In December 2018, LinkedIn reached over 590 Million registered members worldwide.
In the UK, 58% of the workforce, or 24m people, are on LinkedIn. The USA has 154m, Australia 10m, and there are 35m members in Brazil alone.
- 42% of members access the platform multiple times daily or weekly.
- 74% of B2B buyers use it for purchasing decisions and social proof.
- 79% of B2B marketers view it as the most effective marketing channel.
- And 91% of executives rate the platform as their No. 1 choice for professional content.
- Hubspot reports that LinkedIn is 277% more effective at B2B lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. Source: Hubspot
So it is undeniable that LinkedIn is a ‘must have’ versus a nice to have.
If you are not leveraging the LinkedIn platform in some way, you are definitely missing opportunities in the social selling and digital marketing highway.
LinkedIn has transformed the way professionals network, distribute information, share content, build personal brands, influence and position subject authority, amplify product reach, generate leads and of course recruit staff. Like any transformation (be it a revolution) there are great positive and negative elements along with frustrations and teething issues. That applies also to users/members as they navigate the opportunities. And it can feel like a battle for visibility and traction with the ongoing changes and divergent professional opinions on how to present and succeed on the platform.
2018 has seen more changes and updates than ever before, kicking off with a whole new user and profile interface in January. Rollouts of changes are totally random and disparate. Now let’s be frank, LinkedIn want to maximise revenue and a positive and robust user experience is tied directly into that.
Some key changes in 2018 include updates and additions of:
Native & Sponsored Video, Company Pages, Groups, QR Codes, Find Me & Event Tools, Voice Messaging, Security & Data Protections, Sales Navigator Deals, Marketing Solutions, Analytics, Search Functionalities, Hashtags. Document Loading on Posts (this will be huge).
But the biggest and ongoing challenges and changes occur with the algorithms and distribution of content. The change circa 18-24 months ago from preference weighting of articles to posts has been tricky (as are the elements and links within, which can penalise reach).
Given the explosion of subscribers and the (illogical yet fashionable) notion to invite anyone and everyone into your network, the ‘Notifications’ tool and feed system would have writhed with the surge and the deluge of content and members.
LinkedIns’ manager of data science (content) in San Francisco, Bonnie Barrilleaux, announced an encouraging and partial re-dress of the algorithm to be fairer and less influencer-biased Spreading the Love in the LinkedIn Feed with Creator-Side Optimisation Her video in the link ‘Perverse Incentives in Metrics’ is compelling viewing in understanding how and why much occurs on the platform.
2019 will be bigger and more competitive on LinkedIn and in business in general.
So how can you get the best results from the platform?
The cliché of Know-Like-Trust is a truism that will continue to drive success, but it’s the application that will be the golden nuggets.
Below are my 6 key pillars to begin leveraging success on LinkedIn:
1: Crystal Clarity
Get crystal clear on what your objectives and ideal results are. Are you willing to invest the time and attention to achieve this (or even delegate)? Unpack and define your personal brand equity. How do you want to be perceived? How do you want to integrate your business and personal brand? What do you want to be known for (expert authority)?
Be real, direct and inspiring. Clichés, lazy cut and paste banality does not build trust and inspire brand equity. Be the best version of you and your business – not a different you. Write in the 1st person (3rd person appears ego driven and disconnected). Share the core of what you do, the problems you solve, your backstory and have a great photo and aligned and creative banner image.
Have a dynamic headline with the right keywords, searchable skills and brand value. Don’t try and game the fields as it will damage search, your account and overall user experience. Check in with the LinkedIn User Agreement
Company Page: Ensure you have one set up with a logo to link back to your profile.
3: Connection Strategy
Be clear and focused. Big connection numbers give a false illusion of power and connectivity. It is simply not always true. Do not use 3rd party plug in tools (this is against the LinkedIn User agreement and you risk suspension).
Personalise invitations – make people feel a little special upfront and show relevance. Don’t be lazy. Sales Navigator is a great tool to integrate into your strategy and especially with a larger sales team pipeline focus.
4: Content Strategy
A diverse and thoughtful content mix of video, podcasts, posts, articles and document download (new function in Posts to download brochures, presentations etc – this will be a big game changer). Saturation of content isn’t always effective, neither are many systems to game-share content to elicit greater reach. Don’t just follow what everyone else is doing. Step up and out.
Integrity and quality versus quantity is key. There are some great ways to get higher visibility but you need a hands on and multivariate marketing approach (on and off the platform). Always align content strategy to business objectives, your voice and purpose.
5: Sales Strategy
We are all on LinkedIn to do business, be seen and/or sell something somehow, sometime. The current rhetoric that ‘people don’t want to be sold to” is fear-based, and can freeze outreach and new conversations. It’s a bit like the Goldilocks bed tale – too hard, too soft, and just right. Tone, style, warmth and business relevance matters.
How do you like to be approached, engaged with? Coalesce that with your human values, business purpose and solutions in social selling strategies. And encourage a phone chat with a natural flow of next steps to learn more about each other. It’s the HOW you communicate that matters. Be genuine, do your research and show salient value. You don’t know if either party will be a seller, buyer or referrer to each other. So be open in mind and context.
6: Engagement Strategy
Show genuine interest, build personal brand equity and network reciprocity. Respond, comment, engage politely and respond to messages and all content engagement. Etiquette matters. Be careful of what you write online. Be generous, give recommendations, support others by introducing them to your network, and treat all with respect.
LinkedIn is the No. 1 platform for professionals and businesses to network in the world. There will be more changes in 2019 without doubt. But the fundamentals and pillars for success will not change.
A version of this article by Sue Parker was first published on DARE Groups website