LinkedIn is Not Facebook – Taking a Professional Approach
Dayton, OH – Spend any amount of time reading through LinkedIn comments and you’ll likely come across comments such as “let’s keep it professional here,” or “While cute, this is not Facebook!” The professionals loyal to LinkedIn constantly rail against those who break the accepted rules of the platform by using the casual, status posting approach of other social media platforms.
LinkedIn is a thriving professional community of more than 500 million members around the globe with more than 100,000 new users joining the network every day. With more than 20 percent of members in senior-level and decision-maker positions, users and publishers on the platform continually police content.
As a professional platform, the content strategy on LinkedIn is different from other social platforms. Rather than promoting products and services or providing recaps of your company’s events, the content approach needs to go beyond your company’s interests to have the goal of educating and informing a specific target audience or industry segment. So, rather than a university talking about an event that brought back senior alumni, the approach should be why bringing them back was important to engaging potential contributors and demonstrating the school’s commitment to alumni of all ages.
The core of any LinkedIn content strategy is to follow the four P’s: personal, practical, professional, and to portray a path for change.
Just because LinkedIn is a professional platform, it doesn’t mean you should strip out your individual or company’s personality. When thinking about LinkedIn, picture a networking party after a professional conference. Conversations can vary from impressions of a session, people asking specific questions or others wanting your opinion. The setting is casual, but your response is aimed at being informative or adding to the content presented. Contrary to popular opinion, you should use “you,” “we,” and “us.” The goal of networking is to engage your audience, so making a personal connection should be the goal.
In every circumstance, a company’s LinkedIn content should add to the narrative rather than repeating the opinions of others. Having a specific point of view or adding another view on a topic demonstrates you’ve thought about the subject and have something of value to add. Taking the approach of constantly adding value to the conversation translates to prospects and potential partners transferring the same impression of your company and brand.
As a professional platform, the goal should be to contribute and produce content in a professional manner. The underlying goal of every company is to sell their products and services to generate an ROI for dedicating their time and energy to LinkedIn. However, the goal is to aim for a balance of 20 percent self-promotion and 80 percent high quality educational and valuable content to create a thought-leadership position. Those who violate this mix often are the ones who connect with companies only to immediately follow up with an InMail sales pitch. Using the networking party example, no likes the person who pitches everyone they encounter. For the 20 percent self-promotion, successful content can range from sharing case studies to sharing your own process in a downloadable worksheet.
Portray a Path for Change
Professionals are constantly looking for ways to educate themselves and more importantly learn from experts how to avoid missteps. Showing a pathway for change is one of the greatest assets of LinkedIn. From expressing opinions on possible or potential changes coming to an industry or professional practice to sharing best practices of how to approach business challenges; LinkedIn aims to foster professional growth. Thought leadership in this case often looks forward with predictions of future trends or industry category growth.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 94 percent of B2B companies surveyed use LinkedIn to distribute professional content, more than any other major social platform. The reason for this loyalty is that both LinkedIn and its strongest member advocates ensure community rules are followed. Keeping content professional and valuable draws executives and decisionmakers back, again and again, to connect and seek valuable information. Developing a specific LinkedIn content approach creates a “yardstick” to measure proposed content against to ensure it is practical, professional and valuable to members.
Setting up editorial guidelines provides guidance to any company contributor on LinkedIn. Editorial guidelines map out the characteristics that make your content recognizable as coming from your brand. Guidelines should also outline your company’s standards of quality to ensure your content is worthy of your target audience. In other words, know how to talk with your target audience and understand what topics and content are seen as valuable.
At B63 Line, we find digging into a target audience is important in knowing how to talk with audiences and in understanding what topics are seen as valuable. While a great starting point for developing an editorial approach, we recognize this step needs to be repeated frequently to stay on top of changing needs and trends.
With an established content plan and editorial guidelines, we find that more contributors get involved in publishing content because they feel more empowered in what they are contributing builds the brand and advances their thought-leadership in smart ways. Empowering employees and executives to contribute content allows companies to take full advantage of the power of LinkedIn.
Download our LinkedIn Editorial Guidelines to get started improving your brand’s image on LinkedIn.
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