Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Does your business blog meet these criteria?

My good friend, Mack, writes a great piece in MarketingProfs’ blog on the 10 elements every corporate blog should satisfy. Here’s my take on five of them, culled from my experience managing LinkedIn’s corporate blog.

#1. Actionable goals

Absolutely! Before you start your corporate blog, you want to ask yourself what the top 3 goals for your blog are and what the metrics for measuring its success are. I’ve said this earlier on our SXSW panel with Mack that you want to start off by defining your goals right from the outset and measure its effectiveness at every stage.

#2. A dedicated blog editor

IMO, a key goal of a corporate blog is to get the creators of a product or service face to face with its users, having a genuine conversation. In LinkedIn’s case that has meant conversations initiated by over 50 of my colleagues within the organization. And, I’m the sole blog editor who coordinates and makes these conversations/blog posts happen in addition to my other responsibilities. So, I think even having one employee  manage the schedule of your blog posts would work – no matter how large the organization.

#3. Schedule

Absolutely. The biggest challenge in any corporate blog is continual content creation. At LinkedIn, we’ve currently ramped up to almost 6 posts a week – from around 3 a week when we started. Have a schedule and stick to it. This again, would fall under the responsibility of the blog editor.

#4. Comment Policy

Most corporate blogs have one and it’s pretty much standard fare. I’d recommend that all corporate blogs moderate comments because you don’t want spam or profanity on your blog. Here’s the comment policy on the LinkedIn blog.

We love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind the basics of blog etiquette — no spam, no profanity, no slander, etc. All comments are moderated.

#5. The human element – social media

Associating a face to a post is IMO an important element of corporate blogs. We link each post to it’s authors’ LinkedIn profile with the profile picture from their public LinkedIn profile, which provides context to the blog posts.

Also, try to include as much social media as possible – pictures on Flickr and videos on YouTube are pretty easy to have. We currently have nearly 70 videos on YouTube detailing every major product release and many of these videos can also be found on the LinkedIn Learning Center.

Check out the other 5 elements in Mack’s post here. And, if you’ve a question on starting or managing a corporate blog, leave a comment.

Filed under: Business Blogging

Parlez Vous LinkedIn en Français?

Do you speak LinkedIn in French? Not bad, it was just time to dust off my French that I learned during high-school to write a title for today’s blog post. Of course, it had to do with us, at LinkedIn, launching the French version of our site. The Spanish version is already live on our site and both versions can be easily accessed from the top right hand of our site header.

Making the LinkedIn en Français video demo

This time, Rob and I, wanted to create a video uniquely distinct from the recent app videos we created, the user videos but also different from the Spanish welcome video we created. We featured Sunil, product manager behind the international launch as well as Reid, our co-founder.

Of course, the central person in the video had to be Jean-Luc, another co-founder and probably the only person in the video who speaks French, the way it’s meant to be spoken. Enjoy!

Filed under: LinkedIn Features

2 BIG Reasons to use LinkedIn’s New Search

So, I’ve been using LinkedIn’s new search functionality for a few weeks and I love it. Today, my colleague, Esteban blogged about it (includes a video demo as well). But, if I were to capture two simple reasons I love the new search, it’d be (a) customization and (b) saved searches. Read on.

1. Customization

Allows you to customize your people search results by 11 fields ranging from “In Common” connections to “Groups” and “Recommendations”.

Customization for LinkedIn's New Search

Customization for LinkedIn's New Search

2. Saved searches

Now you can save specific people searches and be notified when there are updates via email (either on a weekly or monthly basis). Love it!

LinkedIn's new Saved Search functionality

LinkedIn's new Persistent Search


Want to check out the entire suite of functionality. Watch Esteban’s demo.

Filed under: LinkedIn Features

What can Google’s SearchWiki do for you?

Marshall Kirkpatrick (Read/Write Web) and Robin Wauters (TechCrunch) express their dismay, fear and admiration for Google’s boldness in releasing their new personalized voting and commenting feature:

Marshall writes of Google SearchWiki:

It’s a big deal, it’s awkward, it’s frightening, it’s brave, it’s already both loved and hated.

Robin Wauters (TechCrunch) says:

Whether you like SearchWiki, the new voting and commenting feature for search results Google introduced last week, or not, it was undeniably a bold move for the company to turn on the feature for everyone with a Google account at once instead of gradually releasing it.

The Genesis

The Google Preferences feature, reminds me of Facebook’s initial attempt at receiving user feedback for their feed items to help provide you more targeted results. (Facebook’s product blog post)

News Feed will use this feedback to further tailor stories for you and to identify the types of stories and applications you might like to see in the future.

