny that the buyers have also completely changed the way how they look for content, how they look for potential suppliers. So that's all, that's always the first answer. You need to be active there where your buyers are looking for valuable insights. Okay, so you cannot miss out not to be there. And what I'm trying and with some clients, I succeed with some others not because it really affects the way how marketing and sales are organised, is I always challenge my clients to make marketing and sales responsible for the same results. So instead of sales, having these results, and marketing need to drive more traffic to the website, give them combined KPIs about customer retention, about new leads about SPLD MQL. So make them responsible for the whole package together, because they are exactly that they're going to create, then then you see the real alignment, because everybody speaks about marketing, sales alignment. And a lot of companies that speak we have marketing, sales aligned, it's not marketing creates content sales doesn't lie, the content sales doesn't use the content, solutions. Content marketing gets nervous, because it's not in the same style. It's not the house style that they want. Yes, what real alignment is to make them to get a responsible to upsell, cross sell, have customer retention on one hand, and generate leads on the other hand, and if you if you dare to do that, then you see the real thing happening. Yeah, then it's very easy, because then you can just set targets on how many new clients how many new revenues? How are we going to increase the average revenue per client, those are targets to insert, and just give it to the boat department say, I don't care how you do it, make sure it's going to work?

Mel Francis 38:44
Absolutely. I mean, I got my marketing and my sales team to sit together next to each other for a whole week and you just see a whole evolvement whereas before that one person is creating content, the other person doesn't know what the content did. They're just doing the outreach, exactly, completely. No idea, all the warmth that is there. My sales team didn't even know that there is these people that have clicked into the strategy call and book in that data was not even being passed. And I'm saying well, like, you know, they don't talk to each other. So I can't imagine in a larger organisation what is going on? Like there would be no discussion. I know that for a fact, if it's happening in my own organisation, and I run a marketing agency and I can admit it, that that is happening, where I've got my outbound happening, and they're doing their thing. And the data is not being passed, and my obsession with data, and I sat them down together. They figured it out together because they had the objective of the same exactly what you said like client retention. That's our number one goal a for us. And number two is new clients, but the right clients and if they shared that data and intelligence with each other, we would all be at a different place. But usually that's something organisations must do. I feel So much is put them right next to each other. So they can really be partners in the same objective. But it's hard to make that connection. I think it's really hard. Because it just, it's it's hard for people to realise the connection that needs to be there between them.

Richard Van Der Blom 40:16
What are the what are the things we do mentally in our trainings in our sales trainings is that we invite marketing to take part of the sales training. And that, yeah, that already gives some awesome results. Because if they don't, if they cannot join, or they don't want to join, and we're talking about, for example, about contact with salespeople, they always have complained that marketing doesn't understand the content they need, or that they want to have a different type of content, Hey, your marketing colleague is right in the call, have a discussion? What do we need? How are we going to arrange it? So I've seen a huge like, benefit. And you can see real alignment happening. They're real, like brainstorm and real actions that can bring the company further if you if you have them in the same training about how are we going to create impacts towards the target audience on LinkedIn. And another thing is that if we, for example, in Sales Navigator, if you're going to do a one on one campaign, if you're going to reach out to certain kinds of people, okay, let marketing know which companies are you targeting, which people are you targeting, and let them create an ad just like two weeks before. So those people have seen already your name and the timeline, they are targeted. And then if you reach out, it's it's like, it has a warmer result than if you just go out with an InMail or, or with a connection with them having seen your logo or your update or your newsletter or whatever. So, again, in LinkedIn, there is there are many opportunities to really create alignment between marketing and sales within the end, better results, vote for existing clients, but also for prospects. And, Richard,

Mel Francis 42:02
I guess the question is, now, is the platform become so saturated? In terms of with content? Like, is it still is there still opportunity you see, for people that are starting out, still build out that followership? Because I guess a lot of people think, Am I coming into light? What's your view on that?

Richard Van Der Blom 42:28
As long as the stats say that only 4% of the LinkedIn people are creating content, there is still a huge opportunity if you now if you have never published content, and you think now okay, I really need to step out and do that, you know, there's still 96% of the people are not creating content. So there is a huge, like audience waiting for you also to publish content. And I think if you have the right strategy, if you are consistent, if you're authentic, then LinkedIn is still definitely a great platform to like grow your thrive, grow your community and create impact. On the other hand, you have talked about newsletters a few times already. Since LinkedIn gave access to newsletters to everyone who turned on creator mode, and a lot of people have created their own newsletter. All the numbers on newsletters are down, less people open, less people subscribe growth of newsletters is less. I was one of the first persons August 2020. I was given the newsletter. And it was huge. When I launched it people like I received a lot of personal message. Hey, this is cool. How do you get the newsletter? How can because I grew my subscribers to 10,000 15,000 with the first three four newsletters. Now I see so much content, and I'm not being harsh here. But I see so many people producing content that are like spammy, pitchy, they don't provide any added value. They have like two paragraphs, and then they have like a big sell by me by me. So people get Yes, with this newsletter content, it's too much. And you can see that also with the people that are producing content and new status, their subscribers growth has slowed down. New newsletters are not subscribed to as much as before. So there is again a risk in too many people producing the wrong type of content, which results in our audience. Less engaging in valuable content because they don't distinguish the good quality anymore from the bad quality content.

