Did you happen to get an email from LinkedIn recently, which congratulated you on having one popular profiles on the site? Then, good news – you’re special. Just like millions of others. The campaign, which ran this month in celebration of LinkedIn’s 200 million users milestone, involved these ego-boosting emails sent to the network’s “top” users, which urged them to share the good news on Facebook and Twitter. You might be surprised how many took the bait.
For those of you who were sadly not LinkedIn famous enough (like me, ha) to get on the special list, here’s an example (below) of what the email looked like.
When you clicked through to “Read More,” the resulting web page included a brief message about the network’s milestone and then provided a social sharing box which suggested that “a stat this delightful deserves to be shared.” Users could then post the message to Twitter, Facebook, or, of course LinkedIn.
Typically, when companies urge users to post to social networks, it’s to participate in some sort of contest. Pin-to-win. Twitter sweepstakes. Facebook giveaway. Etc, etc. But LinkedIn tried a different tactic to get its message out there – instead of offering some sort of tangible reward, it offered something that perhaps makes even more sense in today’s navel-gazing, selfie-posting, retweet begging, Klout accumulating, social media era.
LinkedIn offered social capital.
I mean really, who can resist posting that they’re in the top 1% of LinkedIn users? Even, though, had they paused for a breath – or, I don’t know, actually read the email – they would have realized that they share that accolade with some 2 million others?
After seeing these tweets in my Twitter feeds, lists searches, and even discussed internally among TechCrunch staff, I was curious – did this silly, self-involved email campaign actually work?
And the way it works is not all that different from how spam works, either:
1) Send email
2) A handful of people click
LinkedIn tells us that the contest ran beginning on February 7, 2013, and it wrapped up February 14. From the network’s 200 million members, the company looked at those have active accounts, and were within the first million to register, who have more than 100 profile views (excluding self-profile views), have more than 100 connections, and have the most endorsements for popular skills in their country.
The congratulatory emails were apparently not sent all at the same time, which is good because otherwise, the campaign could have turned ugly. Given the ensuing tweet volume, people might have actually noticed how effectively LinkedIn was “spamming” Twitter.
We asked the company if it would share the results of the campaign, but it declined. Instead, we reached out to the social analytics company Topsy, one of the few that has access to Twitter’s “firehose” API. Using tweets as a gauge of success is a good indicator, because unlike on the more personal network of Facebook, it’s a place where people might be included to do a little bragging.
As it turned out, LinkedIn actually sent out several variations of its email message. It targeted those who are among the top 1%, top 5% and top 10%, Topsy found.
During the month of February up until the end-of-day Friday, there were 82,607 tweets about the campaign. Peak chatter, likely coinciding with the emails, occurred on:
With 200 million users, even emailing the top percentage constitutes a significant outreach effort on LinkedIn’s part. While the number of those who clicked “share” was small in comparison to those who were emailed, it still resulted in a fairly successful Twitter campaign. And LinkedIn never had to promise users anything in return.
A little ego boost goes a long way.
Image credit: top, GearDiary; chart, Topsy
(Disclaimer: I wrote this story because I’m excited about a class we are offering through TNW Academy. Nobody asked me to write it and I don’t usually write these kinds of posts but I did sign up for the class, thought about the subject a bit and that inspired me to write this post.)
I love a good story. In fact, I think stories make life worth living. When I hurt myself in a spectacular way (during skiing, climbing or some other dangerous activity) you can put a smile on my face by saying ‘well, at least you’ll have a nice story to tell’.
My kids know I love stories. I love hearing them tell stories and I also love telling them. Often they will ask me for a story and we have a formula for getting to them. They will shout out a random word, I will think about it for a few seconds, and then remember a story, or make one up.
When I was a kid I remember my mother telling a story to someone else. She was swinging her arms and in the middle of an exciting part when someone corrected her on a detail and claimed something wasn’t true. She stopped mid-sentence with her arms still in the air and said “Who cares if it is true? Do you want to hear a great story or not?” and then continued her story like nothing happened.
By now you should realize that the anecdote I just told you isn’t really exactly 100% true either. But who cares, right?
Entrepreneurs are generally great storytellers too. And not too precise with the truth either. When they say ‘this is a technology that will revolutionize X and Y’ what they actually mean is ‘this might work, I certainly hope so, and if it does it might compete with X and Y’. As users, partners and investors we just choose to believe the story and hope that dreams and hopes will one day turn into reality.
In a way, an entrepreneur tells you what is going to happen and then hopes that reality catches up.
Once an entrepreneur complained to me, halfway through a two-minute pitch for a jury, that he didn’t think he could pitch his incredible startup in only two minutes. I explained to that as an entrepreneur, everything you do is a pitch, and usually you have less than two minutes.
Your site is a pitch, and visitors decide within a fraction of a second if they are going to stick around or move on. A stranger you meet decides within five seconds if he or she is going to like or dislike your story. You’ve got maybe a minute to explain to your partner why you are leaving them alone, again, this evening to work on your presentation. And you pitch to your employees why they too should spend the evening at the office for the good of the company. Everything is a pitch. Everything is a story.
When I have to pitch to an audience I have a simple trick to get them to relax and be more open to my pitch. I’ll start off with ‘you can relax for a while now. I’m not going to pitch you anything. I’m just going to tell you a story’. It is a trick, because although I start off with a (hopefully) amusing or inspiring anecdote, at the end of it I get to the point and deliver my pitch. But I’ve seen audiences collectively let out a sigh of relief when I say it, put down their pens and lean back to enjoy my story.
