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6 things you should know about LinkedIn Showcase Pages

UnknownIf you hadn’t heard, LinkedIn is removing the ‘Products & Services’ tab from Company Pages on 14 April 2014 with significant implications for companies that have invested time and effort in building their presence on the professional social network. They recommend that firms use their existing Company Pages to update followers on products and services, or use the new Showcase Pages feature.

However, before you rush in to start creating Showcase Pages, here are 6 things you need to know.

1. Showcase Pages might not be the best solution

If your products and services are aimed at different industries, markets or customer segments, then Showcase Pages make a lot of sense. They appear as ‘children’ of the main Company Page, with their own branding, updates and followers. But because they are so separate, they don’t always make sense for smaller single-product or service companies or those that don’t have the resource to manage/maintain them. In my opinion, they’re not really ready for prime time yet either. Let’s hope LinkedIn addresses that before April 14.

2. There’s a limit to the number of Showcase Pages you can have (kind of)

LinkedIn lets Company Page administrators create 10 Showcase Pages. If you want more than that, you have to contact them. And remember you can’t currently delete Showcase Pages you have created – you have to submit a support request.

3. Company Pages and Showcase Pages must be managed and edited independently

Showcase Pages work well when you need to devolve administration to others in the organisation. A Showcase Page is essentially a completely separate Company Page and must be managed and updated separately by multiple different administrators. It also has separate analytics data, so you won’t be able to see aggregated insights.

4. You can’t migrate your followers

You cannot migrate your existing followers to a Showcase Page though, so you will be starting from scratch.

5. Any product/service recommendations you currently have will disappear

Although it isn’t answered specifically in LinkedIn’s FAQs, it would seem that any product/service recommendations will disappear when LinkedIn turns the feature off.

6. The name of your Showcase Page is important

The name you choose for your Showcase Page forms part of its URL and hence has an impact on SEO. All Showcase Page names must also be unique, so you can’t choose a page name that another company is already using.

Who’s winning the war for growth – Twitter or LinkedIn?

Both Twitter and LinkedIn posted Q4 2013 earnings results this week, and both saw sharp declines in their stock price. But what other comparisons can be made from the usage data they made available?

User numbers

Although the two firms use different methods of calculating active users (Twitter has its own Monthly Active Users metric, whilst LinkedIn relies on its own membership data and Comscore measurement), a comparison can easily be made.

Users

Much has been made of Twitter’s slowing growth, but LinkedIn’s growth has slowed even further (a mere 1.6% increase on Q3 2013, which actually showed a sharp decline).

Winner: Twitter

Activity

Again, both companies use different measures of activity. Twitter has its nebulous ‘timeline views’ whereas LinkedIn relies on Comscore’s calculation of page views.

Views

This would account for the marked discrepancy in the absolute numbers seen above, so it is better to look at the growth/decline over the last quarter. Here we see that whilst both platforms have declined, it is actually LinkedIn that has dropped the most:

  • Twitter: Timeline views down 6.9% quarter-on-quarter and up 26.5% year-on-year
  • LinkedIn: Page views down 8.2% quarter-on-quarter and up 9.8% year-on-year

It’s also worth looking at these absolute activity number relative to the user base.

Views per User

Again, a direct comparison between the numbers themselves is not helpful, because of the methods each platform uses to track activity. The trend is interesting though:

  • Twitter saw a 10.5% decline quarter-on-quarter (3.5% down year-on-year) in timeline views per active user
  • LinkedIn saw a 9.6% decline quarter-on-quarter (9.2% down year-on-year) in page views per unique visitor
  • Over the full year, timeline views per active user on Twitter actually increased by 11.8% whereas page views per unique visitor for LinkedIn saw a massive 24.9% drop

Winner: Twitter

Revenue

From the data above, it seems odd that Twitter’s stock price fell by a quarter following its results, whereas LinkedIn’s fell by only (!) 15 per cent. Looking at revenue trends might help.

Revenue

LinkedIn is the clear winner when it comes to net revenue, out-gunning Twitter by a factor of almost two. But Twitter is beginning to close the gap; its net revenues are up 117% year-on-year compared to LinkedIn’s 47.3% growth compared to the same quarter in 2012.

Revenue per user shows the same story.

Revenue by User

In Q4 2013 LinkedIn brought in $2.39 of net revenue per user/visitor compared to Twitter’s $1.01. But yet again, it is Twitter that is seeing the fastest growth in this area, putting on 38.4% quarter-on-quarter (66.5% year-on-year) compared to LinkedIn’s 12% quarter-on-quarter (21.8% year-on-year).

Winner: TBA

So whose stock would you buy?

The role of social networks in the B2B buying cycle

In 2009, two researchers set out to discover how social networks were being used by decision-makers in business, whether they were regarded as trustworthy and, in particular, whether they were relied on to support business decisions. Under the auspices of the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks, and Don Bulmer, VP Global Communications at SAP, surveyed 365 decision-makers or influencers representing 25 different countries, finding that:

  • Professional decision-making is becoming more social
  • Three leading professional networks have emerged
  • Professional networks are emerging as decision-support tools
  • Professionals trust online information almost as much as information obtained in person
  • Reliance on web-based professional networks and communities has increased significantly over the last 3 years
  • Social media usage patterns are not pre-determined by age or organizational affiliation

Specifically, they found that decision-makers are using social networks to inform and validate their decisions, disrupting traditional influence cycles. However they want these online interactions to be collaborative, avoiding the preferred sales and marketing activities of many companies. In addition, three-quarters of respondents now rely on web-based professional networks (most notably LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) to support business decisions. They also found evidence to dismiss the common misconception that social media usage is a generational phenomenon, with 20–35 and 55+ respondents being the more active users of social platforms. In fact, what they found is that middle-aged professionals are the ones getting left behind, creating a digital void right in the middle of many organization charts.

Yet let’s put this in perspective. The traditional decision-making process is not being replaced by the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter; instead social media is supplementing it. Equally, the ‘traditional’ methods of online marketing are still the most relevant, with even those decision-makers who are most active in online professional networks saying that conducting research via search engines and visiting company websites are the most likely steps they would take to inform their decision-making. Social media is definitely creeping up on the inside though, and that is why B2B marketers cannot afford to ignore it. When around 40 per cent of executives involved in the decision-making process say that they would gather opinions about a potential supplier or look them up on social networks and read other blog posts about them (interestingly only 21 per cent would read the company’s own blog), then it is time to sit up and take notice.