LinkedIn, as you well know, is a business-centric social medium; it shares commonalities with all the major social media platforms, but is unique in its focus on employment, the professional, and the entrepreneur. As with its social media kin, the ultimate key to success on the platform is expanding reach and influence, and this, unsurprisingly, is numbers dependent – you need followers, and lots of them.
The much-coveted large follower-base seems a somewhat esoteric thing, the result of witchcraft or sorcery, or some other obscure trickery, perhaps just luck and nothing more, like winning the lottery. Who knows? Successful folk have it, and you want it.
Building your follower base and expanding your reach, however, is no act of the dark arts – there is no secret grimoire shared amongst the popular and influential. You can achieve this goal systematically by focusing on these three cobre principles: Visibility, Authority, Value.
It stands to reason that if people don’t see you, people won’t follow or connect with you. Be seen and be seen well. It’s a simple enough rule. The following actions will improve your LinkedIn visibility:
Yes, LinkedIn is a social media platform, but be mindful of both its function and personality. Consider the first impression you make when LinkedIn users – potential LinkedIn followers – discover you. This is a platform focused on business and professionalism, so look professional. Your profile pic and headline matter because they define your mission. You want to establish immediately, in the most clear and concise manner, what it is you offer. Do not send confusing messages. If you broker stocks, for example, a congenial picture of you with your buddies won’t suffice. Dress for success, as the saying goes. Perhaps consider professional headshots, and definitely look the part. Remember, first impressions last.
The best place to start is where you are, and the best time is now. Too many people hold out for celestial alignments; they waste careers waiting. Build your network from grassroots. Begin with a list of contacts you already have, people you already know. It is likely that the people within your immediate circle share your interests and values and that there will be substantial overlap.
If different strokes are for different folks, stroke them all. Some people are readers; others prefer video and audio. On LinkedIn, all of these facilities are available to you. Make use of them. The goal is to be seen as widely and often as possible in order to maximise traffic and grow your profile.
Text posts: Limited to 1300 characters, or roughly 200 words, text posts are a quick and digestible way of staying visible. Keep your brand identity in mind and avoid being generic.
Pictures: Effective imagery sells. It always has. Even more so in this digital age. Keep your images relevant to your business and purpose, however; LinkedIn is not Instagram. Your photographs and images should promote you and your brand, ultimately.
Video: The value of video cannot be overstated, especially as a means to deliver in-depth content and establish expertise and authority. Publishing video on LinkedIn is preferable to posting external sources, such as YouTube, since LinkedIn favours self-hosted content, and its algorithms will ensure more eyes see it.
Go Live: Live streaming is, to date, an underutilised facility, and therein lies opportunity. People respond to real-time content differently, because, by its nature, it emanates exclusivity, authenticity, and urgency – consumers feel they are the first informed, having a sense that the content is unscripted and genuine.
Hashtags: Effective in targeting established interest groups, hashtags put your content in front of prospective LinkedIn followers, rather than waiting for them to stumble across your profile. It helps to do a little research here – a surgical approach is better than a spray-and-pray. Find out which relevant hashtags are trending and be selective.
LinkedIn’s algorithms will prioritise perceived importance. If you are consistently active, frequently posting and publishing, LinkedIn will assume yours is an important profile and push you up the ladder, increasing your visibility. And this generates momentum, which is cyclical. Because the more you’re seen, and the more people engage, the greater your perceived importance.
Ideally, a post or a piece of content will go viral, achieving engagement and activity well above the average. Going viral is something of a visibility jackpot – it’s difficult to predict or precipitate. You won’t go viral if you’re idle, however. So be active consistently. Post daily if possible. And maintain routine. If you’re due a blog every Tuesday, don’t miss your deadline.
Consistency also says much about your work ethic, and that counts on LinkedIn. People are more likely to follow an active and up-to-date profile.
Be good at what you do! That is your professional responsibility. Authority and value, however, are very much standards of perception. There are numerous ways in which you can actively control the perception of your authority and value on LinkedIn.
As much as visibility is crucial to growing your follower base, the manner in which you are seen is crucial to establishing authority in your field. Engagements, such as comments, likes, and shares are algorithm friendly. This requires time and effort on your part – a worthwhile investment. Comment on other people’s posts and comment smartly. Join groups and let your expertise shine. Collaborate with other LinkedIn users. Make useful information freely available via published articles, a blog, webinar, or podcast. Consider being a guest author on someone else’s page. Demonstrate your expertise whenever and wherever possible without seeming self-serving or disingenuous. This is bound to attract potential followers to your profile. Respond to comments and thank followers for sharing your content – reward is a fundamental action driver. Actively seek out like-minded and successful allies. Build real relationships both on the platform and offline.
Essentially, determine to be a valuable member of the LinkedIn community. Be cognitive of the image you present and endeavour genuinely to aid and promote. If you are active and participate, and the content you produce is original, relevant, and useful, you will grow your follower base organically. It’s formulaic, not mysterious.
It’s easy to confuse a LinkedIn profile with a website, and typically that actualises as a dormant and joyless virtual business card. Followers will not congregate around dead wood. You need to be active in order to be visible, and visible in order to be relevant. Whatever your business, LinkedIn remains a social platform, and you must engage socially. Consider your brand, be clear and concise in your messaging, update your profile regularly, and establish yourself as reliable, original, and authoritative.
Want some more tips and tricks on how to leverage your branding and build your audience on LinkedIn? Download our exclusive guide here.
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