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Content creation on LinkedIn increased 60% in 2020 as companies and individual LinkedIn members sought new ways to stay connected with their professional network. With so many people posting on the platform, you may be wondering how you can stand out from the crowd so you can take advantage of the opportunity to build your brand and business.
If this sounds like you, Ting Ba is here to help. She leads product marketing for organic marketing solutions at LinkedIn. Her goal is to help small businesses find success on LinkedIn without spending any money. In a recent chat with Entrepreneur editor in chief Jason Feifer, Ba shares how you can build brand awareness, find the right content to post your audiences and grow your overall following.
You can watch the full chat here, and read a quick recap with the associated action items below.
Do you want connections or followers?
First, let’s break down the difference between followers and connections. As per Linkedin, following someone allows you to see the person’s posts and articles on your homepage without being connected to them. However, the person you’re following won’t see your posts. You can reach a larger audience by allowing others to follow your activity and read what you’re sharing on LinkedIn. Connections are members who connected on LinkedIn because they know and trust each other. If you’re connected to someone, you will both be able to see each other’s shares and updates on your LinkedIn homepages. You can also send messages to your connections on LinkedIn.
To ensure an optimal experience, LinkedIn members can have a maximum of 30,000 connections. And, LinkedIn recommends that you only connect with individuals you know and trust. As you may have noticed, this isn’t always the case when it comes to connection outreach. If you’re like me, you’ve received plenty of requests that pretty much say “Hey Terry, I noticed you exist, let’s connect!”.
Although you may not personally know everyone who sends you a connection request, you’ll want to develop an internal filter for who you choose to connect with. I usually think to myself “If I met this person at a conference, would I talk to them on purpose?”. If the answer is yes, I’ll go ahead and connect. Otherwise, you may be better off having this person as a follower. This way, the person can still enjoy your content but you won’t clog your newsfeed with irrelevant posts or – even worse – receive a direct message asking if you’re free to connect and “explore synergies”.
Related: How to Build Your Brand on LinkedIn
How to come up with content ideas
The more followers you have, the more people will see your content in the newsfeed. However, Ba cautions us against having a bunch of followers that have no interest in the content we’re talking about or the associated services we provide. Reason being, if they ignore your content, LinkedIn will assume it’s not interesting and show it to less people.
When creating content for your specific audience Ba states “The first step is to understand your audience, understand what kind of content they care about. What exactly is it that they’re consuming right now? That’s going to be really important to catching their attention and then bringing them to your brand.”
To get started, I usually suggest thinking of ten questions your audience has, then answering them with content. But, that will only give you ten posts, so you’ll eventually need to find more content. This is where Ba’s suggestion to focus on the content your audience is consuming comes in handy.
You might be thinking. “Great. So, how do I know what my audience is consuming?”. The answer, leverage LinkedIn’s Content Suggestions feature. This tool – available only for LinkedIn Pages – allows you to discover the content, topics and articles that your audience is consuming in real time. You can even filter by job function, industry, seniority and location.
Let’s assume I’m a consultant for Marketing teams here in New York city. I just did a quick search using the filters:
- Industry: Marketing & Advertising
- Location: New York City
- Job Function: Director
For this audience, one of the most popular article was in regard to Christiano Ronaldo moving a bottle of Coca-Cola at a press conference and encouraging people to drink water instead. Knowing this is top of mind, I could mention this situation and write content about how important it is for marketing departments to have a crisis management plan in place. Or, why you should make sure influencers actually like the stuff you’re putting in front of them.
This tool won’t tell you what to write, but it will give you valuable clues as to what you should write about. As you build up your number of page followers, you can see the exact content they’re consuming, making this feature even more valuable.
How to create engaing content
While the Content Suggestions tool is a great way to surface relevant topics, Ba warns that you must go beyond sharing and add your perspective as well. So, you wouldn’t just say “Great post!” and expect people to care enough to read it. First of all, you haven’t prequalified what’s so great about it. Beyond that, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to share your interpretation of what happened, and how it impacts your audience or industry.
Ba also states “You always want to ask a question, give people an opportunity to engage back.” This point is crucial to your success, getting engagement for your posts will increase the number of people who see it. Reason being, the LinkedIn algorithm wants to promote interesting content, and all these comments demonstrate the quality of your post. Plus, the whole point of social media is to be social. As such, you want to be conversational as opposed to promotional. So, simply ending your post with a question is a simple way to get more engagement.
Going Live on LinkedIn is another opportunity for you to be in conversation with your audience. As per Ba “Livestreams are seven times more likely to get a conversation going and 24 times more likely to help you generate comments versus other types of posts. So a really powerful way to get discovered and to really win in the feed is, going live through LinkedIn”. When going live, consider interviewing relevant guests, sharing case studies or providing handy tips for your audience.
Another way to get a lot of engagement? Create a Poll. If you’ve spent any amount of time on LinkedIn lately you’ve undoubtedly seen a plethora of polls in your feed. Why? Because they often get much more reach as compared to your average posts. And, although this may seem like an easy way to get a lot of views, you shouldn’t do so at the expense of your brand or reputation. I’ve seen people put up the most ridiculous polls such as “Are you left handed or right handed? Vote now!”.
Before you do a poll, start with why. Shanee’ Moret, founder of Growth Academy, recommends using polls to prequalify interests for the products or services you sell. This way, you’ll take the guesswork out of determining what your audience wants. Here’s a great example. Brittany Ramsey is a Career Coach at Bwell Mindset. She created a poll asking “In terms of career growth – where are you struggling the most?”
The response “Clarity and what to do next” was the most popular answer, so she followed up with a Career Clarity map to help her audience. (full post here)
Should she choose to, Ramsey could also create a Career Clarity workshop, or even an online course to serve a larger audience. Either way, she’ll be able to do so with more confidence since her audience already told her what they’re most interested in.
Optimizing Your Content
In 2019, Ba would recommend posting everyday Monday through Friday and avoiding the weekends since engagement was low. However, all that changed in 2020 as people became more active on the platform. As such, posting on the weekends became a great way to capture that attention and grow your followers.
She referenced an example from Harvard Business Review. Their account started January, 2020 with 6 million followers, and grew that to 12 million followers by July, 2020. They didn’t change any of their content, they just started posting on weekends.
I’ll have to assume you don’t have 6 million followers, but the overall point is to post more often, just don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Beyond that, Ba states you shouldn’t post more than once per day as this could result in you diluting the distribution of each post. In regard to timing, you’ll want to do so between 9am and 3pm.
While these tips provide a great starting point, at the end of the day, your results are what matters most. So you’ll need to keep an eye on your own analytics to see what time works for you, and what content lands best with your audience. Fortunately, LinkedIn provides free and transparent performance data on an individual post level. But, be sure to consider other Key Performance Indicators such as direct messages, website visits and leads generated.
Armed with this information you’ll be able to create content that reaches a larger audience while still focusing on impact. But, don’t be afraid to fail! Take risks and experiment often, that’s where growth occurs. Fortunately, if your content isn’t “good” not that many people will see it due to the LinkedIn algorithm. So, you have nothing to lose. Just learn from your experiences and try again the next day.
Have any questions or feedback? Just want to say hi? Reach out to me on LinkedIn today and mention the fact I exist.