The way LinkedIn is set up, you’d think it’d be even more of a mainstay in the business marketing discussion, and would drive everyone to learn how to create a killer profile. However, the way many businesses set their LinkedIn Profile often defeats the purpose of even creating one.
Granted, if you bring LinkedIn up in any conversation, literally everyone and their mother will smile and sing praises. But deep down in the trenches, most people tend to agree that there seems to be something keeping the platform from reaching critical mass.
Contrary to some beliefs, I don’t think it’s a matter of scope or reach. By its very nature, LinkedIn’s user base is bound to be smaller than that of other broader networks.
I’d even argue that’s a feature, not a bug.
No. What I think keeps LinkedIn from spearheading the digital-business collective consciousness – especially in the B2B and SaaS sector – is a haze surrounding its outstanding practical use.
Everyone knows LinkedIn is “super useful for business.” But few can tell you exactly why and, more importantly, how in applicable terms.
So, let’s get that conversation going by addressing a few ways in which most businesses today are wasting this platform´s huge potential.
They Fail to Truly Understand – and Leverage – Its Focus
This one might be more of an indictment of a larger issue that most companies struggle with today: a deficient – or outright nonexistent – outreach and networking game plan (more on this later.)
In LinkedIn terms, however, it seems that a lot of businesses fail to even understand what it is that makes the platform valuable in the first place.
Unlike other networks created around the idea of spontaneously bringing people together, everything that happens on LinkedIn has a business bent to it. Or at least it should. From recommending a colleague to someone, to answering a connection’s question, it is all supposed to further your strategy in some way. It should all be done with a purpose.
Meandering and time-wasting in this platform will quickly close doors in your face, and you won’t even know it. Everyone there has their business pants on, and those that don’t are the ones that stand out for all the wrong reasons.
LinkedIn is second-to-none when it comes to generating warm leads, engagement, and connections for the B2B sector. A stark contrast with other networks where B2C reigns. But if you aren’t making the right moves, with the right mindset, you can kiss those opportunities goodbye.
They Approach It with an Undefined Outreach Strategy
Understanding the people you are reaching out to, and figuring out the best way to engage with them, is paramount to success on LinkedIn.
Unlike shotgun strategies, so popular – and effective – on other social networks, LinkedIn rewards strategic and methodic execution. In many ways, the platform resembles the early days of Facebook, when organic and meaningful connections were everything.
Step zero should always be to identify the companies you’ll want to connect with, and the key players in those organizations. Over time, and with the right strategies in place, you can steadily build up and expand your network with peers, potential customers, and assets to further your goals.
Now, I can already see many a frown at the suggestion of playing the outreach game the “organic” way. Again, this betrays a lack of understanding of the platform itself.
The sharp fall of organic reach we’ve seen on networks like Facebook, and more recently on Instagram, hasn’t really impacted LinkedIn profiles the same way. Probably due to its particular business-minded userbase.
That alone makes the organic approach not only viable but preferable.
That said, you should approach outreach here with a bit of exclusivity in mind – it’s important to only connect with the right people in terms of your strategy’s goals. Randomly following people or trying to connect with anyone that’s available will only water down your engagement rates and hurt your algorithm’s recommendations.
And on that note…
They Don’t Play LinkedIn’s Algorithm
For some reason, LinkedIn seems to be one of the most neglected platforms when it comes to optimization. Not for lack of effectiveness, mind you. But rather out of a misplaced sense of there being more worthwhile priorities.
Let me pop that bubble right now: Whatever else LinkedIn is, at the end of the day, it is just another system powered by a search engine algorithm at its core.
And as algorithms go, LinkedIn has a pretty remarkable one. Not only effective but also highly responsive to the right type of optimization.
The topic of SEO trends for LinkedIn is a beast of its own. But for now, suffice it to say that the overzealous focus on professions can be an asset if used correctly. If you are, for example, shooting for pros in the app development niche, merely mentioning it in anywhere in your LinkedIn Profile can get the algorithm going.
A rather simple strategy, with the right keywords and hashtags, will give you more bang for your buck on LinkedIn than it would on other networks. Maybe more importantly, it will also give you a bigger platform to reach people you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
For all its differences, high engagement is still analogous to relevance in LinkedIn’s algorithm eyes. The more you are able to play it to yield more interactions, the better visibility you’ll command.
They Lack Stop-and-Engage Content
It is not like LinkedIn isn’t providing enough opportunities for unique, platform-centric content strategies. It’s more like people aren’t seizing them, or fail to adapt their strategy to the unique environment and the tools available.
Just like with any other social network, interactivity is key to LinkedIn. Unlike other social networks, having an active LinkedIn profile is not just about posting content into the void and hoping people will come.
It is about using content to prompt people to connect with you.
Besides “providing value” and all that trite content-centric advice, people on LinkedIn look for quick and evident reasons to stop and click on your content. Remember: this is a no-nonsense ecosystem. People aren’t there looking for entertainment or to pass the time. Like you, most people on LinkedIn are there with a very specific purpose.
So, like in chess, you should make every move count.
Compelling hooks at the start of every post are a must, or you might as well not write them in the first place. Discreet and creative CTAs should also be a part of the package. Motivate people to want to engage in the comments through interesting, honest questions. Or clear value incentives when all else fails.
Also, engage people on their own terrain. Leave meaningful comments on your target audience’s uploads to start conversations. Tag relevant players on your post, or ask for their help/opinion on third-party’s pieces.
Content for the sake of content, even if valuable, is a waste of time on LinkedIn. Content with purpose and strategy is what gets you results.
You Are Either the Hunter…
That LinkedIn holds amazing potential to overhaul a business’ reach is no secret to anyone. Fully unlocking that potential, however, seems to be rather challenging for people on the platform.
And that’s kind of a good thing.
It means that there’s plenty of opportunities for we happy few to edge out the competition on a terrain they don’t even fully understand. But to do that, you need first to determine in which camp you are so that you can take appropriate action.
As good ‘ol Warren Buffet said: “If you’ve been in the game 30 minutes and you don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.”