Usually our tool of the month is something that you might not have come across before, but this month we want to look at some of the new – or hidden – functionality that you might not have come across in the professional social network, LinkedIn.

If you have the LinkedIn app on your phone and have granted permission for it to access your contacts, you might not have noticed that it will automatically suggest connecting with anyone listed as a contact on your phone. In some instances – meeting a colleague at a conference and only having their phone number but not their company name – this will be helpful, but in others – friends, family, neighbours, former lovers, it may verge on slightly creepy.

Secondly, LinkedIn recently launched its Website Demographics tool, which allows site owners to see the demographics of their web visitors. LinkedIn’s audience segmentation is almost without rival when it comes to B2B marketing, so being able to see the seniority, industry and company size of your site visitors is incredibly useful. The tool will appear as part of LinkedIn campaign manager and is gradually going live over the summer period.

These two tools go hand in hand with LinkedIn’s ‘matched audience’ functionality – essentially identical to Facebook’s lookalike targeting. It’s taken a little while for LinkedIn to offer marketers a sophisticated martech experience, but we’re excited by this evolution and looking forward to whatever the network has planned for the future.

Are you using LinkedIn posts to amplify all your PR content? If not, this will change your mind.

Our client Cornerstone OnDemand is in the business of talent management and when Accenture made the decision to move away from annual job appraisals, Cornerstone had a lot to say.

We supported Cornerstone in pitching these views to the media, but it was on LinkedIn where we got the most traction.  We rinse every ounce of value out of content so once any content is pitched to the media, we advocate turning it into social content (blogs, LinkedIn posts, tweets) which can come from the company’s feeds, and directly from the executives.

LinkedIn is a very powerful network for professionals with over 380 million users worldwide. LinkedIn’s publishing platform allows members to post about their expertise and views to further establish their online professional identity.

Our client, Geoffroy De Lestrange, is already a great LinkedIn user and his views on ditching yearly appraisals caught the attention of thousands of LinkedIn users – 7,306, to be exact. He received over 600 likes and 93 comments (the average user usually gets a few hundred views and a handful of likes and comments).



If you’re a regular reader of the Firefly blog, you’d be well within your right to observe that we’ve been talking about LinkedIn rather a lot recently.

It’s not without good reason, though (here’s why!) – and with this in mind, our LinkedIn Army event last month took a look at exactly how marketers can mobilise the rest of their workforce to get the most out of the platform. We were joined by speakers from LinkedIn and Telefónica – as well as Firefly’s Phil Szomszor – all of whom shared some great insights and examples as to how best to use the platform.

Shortly after, during a Friday afternoon conversation amongst some of the team, we got talking about common LinkedIn faux pas. We’ve all come across them, I’m sure – whether it’s a suggested connection who should really re-think her choice of profile picture, or an ex-colleague who’s frankly not representing himself as well as he could be.

So, without further ado, allow me to present our LinkedIn Hall of Shame – featuring the eight profile types to avoid at your peril!

DISCLAIMER: these people are not real, nor are any of them based on a particular person. They are all completely fictional, and have been created for your entertainment (and education) only!

OliviaExhibit A

Let’s kick off with Olivia Anderson.  Olivia’s actually not doing too badly when it comes to her profile – she’s filled in all the relevant sections, provided a pretty comprehensive summary of her work experience and skills, and is sharing news articles which interest her via status updates.

But did you notice any of the hard work she’s put in to cultivating her professional persona? Very unlikely, as we bet you’re still transfixed on that pout in the top left-hand corner!

Unfortunately this profile picture does not reflect well on Olivia as a professional business woman. Unless, of course, she’s applying for Britain’s Next Top Model, we’d suggest saving the selfies for Instagram. A smiley but smart corporate headshot would be far more suitable for LinkedIn. And believe us, we’ve seen a lot worse offenders than this on genuine profiles, some of which wouldn’t look out of place on the page of a glamour magazine!

Exhibit B Max

Wow, Max Tunbridge, that’s quite a profile you have there. You certainly are a social media force to be reckoned with! We’ll be sure to get in touch whenever we need a…wait, what is it you do again?

In fact, even multiple readings of this page shed little light on the question. Max is blinding us with social science and, like his pal Stefano, it’s doing nothing for his credibility (or likeability).

While we must applaud Max for his enthusiasm, when it comes to LinkedIn sometimes less is more. It’s not the right outlet for live event updates, nor sharing a dozen articles a day. Think quality, not quantity. And, like Olivia, we’ve seen worse offenders than this in the real world.

DouglasExhibit C

As you can see from his profile picture, Douglas Fir’s a family man. But cute as his chosen shot may be, is it really suitable for a professional network? Sadly, no it’s not. Douglas would be far better off saving the family photo album for Facebook, where no doubt he has a whole gang of friends and fellow Nottingham Forrest fans just dying to see the latest snaps of him and Holly, or read that hilarious anecdote from his trip to the park.

Sorry, Douglas, but we’d hazard a guess that when it comes to your colleagues and customers, it’s a case of TMI.

