Monthly Archives: June 2011

What is the best time of day to post content or questions on LinkedIn?

I’ve seen lots of information about the fact that most people access LinkedIn during working hours, while the majority access Facebook during the evenings and weekends. However, I wanted to test this.

About six weeks ago I posted an offer of a ‘free guide to getting the right client feedback in your firm’ on three LinkedIn groups. Over 200 people have requested a copy to-date so I’ve had a look at when their requests came in to see what (if any) patterns emerge.

The vast majority of people (72%) asked for a copy of our guide before 2pm weekdays, and 58% before midday (in their local timezone).

Most people responded on either a Monday or a Thursday (20.7% and 23.2% respectively), followed by a Wednesday (17.2%), a Friday (15.3%) and a Tuesday (12.3%).

While I did receive requests at the weekends: 6.4% on Saturday and 4.9% on Sunday, these were overwhelmingly from those who are self-employed. While it’s rough logic, this seems to suggest that self-employed people use the weekends to catch up on what’s been happening in the groups they belong to.

What does this mean? 

Not a lot in itself. But it does start to give a feel for when the best times to post content are. If you want to increase your chances of your content being found, and people engaging with you, I recommend posting content on a Monday or Thursday before 8.30am. Unless of course, you are targeting self-employed people when you may want to wait until Friday night/Saturday morning to post.

If you’re targeting those in the same timezone then it’s easy. But if you want to engage with those in other countries you will need to think about when they will be online (for example, if you’re in New Zealand and want to engage with those in the USA there is little point posting content or questions on a Monday as they will not have begun their week). Luckily you can use tools, such as Hootsuite, to pre-schedule your posts.

The other thing to remember is that the majority of LinkedIn users don’t access their accounts every day. Questions you ask, comments you post and content you share will only be found by a large number of people if others respond. If a discussion stays towards the top of a group for an extended period of time, more people will join in. There is no silver bullet but you can listen to your target audience and engage with them on topics that matter to them.

What times of the day/week have you found work best to post content? Does this differ geographically? 

What other tips would you give to professionals to maximise their chances of engaging with their target audience(s)? 

What assumptions can make out of a firm

Making assumptions is part of doing business. We don’t always have access to the full facts and have to draw conclusions. However, too often the assumptions that are made are incorrect, or only part of the picture, and are never tested. This can be detrimental to relationships between firms and their clients, with firms making decisions, or giving advice, based on those assumptions. This really can be a case of when making assumptions makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.

The assumptions we make can affect the way we do business, the way we deal with our clients and the results we get for them.

In my experience, the most common assumptions firms make, are:

1. Assuming they know what their client wants to achieve when the client is engaging their services. By this I mean the ultimate goal – what business goal is your involvement going to help them achieve? If you understand what, ultimately, they want from the piece of the puzzle you are providing, the work you do will be focussed on this. Too often we hear that providers aren’t really listening to what clients want:

  • they haven’t asked the right questions
  • they haven’t challenged the client’s assumptions and
  • they end up making it more difficult for the client to achieve his/her/their objective.

2. Assuming the client knows the extra effort they put into a piece of work. All too often firms write off fees without telling the client. They feel noble that they have given the client a ‘good deal’ because they haven’t charged for the additional work… but the client never knows and so never gets the chance to thank the firm, or comment on it. More importantly firms may be setting unrealistic fee expectations for future work.

3. Assuming they know what the client thinks of the relationship with the firm. Often, when we are conducting client reviews, the things firms think are issues, aren’t; and the client’s actual issues are things that the firm hadn’t even considered. There are two main reasons for this:
  • the firm has never asked the client, or
  • an individual within the client organisation has made a single               comment, and it has become ‘fact’ within the firm. I have seen firms  change their strategies around significant clients based on one          partner’s say-so, and end up losing the client because they had all     the assumptions wrong.

4. Assuming clients don’t see what happens inside firms. Your clients are working with your teams and will see what is happening, particularly with regard to team changes, and with advisers who are nearing retirement. Firms have said to us “we knew that, but we didn’t realise the clients did.” Don’t forget you operate in the same market as your clients.

So, how do you know if your assumptions are right?

The only way to know for certain is to test them. Do this by:

  • asking your clients about their business and their goals
  • talking to your clients about team changes and succession planning early
  • letting clients know when you are not charging them and, where possible, the value of the work you are not charging for
  • seeking a range of views from within the client organisation about the relationship.

