LinkedIn sees engagement rates (how many people actually like, comment or click through to your website from your content) that are higher than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, according to a recent study by Hubspot. Not only that, but traffic from LinkedIn has a higher conversion rate (people actually doing the thing you want them to do afterwards) than all other social platforms. If this is the case, why do so many of us just see it is a place for getting bombarded with connection requests from recruitment people with irrelevant jobs, and people trying to sell us IT services from the other side of the world?
It is about people
The first thing to realise is that people do not engage with brands and companies very much on LinkedIn, they engage with other people. So if you are using LinkedIn as an organisation, rather than setting up a company page and posting corporate updates, it is all about having brand ambassadors for your company sharing insights and opinions. If you are using LinkedIn as an individual, it is all about sharing insight, opinions and engaging with other people’s posts.
The mistake made by many LinkedIn users, and what gives many other users a negative opinion of the platform, is trying to use it as a direct-selling tool. If you go in, try to connect with a complete stranger and then abuse that new connection by sending a sales message straight away, you are going to get nowhere. However, if that is the case, why are there so many courses and guides to ‘social selling via LinkedIn’ everywhere? Social selling should probably really be called ‘online networking and relationship building’. What it is really about is making connections, building relationships and building trust. This is done by demonstrating knowledge and insight, joining discussion and debate, and generally providing value in some form to the people you are connected to.
The rules of connection
Everything starts with a connection, and you need a valid reason to connect with someone beyond the fact you think this person is the ideal customer. It may be that you have worked together in some way, you are the alumni of the same course, you have specific interests in common or anything else, but there really does need to be a logical reason to connect. You should also make this reason for connection very clear when sending connection requests.
Building relationships and personal branding
Once you have connections, you are going to need to demonstrate the value you provide. That means sharing knowledge, insights and opinions, as well as joining conversations and asking questions. LinkedIn allows you to post short ‘updates’ as well as longer-form content called articles. You can include images, videos and even presentations, and adding these types of media increases engagement with your content.
The key to making LinkedIn work for you is building a consistent flow of updates, content and conversations on your given area of expertise. The aim is to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and essentially to build a personal brand.
It is a long game
LinkedIn is much more than just building an up-to-date and well-filled-out profile. By sharing content and joining conversations, you are building relationships over the long term. These relationships are where the value of LinkedIn really lies. Just as the real-world relationships you build can pay dividends in the long term for your business and career, exactly the same can be said for your LinkedIn relationships (and hopefully there is plenty of crossover between the two).
If you take a consistent and long-term approach to LinkedIn, it really can be the most worthwhile use of any time you commit to social media.
Check out Target Internet’s podcast on social selling if you want to learn more: here