5 tips to maximize your results on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for professionals. It gives people to ability to recruit, find jobs, engage with other professionals, keep up-to-date with new trends and market information, sell their products or build their personal branding. But what are the tricks to maximize your visibility and results on LinkedIn?
Why should I care about LinkedIn?
Let's take a look at the market to better understand why LinkedIn is important for you.
The professional network landscape
There are only three major "professional social networks" in the world: LinkedIn, Xing, and Viadeo.
While Xing is DACH focused and Viadeo in French focused, LinkedIn is the only truly international professional network.
From 6 to 3 degrees connection
But LinkedIn isn't just a popular network.
In 1994, following an interview with Kevin Bacon explaining he had either worked with everyone in Hollywood or with someone who worked with them, the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" theory came to life. Put simply, this theory explains that there is no more than 6 connections between you and anyone else in the world. If you wanted to be connected to Kevin Bacon, you would necessarily know someone who knows someone who knows someone.... who knows Kevin Bacon.
With LinkedIn, this theory is no longer relevant: you are now 3 connections away from (almost) any professional in the world. It means that LinkedIn is an incredible network for anyone who would need to be connected to others.
Now, why would you want to be connected to others?
What can I gain from LinkedIn?
Whether you are looking for a new job and need to gain visibility from recruiters, recruit people yourself and need to find relevant candidates, need to find new solutions or to advertise yours to prospects, need to build your network to monitor the market and know what's hot in your sector, or simply need to build your reputation and gain credibility in your industry, LinkedIn is made for you (read: Building your professional branding)
If you live somewhere in a cave or on the top of a mountain and care about none of these things, then LinkedIn may not be made for you.
Otherwise, keep reading, it gets more interesting!
"While everything around us in sales is changing, "TRUST" remains the magic word. Despite new technology, advanced data and changing buying processes, people keep buying from people."
Getting visibility and reaching your goals on LinkedIn - 5 tips for success
Regardless of your objective, the following 5 tips will greatly help you build your reputation on LinkedIn and get what you came looking for. Please note these 5 tips come from a mix of personal experience, insights from Patrick Barrabé, a discussion I had three years ago with Chris J. Reed, another recent one with Clément Hellard, a fantastic report from Richard van der Blom about the LinkedIn Algorithm, and the wonderful work of Andy Foote who gathered a list of the top 100 most popular LinkedIn hashtags.
1. Fill your whole profile
It may sound like an obvious thing to do, but you'd be surprised by the number of people who have a half-filled LinkedIn profile.
Get started with the basics: make sure you got your name (avoid all caps), your profile picture (an actual professional picture of your face), your banner and your experience right.
Continue by adding all relevant experiences, degrees and schools, skills and accomplishments.
Once you have these basics, go one step further. Work on your introduction (the "about section") to tell the visitor who you are. This shouldn't be a list of all the elements he will already see below. This should be about you: what makes you unique, why is your profile worth visiting.
You can then improve your work experience by adding media: links, articles, videos showcasing your accomplishments. Do the same with your profile (in the "about section") to enrich it with things that make you different.
"A good social seller is before anything else a painkiller. All buyers must find solutions to their companies' painpoints. Show what you can solve, they will come find you."
Don't forget to ask for recommendations! Testimonials from your colleagues, bosses, customers, partners, past teachers or even suppliers can go a long way to make your profile stand out!
There are two reasons you should do such profile improvement: the first one is that it builds legitimacy. People are more keen to trust someone with a complete profile than an half-empty one that looks fake.
The second reason is to reach the "All-Star" ranking. Unless you get this token on your profile, your publication will perform 30% less efficiently.
2. Build your network
This one also looks obvious. Yet, in average, LinkedIn members have 400 people in their network. With the network effect, if you have 400 people in your network who themselves have 400 people in their network, you have a direct access to 160 000 people. When you increase your number of connections, this number increase as well.
But you shouldn't privilege quantity over quality.
Students tend to have students in their network. Journalists have journalists. People in the aluminum industry have other people from the aluminum industry.
If you want your extended network to be useful, you will need to add people that have the right profile based on your own objectives.
But there is a second reason to prefer quality over quantity: your SSI score. We will get back to this in the fifth tips.
The days where you should only add people you've met in real life are long gone. LinkedIn isn't just here to keep track of your existing network; It is meant to extend your network and reach out to new people who matter to you. Add people who could enrich your network and briefly tell them why you add them, what they can expect from you, in order to increase the odds, they will accept you.
Keep in mind that a sales approach is doomed. Reaching out to people telling them you want to sell them something isn't the best way to get them to accept.
Once people are in your network, they will see all your posts for a week. If you can "hook" them within a week and get them to interact with your content, they will keep seeing it. Otherwise, your content will fade away from their wall and they may not be able to see you again. Therefore, make sure to be active on LinkedIn shortly after you connect with new people. And this is conveniently the title of my next chapter:
3. Be active!
Now things are getting serious. While you may already have a nice profile and a good network, if you are like most people, you are not very active on LinkedIn. Browsing doesn't qualify as "being active".
