Saying “LinkedIn” brings a mixed response. Is it a social network? A job-search site? Great for professional discussions? Or, as some women have unwittingly found, a place to get hit on for dates?
Clarice Lin chooses to look at the good side. She helps small and medium-sized businesses with their marketing and content marketing strategies through her company, BaselineLabs. While she works in social media generally, she specifically talked with marketer, entrepreneur and speaker Madalyn Sklar about LinkedIn.
Not surprisingly, Lin believes it is important for businesses to include LinkedIn in their social strategy.
“Current objectives of using LinkedIn have stretched far beyond the original purpose of being on LinkedIn,” she said. “It has undergone a huge transformation since 2017.
“LinkedIn is more than a curriculum vitae dumping ground,” Lin said. “It’s become a virtual professional networking platform where businesses generate leads and widen their business network.”
She cited these LinkedIn stats:
- Monthly active users: 260 million. (303 million users as of June 2019)
- LinkedIn makes up more than 50 percent of all social traffic to business-to-business websites and blogs.
“Sixty-one million LinkedIn users are senior-level-influencers, and 40 million are in decision-making positions,” Lin said. “If you own a B2B business or work for a B2B company, it’s the place to network with like-minded individuals and connect with decision makers to generate leads.”
Lin has written an in-depth article on how to maximize business and career opportunities on LinkedIn.
Among the best types of content on LinkedIn, Lin counts how-to posts, storytelling and controversial articles.
“I’ve seen many people who have created content around job hunting and human relations stories revolving around the underdogs,” she said. “They tend to go viral very quickly.”
How-to posts work well, especially if someone gains a piece of new knowledge.
“There are two ways to create ah-ha moments,” Lin said. “Share something new with someone else or tell them something shocking they didn’t know about. Debunk myths.
“Asking-for-help posts can also work well because people on LinkedIn are helpful,” she said. “They tend to want to help where possible.”
In another comprehensive article, Lin details how two of her asking-for-help posts went viral on LinkedIn.
Relevant content on LinkedIn follows the same logic as on other social platforms. Listen to what potential contacts are talking about. Then create content that shows how you can heal their pain points.
“The objective for LinkedIn is to create opportunities, conversations and make yourself visible while establishing your authority,” Lin said.
“Focus on what your audience wants to know about, and align that with your business objectives,” she said. “The key rule of thumb is to create content easy-to-understand and respond to — and experiment. The more you create, the better you get.”
Lin advised entrepreneurs to keep these questions in mind:
- Does this content show my expertise?
- Are you explaining too many things in limited characters?
- How can you create ah-ha moments for your audience?
- What’s the takeaway?
- What’s the call to action from your content?
When they communicate on LinkedIn, business owners can nurture relationships.
“Communication-wise, tap into public channels such as your LinkedIn company page, your personal profile to publish, and share high-quality content and your opinion,” Lin said.
“Nurture by replying to comments on your own content, commenting on other people’s content, and use private messaging to have more in-depth, next-level relationships,” she said. “After private messaging, initiate a video call or even meet face to face. I’ve nurtured many relationships through LinkedIn and have met many people in real life.”
One of Lin’s favorite ways to initiate and nurture relationships is through commenting, which she explains in a video: “The best way to increase your LinkedIn connections.”
Simply posting content on LinkedIn has become insufficient. Business owners must make sure the conversation doesn’t stop after the content is published. This includes promotion on other platforms, especially Twitter.
“Connect with new folks who’ve liked your content or left a comment with a personalized message,” Lin said. “Drop them a message to further the conversation. Make notes on what they are most interested in. You can tag them in your future related posts about the particular topic.
“Note the dates where you last spoke to them,” she said. “Set a regular interval to maintain the relationship.”
In another post, Lin writes about how to can grow your LinkedIn network meaningfully.
On the technical side, she backs having a transcript for video.
“Closed captions on video should always be a consideration,” Lin said. “There are people who want to watch with the sound off, plus others with hearing problems. The added touch will reflect well on you.
“Writing an accompanying text is priority,” she said. “I’ve had feedback that lack of text makes some people skip videos on LinkedIn.”
Rather than just using one tactic, Lin explained that there are advantages of alternating content types.
“The LinkedIn algorithm favors video right now,” she said. “Long articles have the lowest visibility and reach unless you are already very well known.
“However, I still recommend alternating content types,” Lin said. “Some people have more time and prefer videos. Meanwhile, time-strapped professionals prefer to read text. If you have limited time, focus on videos and text posts. With more time on hand, mix up your variety.”
Also remember that people have different ways to absorb information.
“Most people do have a preferred way of learning,” Lin said. “They might like listening to audio, watching videos or reading. When you publish in only a single format, some groups of people will be left out.”
No matter the social media venue, engagement takes time, and time is money. That makes it imperative for business owners to measure their LinkedIn progress to gauge their return on investment.
“First, set your LinkedIn objectives,” Lin said. “What do you want for LinkedIn? Do you want to grow your network? Do you want to grow engagement? Do you want to nurture your relationships?
“Against your business goals, set tangible metrics,” she said. “These include connection requests you receive, connection requests you sent and were accepted, number of inquiries you received, and how many people you contacted by private message, called or met in person.”
Other tangible metrics include tracking the number of likes, views, comments, shares, how many profile views you had and how many people visited your website.
“It’s a rigorous process,” Lin said. “However, if you plan to spend a lot of time on LinkedIn and really want to make sure your efforts see results, tracking becomes important.
“If you can’t measure it properly, then you can’t quantify your progress nor justify your time,” she said.
In an article, Lin explains how she used tangible metrics — views, likes, comments and shares — to measure and extend her success on LinkedIn.
Sklar and Lin continued to exchange ideas about LinkedIn in a Facebook Live conversation.