Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few months, you can’t have helped notice that LinkedIn is currently the darling of the social media world. Everyone who’s anyone (and many who really aren’t), is telling us that LinkedIn is the solution to all of our business problems; it will build our professional brand, generate a gazillion quality leads, triple our business revenue, and probably also solve the ongoing Brexit issues given half a chance.
We love LinkedIn at The Marketing Architect. We know it CAN be a fantastic tool to do most of these things, if used correctly (not sure about Brexit though). But, what a lot of these so-called gurus might not tell you, is that you need to get the basics right first. Without putting good foundations in place, the rest is wasted effort. And no one wants that.
So, here’s our quick 5-point guide to getting the basics right when you are getting started on LinkedIn.
1. Set objectives
Just like pretty much everything else in business, you need to set some SMART objectives. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, how will you know if you’re succeeding? You know your business best, so you are best placed to set your own LinkedIn objectives, based on your wider business objectives. But here are some suggestions for starters:
- Raise your personal profile by increasing your relevant connections (put a number or a percentage on it to make it measurable)
- Develop relationships with a specific number of target clients
- Source x number of leads,
- Generate x number of referrals
These are just suggestions, but whatever you decide on, make sure that it is sensible and achievable (your first opportunity to defeat the overwhelm!)
2. Optimise your personal profile
Even if you have a company page, (and if you don’t have one, don’t worry – they’re not right for every business), the majority of activity on LinkedIn takes place as interactions between people, on their personal profiles. Your personal profile is the first thing your potential contacts and clients on LinkedIn will see if they look you up – so you need to make sure it’s a good representation of you as a credible, professional person they will want to do business with.
The LinkedIn algorithm is another VERY good reason to work on having an optimised personal profile – it’s rather judgemental, and will promote, or demote, your content in the feed based on a number of criteria. The quality and strength of your profile is one of these criteria – so you need to optimise, optimise, optimise. We’ve created a handy guide to how to do all of this optimising – you can download it here.
3. Manage your news feed
Bored of what you’re seeing in your news feed? Not seeing any good potential leads? Don’t worry – you can change it. The algorithm shows you what it thinks you will be interested in, based on your contacts, and your interests. So show it what you’re really interested in by following relevant hashtags, searching for, then interacting with content and people you DO find interesting, and by unfollowing any of your current contacts who post content that isn’t interesting or relevant for you, to free up your news feed. (Don’t panic, you can keep them as contacts, and they won’t know you’ve unfollowed them – no one needs to be upset!)
4. Listen, add value, interact
Just like other social networks, LinkedIn is ALL about the interactions – so you need to get in there and start interacting. When you see an interesting post, leave a comment, and add some value. Don’t be tempted to go in with a hard sell when you comment on other people’s posts – unless they’re actually asking for recommendations for your type of product or service. But DO post insightful, helpful comments that add value to the original post. Tell the poster what your view is. You don’t have to agree with them – so long as you disagree in a polite and professional way, debate can be very healthy on LinkedIn; it can provide you with a great opportunity to demonstrate your professional expertise.
If you’re just getting started on LinkedIn and feeling a bit nervous about posting your own content, engaging with others’ content is a great way to dip your toe first, and build up your confidence until you’re ready to share your own posts too.
5. Share content – what to post?
Which brings us neatly to posting your own content. Firstly, make sure you are aiming your content at the right audience. This means aiming it at your ideal client, not at your peers. Don’t dumb it down, but DO make sure it’s not too technical or assumes a level of knowledge your target client doesn’t have. You want to hit the right balance of demonstrating your expertise without overwhelming with jargon or technical information. In fact, steer clear of jargon anyway. At all times – not just on LinkedIn. (Sorry, bit of a soap box rant there!)
So, with the right audience firmly in your sights, what should you actually post on LinkedIn? It will take a bit of testing and experimenting to find out what your audience prefers (it will be different to my audience, for example), but here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Native articles (long-form LinkedIn articles)
- Try video, if that’s your thing (but don’t forget captions!)
- Tell your story – why do you do what you do?
- Social proof – got testimonials? Post them – they’re LinkedIn gold!
- What you do and who you do it for (the sell – don’t forget a CTA!)
- Information about what you’re doing in your day / business / life – build up that ‘know, like, trust’ element.
So, there you have our top 5 tips for getting started on LinkedIn. Don’t forget you can download our guide to optimising your profile here.