Exhibit D Phoebe

A quick look at Phoebe Hampton-Jones’s profile suggests that a) she doesn’t really understand LinkedIn, and b) she doesn’t really care.

As a recent graduate, it’s understandable that Phoebe doesn’t have a huge amount of work experience to share. However, all those typos and grammatical errors are unforgivable, and give entirely the wrong impression – and we won’t even go there with that photo…

If she wants to be taken seriously by prospective employers, Phoebe needs to either tidy up her profile considerably or remove it altogether until she has something valuable to share.

StefanoExhibit E

Next up, we have Stefano Ferraro. The saying goes that “people buy from people” – which in theory makes LinkedIn an invaluable tool for our resident “sales guru” Stefano. Sadly, in this case the only thing Stefano is achieving from his profile is making himself come across completely unpersonable. Mr “SALES, SALES AND MORE SALES” needs to tone it down a notch and include some actual, tangible work experience if he wants to be remotely credible.

And again, that photo just isn’t doing it for us. Full marks for the smart attire, minus 100 for the thumbs up, another 100 deducted for the prop. Both unnecessary.

Exhibit F Alex

Where do we start with our next chap, Alexander Drayton ? Well done for trying, Alexander, but we think you could do with revisiting your profile set-up.  Turning your photo the right way up would be a good start.

And although the hashtag does seem to be creeping inevitably into everyday syntax, we’re yet to see the value of including them in your work experience description – though there may be a place for them in a timely LinkedIn status update, when used correctly. Also, have another go at @-mentioning people, as that too seems to have #failed.

JanetExhibit G

Janet Roberts appears to be on LinkedIn for one reason, and one reason alone: job hunting. From the public requests for recommendations, to the vast number of recruitment firms she is following, something tells me Janet is not in a committed working relationship with Drains United.

Although LinkedIn is a valuable tool for recruiters and job seekers alike, publicly seeking your next position while still working for your current employer sends out a number of messages – and unluckily for Janet, ‘loyal professional’ is not one of them.

Exhibit H Mary

This brings us, last but not least, to Mary Smythe. Looks like Mary has got about five minutes into creating her profile, and not much further.

It’s likely Mary’s just a very busy lady who hasn’t quite got round to finishing it – which is a shame, as we bet she’s got mountains of experience and insight to share, plus a whole heap of professional contacts to boot.

It wouldn’t take Mary long to update her experience and add a nice headshot so her contacts can identify and connect with her, while just a couple of minutes a day could be set aside to log in and share her – no doubt very interesting and incisive – thoughts on that news article, or Dynamic Systems’ latest announcement.

While LinkedIn has come a long way from its initial inception as a recruitment tool/online CV it is still, fundamentally, a network for people. As LinkedIn’s Henry Clifford-Jones highlighted in our event, the average LinkedIn member is 12 times more likely to see top tech brands through an employee’s profile page than through the company page.

This, to me, says it all: your profile is your own, very public, representation of your brand – both that of your company and that of your own, personal brand.

So take pride in it.

What do you think? Tell us who’s your favourite in our Hall Of Shame? Have we left any typical personality types out?

Firefly had some very interesting ‘community’ experiences recently which got us thinking. As brands struggle to win the attention of their friends, fans and followers, they need to be more inventive to draw people towards them, go and find them individually or reel them in voluntarily. A PR agency is no different: we have our business development needs as well.

Our own community experiences were a couple of sad occasions which brought our alumni together for all the wrong reasons, and more recently the occasion of our 25th anniversary gave us the opportunity to track down, connect with and build an extended Firefly family. We organised a campaign to reconnect with many alumni, all wonderfully talented people, many of whom have gone on to enjoy glittering PR careers and are now PR industry luminaries. As part of this, we held a private event for people who have worked with or for us over the years. For a company that is 25 years old, finding ex-clients, colleagues and other alumni that pre-date social networking is more challenging than you might expect!

Firefly Community

We have lists of clients and prospects, as would any business, and our own LinkedIn networks served up a good number of ex client contacts and ex Firefly alumni. Facebook caught alight quickly at the mention of the party and we soon began building numbers of attendees in the hundreds. These were all from our dispersed community, but people who had a connection, an affinity, perhaps even affection for our brand. Bringing so many people together for the evening was wonderful, watching friends and colleagues recognise each other and exchange stories and contact details, meanwhile asking about Firefly’s fortunes and future. The Firefly community is strong and vibrant and in time I am sure we will all meet up again. Meanwhile the posts, updates and comments flow and interestingly it’s the two minute photo album and two minute video­ that have reached four times as many people than who attended the party – so, virtually, the party lives on (even though the bar bill is thankfully closed)!

In developing this campaign and bringing together our community we learnt a number of lessons. Here are some of them:

It’s personal – your company doesn’t own you: Everyone has their own personal business network and that in itself is a community – this is best served through LinkedIn. My LinkedIn network has been a huge source of strength and opportunity over the tricky recessionary years. People like to do business with people they know – and trust.  Firefly has spent a fortune on CRM systems in years gone by, and there is still a need to capture that data, but everyone’s LinkedIn connections are your personal resource. They should be nurtured and travel with you to your next job – those contacts and relationships are yours (restricted covenants notwithstanding).

