With over 300 million users, LinkedIn is the third largest social network and the only major business-oriented medium among them.
As most professionals well know, it offers a uniquely convenient interface allowing users to share dynamic résumés, connect with others according to common demographics or vertical interests, and discuss and disseminate relevant business news and information.
It has a human side (“Say ‘Happy Birthday’ to John”), is optimized for job seekers and employers (“Here are 5 jobs you may be interested in”), an entrepreneurial element (“Who can recommend a good social media marketing ‘crash course’?”), and unlike Facebook, titles mean something here (“Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief at The Huffington Post Media Group has endorsed you” [subsequent wild celebration]).
Like any social space, on or offline, there are two kinds of people there: followers and leaders. This post is about how to be one of the leaders through the utilization of content.
Step 1: Lead By Example
“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”
– Kenneth Blanchard, Author The One Minute Manager
If you are what you should be you will command attention; but as a leader, unless you communicate what you want others to know, your thoughts remain hidden and much less effective. On social media, where everyone is acting “behind the curtain,” producing and effectively sharing compelling, rich web content is key to leading the online marketplace.
According to Dr. William Ward, Professor of Social Media at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, a man from the 15th century experienced as much data in a lifetime as we experience in one day. Moreover, each day human beings create 2.5 quintillion (that’s 18 zeroes) bytes of data; and to show how rapidly this number is expanding: 90% of the world’s data is from the last two years alone.
So how can you make your mark in a world that is a rushing river of new information?
Step 2: Be Vocal
Fortunately, LinkedIn offers unique opportunities to do just that.
- The Influencers program
You may have noticed, certain prominent figures are highlighted on purpose by LinkedIn as “Thought Leaders” you can follow. Bill Gates, President Obama, Sir Richard Branson, Dr. Maria Gottschalk, and Tony Robbins are among the top read. LinkedIn closed this program almost as fast as they opened it, due to the overwhelming number of applicants for the program. Therefore, if you were not already chosen, this is not an option for you.
- Publishing on LinkedIn
While you may have to wait for an invite from the network, you may have noticed your more active connections are now posting content directly to the site and you are receiving new notifications everyday to read their articles. Hint: be active on the network and you will most likely get an invite.
Fortunately, LinkedIn offers a high-powered platform for this type of thought leadership. Not only are all your connections notified when you “break a new story” but the domain authority of your article for search engines has the advantage of LinkedIn’s 99/100 ranking – which is almost unbeatable, unless you are Facebook, Twitter, or Google itself.
The downside: you must create original content here. Copy-and-pasting posts from your own site is duplicate content – a major SEO “no-no” that could cause you to lose authority from your own site.
Therefore, use it separately to share unique ideas.
- LinkedIn Groups
Perhaps the best kept secret of content marketing, sharing relevant content as discussions in the right LinkedIn groups can be an extremely effective tool to “put your thoughts out there.”
While any abuse of a medium lessens the effect, being bold can get you far here.
First, join the right groups. On LinkedIn, there are many groups organized by location and interest. With a maximum number of 50 allowed, join the groups most relevant to you to speak to the people you need to talk to for your business or organization.
Then, write compelling content that enters the conversations they are having. What issues are they dealing with? What do you want to say? What do they need to hear?
Share it. Mastering the “share” tool and using it without spamming content can actually create effective conversations among potential clients and persons of interest you want to influence. One might be surprised how many people comment, like, read, and share your info, how many ask to connect, how many go through your website and ask to schedule a consultation.
A bonus tip: content marketing is a conversation. If you are not reading others and interacting with them in your group, you are speaking to an audience you do not know or understand. Creating a post as a direct answer to someone’s question or in agreement or rebuttal to their argument is an extremely effective way to create engagement.
Simply think of it as a conversation more than a platform and you will find it will end up becoming a platform with rock concert-loud speakers.
Facebook is for friends, Twitter is for fans and followers, LinkedIn is for leaders.
Are you going to be a leader?