LinkedIn Empowers Employees to Power Branding
LinkedIn has evolved from an online resume to a content platform used by more than 270 million people. LinkedIn is the undisputed choice for social networking among business professionals contributing to blurred lines between the employee and the corporate brand. In my podcast interview with Jason Miller, Senior Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn and author of The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn we discuss these and other ways for individuals and brands to power up with LinkedIn.
Optimize Your Profile
What makes LinkedIn so powerful is that both individuals and companies have a unique destiny. As individuals, it’s our profile. For companies, it’s the company page. As individual members, optimizing your profile is the place to start. Be sure to have a recent headshot photo, preferably smiling. Use keywords in your headline that represent your professional specialty. Complete the summary in an easy to read manner. Be sure to include your achievements. There are many other ways to optimize your profile. Be sure to have these basics covered before going much further with your LinkedIn activities.
Prioritize Your News Feed
Schedule 10 minutes per day (at least) to review your news feed to keep up with your network. It’s a great way to find articles that others in your network have shared. It’s also a great way to find other people to add to your network. Don’t overlook the opportunity to engage with people in your news feed by liking or commenting on their status updates. One simple way to engage is by sharing other people’s status updates. Another way to engage with people in your news feed is to add comments to other people’s status updates, or congratulate people on job changes. You can also tag other people in your network by typing their name in a comment. LinkedIn recognizes the name and will notify the person of your mention. If you have not been in the habit of engaging in your news feed, this tip alone will begin to show you the power of LinkedIn by transforming yourself from a passive user to an active user of LinkedIn. Try this early in the morning before 8am. No matter your time zone, you might be surprised by how many people are active on LinkedIn before 8am.
Daily Status Updates
I’ve observed that many LinkedIn users don’t create status updates. If you actively follow your network in your news feed, you’ll probably get inspired to create your own status updates. The status update field is at the top of your Home screen, or in the top right on the mobile version of LinkedIn. The easiest way to power up with status updates is to share links to articles that are relevant to your professional interests. Be sure to make a comment to demonstrate your individual thoughts about the article.
LinkedIn is available for mobile users on smartphones and tablet devices. The mobile experience is nearly identical to the desktop experience. You can do just about everything you do on LinkedIn desktop on the mobile versions. The mobile version is frequently updated too, so the experience just keeps getting better. One of my favorite ways to use the mobile version is to skim my news feed and engage with other people’s status updates. I use LinkedIn mobile 7 days a week while moving about including while I’m standing in line at Starbucks.
Engage With Influencers
The LinkedIn Professional Publishing Platform has been available only to an exclusive list of approximately 500 business influencers who publish unique content there. You can subscribe to their content. For example, you can subscribe to read articles written by people like Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Jack Welch, Richard Branson, Guy Kawasaki, Joe Pulizzi, Jeff Weiner, Tom Peters….It’s tempting to list all 500 influencers but I won’t. You get the idea. Once you read an article from any of these influencers, you can leave a comment. Influencer posts average more than 80 comments each. You can gain valuable insights and expand your own network by engaging with people who engage with these influencers.
Embrace Employee and Corporate Brand Convergence
LinkedIn is so much more than an online resume. It has become a content marketing platform. In fact it is the definitive publishing platform for professionals. On some social networks you spend time. Whereas on LinkedIn, you invest time, (via Jason Miller). Your activity on LinkedIn reflects on you individually and on your employer or your business. The results professionals produce for their employer / business speak for themselves. In 2013 65% of B2B marketers and 51% of B2C marketers respectively acquired a customer through LinkedIn. Source, page 6 of The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.
Curate Content with Pulse
Pulse is a news aggregator application which was acquired by LinkedIn. Pulse aggregates content as a real time news feed of articles that matter to you by topic, by media outlet or by influencers you follow. Pulse is available on LinkedIn desktop as well as mobile. Pulse is also a dedicated mobile app. You can customize the content you want to see. As you consume content, you can share it on LinkedIn and Twitter through a status update. Pulse and LinkedIn are both on my mobile phone’s home screen. In fact, Pulse is one of the top 3 most used apps on my mobile phone.
Find Your Voice
People see your activity on LinkedIn and form impressions of you by what you share, what you say, where you say it and how you say it. Think about how you want people to think of you as a professional. LinkedIn is not the social networking platform to share your cat or dog pictures. Be authentic, and consider the brand you are building for yourself. Be consistent with your brand.
Power to the Company Page
If you are a Company Page administrator treat it like you treat your website. Even though you are on rented digital land, your company page is a valuable asset. Use the resources provided to display images in the headers, product listings, YouTube video and even Showcase pages to display specific offerings that address unique customer segments. Your company page is your content hub on LinkedIn. Keep your company followers informed of your activities in the industry and about your products in their news feed. If you are not a page administrator, follow company pages that interest you, including your competitors. Share content from companies that are relevant to you.
Sponsor Company Status Updates
Sponsored updates on company pages are one of the best ways to reach your target audience. LinkedIn provides many options for targeting including by geography, industry, title, seniority and more. Another targeting option is by company. Identify companies you want to get in front of and select them as your target audience in your sponsored updates. According to Jason Miller of LinkedIn, there are three common use cases for sponsored updates: 1) lead generation, 2) brand awareness, 3) event registration. Pay to promote your own good content from your company page so it reaches the audience you want to reach.
Slideshare is a visual content platform for PowerPoint, infographics and PDFs. While it’s a standalone app, it’s also a LinkedIn property by acquisition. Naturally, you can integrate Slideshare content into your LinkedIn profile. You can also sponsor Slideshare content and target your audience using similar targeting criteria as sponsored company updates. Common uses cases for Slideshare include building thought leadership and lead generation. One of my most successful Slideshare presentations has more than 7,000 views.
Become a Groupee
LinkedIn provides anyone the ability to create a group. If you create a group, be sure to be committed to it. Successful groups call for daily monitoring to ensure the community you build gets value from your group. A strong group has people who help each other. Of course, you don’t have to create a group. You can join up to 50 groups. Most of us don’t have time to participate in 50 groups. Select the groups that are time well spent for you and become a valuable member of those groups.
A pet peeve of mine is getting an invitation to connect to someone I’ve never met before without them personalizing the invitation. My rule on this is simple. I don’t accept invitations to connect from someone I don’t know unless they at least use my name in the invitation. LinkedIn provides the ability to customize the invitation. Don’t be lazy. Personalize the invitation 100% of the time.
Become an Inbound Marketer
If you’re serious about using LinkedIn to grow your business, whatever that means to you, you are an inbound marketer. Buzzword aside, the fundamental goal of using LinkedIn is for opportunities to come to you in some way. An inbound marketer creates value and interest through content and engagement to attract opportunities. This is the purest form of inbound marketing.
Pay it Forward
Last but not least, understand that the best results on LinkedIn don’t come from being aggressive. I’ve observed too many people who treat LinkedIn like a singles bar, hitting on people who represent prospects. That approach won’t go far. You might even get reported as a spammer. Rather, be helpful, thoughtful and a resource to people in your network. When sharing content, use the 4-1-1 rule. Share 4 pieces of content you curate from sources like Pulse. Share 1 piece of content from someone in your network giving them credit for the original content. Share 1 piece of content that you produced. When sharing your content, comment on the article in a useful manner.
If you’ve read this far, you are surely serious about LinkedIn. I welcome your comments below.