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6 Keys to Grow Your Business Through LinkedIn Articles & Posts

Trying to grow an audience on LinkedIn? Me too! But the analytics around Articles and Posts has had me vexed.

In this first article I introduce the benefits and best practices around both Articles and Posts so you can bring the right tool to the job.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

I’ve been all in on LinkedIn from the beginning. In fact, for over 8 years, LinkedIn was one of my largest users of the Consumer Survey Platform I built. Sadly, I continue to be frustrated with the way my Articles are performing in comparison to my Posts.

1: ARTICLES SEEM TO PERFORM POORLY COMPARED TO POSTS

For example, below is the analytics from my best performing Article we see 135 views, 37 likes and 6 comments.

Compare this well performing Post which had over 12k views, 100 likes and 20 comments…

2. ARTICLES TAKE MORE RESOURCES TO CREATE THAN POSTS

There was no paid ad spend on either the LinkedIn Article or the Post. My hourly rate is much higher but, for this work, $100 an hour felt right.

The economics is very obviously in favor of the Post. Here is why:

  1. They require less time, money and energy to produce.
  2. Seem to get way more currency of choice, #attention.

Engagement is my attempt to create a measure of impact per post and consists of Likes + Comments. Physiologically, Views has some important impact on me. So, the emotional lens created by views and the larger Engagement supported an “all in” effort on posts.

3: VIEWS FOR ARTICLES ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN POSTS

I reviewed over 20 blogs, articles and had many discussions with other LinkedIn influencers to better understand their experience. I also joined the Writing on LinkedIn Group (which produced way too much spam).

Let’s start with views. According to LinkedIn’s FAQ, not all views are equal. The difference between the number of views on a post, video or an article…

  1. Articles – Someone has clicked on and opened your article in their browser or on the LinkedIn mobile app. Note: Clicking into and viewing your own article also counts towards the number of views for that article.
  2. Posts – Someone saw your post on their LinkedIn homepage feed.
  3. Videos – Someone has viewed your video in their LinkedIn homepage feed, or by clicking on the video.

The huge distinction here is between Articles and Posts. In my example post, we have a 9:1 ratio of Post:Article views.

However, the quality of the view for an Article is much…much higher. 

But, why?

Observe your behavior when consuming your feed on LinkedIn. You are likely swiping up until something catches your eye. This gives each post a “view” count even though you didn’t really see it. This view also has competition from ads. The below screen has a yellow overlay over the ad areas on that screen (excluding promoted posts):

Conversely, a view in an Article is counted when someone clicks the Article that they discover in their feed which creates a much lower outcome. BUT, the value of that view is HUGE! Why? You have a captured (engaged) audience…and no yellow. 

Now that we know not all views are created equal, what about the difference between Likes, Comments and Shares?

4: COMMENTS AND SHARES ARE A VITAL PART OF YOUR FUNNEL

From my experience, comments offer the highest value opportunity across the View, Like, Comment and Share indicators. Why?

Shares yield views (top of the funnel) but Comments yield opportunity. 

I created the below image to show the order of performance vs my overall Key Performance Indicator (KPI) which is Comments. This is where Paid becomes a critical component for your LinkedIn social strategy. By placing a few ad dollars against an Article, you’ll greatly improve your top of the communication funnel; and if you are adding value and your creative connects, you’ll see the trickle down effects.

5: ACTIONS

Take the time to produce quality articles that add value to your target audience. To this end, I will be producing 3 articles per week this year.

  1. Ensure all content you produce, especially Articles, add value.
  2. Spend the time with creative. Given the ease of use introduced by Canva to create amazing social graphics, there are simply no excuses for subpar creative.

6: FUTURE ARTICLES

I’ll be continuing this series based on my findings over the coming months. Here are some of the other items I’ll be exploring:

  1. Why do people Like vs Comment on LinkedIn & How to Drive Comments?
  2. What is the long tail of Posts vs Articles?
  3. If boosted, would Articles out perform Posts? If so, how much money to hit the tipping point? I’ll likely build a calculator for this so you can test and see if the market is going to yield an adequate return.

What else should I be paying attention to or would you like me to investigate?

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5 Things every Researcher should know about how Buzzfeed uses consumer insights

Today I had the privilege of interviewing Edwin Wong from Buzzfeed. We chatted about how his research background at Yahoo and Pinterest informs Buzzfeed. We also discussed what he looks for in suppliers and his advice for recently minted marketing researchers.

These notes are just my big takeaways and should not be taken as the complete picture. For that, you’ll need to listen to the interview and come to your own conclusions.

Background

Edwin’s entry into research came from being part of the first few hires at a then small startup, Hall & Partners, which works with top brands to unlock new opportunities to co-invent the future. While at Hall & Partners, he was part of it’s ascension into the stratosphere of brand consulting.

