With most of the online buzz focusing on the more visual aspects of social media it can be easy to ignore LinkedIn. On the surface, it lacks the pizazz of YouTube or the in-your-face imagery of Instagram. But it is a significant social network that brands and marketers avoid at their peril.
As we approach 2018, people are only now discovering LinkedIn’s potential for networking and building a personal brand. Indeed, LinkedIn is showing it is a stayer in a world where social networks come and go, and we believe that it will be a dominant force in 2018. It is becoming a stand-out place for both influencer marketing and online advertising.
LinkedIn has struggled to win acceptance as a legitimate influencer marketing channel as many people consider LinkedIn to be a place where you upload your resume to show potential employers. It has taken a while for people to realize that LinkedIn is a real social network- with all the networking (in a social sense) as any of the other channels.
Summary: Quick Jump Menu
LinkedIn’s Growing Market Solutions
LinkedIn has expanded its advertising options in recent years. It gave the LinkedIn Market Solutions a facelift this year and has gradually added to its offerings. This may be connected to its purchase by Microsoft in late 2016. Microsoft will want LinkedIn to earn as much revenue as possible.
Marketers can now play with products including Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail, Text Ads, Dynamic Ads, and Programmable Display Ads.
There are also a whole array of features. These include:
- Conversion tracking
- Contact targeting
- Lead generation
- Lead gen forms
- Website demographics
- Website retargeting
- Account-based management
- Audience network
One useful tool is the LinkedIn Insight Tag which is a small piece of code you can add to your website to track visitors that have been directed there by your campaigns. This is a particularly useful metric for establishing results from your influencer campaigns.
Prominent Influencers Use Their LinkedIn Accounts Well
Many notable, influential people use their LinkedIn accounts well. All right, many of them would not advertise themselves as LinkedIn influencers and gained their fame elsewhere, but they are also successful on LinkedIn.
You will find virtually all the prominent bloggers and subject experts operate a LinkedIn account. The vast majority of them will make sure they share their posts via their LinkedIn followers. If they mention brands, they usually tag them. Even if no money changes hands, and the brand mention is organic, it is still a case of influencer marketing in action.
Of course, some influencers act more deliberately. They make a determined choice to use LinkedIn as one of their channels of influence and quite consciously share material to promote a brand.
LinkedIn is Ideal for influencers
One of the ironies of people struggling to recognize LinkedIn as a social network is that it is well set up for influencer marketing. Even the language it uses implies giving value and worth to influencers. It encourages you to endorse your connections’ skills. It suggests you get recommendations from colleagues. LinkedIn permits Sponsored Content. Moreover, what does it call the genuinely influential people? It calls them LinkedIn influencers and gives them a unique badge. If ever there was a channel built for influencer marketing, LinkedIn is it.
All right, it is not easy to become an official LinkedIn influencer. To quote the Linkedin helpdesk, “LinkedIn Influencers are selected by invitation only and comprise a global collective of 500+ of the world's foremost thinkers, leaders, and innovators. As leaders in their industries and geographies, they discuss newsy and trending topics such as the future of higher education, the workplace culture at Amazon, the plunge in oil prices, and the missteps of policymakers.”
Yet, just because you cannot rub shoulders with the likes of Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Ariana Huffington does not mean that you cannot act as a micro- influencer on LinkedIn. There are many topic-based exerts on LinkedIn who will never own that coveted LinkedIn Influencer badge.
LinkedIn (Micro)-Influencers Publish Regularly on LinkedIn
LinkedIn established Pulse a couple of years ago to give a forum for influencers to write and publicise blog posts directly on the network. All right, technically anybody can write an article and publish it on Pulse, but it is only the best writing by LinkedIn’s most influential members that make it to the top.
It is important to remember who the LinkedIn audience is. You are hardly going to succeed by producing an item that you would typically share on Snapchat, for instance. LinkedIn has been described as “the working world in one place,” and you have to write a Pulse post with that in mind for it to be successful.