Facebook feeds digg like functionality

Facebook feed's now defunct digg like functionality

The digg like thumbs-up-down functionality on Facebook has now morphed into the following:

Facebook feed preferences

Facebook feed preferences

Google’s attempt provides every Google account holder a way to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results. (Google’s product blog post)

Starting today you can do all this and tailor Google search results to best meet your needs.

Google SearchWiki for "Mario Sundar"

Google SearchWiki's digg like functionality

For Google it’s also a great way to provide you more targeted results and hopefully a more personalized experience within your Google account. What’s also interesting is the ability for you and other users to comment, submit other URLs for the search item you’re looking for. Hopefully, this will also enhance the accuracy of search results for everyone.

Google SearchWiki - Adding URLs

Google SearchWiki - Adding URLs

Share your thoughts on Google’s search wiki

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Look who’s on LinkedIn now?!

No surprises here, but a recently conducted study of our users and demographics yielded fascinating insight into the four major groups of the 31 million users who populate LinkedIn today. Curious? Check out Ad Age’s post on this topic but if you just want a Cliff’s note version of it, read on.

Tom Anderson from Anderson Analytics who conducted the study says:

“I recently had a client who only wanted Fortune 500 company VP-level executives in human resources. I’m not sure where else you can get access to that,” said Tom Anderson, managing partner, Anderson Analytics.

As someone who’s closely involved in speaking to users and filming many of their Aha moments on LinkedIn, I can vouch for that. Take a look at some of our users and their stories here [2 minute video clips].

LinkedIn Users and their Aha moments

But, I digress… here’s the breakdown of LinkedIn users (as of today). Which category do you belong to?

LinkedIn Users - Anderson Analytics Survey

LinkedIn Users - Anderson Analytics Survey

Here are the four major user groups on LinkedIn:

1. Savvy Networkers (30%) – D’uh moment here, but these are the folks whom the Tipping Point describes as “Influencers”. On average they have around 61 connections.

2. Senior Executives (28%) – No surprise again or was it? Higher income, higher purchasing power and happily employed. These are the folks you want to up-connect with.

3. Late Adopters (22%) – These folks are there for their friends, peers and colleagues and don’t want to be left out of the party. But as I interview many of these successful users, I realize how many from this category experience their own Aha moment. For e.g. read how this exec stumbled upon an old client and a $1M deal!

4. Exploring Options (20%) – These users are (maybe) looking to advance their career. I look at them as the stage right before they become savvy networkers.

I believe all professionals are in one of the following categories. You may start off as a late adopter, but then for one reason or the other you decide to explore your options. It could be the economy or a bad boss or it could just be that you’re ambitious. Slowly but surely, you see yourself move into the savvy networker category and as you raise your profile and go through your career, you end up as a senior executive.

So, which stage of your career are you in?

Filed under: Linkedin

What is Corporate Blogging?

CIO: Insight had a recent interview with Scoble where he talks about corporate blogging. Thought you’d find his take on corporate blogging interesting:

Here’s how Wikipedia defines corporate blogging (and I agree).

A corporate weblog is published and used by an organization to reach its organizational goals. An external blog is a publicly available weblog where company employees, teams, or spokespersons share their views. It also allows a window to the company culture and is often treated more informally than traditional press releases.

I think the key goal for a corporate blog as stated above is “to reach a company’s organizational goals”. I’ve always looked at corporate blogs as a window into a company, a window that allows back-and-forth conversation between a company/those who create its products and its users. As Hugh Macleod, beautifully describes it – it could be that Porous Membrane that facilitates “the conversation”.

But in the poetry of such a “conversation”, should be embedded the nitty gritty of a company’s organizational goals.

How do you define a corporate blog?

Check out my other posts on corporate blogging.

Filed under: Business Blogging

Control your online brand in 2 simple steps

One of the biggest benefits of having your profile on a professional networking site like LinkedIn is that it allows you to control your professional brand. Did you know that how much of your profile shows up on search results is determined by your public profile settings on LinkedIn. All you’ve to do is two things:

1. Create a vanity URL:

LinkedIn Vanity URL

LinkedIn Vanity URL

2. Decide how much of your profile you’d like to be indexed:

LinkedIn Public Profile Settings

LinkedIn Public Profile Settings

Edit your LinkedIn public profile and take control of your brand

Filed under: Miscellaneous

RTM is the best task manager ever. Period.

The secret to Remember the Milk (RTM)’s extreme effectiveness as a task manager is its ability to be wherever you are on the web. Gmail. Check. Firefox. Check. iPhone. Check. All three places I absolutely need a task manager on. Most recently, RTM released their native iPhone app and they just nailed it!

