How to Leverage the Gamification of LinkedIn
When I train LinkedIn, you’ll often hear me talk about the concept of LinkedIn ‘rewarding good behaviour’. At the heart of the world’s largest professional networking platform (that’s increasingly trying to also be a great source of business and industry news) we have a very sophisticated database. Microsoft recognised the value of this database, purchasing your LinkedIn Profile for nearly $250 in 2016. And so LinkedIn will do everything it can to get you spending time on the platform, either via your phone (which is accessed by 60% of users and rising) or your laptop or desktop computer.
Gamification is defined by Bunchball as “something that already exists – a website, a training tool, a CRM, an online community, or other enterprise system – and integrates game mechanics to motivate participation, adoption and loyalty.”
In the case of LinkedIn, it uses the rating of your profile (e.g. does your profile have an All-Star rating?) and the number of profile views you’ve had (because LinkedIn will tell you ‘profile views matter’) or what is your social selling index? You can check yours here. At the time of writing, mine was 85.
Gamification, or rewardng the behaviours LinkedIn wants from you (e.g. filling in your profile, endorsing others, congratulating your colleagues for work anniversaries, job changes or birthdays. etc), was originally part of a subtle game LinkedIn liked to play with members to encourage you to improve your profile and spend time on LinkedIn. Since the LinkedIn.com re-design towards the end of 2016, LinkedIn’s gamification focus is more prominent, thanks to the new LinkedIn Profile vanity measures.
LinkedIn Profiles and the New Vanity Measures
Here’s an example of what I mean by a ‘vanity measure’. It is the analytics from an update I’ve posted that tell me how many people have seen this update. You’ll see in the first picture the overall views of this post and in the second picture a general guide to who these views are by. Interestingly, LinkedIn will not tell me specifically who these people are unless they’ve also looked at my profile. And for those without a premium account, the ability to see who’s viewed your profile is restricted to a limited number of views.
What is Gamification and Why Should I care?
In 2011, the Content Marketing Institute featured this article by Joe Pullizi providing 4 Examples to Gamify Your Content Marketing. Pullizi states “simply put, gamification influences behavior. According to Bunchball, there are 120 million people enrolled in travel rewards programs and over 200 million people play online games that are reward based (hard to believe).” This was in 2011, so I imagine it is far greater now.
In 2012, Social Media Examiner, one of the world’s authorities on social media marketing, featured this article by Debbie Hemley, which explored 26 elements of a gamification marketing strategy.
In both the Content Marketing Institute and Social Media Examiner articles Bunchball is mentioned, who describe themselves as “the company that launched the gamification industry and generates lasting ROI with real business value by motivating people through big data”.
As a side note – I’m enjoying the fact that, as I write, the word ‘gamification’ is being underlined by my laptop in red as a spelling error. Another sign of the times, suggesting the need for the dictionary to catch up with this concept, because it’s probably one that’s here to stay.
In 2015, I heard a client share a story they heard from Dr Jason Fox when he spoke at the Small Business Festival Victoria Marketing event. Again, the concept of gamification came up in the context of motivational theory, and was explored by Jason in relation to why he felt motivated to complete the stages of the online games (thanks to positive reinforcement) while he should have been completing his thesis (which he was in fact passionate about but found much harder to stay on track with). Isn’t human behaviour interesting?
While you may feel like I am digressing, these concepts are all related to online platforms doing whatever they know will work to get you to spend time there. The opportunity is to make them work to your advantage!
LinkedIn Case Study: Calling BS on a Branding Guide
In the case of LinkedIn, I’ve enjoyed watching a colleague’s recent experience after sharing an update via his LinkedIn Profile. Within 24 hours of posting this comment, he sent me an email letting me know about the phenomenal reaction he’d had to this update, and asked what I could suggest he do to leverage the traffic to his profile.
5 days after this was first posted, views of this post exceeded 100,000 with 1372 likes and 132 comments. While I’ve seen similar results from contentious LinkedIn articles, this sort of reach was mind blowing. Simon admitted he spent some time looking at the statistics LinkedIn provided him (see second picture above) to support the analytics. It’s important to note that the first screen shot was taken 5 days after the update was first posted and the more detailed analytics shot was taken within 24 hours of the update being posted.
And here’s the analytics for this update after 6 days.
How Can We All Benefit from Simon’s LinkedIn Experience?
The critical question I’m sure you’d like me to answer at this juncture is ‘so what’? What does Simon do with this traffic to his profile? How can he leverage it? Whenever someone likes or comments on your updates, the first thing I suggest you do is respond to this, by either simply acknowledging their comment (by liking the comment) and, depending on who they are, and what the comment is, responding with a relevant reply. I believe LinkedIn is a virtual room where we have conversations with colleagues who may be people we know, or potential colleagues and clients we do not yet know. If you take this approach, then the opportunity in the case of Simon is to converse with those who are interested in his point of view and potential prospects for his agency.
The good news is that Simon has been diligent in doing this, which is also a contributing factor in his update continuing to build momentum from the first day he posted it.
If Simon wanted to leverage this further, he could draw conclusions (based on who he knows in his network) about who the individuals are from the organisations listed that are looking at his profile.
For those people he is not connected to, he may choose to reach out to them, either via sending anyone he is not connected with a tailored invitation to connect on LinkedIn, or by simply viewing these people’s profiles with his profile settings as visible. If he has a premium account, he can do advanced searches by organisation and location to find some of these people on LinkedIn.
As this case study unfolds I plan to interview Simon about his experience with the response to this update and what he learnt from it. Simon and I attended RMIT together when we both studied our Bachelor of Business – Marketing.
As curious business owners and marketers, we are overdue to catch up for a cleansing ale and keen to debrief on both the human and technological elements of the nerve he appears to have struck with his comments.
What’s your experience with the gamification of LinkedIn and how are you leveraging this for your professional goals?