There is little point using a LinkedIn influencer to share (and possibly write) a Pulse article if your target market is not going to use LinkedIn. It is ideal for B2B marketing; less so for selling children's toys.
The more long-form posts that an author publishes on LinkedIn Pulse, the better, the results will be. This is another reason to work with an influencer who is used to the LinkedIn market. They will have built up a library of posts. If you start writing in the hope of distributing your product yourself, you will suffer from being an unknown, and the reach of your article will suffer accordingly.
Because many people read LinkedIn at work, they prefer specific, detailed LinkedIn posts over general posts.
What Can You Do To Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn?
Perfect Your Profile
Your LinkedIn profile is your online snapshot. It is usually the first place that anybody sees you on LinkedIn. Your profile is what sells you to anybody who takes the time to look. The critical factor in determining whether somebody wants to connect with you is the quality of your profile.
If you hope to gain the status of being called an influencer, you need to look like you are capable of influencing. You have to give the impression of being a leader in your field. This means that every part of your profile needs to imply thought leadership in your niche.
Begin with your photo. Remember this is LinkedIn, a professional network. That picture you have on your Facebook profile where you are petting your cute cat is not going to work here. You want to feature a professional headshot as your main LinkedIn profile image.
You should also optimize your cover photo. If you are aiming to appear as influential in a niche, then you should select a cover image that represents that topic area. If it can show you doing some influencing, then that is even better. For instance, you could use a photo of you speaking publically about your niche. If you personally know somebody who is already an influencer you could use a picture of the pair of you as your cover photo.
The next thing you will want to optimize is your main heading. Don't use the LinkedIn default of letting it automatically reuse your latest job description. You need your heading to indicate your thought leadership strengths. You can help yourself by providing proof for your claims.
When it comes to your bio, be specific. Avoid buzzwords, and highlight evident, measurable achievements.
Finally, go to every section of your profile and optimize it. If you have not already done so, ask the people you have worked with to give you endorsements and recommendations you can use on your profile.
Publish Posts and Statuses on LinkedIn Every Week
LinkedIn is no different from any other social media network. You need to build up a reputation for being generous with your followers. It helps if you can create content that will help solve their problems and share it on LinkedIn.
While you could consider publishing posts on LinkedIn Pulse, you are likely to gain more traction and engagement by creating regular statuses.
LinkedIn influencer, Josh Fechter, has written about this in his Facebook group - BAMF. He says that “you need to know how to write to drive engagement. It starts with the first two sentences. If those don’t pull your reader’s attention, then you’ve lost them. Every quality piece begins with a problem, significant change, announcement, or credibility”. Josh has written statuses following that advice that has led to over 300,000 views and 1,200 likes.
He adds: “The last two sentences are almost as important as the first two. If people don’t walk away feeling a strong emotion, then don’t expect them to like, comment, or share your post.”
Start Connecting with Potential Followers
You are never going to become an influencer if you sit back and wait for people to connect with you. You need to start the process. It is up to you to decide how much time and energy you want to put into this process.
You are likely to gain more people accepting your connection requests of you have optimized your profile and can prove that you share quality content. It is vital that you do not come across as salesy. You want to be seen as an influencer, not somebody wanting to make a quick sale.
If you can, try and establish some common bond with the people to whom you are trying to connect. This would probably be related to your niche, although it could be a geographic bond.
Use Your LinkedIn Connections to Build a Community
The ultimate aim for most people spending time online has to be to build your own community. Once you have a sizeable number of connections, you could consider setting up a Facebook Group (these are more successful than their LinkedIn equivalent). The aim is to create a group based on your niche, where you can encourage regular conversation between group moments.
LinkedIn Has Tremendous Potential
LinkedIn may appear staid and lack the fun image of most social media networks, but it can be highly effective in building your personal brand. Whether you are somebody wanting to establish a reputation as an influencer or a brand wishing to find an influencer to represent your product, LinkedIn offers massive potential.