Last week I read “There is no such thing as B2B communication, as people like you and me also work in corporations”. This sentence serves both as a strong and controversial starting point for the following article. I want to describe to you ways how companies can measure LinkedIn performance. This can be used as a step-by-step guide in approaching the strategy optimization of the second “blue giant” – LinkedIn.
This article’s goal is to showcase how to set up a LinkedIn strategy that constantly improves. To create this, the cornerstone needs to be an always-questioning-your-current-strategy model. For this particular reason, we created the Social Media Analytics Cycle. This framework helps our clients to find the best social media KPIs, measure them and adjust initiatives in the future.
The first step of our framework is to have a look in the past. It digs deeper in what happened, what worked best and what didn’t achieve the expected results. Ideally you would also apply this to your competition. To do so you can either use the default analytics features of all social networks or use a social media analytics tool such as quintly. The perk here is that you don’t need to worry about error-driven Excel sheets and save a lot of time with a tool that’s built to help you approach the analysis in an efficient way.
After you have received an understanding of the past, what you need to do is completely understand the data. This might sound trivial, but it’s often the most important, and equally difficult, step.
With the social media analytics cycle as a basis, you can get a more detailed view on metrics that eventually can work as new LinkedIn KPIs in the future. The last step of our cycle – as the process needs to be constantly repeated – is the report setup. If you need further information on how to set up a social media report, our “Social Media Reporting” article is a recommended reading.
The most important KPIs to measure LinkedIn Performance
Personally, I like to start an analysis with general metrics, providing the recipient with a birds-eye view. This is not necessary if the report is just being sent to the own team as these recipients know the game already.
If ‘externals’ – for example your boss, upper management or your client – receives the report, it is recommended to start with an easy metric. That’s why I would start with one of the easiest to understand (but simultaneously very relevant) metrics – The Followers Total and Follower Change.
Now, the basics are clear, let’s jump into our LinkedIn analysis.
I picked Airbnb and Nike as an example. Two very different companies, both in the need for talent and eager to position their brands in correctly on LinkedIn. Let’s see what we all can learn from the different ways how these two make use of LinkedIn for their business.
Followers Total / Followers Change Rate
The first two metrics we take a closer look at are company followers and the change of followers in the analyzed period. This basic metric visualizes the gain of followers at a glance.
The historic sports manufacturer has – as expected – a significantly higher number of LinkedIn users following their brand. More interestingly than two parallel lines with a gap in between is the spike in followers starting on March 21st. Here it would be worth spending a bit time to investigate the reason.
LinkedIn Analytics Tip: Don’t focus on the obvious. Try to find values where it is worth digging into.
Average Interactions Per Post
Once the followers and their latest development set the starting point for a deeper analysis, we can jump right into it. In the analysis shown we would now have a closer look at the average interactions received.
This LinkedIn metric provides not only information on your own interactions in the analyzed period but also those of your competition. It shows peaks, where analysts then need to find an answer to the question which content seems to work best.
Update / Interaction Comparison
The above-mentioned metric Average Interaction Per Post visualized the interaction achieved in one graph. That’s handy, but now we need to figure out why some posts exactly worked better than others. Here we consider the ideal posting time on LinkedIn.
The blue bubbles here visualize the published updates, whereas the grey balls show the Interaction Rate. Meaning to say, the bigger the grey bubble, the more interaction received. Airbnb on the left, Nike on the right.
The time patterns when the two companies receive interactions seem to be similar. To be precise, it’s Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – each day in the afternoon. Sometimes you spot posting times where the grey bubbles are bigger than the blue ones. In these times, the social media team might consider posting more frequently.
LinkedIn Analytics Tip: Marketer’s seem to put a lot of effort into finding the ideal posting times on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The exact time when to post on LinkedIn is equally important.
We can identify another fact from this graph. Airbnb is posting significantly less (less blue bubbles) than Nike. It should be tested if more posting from Airbnb would lead to higher reach and more interactions. If that’s the case and interaction wouldn’t decline, this metric identified a great area of improvement.
LinkedIn Post Table
This table is just necessary in the analysis when you want to show the updates that have been published. As we just found out that Nike is posting significantly more, this table makes a lot of sense to have the chance diving deeper into their posting patterns and style.
In some cases, for example to the upper management, that might not be important. For other cases, such as reporting to your social media team, this metric is crucial. It offers an overview of all published posts and the likes, comments and shares they’ve achieved.
Of course, the choice of every metric is related to your goals. Metrics answer questions and these need to be formulated very clearly. Many strategies aim towards a specific type of interactions. An example could be that a company created an infographic that aims towards receiving many shares and a controversial article and perhaps a job posting is supposed to get a high number of comments. This LinkedIn metric provides analysts with a more detailed view of the distribution of interaction – for yourself as well as the competition.
In our exemplary case, we don’t see major difference for both companies. Both get a little amount of comments compared to likes.
This can be different in your specific case!
Going one step further - LinkedIn Insights
For a holistic analysis, checking the networks default analysis function is also recommended. Some data points are not available for externals such as quintly or any other social media analytics tool. By digging in the networks default insights, you can gain a deeper, very important understanding of your followers. This can helpful while creating content, job postings or when targeting ads. LinkedIn offers you a couple of options in the drop-down menu, so be sure to use all possibilities you have.
LinkedIn Performance Report
At the end of an analysis you normally want to report your findings to somebody, or a group of people. Ideally this should be done automatically. After you decided on metrics you consider as most important for your specific use case and bundle them on a dashboard, you can now set up a report with a couple of clicks within quintly. Just schedule it, type in the emails of the recipients, and it’s a done deal! Now Zack, Alex and Sarah, for example, receive the reports you set up automatically every Monday before your weekly sync.
In the specific case of LinkedIn, here’s a list with metrics I would add to a LinkedIn Performance Report.
Here you can find how these metrics would look on a quintly dashboard.
These might look totally different for you. It always depends on the goal you want to achieve and the questions your analysis is supposed to answer.
B2B Marketers, your turn!
The most important thing to keep in mind for every analysis is to focus on asking the right questions. Once you are clear about your strategy and you have a crystal-clear goal in mind you can set up an analysis, decide on metrics and identify the most important KPIs.
Also, have an eye on the market, not only analyzing your closest competitors but also different players. In this case, we found that AirBnB is posting too little, compared to Nike, which also you might be able to learn form.
Lastly, always try to gather as much data as you can get. Therefore, you use a tool like quintly on top the networks default analytics.