In today’s hyperactive social environment, LinkedIn is a social media platform that often gets ignored or forgotten.
So much has happened in 2020 and business competition has skyrocketed to the point we are simply flooded with information.
We’re basically unable to process it all, much less make sense of what’s true or untrue. Making smart use of LinkedIn can help your message cut through the noise.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- How LinkedIn differs from other social media platforms
- Types of content that are appropriate and inappropriate for LinkedIn
- Etiquette when engaging others using LinkedIn Messages
- How to build a network and attract referrals with LinkedIn
LinkedIn Differs from Other Social Media Platforms
LinkedIn is a place to connect with other professionals like yourself. More importantly, it’s a great place to prospect for new business referrals.
Note that I wrote prospect for referrals, and not “targets.”
Although LinkedIn outreach is (annoyingly) prevalent, the possibility of closing a deal with a cold LinkedIn messing is exceedingly rare.
The key is not to close deals with cold messages, but rather to grow your network, increase touchpoints, and build value with your connections to the point they feel comfortable referring you to others.
Etiquette for reaching prospects and successfully gaining referrals is crucial. Let’s cover some proper etiquette on LinkedIn outreach.
Types of Content to Post on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is NOT Facebook or Instagram. The user base of LinkedIn differs greatly from other platforms.
LinkedIn is of course designed for business professionals and it’s used to showcase job experience, exhibit thought leadership, and network.
Because users’ expectations differ so greatly on LinkedIn, the channel demands a very particular content strategy to be most effective.
On our Ep. 24 of the NerdBrand podcast, we discussed using social media for business purposes. In summary, without strategic content that clearly provides value to your audience, you cannot properly succeed with social media marketing.
And your time is far too valuable to waste on poorly executed social media posts.
Though the platform is seeing an evolution, LinkedIn continues to be centralized around professional and business content, which is a stark difference compared to other social platforms.
That means content in line with political, religious, or social issues are generally frowned upon.
Memes and random funny GIFs sometimes gain traction, but their flavor is distinguished from what you might typically see on Twitter or Instagram.
These types of content can get you ignored or, worse, banned from certain LinkedIn groups.
If you do post memes or GIF’s that are on-brand, then that can be okay.
The only if your key audience is accepting of it.
Gary Vaynerchuk does this frequently with his LinkedIn content. But Gary invested years into developing his personal and business brand. He’s spent thousands of dollars in creative and marketing services to curate and publish a consistent tone, aesthetic, and attitude.
While these examples can serve as inspiration, they can’t necessarily be translated to every person or business.
In general, keep your LinkedIn posts professional and stay away from Facebook or Instagram type of content.
But how do you properly ask for a connection to someone on LinkedIn that you want a referral from?
Let’s dive on how to do that.
Types of Content LinkedIn Favors
If you are in a hurry to gain followers and make a name for yourself, LinkedIn probably isn’t the network for you.
Much like building a corporate brand, building a personal brand takes a significant time investment, content production, and consistent core messaging.
Below are some content tips to get you started.
One surefire way to quickly grow your LinkedIn presence is to start producing video content.
Video content works well on any social platform, and LinkedIn in particular is hungry for it.
According to LinkedIn, videos in your LinkedIn posts can get 5X more engagement on your content, while live videos can attract 24X more engagement.
See our post below about how to use video for LinkedIn.
Here’s an example of how we use video to promote the NerdBrand podcasts on LinkedIn.
Did you know you can also embed documents directly in LinkedIn? This is exceptional for sharing things like industry reports, case studies, and white papers.
The caveat is don’t just share some random document you made in Word. Invest time into designing a creative, compelling document that will catch the eyes of people scrolling through their feed.
Here’s a case study on Vetiver Aromatics — a do-it-yourself perfume e-commerce client.
More Organic Posts, Fewer Re-shares
For whatever reason, LinkedIn generally favors organic posts from individuals vs. posts that are re-shared. Organic posts in this context is referring to those that you create yourself.
Organic posts from your profile have a greater reach than those you re-share, so make it a point to craft original content that aligns with your unique personal or corporate brand.
Strategic content is paramount to growing your LinkedIn audience and for gaining valuable introductions.
People want to follow and read posts that are not “spammy,” or just a re-shares. They are thirsty for new, unique content.
LinkedIn Messaging: Things to Consider Before You Ask to Connect
1. Don’t start with the sell.
Like networking events, your philosophy on LinkedIn should not be to “sell” to the group, but rather to connect and deliver value to others. You want to really get to know the members and build genuine, mutually-beneficial relationships.
Referrals are the life blood of business.
But if your first approach is the “hard sell” or “hard ask” for referrals, people aren’t going to flock to you. In fact, those tactics are easily spotted.
Word may even spread that all you are interested in is your sales pitch. This will result in having your “connect” requests ignored or shunned.
2. Find the need.
Sales is HARD. What’s harder, but more fruitful, is building authentic friendships in the marketplace.
A friend-centered approach will result in more referrals. That’s because friends are more likely to share contacts who have a “need.”
Simply offering whatever service or product you represent isn’t good enough.
First ask, “How can my organization help?” before you reach out.
When you send a connection request to someone, be sure to customize the invitation by including a note that states how you found them and why you want to connect.
This custom note helps personalize your request and lets people know you’re not just on a connecting spree.
3. Explain why you want to connect.
This seems obvious. You are looking for new business, and there’s no shame in that. So don’t be afraid to ask if they know anyone that could use your services. But asking directly for a sale right out of the gate is a sure way to get your connection declined or your future content ignored.
When you ask for a referral, try to show proof that your “ask” has been successful before. This is where case studies come in handy.
Need a Hand with LinkedIn?
If you need help developing a successful strategy for LinkedIn, or social media in general, contact Jonathan Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org and get started today!