My key takeaways

Walk alongside your customer and win

Prior to the interview Edwin and I were laughing about a particularly difficult project which required us to work over Christmas break and into New Years.

“There’s no such thing as vendor, client, whatever; it’s really partnerships.” 

I still recall the strain of that project. We had screwed something up in the survey programming and the sample simply wasn’t coming in at the rate promised. The customer had to have the data directly after the holiday break so that the company executives could make a strategic shift. Pressure was mounting daily and peoples’ careers were literally on the line.

No matter how late, no matter how early, weekend, holiday, vacation, at the bar with a few drinks in…we picked up the phone if a customer needed us.

This is something that is hard to quantify in collateral, websites and in sales decks. But each of us, yeah, I mean you and me, has a similar warchest of stories to pull from. When you are talking to prospective customers try telling them the story of how your team came through for another firm when the odds were stacked against you. I promise, the company you are pitching has plenty of examples when a trusted vender didn’t pickup the phone until Monday.

Take the full view

Context is one of the easiest things to loose when doing research. Why? We isolate our data from outside influences such as current events, where the respondents are coming from and their motivations. By incorporating external data such as purchase behavior, macro trends and media consumption we offer a fuller view of what is driving a consumer insight.

Edwin gave us a brilliant quote from Buzzfeed’s founder, Jonah Peretti,

“We are data full, not data rich.” 

That is exactly correct. Despite the rise in the volume of data, brands simply don’t know how to apply it to self-reported quantitative and qualitative research data. But it can be very easy to apply it…even if you have no technology. For example, if you are using a customer supplied list get a few other relevant variables besides contact information and combine that into your analysis. This extra step will help inform your findings, add value to the study and make you standout from your peers.

Research logistics are less important than Why

Today’s technology is making it easier and easier for brands to do research themselves saving time and money without compromising quality. However, pattern recognition continues to be a point of massive value.

“Gaining an understanding of what the consumer is doing is actually quite easy. But the why is what’s important.” 

And

“As we start to look at some of these newer platforms, the reason why I think they’re taking off is because they are aligning the digital experience with what’s core to being human. Part of Buzzfeed’s success is being able to dissect what the experience actually means to the consumer.” 

Seeing the same story play out in other clients and in other industries will help you put together a clear view on market trends so that your research findings uncover the why in the numbers.

Story trumps numbers

Long gone are the days where you present a 30 page powerpoint showing charts and tables. Today is the day of the story.

“Numbers matter less than the story. Methodology is absolutely critical, [because] the stories we tell each other are the stories that move the business.” 

It isn’t enough to have a data backed position. You have to craft a story which can be discussed at the water-cooler. Our research needs to connect to the organization through its employees so they can affect the change necessary to ensure its long-term success.

Advice to young market researchers

I see this a lot with eager researchers. They pop down in a chair next to some company subject matter expert of 20 years and start challenging. The reality is that, as a researcher, we are never as up to date on the business as the executives and we are never as close the the customer as sales. So, listen and then apply the insights in the context that they provide.

“We are hardly ever the smartest person in the room… be the best listener.” 

If you are a good listener, you will see how the dots connect into your insights and be able to tell a story that is supported instead of dismissed.

I recall a sales pitch I gave in Seattle about 5 years ago. It was for a very large piece of business. The pitch started with a slide that was titled, “Objectives & Client State”. Then the 2nd slide had in big bold letters, “What’s Changed?”. When the 2nd slide came on the overhead the client burst out laughing and said, “Thank God you asked…”. She proceeded to tell me over the last week they were going through a series of layoffs and had completely different buy motivations. If I hadn’t asked she likely would have likely patiently sat through my presentation and then smiled me to the door. Instead, I walked out with a signed contract.

In Conclusion

I was blown away with the level of detail Mr. Wong provided the research community. It is clear the value brands are looking for is shifting more and more away from the gathering of the insights and more towards what those insights mean to inform business decisions. 

Happy Market Research exists to facilitate a conversation between insights professionals and the brands they serve. I hope you found this useful and that you’ll keep tuning in.

Have a great day! 

4 Ways to Add Value to your Insights by Microsoft’s Director of Research

Today, Customer Experience is driving corporate decision making. In my recent interview with Marian Anderson, Director of Research at Microsoft, she outlined how Microsoft is using data to drive business decisions. 

Here are some of the highlights from our talk: 

1. Customer Empathy Wins Long Term 

In a recent talk I heard from Matt Cahill of McDonalds, he spoke about how they are improving sales by partnering with customers to maximize the consumer’s value. This is netting long term value and loyalty. 

Marian nailed this point, 

“We are intent on operating on behalf of the customer as opposed to building stuff they will buy.” 

Compare that to many of my experiences where “Share of Wallet” was the Key Performance Indicator (KPI). This KPI would be represented as a pie chart with the intent of gaining as much as possible. 