Mel Francis 44:34
Absolutely. I mean, with my newsletter, I was always like you have to push quality and I still got a strong result and that the commitment that you go into newsletter, we have to acknowledge that you have to commit to this that you're going to add value every week you have to show up just like I'm committing here and you're committing he's showing up to this podcast and making and talking about what's going on in the platform and that's the same with newsletter you have to show up and you have to be genuinely wanting to add value. So many people just do stuff because they want something in return. And all they think about is this ROI. And I tell those people back, well, does Coca Cola look at that sign every time and go? How much ROI did I get from that sign? Do they measure that? Or do they just go? That's just the need. I just need to be that billboard, they did not go and measure the ROI of every damn billboard around surely. But But no,

Richard Van Der Blom 45:28
I, I agree. I agree. And that's also the reason. You know, companies now also have access to newsletters, social of my colleagues, they were like, Okay, let's create a new set. I said, Oh, wait, you know, just what is our strategy? What do we want to do? Because we can create the first newsletter and saying, Hey, we're going to talk about social selling, correct, you know, that's not a unique, that does not provide any added value compared to a lot of others. So we need to have like, a concept in mind a certain strategy. And that's about frequency. It's about topics, it's about, you know, really providing additional added value. And then I want to launch it, because it's very easy to launch it. And then you have like, maybe you have a quick success. But in the end, it's not about launching it, it's about keeping it up to qualify, and keep people engaged on your content. So that's why we haven't published our first newsletter on a company page.

Mel Francis 46:26
Absolutely, absolutely. And the fact is, I love the fact you're talking about strategy and thinking about that, because the first thing is, who are you writing for? And what is their pain point you're trying to solve? Think about that before you go and even publish a newsletter or do the next big thing. Now. Final thoughts I have to ask you. So what is after LinkedIn? Where are we going? Are we going into Tik Tok? Are we going into where do you think that? You know, we have left the Facebook era it went into an Instagram era? There is no, there is very so obvious. Facebook paid ads has become difficult. We've got b2c here, and LinkedIn ads was saying to me and CO Lobaton, it's kind of exciting. It's kind of scary, because you know, we ourselves are still playing in organic for so long, because opportunities were huge. And in the last four months, all of a sudden, here it is, we've got big major players taking up budgets, which is going to have an entry point, that's going to be even harder when you know, SMEs and medium businesses try to come in, because we've got big players leaving Facebook ads coming. So is, you know, this regime of LinkedIn, you know, where do you see it evolving? Is tick tock, something that you actually because a lot of people are experimenting on tick tock is tick tock, just the next Instagram and a b2c channel over there? Or is that a major play? What's your thoughts? What's after LinkedIn? Or is that something that you see that LinkedIn will just keep evolving? I really want to get your deep thoughts on that.

Richard Van Der Blom 47:51
It's a very interesting question, Melanie, and I don't know, if I, I'm thinking a lot about that, you know, also from our own business model, because we are like 100%, dedicated to LinkedIn. So what happens if LinkedIn stops or like, then like, becomes much less important or much less interesting, then we have like ourselves, we would have a huge problem. And I don't see that happen in like, the next two, three years, because, again, you know, Microsoft, they have a very strong strategy, and all the numbers are still up, you know, Indian still gets new members, there are a lot of emerging markets still on Indian. However, I do think that even as a salesperson individually, but also as a company, you should always have a multi channel strategy. Now, you have talked about emailing, like transferring people from LinkedIn to your email, where you can follow up, you have more data. And I see some clients experiencing, especially salespeople with tick tock videos, because of the huge popularity that could be I'm still waiting. Some sometimes people asked me, which platform is going to be the next LinkedIn. I do think that it will become very, very difficult to create a new b2b or business platform with that number of engagement, that number of members as LinkedIn, I think it's I think it's almost impossible. I don't see a new platform like eMERGE and taking like all the audience from LinkedIn to that platform, okay. That's almost impossible. But I do think people should have like, a multi channel strategy. And I don't know if it's going to be tick tock. I don't know if you know, a lot of people talking about Mehta first if that's going to change things in the near future, also for companies. For the upcoming two, three years, I think people are safe with their business on LinkedIn. I always give them the advice keep your eyes open. If you want to experience with tick tock, go to tick tock. Facebook for me is a no go For personal profiles, I very rarely speak to salespeople that use their own Facebook profile to connect with clients. Facebook, corporate point of view, maybe employee branding, maybe recruitment, but not into generating sales, marketing b2b Also, I don't see Facebook anymore. So I think it's LinkedIn combined with tools like Tic Toc or anything new to that comes up maybe a video platform or whatever.

Mel Francis 50:29
What about the audio channel? Is that still you discussed it a little while ago, the one that we what is it? Called where we all listen and join on the groups on audio clip house clubhouse, is that dead? Because I mean, I tried to do that thing and how is it in Europe as well, you know, Is that Is that an actual rate platform because everyone's so excited about it.

