I’m amazed at how quickly we can jump from “this isn’t working for me” to “this doesn’t work [full stop].” It’s one thing to say “my LinkedIn strategy (or lack thereof) isn’t working for me,” but it’s a huge jump from that to this: “LinkedIn doesn’t work.”
Why do we jump to these types of conclusions? Perhaps it’s easier to believe social media is broken than it is to believe that something we control – our strategy, our approach, our commitment – is broken. Or perhaps we’re looking for permission to stop using LinkedIn and “LinkedIn doesn’t work” is simply a good scapegoat.
But I’m less interested in the “why” than I am in interrogating statements like “x doesn’t work.” How often do we take the time to find evidence for such claims? While it’s true that nothing works for everyone, blanket statements like “x doesn’t work” are usually, at the most, half-truths. And we sell ourselves short when we buy into them. So the next time, you think, “x doesn’t work,” I want you to ask yourself a series of questions.
1. What do you mean by “work” in this context?
Many times, when we think a tactic or strategy won’t work for us, we only have a vague idea of what we mean by “work.” I know I’ve been guilty of thinking (more than once) that some marketing tactic doesn’t work for my business. For example, when I created an online course and was having trouble selling it, I believed “email marketing for online courses doesn’t work.”
But that’s a broad statement (which, by the way, I know is false – plenty of successful online course creators sell their courses via email) and what I meant wasn’t all that clear in my mind. What I meant was “I’m not seeing the kind of sales I want.” I had a target number of sales in mind, but I hadn’t done much thinking or research into whether that number was realistic. And more importantly, I hadn’t really studied email marketing strategies related to launching online courses. So I wasn’t qualified to make the judgment call I was making.
2. What metrics are you using to measure whether x is working?
To really understand what it means for a strategy or tactic to “work,” it’s important to know what metrics to measure. With something like email marketing, you always want to look at your conversion rate and do some research into what you can expect as a reasonable conversion rate. From there, the math is simple.
But also, you have to consider your open rate with email. If your open rate is low, then you can’t draw any conclusions about your content strategy because not enough of your audience is even seeing your content. Instead, you need to consider elements like your subject line, whether your audience is interested in what you’re selling, and the time of day you’re sending your emails.
A lot of folks who claim that LinkedIn doesn’t work are unclear about their metrics or flat out drawing conclusions from the wrong metrics. Again, it’s important to get clear on your goals and what “work” means in this context. But from there, you’ve got to make sure the metrics you’re looking at relate to your goals.
For example, if you want LinkedIn to generate more marketing leads (i.e., prospects “sliding into your DMs” and booking a discovery session with you), then the metric to watch is the number of people reaching out to you through LinkedIn. You may also want to track profile views as a measure of who’s interested in your services.
If, on the other hand, you’re hyper-focused on increasing post views, but you’re not seeing a corresponding change in the number of leads being generated, you aren’t measuring the right metrics. Are you even talking about your services in your posts?
3. What evidence would lead you to conclude that x does work?
This is the most important question to ask and answer honestly whenever you find yourself tempted to throw your hands up in the air. Your answer to the previous two questions gives you a partial answer to this question, but there might be less tangible evidence that you’re looking for as well.
Beyond generating direct leads, LinkedIn is a networking platform. So you can measure success in the same way you would measure success with a networking event. Ask yourself, “what would lead me to conclude that a networking opportunity was worth my time?”
Sure, it’s great when you meet a prospect at a networking event. But you might also meet someone with an adjacent business or a great referral source. The same is true of LinkedIn. So while you may not be landing the direct leads you’re after, you may be starting conversations that will get you closer to those prospects. And that counts as evidence that LinkedIn is working.
4. How much have you experimented with x?
Another mistake we make when we say, “x doesn’t work,” is that we may not have given x an honest try. If you’re new to LinkedIn and not seeing the kind of traction you’d like to see, it’s possible that you need to be more patient. It takes time to build your audience and figure out the platform.
It’s always tough at first to know whether you’re experimenting in the right direction and to know how much time to give a particular tactic before declaring it a lost cause. With marketing, I have noticed that it takes at least a few months to see my efforts pay off. That’s enough time to throw some spaghetti at the wall for a month, track some metrics, and lean into what’s working. Once you figure out what works, then it’s time to double down.
But if you’re tempted to say “x doesn’t work” before you’ve given your experiments enough time to play out, you’re likely to keep jumping around from tactic to tactic without much success.
5. What are the substantive differences between your goals and the goals of others who claim that x works for them?
Finally, if you’ve answered all of the above questions and you still can’t shake the belief that this thing doesn’t work, it’s time to compare your goals to the goals of others who claim it works for them. You very well might be trying to use the wrong tool to achieve your goal.
Goal alignment is key when figuring out what works. LinkedIn doesn’t work for everyone. But it’s a poor craftsperson who blames their tools. So it’s important to consider whether your goals align with what that tool does best. In the case of Linkedin, there are some constraints to be aware of.
If you don’t have at least 20 minutes per day to spend on LinkedIn, then you aren’t likely to see the results you’re looking for. LinkedIn (like all social media platforms) rewards users for being on the platform and engaging with others. Also, LinkedIn works best if you think of it as a long-term strategy. Looking for an immediate boost to the number of leads coming in? LinkedIn isn’t your best option.
When something isn’t working for your business, it’s always tempting to say, “this doesn’t work [full stop].” But if we’re being honest, this is rarely the case. The more important question is whether it could work for your business and whether you’re willing to change what you’re doing to make it work.
Photo credit: https://www.123rf.com/profile_grinvalds