LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for lead generation and increasing your brand awareness with your target market. Especially if you are B2B.
The potential on LinkedIn is huge…
This week’s article explores LinkedIn, and my learnings from the platform over the past ten years. I post a piece of content on LinkedIn most days, and my content averages over 50,000 views a month. I have over a hundred people a day check out my LinkedIn profile.
Over two articles, I discuss strategies that you can use to increase the value you gain out of using LinkedIn, such as more views and comments, more people viewing your profile, more people visiting your website. I’ve done this consistently for about four years now.
Part one will focus on improving your LinkedIn profile to be more captive to your target audience. You want to encourage them to read on and find out more about you.
A brief history of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a business-focused social media website and mobile app that launched in 2003. The platform had a reputation of being your “Online CV” and for job seekers, but that has changed over the past few years. LinkedIn has seen consistent growth, and after reaching 10 million users in 2007, now has just under 700 million users in over 200 countries. That number has grown 100 million in the past two years. There must be something to it, right?
Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016 and since then, the platform transformed into more of a Facebook-like platform. The algorithm moved away from pushing the content of high-profile users such as Bill Gates to millions of users, tweaking it to ensure people instead see content from people more relevant to them.
When I first started using LinkedIn around ten years ago, it was vastly different. Long-form content dominated the platform, along with groups. Fast forward to 2020, and long-form articles and groups are far less relevant. Articles no longer get much attention in the feed, and Spam killed the groups, so LinkedIn pushed them to the background.
Short-form written content (1200 characters maximum) and videos now dominate the platform. The introduction of native video on the platform was not until mid-2017. This was a game-changer for the new LinkedIn “influencer”. Before this, people had to post a link to an external video on YouTube.
The interface of the platform is now remarkably like Facebook. It even looks like Facebook. My 15-year-old son thought that LinkedIn was Facebook when I showed him a video a couple of months ago. When LinkedIn morphed into a “Facebook for professional people”, its popularity really took off.
History of LinkedIn. Source: officetimeline.com
The benefits of using LinkedIn for professionals
There are several benefits of using LinkedIn for business people and businesses alike. As well as the obvious benefits for job seekers and recruiters, it is a powerful tool to build professional relationships, grow your personal brand, as a content marketing medium and for lead generation.
Eighty percent of leads sourced for B2B marketing now come from LinkedIn, which should speak volumes for the value in the platform.
51% of Americans with a college education now use LinkedIn (Pew Research) and 44% of people between the age of 25 and 29. This is part of the reason for LinkedIn’s growth. Users are well-educated and eager to use the platform to further their careers, motivated to engage in constructive conversations on the platform.
Half of LinkedIn’s users are on mobile and the other on PC, and there is a similar proportion of people using for work or personal use. This feels about right based on my experience on the platform. People in my network I chat with have commented in the past that they only use it for personal use. They’re not using it for lead generation – they just prefer it to Facebook. For context, over 95% of people use Facebook on mobile.
One of the huge advantages of LinkedIn is the reach potential, even if you have a little following. LinkedIn has higher organic (non-paid) reach than any other social media platform currently (apart from maybe TikTok, if you are into miming and dancing), meaning it is easier to have an audience without needing to spend money on advertising. It is perfect to grow your professional personal brand as well as generating leads for potential customers.
According to LinkedIn, over 90% of B2B marketers are using the platform now as a source of lead generation. If you are part of the 10 percent, why? If you are a business owner, consultant, salesperson, entrepreneur, politician, in media… The list goes on. So, why would you not be on LinkedIn?
My Background on LinkedIn
When I first started sharing content on LinkedIn around five years ago, I had not done any research and at the time and I do not think there was much information out there about how to best use LinkedIn to its potential.
I had learnt a lot about Relationship Marketing during my master’s degree in Marketing, which was the foundation of my strategy. I did not know the nuances of the platform and this is a period where the platform was drastically changing how it worked anyway. I joined LinkedIn in 2009 but had not used LinkedIn as ‘social media’. Much like everybody else, it was my online CV. Being a student at the time, I had spent a bit of time getting endorsements for my relevant skills and a few recommendations, but this was about it.
Around this time, Facebook had become quite saturated with local real estate agents and a reduction of organic reach on the platform. I saw the potential in LinkedIn as it was evolving, so started focusing my energy there.
