There are literally thousands of Linkedin experts today, with claims to fame like “self-taught”, “abusive childhood to millionaires” and “bankruptcy to millionaires”. Quoting Twain, “That don’t impress me much”. No, I don’t mean Mark Twain, I mean Shania Twain. You see, I took the engineering route to marketing, it takes real data to impress us engineers.
And these experts will tell you to get more view-backs just write more engaging posts and videos. It is like saying if you want more firewood, just collect more. I prefer making chainsaws and pulleys and levers to pull down massive trees for firewood 🙂
So today I will share with you some humble experiments and their results.
A bit of background, these experiments were done over the last few months but the story started about 3 years back.
Our story starts at a photoshoot for one of our optical clients, Moodvision. I noticed that the red glasses looked great on one of the dark-skinned models. I figured, what the heck, with my dark skin I should try these red glasses with progressive lenses instead of my regular black frames from yet another one of our clients Jonathan Paul Eyewear. Yes, we do our best to consume our clients’ services and products whenever possible.
And I went to a few meetups with Red Glasses, they were well-liked. And when I did not have them on, people asked me, “where are your red glasses?” And just like that my personal brand with Red Glasses was born.
Of course, at the next shoot for my headshots, I sported my red glasses. And our designers decided to take most of the color away from my headshot to make the Red Glasses pop in my profile pics. We were so happy and proud of our artistic creation and our marketing prowess! I know, I know, our tagline is Experience the Science of Marketing but at times even we fall in love with our own creation. We should have tested this the same way we do every new idea or campaign. And when we did do our tests: Boy! We were in for a surprise.
Since this story is more about LinkedIn profile views rather than my Red Glasses, let’s talk about LinkedIn, and we will circle back to glasses later. We help our select clients get the most of their LinkedIn prospecting. Since it is high touch engagement, with no automation, we are very selective and take on only a few clients at a time. In spite of selectivity, over the last few years, we have managed 181 profiles (including a few of our internal ones). Working with so many profiles we noticed a few interesting trends in the view-backs our clients were getting.
Some stats, like women getting more view-backs than men, were intuitive so there was nothing new in that. Good headlines getting better view-backs is a well-known stat and probably is the biggest lever. So of course, we test and test to get that perfect headline. A clean headshot is important and is widely understood as well, but what we did not know is how much difference some subtle and not-so-subtle changes in profile picture could make.
What was odd was that very similar clients in similar spaces were getting drastically different view-backs. At times a difference of over 300%. So we instituted a study to test headshots. To protect the innocent, I will illustrate all stats with my own headshots.
Experiment #1: Artistic Vs Natural Colors (Basically going back to the original headshot from which the color was removed).
Wow, 30% increase in the composite score, so much for being artsy!
Experiment #2: Let’s dress up a bit while still staying casual and open up that smile!
As you can see this got me a 15% increase in my total score. And the shirt on the left also got some comments about outdated fashion, admittedly it is about 14 years old, it was one my favorite shirts made and bought in China 🙁 My college sophomore son thinks it is cool and took it last week.
Experiment #3: Fix that shirt to be a bit more formal. Basically I am going from an Old Navy budget shirt to a Costco Budget shirt 🙂
So light blue does make you more competent and influential, but a bit less likable. Hmm!
Experiment #4: Remember those Red glasses? A great conversation piece in person, but how are they perceived by strangers who are just seeing me on their computer or phone screen? Our graphic designer came through with my request for black-framed glasses.
Once again, Wow! My score went up by 15%. Black framed glasses make me look more competent, more likable, and more influential!
This is a big wow for me, maybe my adopted Red is a mistake after all. I could go back to my Jeff Goldbloom black frames, that is an easy fix. But what about my car? Anybody in the market for Red Tesla with white leather interior with performance package and all 🙁
Finally, from the first picture to last:
Overall score increase: 77% (Competent: 90%, Likeable: 67%, Influential: 78%)
Pretty impressive in spite of 26lb weight gain. But that is a story for another time. (Care to discuss the science of losing weight, anyone?).
So the million-dollar question is what is the increase in view-backs on profile, as a result of this headshot optimization?
The view-back increase was in the range of 58%-321%, on dozens of profiles we ran. This translates to literally thousands of additional views per month.
Note: There were dozens of other experiments, I have chosen just a few intermediate data points to keep this brief. The Linkedin world is raw and non-PC, I decided to not share those experiments here.
Here are a few other big things which increase the view-back rate without a doubt:
- Open genuine smile with teeth showing
- Nondescript background
- Looking straight in the camera
- Your picture should be a recognizable face.
And yes, toss those red glasses 🙂
DISCLAIMER: No graphic designers were physically hurt during these experiments, no comments about their egos.