So when I read on this blog that we were having a TNW Academy class on storytelling I signed up right away. And all marketing bullshit aside, if you are an entrepreneur I hope you sign up too. Or don’t, and read a good book about telling stories. Or take a few moments to think about what your story is. Not your pitch, or your statistics or the results of your Excel sheets, which probably look amazing. But how could you relax an audience and convince them you’ve got a cool story instead of a pitch? Because pitches are hard to do and often uninteresting to watch.
But everybody loves a good story.
Image credit: Pond5
See the rest here: Everybody loves a story. What’s yours?
At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference this morning, Microsoft’s CFO Peter Klein was asked about the importance of Bing for the company. According to Klein, Microsoft decided to launch its own search engine because it saw it as a “massive business opportunity,” not only as a stand-alone search engine, but also to help it improve other parts of its business.
Bing, he argues, is a “machine-learning engine that makes all of our services better.” As a search engine, it obviously also collects a huge corpus of data that Microsoft can then use elsewhere, though Klein didn’t go into the details about how exactly the company is currently doing this.
Klein also noted that running Bing has allowed Microsoft to scale in the cloud and to build out its commercial cloud services. Klein didn’t specifically talk about Azure and Microsoft’s other cloud-based tools, but it’s a fair guess that running Bing taught the company quite a bit about running a modern cloud-based operation.
He also believes that handling the large amounts of data Bing deals with has helped the company position itself well with regard to bringing big-data services to market through Bing Data.
In Klein’s view, Bing still represents a “really good business opportunity,” too. Microsoft, he told the investor audience at Morgan Stanley’s conference, has gotten significantly better at managing the cost of running Bing, and its financial performance has increased over the last year.
Over time, Klein thinks Bing will “be more and more of an intrinsic part of all of [Microsoft's] devices and platforms.” There have been occasional rumors about Microsoft wanting to sell Bing or spin it out (and Microsoft may actually have thought about this in the past), but based on Klein’s comments today, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
Another service Klein also thinks will get integrated more closely across the Microsoft ecosystem is Skype, which the company acquired in 2011. He seemed especially excited about Skype integration into Xbox.
After passing 3 billion monthly mobile page views earlier this month, Wikipedia is receiving major updates to its Web app: users are now able to login with their mobile devices, and create a ‘watchlist’ to follow changes to Wikipedia pages.
With these updates, Wikimedia is aiming to “empower existing users and entice new users to sign up and start contributing.” Wikimedia calls its watchlist feature “the backbone of Wikipedia’s quality,” as it serves to keep spam and vandalism low, while encouraging collaboration between content creators.
Wikimedia is clearly focusing on bringing its rapidly growing mobile user-base deeper into the Wikipedia community; the company notes it set out to make “viewing the watchlist more newbie-friendly” by designing it to function simultaneously as a reading list.
Wikimedia’s next step, according to the company’s announcement, “will be building and releasing features that allow anyone to add photos to articles, make small edits, and more.” Considering the company is aiming for 4 billion mobile page views by June 2013, it’s a good sign that mobile has become a top priority.
Wikimedia has also kept busy working on its upcoming visual editor, a project to bring WYSIWYG editing to Wikipedia, while supporting 290 different languages — some of which receive very little support online. You can more about that initiative here.
Image credit: Thinkstock / Martin Poole
For over two years, Pulse has been providing its over 20 million users with an easy way to read content from blogs and social networks. While other services like Flipboard and Zite used social updates and complicated algorithms to present users with a personalized view of the world, the Pulse team eschewed these ideas and stuck with a more traditional model of presenting you unfiltered feeds. Now, however, the company is slowly dipping its toes into social by adding “Pulse Highlights,” a feature that puts a focus on the stories your friends have shared on the service and on Facebook.
In the app, users will now see when one of their Facebook friends has also shared the same story they are currently reading (and you can, of course, also share stories back to Facebook and Twitter, or just on Pulse). In addition, a new “Highlights” section in the app will highlight the stories your friends have shared.
As Pulse co-founder Akshay Kothari told me earlier this week, the emphasis here should be on stories that your close network shared with you. People, he believes, have always come to the app to read content from sites they trust, but now they will also be able to discover new sources and stories that they probably would have missed in their regular Facebook streams.
“We’ve always been good at providing you with really good things to read,” Kothari said. “But now we are also getting into discovery.” Pulse Highlights, he also noted, lets you take your Facebook feed and “remove the fluff.” The other good thing about using Facebook, Kothari said, is that you will even see recommendations if none of your friends use Pulse itself (though he hopes that the Facebook connection will give Pulse users a reason to get their friends on the social network to try it, too).
The company started experimenting with social and algorithm-based recommendations about a year ago. The team was neither impressed with an approach purely based on how popular a post was on social networks (what does it really mean, after all, when a story gets 500 Facebook likes?) and its forays into purely algorithmic solutions similar to Zite also didn’t quite pan out because its beta testers were never quite sure why they were seeing a certain article. With Highlights, Pulse argues, “discovery is about people: close friends and family sharing content that’s interesting and relevant for you.”
In the long run, Pulse hopes to build upon this foundation with more granular sharing options and the ability to not just highlight a complete story but also just parts of it. Pulse also expects that this new sharing data will be useful for the advertisers on the service, who will now be able to get a better idea of how their content is doing on the service.
Read this article: Pulse News Reader Dips Its Toes Into Social With New “Highlights” Feature