Don’t under-estimate Facebook: Many marketeers will tell you that Facebook is not a business-to-business social networking tool, but that’s not been my personal experience. While some people shy away from connecting with colleagues and clients on Facebook, this is often relaxed when the business relationship ends or someone leaves. Assuming you get on personally as well as professionally, this is a great time to connect and stay in touch. You never know when the wheels go full circle and they might become a professional contact again, either directly or to make a recommendation.

We saw the effect of these personal connections with our 25th anniversary celebrations and one of the places where we saw most engagement and content views was through our company Facebook page.

I’m in a graveyard community, ‘get me out of here’: We are lucky that our recent 25th anniversary campaign worked well for us and we worked hard at making it a success  for everyone. But sometimes communities can spiral off into dangerous negative areas, in which case you need to communicate even more and take heed of what is being said. Just ask British Gas!

It’s a sad moment when the unifying bond is a shared dislike or dissatisfaction for a brand or business but at least there is passion there, and you need to turn it around.

Worse still is when your community doesn’t connect at all. Without common ground such as a passion for something or a shared experience, communities quickly become virtual ghost towns with tumbleweed blowing through the months and weeks of no engagement. These deserted communities do more harm than good. No-one wants to be the only person at the party. If this happens, you need to reignite that community, find a different location or vaporise that community fast (metaphorically speaking of course).

Claire Walker is founder and CEO of Firefly Communications. Get in touch with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

If you spotted the blog post from Firefly’s Phil Szomszor earlier this week, you’ll know that – in our opinion – LinkedIn is ‘the special one’ when it comes to B2B marketing.

Why? Well, there are a number of reasons – but, ultimately, the network has evolved into a publishing platform, providing users (13 million in the UK alone) with a targeted and personal communications channel to reach decision makers.

With this in mind, on Tuesday morning we hosted an event all about LinkedIn – specifically looking at how marketers can mobilise the rest of the workforce to use the platform effectively.

We were joined by Henry Clifford-Jones, Director of LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions Business in Europe, and Tamara Korcak-Novicka, Online & Social Media Manager at Telefónica.

The event sold out, so for those who were unable to join us (and even those who were, but fancy refreshing their memory!), here is a brief summary, along with the speakers’ slides…

The event opened with Phil, our Head of Business and Digital, offering his perspective from a PR standpoint on the use of LinkedIn. He also shared the surprising results of the audience research we conducted prior to the event: we surveyed the customer base of four of Firefly’s B2B clients, and found that just 5% of these customers were on Twitter, while a whopping 92% were on LinkedIn!

Phil’s slides are available here:

Phil was followed by LinkedIn’s Henry, who spoke to delegates about how the platform has evolved since its inception. Henry emphasised the fact that nowadays content is very much at the core of LinkedIn; users are ten times more likely to engage with content than they are with jobs.

And while it’s important for companies to have a profile page, individual employees are very much ‘the face of the brand’ on LinkedIn; the average member is twelve times more likely to see top tech brands though an employee’s profile page than on their company page.

Finally, Tamara of Telefónica took the floor, to provide a first-hand perspective of the work she is doing to roll-out a unified, strategic set of LinkedIn usage guidelines across the whole of the organisation.

Thanks to all those who joined us – please do follow us on LinkedIn to be kept up-to-date on future events and goings-on at Firefly, and if you have any questions get in touch!
Firefly LinkedIn event

In the seventh of our #firefly25 anniversary interview series we meet Ngaire Moyes, ex Firefly, now director of corp comms EMEA at LinkedIn.  Ngaire has worked in both agency and in-house PR across the Northern and Southern hemispheres bringing a global view on what she misses from her PR agency life, how PR has changed and why she thinks that content marketing is the way forward.

I can’t imagine a world when PR people pitched stories without email and the web, but according to our CEO that was the case when she set-up Firefly. Now, in this digital age, we’re likely to catch the interest of journalists and bloggers on Twitter, with some even asking us to only pitch to them this way – you know who you are!

Personally, Twitter would be the only social media channel I would use to pitch (and I do use it in a selective way) but I recently found out that an online marketing agency in the US is suggesting a new medium; LinkedIn ads. So, how does it work? Essentially, PRs write a pitch that is no longer than 75 characters; there really is no room whatsoever for fluff. This text goes into an ad where reporters can click through to see more information. The upsides to this are that:

The downside? Unfortunately, for me there are many:

Most importantly, I would feel – and I’m sure many PRs would agree – like this is a very passive approach. When you’re motivated to get the best results for your clients, sitting back and waiting for a response wouldn’t work for me. However, maybe there is scope to use this approach in tandem with more traditional outreach mediums such as phone and email? It makes sense, but the returns on investment still need to be proven.

This post was written by Charlotte.

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