Richard Van Der Blom 50:54
I jumped on it. You know, I ignored it for the first two months and then everybody in LinkedIn was so antithetical Kloppers that I was like, I had FOMO. You know, I was like, okay. So I created an account. And to be honest, I liked it for three months. You know, I was in several other rooms, I was invited to speak about LinkedIn, it was usually interactive. It was fun. Because I remember one time I was walking in the city, like, I needed to have a walk for half an hour, and I looked at my clubhouse, and there was a LinkedIn clubhouse going on, you know, let's join. And it was very fun because you walking and yes, participate. Awesome. After three months, when I did a small evaluation, my conclusion was, it was for me, it was a huge energy drain. Because you need to be present, you need to be there. It takes up all your free time. Normally, like I said, I walking the dog, and in the moment with my dog, now I was on clubhouse. And then I found myself always speaking in the same bubble. No matter which LinkedIn clubhouse room, I was always the same people, and not being my clients. But being the other LinkedIn experts, social selling experts, digital marketing experts, they joined like it was like, almost, it's a bit harsh to say, the incestuous group of people having the same discussions and exchanging real, real valuable insights, but only with themselves. And my clients were not there. So that's, I was there for three months, then I decided no, no, I can spend my time better than flappers. And that's also what I think is going to happen with LinkedIn audio, because I've spoke with a few clients of mine in the last weeks about LinkedIn audio, and they don't know what it is they've never joined the room. They don't know what it is, because, well, it's still in beta or better. But I don't think the majority of LinkedIn users, again, only 4% produces content. I don't think the other 96% is willing to join LinkedIn audience groups, they are just seeing them as a mega profile. I connect with people now and then I send a message or like, that's

Mel Francis 53:00
it. Yes, exactly. I know, we don't need complexity from LinkedIn, what we need not better feeds, what we need is better feeds. Better evaluation on that algorithm. But that will actually keep us more entertained. You know, like we, we already know that that's where the issue lies in every platform, whether it's Facebook, Instagram, it's about that experience on newsfeed. And the newsfeed experience sometimes goes really crap. And then it improves, depending on where they're putting the weight on. So it would be better they focus on the algorithm and giving us a better experience with there's already enough and more than enough features for business users business users is so different to what we have the young millennials in Instagram.

Richard Van Der Blom 53:44
Yeah, and if they earn if they want to make money, you know, because obviously, they want to make money, I would pay to get more data from them, because they have the data, they know who's following that hashtag. They know whose exact rights to manage, they know. So they have the data. So I would like to pay for like a data subscription to like them to provide me with like more insights and real analyse on the insights. If I click a button and say to LinkedIn, okay, have a look at the last 20 posts, who has liked all the 20 posts, or which people have engaged at least five times in the last three months with? Exactly give me a second, I would, I would say a lot of money to like them to see that kind of

Mel Francis 54:25
thing. Or LinkedIn can open up their API's and let us build a product. So we can see those video views. And we can mark who's really a highly engaged contact, because it's possible if they opened up their data source if they're not willing to do it.

Richard Van Der Blom 54:41
Yeah, I don't know. From from No, no, they are very, very strict with the opening the API and I heard that it will cost you a lot of money to get access to the API because you you need to pay a lot of money to be like a LinkedIn partner, which is which is a shame because I again, I think they is a unique

Mel Francis 55:00
offering. They're offering their API's for free last time I checked, but they don't offer a lot of data. Like they don't even know.

Richard Van Der Blom 55:09
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, the full access. Also, if you would like to build a tool, and you want to include the LinkedIn data in your tool,

Mel Francis 55:18
it's charging for it now. Yeah. I thought that they were not charging. But maybe they've moved to charging for it. But yes, this is really important, I think with Yeah, absolutely. We hopefully someone from LinkedIn is watching this. And they focus on data and insights. That's what we're all thirsty for not more products and features that replicate the platform. Well, it's been an absolute loot pleasure, I love exploring your mind and where it is, I love watching the reports you're producing. So thank you so much, Richard, for sharing with us and really going deep on that strategy. I really appreciate it because so many people are struggling and you're doing an amazing job and sharing so openly. And so honestly, about that, because it just makes all of our marketing jobs even easier when we're dealing with our clients, and they've had you and they can see that we're not, you know, we're not ripping them off. We're not doing anything because you're there as sort of a sounding voice to all of all of people that aren't being facilitated by marketing agencies like us that facilitate LinkedIn, and help with LinkedIn. But you know, it's great to have gurus like you out there, just making sure and being a sounding board because there's lots of insanity metrics being put out there by people. So thank you for always keeping it real. I want to keep seeing what you keep putting out because I love it. And it's just been great connecting and conversing with someone of that really knows what's going on so deeply, so intimately and he's probably just has been there from day one. And to be able to go that tapes of thank you so much, Richard.

Richard Van Der Blom 56:51
Thank you for inviting me. It was my pleasure. And I'm sure we stay in contact to exchange more insights.

Mel Francis 56:57
You're listening to innovative minds. Tune in every Thursday to spark your mind

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