Lifehacker does a comparison of five online task managers, but my $0.02 based on my experience using RTM is that it is incomparable. Here are some features of their newly released iPhone app:

  • Pricing: Free to download, but access requires $25/year Pro account (which also grants access to Windows Mobile/Blackberry app).
  • Task options: Multiple lists, priorities, due dates, tags, repeating tasks, time estimates, location, URL, and notes.
  • Organization: Today/Tomorrow/This Week lists, a multi-list view, and sorting by tags or location.
  • Other features:Can use location awareness to find tasks closest to you; search function; home screen icon updates with tasks due today.
  • Web syncing?: Yes.

But truly, the killer feature of RTM’s native iPhone app is that it allows you to update your lists even when you’re not on Wi-fi and it’d be synced up once connected to the web. Priceless!

iPhones native Remember the Milk App

iPhone's native Remember the Milk App

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Friendfeed’s IM & Twitter Broadcast works great

Twitter and Friendfeed may be a waste of time if not used in a disciplined manner. But one thing’s for sure, Friendfeed is giving users a slew of reasons to try it out. They have been relentless in their ability to churn out feature after feature that’s user focused.

Today, they launched the ability to channel your Friendfeed updates via IM.

Friendfeed on IM

Friendfeed on IM

It initially seemed like an interesting idea to me, but very soon I was overwhelmed with the updates and turned it off 🙂 However, I’m sure there are others who have a “Need for Feeds”. I also realize that this may be put to better use if you prune your list of friends on Frienfeed and choose to receive updates only from them.

The other feature on Friendfeed I’ve begun using is the ability to broadcast specific updates to Twitter. I know. Pretty cool, eh? In addition to broadcasting what you do on Friendfeed, they also allow you to funnel other status updates from a slew of services like (Pandora, upcoming, YouTube, etc…) to Twitter.

I love the ability to select which of these features you can auto-tweet about on a regular basis. Nifty.

Twitter updates via Friendfeed

Twitter updates via Friendfeed

If you’re on friendfeed, update your settings here.

Follow me on Twitter

Filed under: Twitter

Professional networking just got easier – LinkedIn Events

I’m sure all of you reading this blog know that one of the key features of professional networking is “networking”. D’uh! You know? Attending events/conferences/tradeshows, etc… to make the right connections. Connections you then manage on a site like LinkedIn. So, the first part is finding the right events to network at and the second part is managing the connections thus accumulated.

Starting today, LinkedIn is gonna make the first part of that equation – super easy to do, with our Events feature. Check out the five reasons I think LinkedIn Events is game changing (after the jump). Before that, watch my colleague Christina Wodtke demo the feature:

Five reasons LinkedIn Events is game changing:

1. It’s on LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional networking site

Alright, I work there, but allow me to marvel at the vast network of professionals who can be found there, currently at over 30 million. So, in essence it’s the perfect demographic of networkers out there. I have over 500 connections and this would allow me to map events I attend with my connections’ events as well.

2. It’s about degrees of separation

Never before has it been easier to find out which of your colleagues and peers are attending events you’d like to go to. Or on the flipside, figure out which events to attend based on your peers’ recommendations.

3. It’s about network updates

The easiest way to stumble upon the wisdom of your network (from an event perspective) is to log into your homepage and see event updates from your colleagues/business partners, click through them and decide whether you’d like to attend them or not.

4. It augments your professional brand

Better still, when one clicks on your full profile, they can view the most recent events you’re (1) attending, (2) exhibiting, or (3) presenting at.

5. It’s got thousands of events – on day 1

Not only can any LinkedIn user add events, share and invite their colleagues and peers, but on day 1, we start of with over 8000 events brought together via event organizers such as TechWeb, HSM, etc… as well as event coordinators such as Eventbrite.

What did other bloggers think about it?

We like LinkedIn a lot here at ReadWriteWeb and we think Events is a great addition to the service. The events feature appears to be built on the OpenSocial platform, so there’s a good chance that these features will be available in other settings beyond LinkedIn in the future.

Smartly, LinkedIn Events pulls information from sites like Eventbrite and then builds features around it as opposed to re-creating the wheel by asking users to build a new event database from scratch.

Given that LinkedIn is all about business networking and collaboration, this is obviously a useful feature to aid schmoozing. It is another example of the company trying to become more of a destination site for people, not just a place they log in occasionally to make connections.

LinkedIn just announced a new event application. So it’s like for businesses. I dig it. And then, I wonder what else we’re going to do here.

What do YOU think of LinkedIn Events? Try it here.

Filed under: LinkedIn Features