What other unnecessary assumptions do you think firms make?

What can be the impact of these assumptions?

4 ways to use LinkedIn you may not know about

LinkedIn has some great functionality but some of the things you can do aren’t that obvious. We’ve summarised four things, that you may not know about, that we think will really help professionals and their firms to extract greater value from LinkedIn.

1. Advanced search function – the advanced search screen enables you to search for people via a range of criteria including:

  • Keywords
  • First name
  • Surname
  • Location
  • Country
  • Postcode – there is then the option to specify the distance from the postcode you would like to search. The ability to search by postcode only works in some countries (although sadly not in New Zealand).
  • Title
  • Company
  • School (read Uni)
  • Industry
  • Groups you belong to
  • Relationship to you – i.e. all LinkedIn users or 1st and 2nd connections
  • Language

There are further search options for those who have a paid LinkedIn account. To access the Advanced Search screen, you need to ensure the search box is set to ‘People’ (alternatively, if you’re looking for work, you can access an advanced search screen for that purpose ifyou select ‘Jobs’ in the search box). Then click on the word ‘Advanced’.

2. Saving searches – it’s possible to save up to 3 advanced searches. You can then select whether (and, if so, how often) to receive email updates. To do so, run the search and then click ‘save’ (in the grey tool bar next to the number of results your search has returned).

3. LinkedIn Today – it’s hard to miss the LinkedIn Today headlines that now appear on your homepage. If you’re like me, the interesting ones always seem to appear when you have no time to read them. The good thing is you can save those that interest you to read later. To do so, you need to click ‘See more headlines’. This will take you to the LinkedIn Today page, where you can select the save button next to an article. When you’re ready to read it click on the ‘saved’ button on the right hand side of the black toolbar on the LinkedIn Today homepage.

4. Signal, or search updates, has been around for a while now. It’s a great way to follow what’s been shared/said on LinkedIn on topics of interest to you. Again, you have the ability to save searches so that you don’t need to repeat them going forwards. To access Signal, either click the ‘search updates’ button (located just below the LinkedIn Today section on your homepage) or select it in the News option on your toolbar. Once you’ve run your search select ‘save this search’ (located at the top of the results).

What other LinkedIn functionality have you discovered that professionals may not be aware of? 

Three common social media mistakes professionals and their firms make

How you use social media is very much a personal decision. So long as you have a plan and are clear about what you’re doing and why, then you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

However, three of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen professionals and their firms make are to do with inactivity.

1. Incomplete personal profiles: If you are on LinkedIn or Twitter for business purposes make sure you have a complete profile. Professionals need to be mindful of the fact that social media profiles rank highly in search engine results. If a potential client types in their name and the person is on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, or has a blog, these will usually appear towards the top of the search results. This means prospective clients or referrers may click on one of your social media profiles rather than your website. If they do, what will they find? An incomplete profile looks bad and you’ve missed the opportunity to impress them.

2. Inactive or infrequently maintained Twitter account: A number of professionals and firms have set up Twitter accounts but have either never tweated or tweat very infrequently, and then simply to broadcast a new blog post or firm development. While I am a Twitter novice I’ve definitely noticed that I’m getting more traction on Twitter now I have direct conversations with others and thank them for valuable content they share. If you follow the right people, Twitter can be a really useful source of great information that you can pass on to your own followers – by ‘retweeting’ useful information produced by others you generate goodwill and your followers benefit. When I see accounts that appear ‘abandoned’ after three or four months worth of tweets I wonder why – and I have to ask the question: is that the person or firm’s attitude towards their clients? Will they start off with gusto only to let things fall by the wayside down the track? While that might be unfair, first impressions count so, if you’re on Twitter, what sort of impression are you making? If you no longer wish to use it, close your account.

3. Blogging but not inviting a response: There are a number of great legal and accounting blogs out there. However, I do think some of the authors of these are missing the opportunity to engage with their audience because they don’t invite a response at the end of their posts. I would recommend anyone with a blog to ask a question at the end to try and initiate discussion – it could simply be – What’s your view? or What other things do you think are important? While you may not get responses on every post, when you do you have a great opportunity to engage with these people and build your professional network.

What other mistakes or missed opportunities have you noticed professionals and their firms making? 

What other tips would you share?