Social media has changed the way people find products and interact with brands. While it is important for your brand to be on major social platforms, it is equally as important for you as an individual to be as well. One of our favorite studies on consumer trust shows that people find employees, peers, and company experts as very or extremely credible information sources. It also found that individuals are more believable than institutions, and that brands are more trustworthy than media and the government.
Following that logic, an individual and their own social media platforms can have a major impact on how a business is perceived.
It can be hard to wrap your arms around how you and your business should be using social media. There are multiple platforms, and they don’t really come with instructions.
LinkedIn is a platform built to mimic your professional network. As of early 2020, LinkedIn has 700 million monthly users, double that of Twitter. And in contrast to Facebook where people share primarily personal updates, users come to LinkedIn as a business resource.
We consider it a required platform for B2B businesses, founders, and entrepreneurs. That being said, regardless of industry, if you or your business can benefit from increased awareness across a broader network of professionals, then it makes sense to actively use the platform.
There are three areas to focus on when using LinkedIn to build your personal brand and your business.
Your individual presence
The first step to building your and your business’ brand on LinkedIn is to start with your own use of the platform. When it comes to building your individual brand on LinkedIn, we have four key steps:
- Optimize your personal profile — Your profile is your virtual first impression. Ensure it is complete and regularly updated. Add licenses, certifications, or volunteer organizations, in addition to your work experience. Include media like thought leadership content or personal websites. It should be as robust and representative of you as it can be.
- Build your network — Your presence on LinkedIn is only as strong as your audience. Pro tip: Don’t blast out connection requests to everyone LinkedIn recommends to you. Not only may someone not feel comfortable accepting your invite if they don’t know you well, you may end up with a LinkedIn feed with posts from people you don’t remember. Connect with your inner circle first: friends, family, coworkers, past coworkers with whom you are still in touch. Then, connect regularly with those you meet through work or other professional settings like events. If you’d like to connect with someone that you don’t know, make sure to send a customized message that communicates how you heard of them and why you’d like to connect.
- Engage with your community — With an up to date profile and a strong network, you have the foundation in place to really be able to use LinkedIn in a valuable way: finding content and people that are interesting to you and sharing posts that others find interesting.With any social platform, you are responsible for curating your experience. Think of your LinkedIn feed as a room that you need to decorate — but with content instead of mid-century modern furniture. In addition to your connections, you can follow topics, brands, and other thought leaders — here is a link to a page on LinkedIn that shows you how to customize your feed. By curating your LinkedIn feed, you should see content from connections, brands, groups, and others that is interesting to you. A big part of social media is actively engaging with what others share, not just posting yourself. LinkedIn is similar to any other form of communication; be genuine and thoughtful. If you find something interesting, if you want to congratulate someone, if you see something you know someone else would like, let them know!
- Share value — The last step to your individual presence is providing value to those who are connected to you. Showcase your unique point of view and expertise about topics related to your business and other professional and personal interests.
Basic types of posts:
- Company content (marketing content, company news, job openings, culture highlights)
- Professional updates (career changes, news about other professional organizations you are involved with)
- Perspective on industry news
Here is a useful framework to guide how you approach your LinkedIn strategy.
With this kind of foundation in place, you should be well on your way to fostering solid relationships, showcasing your personal expertise, and building your own (and by extension your brand’s) presence on LinkedIn.
Your business page
At the same time you’re building your personal brand on LinkedIn, you want to grow awareness for your business as well.
The first step is to create a company page – go here to get started. A company page is a landing page for your business. It also allows your employees and others to link to the business from their personal profiles or posts. Similar to your personal profile, you should fully complete your business page with as much information as possible, including a compelling description and contact information.
With a completed business page, you can begin to grow your audience. The best way to grow your audience organically is to share posts and content that people naturally want to engage with. The same types of posts we shared in the previous section also apply to your business page — just to be sure to frame them in a way that makes sense coming from a company profile.
If you already have a business page and need help growing your followers, see our blog post with more tips.
Your employees’ presence
Your employees are an often untapped resource for building your brand on social media. Like a happy customer, they make great brand advocates. Encouraging your employees to follow steps 1-4 in the first section to build their own personal brands not only benefits them in the long run, it can benefit you too. They can share their own industry expertise, amplify content related to your business, and grow their reputation as being a trusted resource amongst their own community. All of this reflects back on you and your business.
People trust people more than they trust marketing. LinkedIn allows you and your team to create and foster relationships and stay top of mind with your audience. When someone has a question about your area of expertise or needs to buy a new product that you happen to sell, they’ll think of you first.
Hoping to become more active on LinkedIn in the new year? We’re hosting a LinkedIn 101 virtual workshop on January 13th. We’ll walk through our best tips for using the platform to grow your personal brand and business — register here.