LinkedIn isn’t the platform that it used to be.
Over the past few years, it’s transformed from a CV library with basic social functionality to a fully-fledged B2B social network with more than 600 million active users.
The user base has shifted from being mostly job-seekers and recruiters to, well, anyone with a career and an interesting point-of-view.
Most importantly, from our perspective, it’s gone from somewhere you can find staff to somewhere you can meet customers. In fact, one of the businesses we work with now generates around half of their new leads on LinkedIn.
This article is the first in a series of posts that will take a closer look at the platform and how you can get more out of it. In this post, we’ll explore why you should be using LinkedIn to champion your people and not just your brand.
Social networks are about people
We are hardwired to seek out social interaction with others. That’s why social media is so appealing - not to mention addictive…
When we use social media, we usually want to find interesting content or interact with others. We rarely log on with the sole intention of interacting with brands or businesses.
"Interacting with a company just isn’t the same as interacting with a person."
Even if a company’s social media activity is very sophisticated and well-executed, interacting with a company just isn’t the same as interacting with a person.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Log onto LinkedIn, scroll through your feed and you will see a selection of posts that LinkedIn’s newsfeed algorithm thinks you’ll like. How many of those posts are from people, and how many are from company accounts?
Chances are the only company posts you’ll see in your feed are ones that have been promoted or shared by someone that you follow.
In fact, social networks have a vested interest in limiting the organic reach of posts from company accounts. If companies got massive organic reach, they wouldn’t need to buy ads…
Put your people first
A smart and professional company account is useful for recruitment to build your employer brand, but if you want to make the most of the platform, you should focus on your people and their accounts.
The platform’s algorithm and its users are much more interested in what your people have to say than what your company has to say.
This is the difference between companies that get LinkedIn and companies that don’t. And it isn’t just about the business leaders - although you should definitely be active - the more of your staff you can activate on LinkedIn, the greater visibility you will have.
This is particularly important for your sales team.
If you can get your entire sales team posting, interacting with others and growing their network, the cumulative reach out of that activity will be the equivalent of tens of thousands of pounds of ad spend. And you could make much more than that back in revenue.
Some business owners get a bit nervous about the idea that their sales team could spend time in work building up a network that they can take with them when they leave.
If you’re one of these people, we have some sad news...
Your sales team will move onto other jobs and they will always take their contacts with them. Just as they’ve always done and always will.
You might find some solace in the idea that if they take their enormous LinkedIn network with them when they go, at least you had the benefit of that network for a while.
Don’t be shy
Not everyone is a natural when it comes to social media. Some people find sharing content nerve-racking. Others find the performative nature of social media a bit cringeworthy.
If you’re going to ask your team to overcome these things and get involved, you need to lead by example.
Business leaders get more traction on LinkedIn. They often know more people and those people are interested in what they think and have to say.
If you run your own business, you probably know a thing or two about your industry. So share that expertise, start debates, ask questions and be provocative. If you’re looking for more detailed advice, check out this great post from one of our regional directors.
"People do business with people."
People often say that LinkedIn is a great place to ‘humanise your brand’ - and it is. So be a human being. People do business with people. We listen to people. We interact with people.
Encouraging the people within your business to up their game on LinkedIn will give your business a massive competitive advantage in the world’s largest online business community and it will help you make money.