If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? -Philosophical thought experiment
For the first five years of my consulting business, I gathered data and case studies on how professionals could get the most out of their social media use. This included telling them when and what to share, and how to leverage their network to build their reputation. Then just over two years ago, my team launched ClearView Social. Now, after observing data from tens of thousands of professional shares and comparing it to the industry research of millions of shares, we’ve learned that many professionals are sharing at the wrong times.
Here are some of the most surprising findings:
- LinkedIn is nearly a dead zone from 10:30am until things pick up again at 7pm and then hit a peak around 9pm. What do I mean by dead zone? The average share between 10:30 and 7pm gets less than 1.5 clicks per share. Sharing at the best times, the averages go up by over 150%. Click averages at the best times or at PeakTime(TM) as we are now calling it at ClearView Social, will as high as 4.5 clicks per share. What do we learn from this? Nobody wants to read content or surf LinkedIn between 11am and the end of the work day. It should come as no surprise that there is a huge drop-off in clicks over the weekend.
- Twitter performs very well between 2pm and 3pm local time, then picks up again at 5pm and again at 7pm. Why will people click articles on Twitter at 2pm but not on LinkedIn at that same time? We don’t know for sure, but our best guess is that Twitter is accessed when users are actively looking for content to read. Either as a distraction from work or in search of content relevant to work. Twitter stays hot through the weekend as well. People leave LinkedIn at their office for the most part, but bring Twitter and Facebook home with them.
- Facebook isn’t just for personal sharing anymore. PeakTime for sharing professional content to Facebook is at 7:30am (when people are waking up in the morning) and then again at 5:15 until 6:15 pm local time.
If this is helpful to you, feel free to adjust your scheduled sharing times accordingly, and for users of ClearView Social, our PeakTime launch will automatically slot in your shares to the best times for each platform.
For our customers, here is our company’s help page explaining how PeakTime will work: PeakTime Explained
By now, it’s old news that Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for $26.2 billion dollars in cash. Tech sites, Time, and even the Moody ratings agency have been fairly critical of Microsoft massively overspending on this acquisition—see here, here, and here. I, on the other hand, see this as a big positive for the social media eco-system, and here’s why:
When LinkedIn went public, they changed for the worse. They locked down their API, restricting access to developers in a fairly draconian way. When I interviewed a LinkedIn exec off-the-record, he explained it to me this way: “We don’t want developers to make money from the LinkedIn API in ways we could potentially make money in the future.” While this makes sense from a very close-minded scarcity mentality, it doesn’t make sense for one of the largest social media tools in the history of the world that is built 1o0% on a backbone of user-generated content. They want every professional to share with them, but they aren’t willing to return the favor unless it directly benefits them. More specifically, they won’t give developers freedom to leverage the amazing data they have collected.
With this acquisition by Microsoft, it opens the door to the possibility that LinkedIn could operate as a somewhat more open system with more in common to the original Twitter than to Apple’s app store. Remember, Microsoft was the original open platform where any company could leverage their operating system to build their own tools. Microsoft may have the reputation as being stuffy and less cool than Apple, but they really understood the power of leveraging third-party developers to make powerful innovations. It is still hard to say how much control Microsoft will choose to take over the operations of LinkedIn, but at least now there is a chance that the tunnel vision at LinkedIn will be altered. It’s exciting to think what Microsoft can potentially do when they combine the massive data from LinkedIn with their cloud technology.
What does this acquisition mean to the average user? In the short term, very little. I guess you can feel secure that LinkedIn isn’t going anywhere, but for the last seven years that wasn’t really in doubt. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the big three social networks. Ten years from now, it will still be Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Other sites will come and go and every two months there will be an article claiming “Young people have all new sites they are into now.” At the end of the day, LinkedIn isn’t going anywhere because it has become a fixture of the business landscape. The older professionals that came kicking and screaming into the social media world aren’t migrating to a new social network in the near future or really ever.
Before people become overly critical of Microsoft for this purchase, just remember that Microsoft is really only doing what Google should have done before embarking on the crazy mission to re-invent social media with Google+. The winners of the social media game have already been crowned, Microsoft just decided “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Microsoft may not be the innovator they were thirty years ago, but hopefully, this purchase will allow them to inject some innovation into a social media company that would greatly benefit from becoming a little more open.