Professional Development Series
Andrew Hickey: Director of Marketing Communication – Willamette University MBA
- What’s the main difference between using LinkedIn over other social media platforms? What are the benefits of using LinkedIn over other social media platforms?
There are several differences between LinkedIn and other platforms, but there are two that I find most important. First is tone. As an individual or brand, your audience on LinkedIn might be the same people you reach through other social channels, but they expect a more professional, informative tone. People use other social platforms for a wide variety of reasons – to stay in touch with family/friends; to keep up with the news; to argue about politics. So, it’s hard to tell what mindset they are in when on the platform. But people using LinkedIn are all basically in the same mindset – to work on or otherwise develop their career or professional life. Speak to them knowing that’s their mindset. The second big difference is the pace of LinkedIn. People aren’t on LinkedIn all the time. How do we know this? Because it’s information that LinkedIn guards closely. They don’t really release daily active user numbers. So, you’d have to assume it’s because those numbers aren’t really that impressive. Pew Research did a survey a few years ago about frequency of social media site use and LinkedIn came in dead last in every way imaginable. So, you don’t have to post frantically on LinkedIn like you might on Twitter or Facebook, where content gets stale a lot quicker. The need for quality over quantity is especially pronounced on LinkedIn.
One of the benefits of using LinkedIn is that it’s relatively quiet compared with other platforms. Most brands still largely ignore LinkedIn, so it’s still kind of a green field of opportunity. It’s also a relatively drama-free environment where conversation mostly remains civil. That’s becoming harder to find across platforms.
2. What are some of the features that are unique to LinkedIn or are of interest to you?
The ability to find people on LinkedIn is powerful. Whether you’re an individual looking for a job or a company marketing a product or service, LinkedIn allows you to search and target their user base with helpful precision. LinkedIn also has a lot of valuable economic data they collect and can seemingly analyze quicker than typical sources like government agencies. They produce some valuable reports that show economic trends based on user data.
3. How would you want to brand yourself or a company page?
This will vary wildly depending on who you are; what your goals are; and what resources you have available. But there’s one thing I think holds true no matter your situation: Be authentic. Don’t push your personal or organization brand into a shape or form that isn’t consistent with who you are.
4. How do you create leads with the LinkedIn company page?
You could spend some money on advertising. LinkedIn, relative to other social platforms, is expensive when it comes to advertising. But if you know your audience and understand what your performance metrics need to be to achieve positive ROI, it can be super effective to advertise via your company page. Otherwise, you could try to generate leads organically. Be active on LinkedIn via your company page – post regularly and answer questions or acknowledge comments. Engage with your audience as authentically as possible. You can use SEO tactics to increase the visibility of your company page. And you can create “showcase pages” that highlight certain aspects of your product or service. There are ways you can position the messaging on your company page to facilitate lead generation, as well.
5. If your target audience consists of both prospective employees and prospective customers; how would you want to portray the company page for these dual audiences?
True, company pages on LinkedIn can speak to several audiences. The same general set of tactics you would apply to transform your company page to a lead generation machine apply here, as well. Tweak your messaging and any applicable calls to action to play to your audience. For example, if you are a consultant or small business owner looking for clients, pitch your value up front on your company page.
6. What are the challenges in posting content on LinkedIn versus other social media platforms?
LinkedIn’s algorithm for determining what shows up in an individual’s feed is very much still a wildcard. All social platforms guard their algorithm, but LinkedIn’s seems like they’re still not sure what’s in their own black box. Engagement seems to be a big factor – the more engagement your posts get, the more visible they will be. But that’s not been a consistent outcome in my experience. I have a good-sized following on LinkedIn – nearly 90k people – and I do a lot of experimentation with posting at different times of day or week. I look at past posts that got a lot of engagement and try to post similar content. But there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to what works and what doesn’t. Also, LinkedIn doesn’t let you edit posts on company pages after you post them. That is wildly annoying.
7. What are some of the metrics that you think are important for posts on LinkedIn either on your personal account or on a company page?
Engagement. How much of your available audience are you reaching and how many of them are liking/commenting/sharing your stuff. If I had to pick one form of engagement I think is most valuable, I would say sharing content. That is when you have the best chance of organically growing your network. A share is, in some ways, the highest indicator that someone likes your content. They are willing to put their name or their brand behind an idea or thought you had. Comments are great too because they offer an opportunity to have a discussion. And that helps to keep your existing network warm.
8. Where would you rate LinkedIn in terms of transparency of insights information when compared to other platforms for a company page?
LinkedIn gives a good amount of data to company page owners about their audience and how content is performing. You can learn about visitors to your company page; engagement with the content you post; and about your existing group of followers. My only issue with LinkedIn company page data is that the data can sometimes be inconsistent. For example, I posted something from a company page the other day and it got a few likes. But none of those are showing up in the Company Page analytics dashboard. I think they have some work to do, but the data is helpful.
9. What are some changes that you look forward to on LinkedIn?
Supposedly LinkedIn Groups are undergoing a bit of a revival and refresh. I’m looking forward to that. Groups on LinkedIn can be a good way to really interested people around distinct topics and generate organic discussion. LinkedIn just got into supporting video content directly in the feed. I’m not a fan of how most people are using that new functionality, but I think it will get better as people figure out what works and what doesn’t with video. So much of it right now seems poorly planned, poorly executed, or some combination of the two.
10. What are some tips on posting social media content on any platform?
Find your voice. It’s not easy. I don’t have any magical tricks for finding your voice. But establishing a unique and authentic tone for yourself or a brand is key to connecting with the different audience on social media. It doesn’t matter what the medium is (written, audio, video, infographic) if you make that connection.
Other Posts Within the Professional Development Series: