February 16, 2012
LinkedIn has transcended simply being a place for aspirant unemployed guys to hang out awaiting their next big break. It’s a way for business experts to hang out and engage like-minded others and find the people who exhibit expertise in their markets on an everyday basis.
Peoples’ thoughts make for solid content. If you read my eBook LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Maximum Exposure, you know that in the chapter on Applications I touch on polls on LinkedIn but didn’t have a lot of detail to go with it. Here is a bit more on LinkedIn polls and how to make use of them.
My First Poll Experience
To more fully analyze market demand for a product I was creating on Executive Video Interviews for business leaders, I posted the following poll on LinkedIn.
So what did I discover? Well, obviously I learnt more people like utilizing web video for product exhibitions, something not entirely surprising given the simplicity of filming something live and uploading it on YouTube.
But did I truly figure that out?
With only 16 replies, I’m no statistician but I’d say this lacks analytical importance. I had hoped for hundreds to answer the poll. After all, I posted a link to it on about twenty LinkedIn user groups. There should have been tons of replies right?
Learning My Lessons
Here are some things I found out about making use of this poll to engage the small business community:
1. There is a ton of noise at LinkedIn. Readers won’t see or even care about your poll excepting that you PROMOTE THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF IT. That means posting in the Groups, tweeting several times, and using Facebook and other social media to the max leverage you can.
2. This is a hunch, but I believe that my Executive Video Interview results don’t tell me that much about acceptance to my product. Why? Because people haven’t seen it yet! 2 of the three responders to this survey on that item were customers of mine who had them done. Since there is nobody else I know of who does this like me, that insider information distorts the survey’s results. Which way I am still questioning. Since I took this poll down, industry experience is advising me that my sample portfolio of client interviews is garnering up a lot more interest than a poll with a product not widely known. LESSON: All forced choice replies should be commonly known. For item receptivity (like this one), poll based upon product outcomes, not the label of the item.
3. Often the most fascinating data are the comments left by individuals who take the survey, describing what they have done for their company (in this case). Don’t neglect that gold.
4. Promoting the survey in interest groups only slightly related provides no outcomes. Because I use web video to help small businesses, I got more LinkedIn Group results from a group on Web Video with only a couple hundred, devoted professionals. The issue here was that some of these folks, being connoisseurs in web video, may have been informing me what they specialized in, not what small business wanted.
Connecting with LinkedIn Polls
LinkedIn creates a fantastic survey and it’s simple to put together and put online, but it has 2 issues:
1. LinkedIn only keeps each survey around for 4 weeks more or less. You have to be capable to market it and promote it quickly because you have a deadline to collect your data. Fact is, in most surveying situations; they’ve done all they can in just a few days, so LinkedIn has a point.
2. You can’t put up the survey on your LinkedIn profile; you can only put it in your status update and publish to Groups. If you’re optimizing your profile you know you are posting updates every few days at the minimum. Saving you want to become an aggravating spammer on LinkedIn Groups, you won’t advertise your survey there more than once or twice every few weeks. This suggests that on LinkedIn itself, your poll has little staying power other than in a general Polls page, and typically speaking, people aren’t surfing that hunting for something to do.
No worries. Here are a couple of ways to control surveys in LinkedIn:
• Embed on your Site
• Tweet out to your favored hash-tag trends and followers
• Facebook post it for your followers
What about types of questions for surveys? Well, if the poll is something you are just looking to get replies to, appeal to low common denominators like popular culture or politics. Everybody has a thought on them. If, on the other hand, you are looking to find certain niche advice about your business or audience, as I was in this example, do everything you can to pinpoint the audience to the niche so that they follow it enough to want to know the results themselves, or just deal with a small response rate symbolic of your target reader size.
One way to do this targeting is to upload your poll in a blog write up or article and send to search engines. Through SEO your piece will be viewed by those who discovered it who wanted to find it, and odds are better they vote on the poll. In the next few days I’ll be doing this with one more LinkedIn survey on marketing techniques for small business. Get statistically considerable results, especially if they are unanticipated, and you have produced a sound bite that you can now leverage with, you guessed it, another article, an announcement to news outlets, or put as an item of interest on your homepage.
Karl Walinskas is the CEO of Smart Company Growth, a business development firm that helps small to mid-size professional service firms build competitive advantage in an online world of sameness. He is the author of numerous articles and the Smart Blog on leadership, business communication, sales & service, public speaking and virtual business, and Getting Connected Through Exceptional Leadership, available in the SmartShop. Get your FREE LinkedIn Profile Optimization eBook & Video Course, Video Marketing video and course, or Mastermind Groups e-course & video now.