Reacting to others' posts, sharing things, commenting or even posting your own content is what "being active" means.
Remember: if what you seek is visibility, you will need to put yourself out-there sooner or later! Praying for people to find you isn't the best approach.
Each time you like, share or comment, you gain visibility. Here also, prefer quality over quantity. People will identify you based on what you say and what type of content you like, therefore do not click everywhere to increase your visibility without reading what you are actually liking. Similarly, commenting "thanks" or "great" isn't adding much value. If you comment, make it worth the reader's time with some real opinion or knowledge.
"The people who follow you don't buy from companies, they buy from people. You must be the one people want to work with.Be honnest, be yourself. Your future customers will find you on their own!"
Beyond visibility, sharing and commenting also builds credibility. You show recruiters that you are active within your industry, you show your peers your expertise, you show your prospects that you know what you are talking about.
If you can, try to create your own content: short posts, videos, stories... you don't necessarily need to write long articles to be credible and visible!
"Social Selling is NOT selling through Social Media, it's an attitude where you are always providing added value to your relationships, whether these are clients, prospects or colleagues."
To build your personal branding, you may want to do something that is unique to you. Loic Simon regularly post videos of him having a walking interview with some influencers, Patrick Barrabé likes to post contextualized videos of things that are either new or surprising to get people to react, Gary Vaynerchuk posts videos of him talking to leaders and entrepreneurs to share his own experience on how to lead a team or company, Michael Aguilar has a very popular series of pictures "I got a job, but I don't care", and I personally like to post daily videos of anything funny to link it back to an actual customer service or marketing issue. These are simple yet efficient ways to differentiate yourself and create a brand image that reflects who you are and help people identify you easily.
4. Know the algorithm
SEO experts are actually people who study, understand, and make the best out of the Google algorithm.
LinkedIn isn't as complex, yet, its algorithm is worth knowing to get the best out of the platform. Similarly to Google, there is no transparency from LinkedIn when it comes to the algorithm. We know it defines who sees what, what post will have more visibility, what are the basic dos and don'ts, but there is no clarity as of specifically what works or what doesn't.
Luckily, there are brilliant people like Richard van der Blom who took the time to analyze this algorithm to draw precious conclusions so that the rest of us don't need to do too much A/B testing to get it right.
For example, the algorithm gives more credit to comments, over likes or even shares. This means that if you want your posts to gain visibility, you must find ways to get people to comment, rather than like or share (if you can get it all, all the better!)
Similarly, LinkedIn will improve the visibility of your post if you get a lot of reactions within the first hour: post your content at the optimal timing to get as many reactions as possible immediately after posting to improve your visibility.
LinkedIn is also very tricky when it comes to types of content. It will not tell you directly, but LinkedIn doesn't like you to post Youtube videos, it prefers native ones or Vimeo ones. It also doesn't like external links and may penalize your post reach when you do so. Basically, anything that could drive its precious readers out of the page is authorized but not encouraged. On the other hand, LinkedIn loves documents and encourages you to post a pdf instead of sending people to your site.
You understand it now, LinkedIn (and Social Media platforms in general) prefer quality over quantity. There is no need to post multiple times per day on LinkedIn, only your first post will get decent visibility.
But there is more!
Like Twitter, Facebook and then Instagram, LinkedIn is now a platform that uses hashtags to categorize content and make it easier to find topics of interest.
Hashtags can greatly help you give additional visibility to your content, given that you use it properly. Three hashtags seems to be the golden number: if you do hashtag stuffing, it may backfire and hurt your reach.
But which hashtag should you use?
"Use a maximum of 3 hashtags, maybe use 1 customized (your own) and ensure that the other 2 are 100% relevant to the hashtagged content subject matter. Using popular hashtags on your crappy content - will not make it popular :)"
In his article "Top 100 LinkedIn Hashtags", Andy Foote shares the most popular hashtags on LinkedIn, the ones that are being followed by more people. When using them, you increase your chances of being seen by those who follow them - not bad, isn't it?
I encourage you to read the full report from Richard van der Bloom and learn more about the LinkedIn Algorithm.
5. Monitor and improve
There is no magic wand - to improve your results, you will need to monitor your progress and improve, one step at a time.
To achieve that, you may want to get your SSI (Social Selling Index). This free index is provided by LinkedIn and is based on four criteria: establish your professional brand, find the right people, engage with insights, build relationships and give you tips to help you improve your results.
The SSI may seem trivial and look like a vanity metric, but it actually impacts your posts' reach!
Take the time to review your past posts, see what worked, learn from it and keep improving. As your network and reach grow, your visibility will grow as well, and you should achieve your goals faster!
"You cannot become a Social Selling expert in 4, 8 or 12 weeks, it requires a fundamental shift in how you organise and perform your selling activities."
Last update: 2020-07-08 Tags: marketing linkedin branding