By partnering with consumers to make the right choices for themselves and their household, you create brand advocates which are far more valuable than the short-term impact model. 

2. Customer Centricity is the hallmark of a successful business. Establish it as a core value and back it up with data. 

Customer centricity is a core value of Microsoft and that value is set from the top. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, has established this imperative in their DNA. 

The implication here is you must have voice of the customer, 

“You have to have data at the center of decision.” 

The good news is that core values self-police inside organizations, but the shift takes time. By humanizing our products, we will continue to set the customer as our North Star. 

3. Setting your findings in Context by leveraging other data adds value and impact to your research. 

Marian outlined a material problem for large corporations around their massive amounts of data. Here are a few that she mentioned they use regularly:

  1. Ethnographic 
  2. Quantitative  
  3. Internal telemetry
  4. External telemetry
  5. Motivation in social 
  6. Connection between satisfaction and revenue 
  7. Micro experience measurement 

This data must be leveraged because it sets a better context for the research. While this is hard, Marian says, 

“There is a relationship between hard and value. We never want to learn from one point of data in isolation.” 

4. Bring your research to life with NPR like story telling. 

Becoming expert in multivariate analysis is a skill that many of us researchers develop over time. Similarly, cultivating soft skills that enable you to guide a group discussion that uncovers hidden truths can be a lifelong endeavor. We have to treat storytelling as a similar skill to be studied and honed over our career. 

Remember the last time you listened to NPR? Regardless of your politics, you must admit their reporters do an amazing job of taking a combination of various data types and weaving them into a human story that connects to the audience. Marian says, 

“Influence requires a point of view communicated through story.”

The better your story, the bigger the lever you give your research data to impact the company. 

CONCLUSION

What are brand researchers struggling with? Marian said it best, 

“Combination of multiple data sources and decisions needing to get made in speed.” 

By partnering with your customer to understand their needs and then developing a path forward, you will align your offerings and attitudes towards creating mutual long-term success. So…do that.

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I wish you all success and happiness!

THIS EPISODE’S SPONSOR

This episode is brought to you by Attest. Attest is a powerful, easy-to-use SaaS platform that connects businesses to over 100 million consumers in 80 countries on demand in just a few clicks. Ask your burning questions. Select who you want to answer. View actionable insights that help you grow your business. Join the hundreds of leading brands who already utilize the power of Attest’s scalable intelligence platform.

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The Top 5 Market Research Podcasts

I started a podcast because I loved listening to podcasts. Here is a list of my favorite shows that focus on Market Research.

Data Gurus by Sima Vasa

This market research podcast, hosted by Paradigm Sample’s Sima Vasa, explores trends in data science, methodologies, and analytics. This podcast is highly relevant to market research professionals, and is a great way to hear from thought leaders on the latest developments in the data collection industry and how they relate to market research. The host, Sima Vasa, is the co-founder of Paradigm Sample, data collection company and Infinity Squared Ventures, an advisory accelerator.

Stories of Market Research: The Insightrix Podcast

Another great market research podcast, hosted by Duncan McGregor, takes the approach of highlighting great storytellers in the market research industry. Insightrix is mindful of the fact that good market researchers must be good storytellers, and effectively combines their own expertise as storytellers with interesting anecdotes and interviews with market researchers. Duncan McGregor is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Insightrix and brings his own experience in market research and storytelling to the table as the host of this market research podcast.

QRCA VIEWS Podcast by Foster Winter

The QRCA Views podcast series plays a key role in their vision for the QRCA VIEWS magazine. This is an ongoing podcast series of interviews with a variety of personalities likely to be of interest to our readership. Some of the interviews will be with authors featured in the print version of VIEWS and others may be with major figures outside our organization. Inasmuch as VIEWS is quarterly, the plan is to post one or more such interviews each quarter.

Engagious Podcast by David Paull

DialSmith and Engagious CEO David Paull has done a great job creating this market research podcast. With industry star-studded interviews with some of the biggest thought leaders and influencers in market research, and great insights from David’s experience as a market researcher, this podcast is definitely worth the listen.

MRXplorer by Zontziry Johnson

And last but not least, my good friend and super fun podcaster, Z Johnson’s #MRXplorer. This podcast offers a unique view into complex topics from Big Data, to Blockchain, to “There is way too much snow in Seattle”. Tune into this one…episodes are fun and to the point. It is perfect for that morning commute.

The Happy Market Research Podcast by Jamin Brazil

We of course had to give our very own market research podcast an honorable mention. The Happy Market Research Podcast focuses on understanding the changes the market research industry is experiencing, and providing the perspective and insights needed to adapt. Our guests range from Fortune 50 execs on the client-side, to CEO’s of major market research agencies, to founders of startup market research technology firms.

It would mean the world if you’d share this article on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I wish you all success and happiness!