My strategy was around connecting with local people and having conversations, also posting content about my local city in terms of real estate and any news around growth and new infrastructure. There was not a lot of people posting value valuable content and starting conversations. A lot of people were posting more sales-based content that people tend to scroll on past. So, what I was doing stood out.
I had quickly realised the potential of the platform when my posts often started to get more than 10,000 views regularly. Without having to pay for any advertising. The posts most popular were about positive things happening in my city. I quickly learnt this was a style of content and a tone that did well on the platform. I do not consider myself an “influencer”, my intention was not to influence anybody but grow awareness of my personal brand through content marketing. I still have posts that do quite well organically, with strategies I will talk about in this article.
For example, this post from a week ago has had over 12,000 views and growing, and 170 likes. This piece of content took me about 30 minutes to create.
Linkedin post analytics – great organic reach achievable by anybody
When I was first recognised at a local café as “The LinkedIn Guy”, that is when it really sunk in. I had thought as LinkedIn as some anonymous virtual world, but this is when I realised the power of harvesting these relationships offline. In March 2018, I had my first LinkedIn Local Hamilton event, intending to meet more of these people in real life.
Fast forward to today, and I have several friends I met through the platform. I have built a lot of trust in my personal brand, and as a result, I get work from it. This was always the goal.
I wanted to teach other people what I have learnt from the platform, so they can better harness the potential.
Your LinkedIn profile is one of the foundations of your personal brand. If you are using the platform and want people to find you, employ you, hire you, or listen to you, then you need a complete LinkedIn profile. The amount of people using the platform who look like they made their profile in five minutes astounds me.
Try and complete every single aspect of your profile. I will cover the general aspects of your LinkedIn profile. But there is a lot you can do these days, you can even customise your profile URL, for example, here is mine: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-hopper-branding-marketing/
Your profile picture and background image
Your profile picture is the first thing people notice about you. Is your picture professional? Or something cropped out of a picture from a work function? Is it 15 years old, or low quality? Is it a shot from far back where nobody can see your face? None of these later options is good enough. Get a proper headshot done, showing you from your shoulders up. People want to be able to see your face. See your smile. I am not saying you need to spend hundreds of dollars of professional photography– most smartphones will do a decent job. You could get your partner to take a photo at home against a neutral backdrop.
You can use a website called Photofeeler to test peoples’ impression of your profile picture. Upload a photo and users will vote on it. If your result is below a 6 or 7, then you should probably use something else.
Photofeeler – profile picture rating
Your background image/banner is also important. If people click on your profile to find out more about you, it is the first thing you are likely to notice. Many people do not bother and leave this blank. I suggest getting a customised banner that stands out and has a call to action and/or that summarises how you provide value.
Define your USP
What is your unique selling proposition? How do you provide value to people or businesses? What makes you interesting or memorable? Use your headline to illustrate this. Do not make it something boring like “business owner”; or another common one is “Seeking opportunities” … This will not excite many people or encourage them to view your profile, connect or engage.
If you are looking for a job and MUST put that in your headline, use “marketing professional with 20 plus years of experience seeking a role…” instead of just “seeking a new role”. Sell what you do and how you are unique. Your headline is the first and the most obvious place to do this.
Tell your story
If people click on your profile, they are probably either interested in what you do or want to know more about you. So, tell them! Again, many people do not put much effort into their summary. TELL YOUR STORY! Explain what you do, any skills you have, and what makes you interesting. Share a little about yourself. People like to connect with stories – these are what makes us human.
Try to stay away from buzzwords and trying too hard. You do not want to seem generic, so do not use generic teams. Career-focused sales professional experienced in strategic governance and passionate about innovative… bla bla bla. Focus on demonstrating how you are unique, how you provide value and why you would be interesting to have as a connection. Be engaging. Just like your content should be.
Make sure you have skills and endorsements on your profile
Endorsements and recommendations give you substance. They help build your credibility with people who do not know you. Adding skills to your profile can help people find you, and people can also endorse you for having those skills. Make sure you do this. If you do not have any endorsements yet, ask work colleagues or friends to endorse you for skills relevant to your career.
You can also take skills assessments and get recommendations from connections to increase your credibility. I suggest you also do this. Skill tests is a new feature with short, multiple-choice tests that users can take to verify their knowledge and work-related skills on a particular topic.
Thanks for reading.
I hope you’re rushing out to update your LinkedIn profile!
Part two will focus on activities that will help you grow your professional network and increase the reach of your content on LinkedIn for more professional opportunities; whether it’s a new job, increasing the profile of your company or lead generation.