LinkedIn is the best site for Business to Business sharing, yet it is still underused and poorly used as an effective B2B channel. Some believe LinkedIn is just another Facebook while others believe it is more like Twitter. However, both of these approaches are wrong and will lead to social media usage that doesn’t give you any value.
One of the key challenges with LinkedIn is that it is a very personal social platform. We are used to seeing corporate accounts on Facebook at this point. We also see many organizations on Twitter talking about their value proposition and sharing information. But LinkedIn was not built simply to share information; it was fundamentally built to help employees to network and find jobs. Because of this, the individual is more important than the company in LinkedIn and any marketing or branding efforts on LinkedIn are best done through the employees. This can be a tricky process since it means that the company needs to use each individual’s brand. So, LinkedIn for advertising isn’t necessarily something that can work for everyone. But for those cases where employees and companies are mutually comfortable with using each others’ brands, LinkedIn can be a valuable social channel.
As the image above shows, people view the updates that I make on LinkedIn. And it’s not just that I know a lot of people: although I have over 1300 contacts on LinkedIn, I highly doubt that each and every one of them are checking LinkedIn daily and hanging on to my every word. And it’s not that I’m more clever than everyone else. In fact, I’m typically sharing other people’s content. Rather, just as with Twitter and Facebook, there is an art to viral LinkedIn content. To give you an idea of how LinkedIn content works, here’s a few suggestions supported by some real-world (i.e. my own) examples.
1) Make it work-related.
In general, we all share a number of basic challenges in the workplace such as sales, marketing, hiring, meetings, paperwork, and production. When I got over 1,000 likes, here’s the content that I shared:
Pretty simple, right? It’s pithy, directional, and has a bunch of great tips. The one thing that’s missing that I wish was there was some sort of branding. Is this from a company? An individual? A vendor who makes a solution? A consultant? I would want to keep this person on my short list, but I literally have no idea who to thank for this.
2) LinkedIn is not Facebook, although it can still be fun.
On Facebook, viral content tends to be very fun and flippant in nature. Videos and pictures of cats and other adorable animals, unfortunate accidents, silly children, charities, and math problems tend to do very well.
But LinkedIn is not Facebook. Here, your charity appeals, non sequitur pictures, and appeals to ask “how many squares do you see in this picture” will be of limited appeal. You’re talking to a working audience that wants some alignment between your comments and their workplace. Even if you’re going to be flippant, it still has to be work related. I’m not saying you can’t have fun with your LinkedIn updates; just be work-relevant. Here’s one of the lighter-hearted updates that I shared:
Again, notice what’s missing? No branding! It doesn’t have to be gigantic and obnoxious, but a small brand or URL in the corner wouldn’t have hurt this message. But it’s pretty obvious that people like the message. After all, many of us have been burnt either by buying something substandard or by losing a deal to a substandard provider. But don’t trust me; check out the numbers.
By combining a key business lesson with a great picture, we got a great result. Be funny, but remain relevant.
3) LinkedIn is not Twitter
On Twitter, a good quote or helpful link on its own will often go far. However, on LinkedIn, it’s not good enough to just be helpful. Take the following update that I recently shared:
It was very informative and it was shared from one of the top gurus in Social Selling, Jill Rowley. So, given that it was helpful, came from a legitimate expert and that I have a relatively large social following, how many views do you think I got?
That’s right. Just 38. But it just goes to show that a link or statement isn’t enough. And an appeal to authority isn’t enough. The graphical element is important as well.
To drive home the point, I also recently shared an article from the Harvard Business Review on the emotional boundaries needed at work. Harvard is obviously one of the most respected business brands in the world. And I thought the article was important and potentially helpful.
It’s a good article about how we need to both consider how we need to protect other people from us and protect ourselves from others. If we beat up our employees day after day, “You may feel like a victim but will act like a bully.” Really smart stuff.
But, I didn’t add a graphic. And, from a “popularity” perspective, here was the result.
Again, well under 100 views. It’s not because LinkedIn doesn’t like smart content; LinkedIn just requires a smart slide or diagram to go along with the concept.
4) LinkedIn content can be pretty sophisticated.
Unlike Twitter, you’re not limited to a single line of text. And unlike Facebook, you don’t have to dumb down your content. LinkedIn is actually a great place to share platforms, structures, and conceptual diagrams. For instance, I recently shared a great diagram equating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to tiers of employee engagement.
It’s a relatively text-heavy diagram with multiple layers of maturity and levels of activity ranging from operational to tactical to strategic to aspirational. This type of content might work on Pinterest, but would likely be too complicated for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. But LinkedIn is different; your working friends are often looking for insight. (And, again, notice the lack of branding. People, put your brand on your content!)
But even so, don’t just believe me. Believe the numbers.
It at least got the attention of 800+ people and 47 likes in a social setting that has already self-selected to be a professional, tech-savvy, and interested audience. It’s no secret that many managers are looking for a better way to keep their employees engaged.
So, those are the keys to LinkedIn viral content based not just on some opinions or by being a social guru, but from a basic demonstration of what actually works. So, remember both the lessons that were shown and the big one that was missing:
1) Make it work-related
2) Make it fun
3) Add a relevant slide or diagram
4) Don’t be afraid to be sophisticated or complex
And the missing number 5
5) Brand your work and take credit for it! You have no idea what kind of reach you may get!
With these five steps, you can take advantage of LinkedIn and get your message out to the right people as well.
If you’d like to learn more about LinkedIn or just get a free social consultation with us, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 415 754 9686. And if you want to work with us, please check out our Social Jumpstart to get a basic idea of how we work with clients.