This week Salted Stone’s Chief Strategy Officer, Tony Eades caught up with the head of Agency and Channel Sales for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Lara Brownlow. Together they talk about the importance of thought leaders on LinkedIn and why their prevalence is more important than ever. So get comfy on your couch and read on to find out how you can best utilise LinkedIn’s platform.
With 619 million members worldwide and 11 million in Australia, LinkedIn is fast becoming one of the biggest platforms for business owners, from the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to freelancers.
LinkedIn marketing and COVID-19
We asked Lara how the COVID-19 pandemic had changed the way businesses use LinkedIn?
With many working from home, engagement exploded: LinkedIn saw a 780% increase from January to June, and around a 950% increase in the number of articles shared. Top trending hashtags changed. Where January and February had seen #marketing and #leadership the favourites, by March, #coronavirus and #covid19 had taken the top spots.
The importance of thought leadership
According to Lara, thought leadership has only become more relevant.
"People want to hear from the leaders of companies what their view is on COVID, their company policy, really get some guidance... There's a huge opportunity for leaders to step up, be present and be sharing their views on certain things."
A presence on social platforms used to be optional - it's now a necessity. "Two out of three customers surveyed say their perception of the CEO affects their perception of the company."
It's not just customers that look to company leadership for expertise. When surveyed, 80% of employees would prefer to work for a social CEO.
So how do you prepare your LinkedIn profile?
It's not always immediately obvious how to begin in thought leadership. According to Lara, reputation is key to thought leadership strategy.
"If anyone's ever going to google you, the first thing they're going to come across is your LinkedIn profile. Invest in making sure you have a tight profile - not just for leaders, but for all members of the workforce."
Lara’s top tips for your profile include:
- Include an industry in your profile description. This becomes important for when users are searching for specific terms.
- Use a tagline to help viewers better understand your personality.
- This one’s a no brainer, but many users underestimate the need for a professional photo.
- Give a well-rounded summary of you as a professional
- Use multimedia and video content to increase engagement.
- Consider your connections. Once the building blocks of your profile are in place, Lara says the next step is your LinkedIn connections. Are they colleagues, industry connections or new/existing customers?
Effective content for thought leadership
It's essential to consider your niche.
"We see four key personas: people that are product people, people that speak more about the brand as a whole, people giving great industry updates, or members giving more human updates about people and HR."
Think about what followers want to hear, and make sure to use different tools available on the platform. Even when you share an article, Lara says to ask: "why is this important to the readers, my members and my network?"
Short-form vs. long-form content
There can be a lot of pressure on LinkedIn to create insightful long-form content.
"A lot of people spend time overthinking and stressing about when they write a long article or share a video, a piece of content," Lara tells us. Instead, try LinkedIn Stories for a more light-hearted update. It allows you to engage with followers in a less pressured way.
"I think the general rule is if you've got something quick, you can just share it via the short form, and it's more a timely post. But if you have something where you're more of the authority, that's where you would use our long-form content, which sits back on your profile as a constant."
Engage, engage, engage!
One key point Lara drives home: "don't forget to comment." Engaging with other people's content on LinkedIn builds your reputation and ultimately creates a more profound social strategy.
Connect with customers, and they'll care about you.