In 2018, LinkedIn reached 10 million registered Australian members — a significant milestone given, in 2010, there were only one million members.
It is also significant 42% of members access the platform multiple times daily or weekly, 74% of B2B buyers use it for purchasing decisions and social proof, 79% of B2B marketers view it as the most effective marketing channel, and 91% of executives rate the platform as their number one choice for professional content. In fact, Hubspot reports LinkedIn is 277% more effective at B2B lead generation than Facebook and Twitter.
So it is undeniable LinkedIn is a ‘must have’ for professionals. If you are not leveraging the platform in some way, you are definitely missing opportunities on the social selling and digital marketing highway.
LinkedIn has transformed the way professionals network, distribute information, share content, build personal brands, influence and position subject authority, amplify product reach, generate leads, and of course, recruit staff.
As with any transformation, the positive aspects come with negative elements, frustrations and teething issues. This also applies to users, as they navigate the opportunities. And it can feel like a battle for visibility and traction with the ongoing changes and divergent professional opinions on how to present and succeed on the platform.
In fact, 2018 has seen more changes and updates than ever before — all seemingly at random — kicking off with a whole new user and profile interface in January. Now, let’s be frank, LinkedIn wants to maximise revenue and a positive and robust user experience is tied directly into that.
Key changes in 2018
Some of the biggest changes of 2018 were native and sponsored video, company pages, groups, QR codes, find me and event tools, voice messaging, security and data protections, sales navigator deals, marketing solutions, analytics, search functionalities, hashtags and document loading on posts (this will be huge).
But the biggest changes (and ongoing challenges) relate to algorithms and the distribution of content. The change from preference weighting of articles to posts about 18 months ago has proven tricky (as is the elements and links within which can penalise reach).
Given the explosion of subscribers and the (illogical yet fashionable) notion to invite anyone and everyone into your network, the ‘notifications’ tool and feed system would have writhed with the surge and the deluge of content and members.
LinkedIns’ manager of data science (content) in San Francisco, Bonnie Barrilleaux, announced an encouraging and partial re-dress of the algorithm to be fairer and less influencer biased. In the linked video she offers a compelling view in understanding how and why much occurs on the platform.
However, 2019 will be bigger and more competitive for LinkedIn and in business in general. So how can you get the best results from the platform? The cliché of know-like-trust is a truism that will continue to drive success, but it’s the application that will be the golden nuggets.
Below are six key pillars to begin leveraging success.
1. Crystal clarity
Get crystal clear on what your objectives and ideal results are.
Are you willing to invest the time and attention to achieve this (or even delegate)? Unpack and define your personal brand equity. How do you want to be perceived? How do you want to integrate your business and personal brand? What do you want to be known for (expert authority)? How do you want to be perceived?
Be real, direct and inspiring.
Clichés, lazy cut-and-paste banality does not build trust and inspire brand equity. Be the best version of you and your business — not a different you. Write in the first person (the third person appears ego driven and disconnected). Share the core of what you do, the problems you solve, your backstory and have a great photo and aligned, creative banner image.
Have a dynamic headline with the right keywords, searchable skills and brand value. Don’t try and game the fields as it will damage search, your account and overall user experience. You can check in with the LinkedIn User Agreement if you’re unsure.
Also, ensure you have a company page set up with a logo to link back to your profile
3. Connection strategy
Be clear and focused.
Big connection numbers give a false illusion of power and connectivity. It is simply not always true.
Do not use third-party plug-in tools (this is against the LinkedIn User agreement and you risk suspension).
Personalise invitations and make people feel a little special upfront and show relevance. Don’t be lazy.
Sales navigator is a great tool to integrate into your strategy, especially with a larger sales team pipeline focus.
4. Content strategy
Offer a diverse and thoughtful content mix of video, podcasts, posts, articles and document download (new function in posts enabling the download of brochures, presentations, et cetera). Saturation of content isn’t always effective, neither are many systems to game-share content to elicit greater reach. Don’t just follow what everyone else is doing. Step up and out.
Remember: integrity and quality over quantity is key. There are some great ways to get higher visibility, but you need a hands-on and multivariate marketing approach (on and off the platform). Always align your content strategy to business objectives, your voice and purpose.
5. Sales strategy
We are all on LinkedIn to do business, be seen, sell something, somehow, sometime, or a combination of the three.
The current rhetoric ‘people don’t want to be sold to‘ is fear-based and can freeze outreach and new conversations. It’s a bit like the Goldilocks fairytale of too hard, too soft and just right. In this instance, tone, style, warmth and business relevance matters.
How do you like to be approached and engaged with? Coalesce that with your human values, business purpose and solutions in social selling strategies. And encourage a phone chat with a natural flow of next steps to learn more about each other. It’s how you communicate that matters. Be genuine and do your research. You don’t know if either party will be a seller, buyer or referrer to each other. Be open in mind and context.
6. Engagement strategy
Show genuine interest, build personal brand equity and network reciprocity. Respond, comment, engage politely and respond to messages and all content engagement. Etiquette matters. Be careful what you write online. Be generous, give recommendations, support others by introducing them to your network and treat all with respect.
LinkedIn is the number one platform for professionals and businesses to network in Australia. There will be more changes in 2019 without doubt. But the fundamentals and pillars for success will not change.
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