LinkedIn: the dark horse of social media

August 2023

LinkedIn was once the useful but ‘boring’ social media platform, the one you join to get on in your career but with no jokes or puppy videos. But while other, more ‘exciting’, platforms have come and gone, LinkedIn has stayed and evolved into a massive, multi-tasking hub where businesses, brands and individuals all go for networking, job-hunting, brand building and lead generating – and its star is still in the ascendant. (Still no funny puppy videos, though. Sigh.)

“LinkedIn is the go-to platform for building your brand and generally growing your career and/or your business”

LinkedIn is hands down the top professional social media platform. By the end of 2022, it had 63 million companies listed on it and more than 930 million members, of which 49 million are premium subscribers paying a minimum of US$29.99 a month.

It is also one of the oldest active social networks, launched in 2003 – a year before Facebook. In the early days, it was just for networking and sharing CVs and features such as the ability to upload your contacts books, job listings and public profiles were added gradually.

Since then, LinkedIn has grown and evolved to become the ultimate networking destination for professionals, a virtual gathering place where you can connect, collaborate and expand your industry contacts. No need to make chit-chat over vol-au-vents in uncomfortable shoes. LinkedIn lets you do it all from the comfort of your own desk.

But it is so much more than a networking site. LinkedIn is also the go-to platform for building your brand (both personal and business), generating leads and sales, attracting and recruiting staff, creating content, researching the market and generally driving growth for your career and/or your business.

Let us count the LinkedIn ways:

1. Here's looking at you: personal branding

You don’t have to be looking for a job to be thinking about your personal brand on LinkedIn. Whether you’re a start-up founder, a recent graduate or a corporate CEO, LI allows you to showcase your expertise, achievements and insights and position yourself as a thought leader in your field.

To do that, you need to apply the same principles as for building a business brand. First ask yourself what you can offer that no-one else can. What are your talents, your values, your achievements, and passions?  

Once you have created a profile that reflects who you are and makes you shine, the next step is to grow your network strategically. That means connecting with professionals you admire – and personalizing your connection requests whenever possible so you can start a conversation straight away.

“Celebrate others and express your genuine opinion. Authenticity is key to strong personal brand”

We’ll talk about groups later, but active and consistent participation in the community is super important to building a strong personal brand.  Publish articles using the LinkedIn Publishing feature and add them to your profile, subscribe to plenty of newsletters, and consider writing your own (see point 4 for more on that).  

Celebrate others and express your genuine opinion about topics of interest. Authenticity plays a key role in building a strong personal brand.

Keep track of your metrics as well, as they will give you insights on what topics resonate with your community. Building a brand on Linkedin takes time, effort and commitment so focus on providing value and encouraging others around you to grow and learn from your insights.

2. Joining in the party: LinkedIn Communities & Groups

Linkedin groups are a great way to connect with industry professionals, meet potential business partners, share knowledge and learn about hot business topics and interests.

“Being an active member of a group will help you establish yourself as someone worth meeting”

There are two types of group – listed and unlisted. You can simply explore listed groups by using the search bar, while for unlisted groups you need to be invited by a member. Linkedin will also suggest relevant groups based on your profile and interests.

To fully benefit from a dynamic and thriving Linkedin community it’s important to actively participate in discussions and celebrate other members' input as well as sharing content and stories that will inspire others.

3. Hitting the bullseye with LinkedIn advertising

LinkedIn uses objective-based advertising, which helps you build ad campaigns around specific goals such as awareness, consideration or conversion, and offers a wide variety of formats. Sponsored content comes in static, carousel, videos, event and document ad formats, and you can send direct one-on-one messages or start conversations with your audience with sponsored messaging. 

But what makes LinkedIn really stand out is the precision of ad targeting. You start with what is already a high-quality audience of professionals (according to LI’s own stats, four out of five members drive business decisions and the LI audience has twice the buying power of average web audiences.) 

“LinkedIn is a treasure trove of member-generated data, so you can target to a really specific audience”

But then you can really zoom in. LInkedIn is a treasure trove of member-generated demographic data, so you can target by company, job or level of seniority, and you can target contextually, so if they work in finance they might be interested in watches, and so on.

You can also use audience insights to find out what kind of content is most likely to hook your target customer, see what they’re engaging with and adapt your content accordingly. That means your content can be on another level of creativity (and there’s no need to keep trotting out those generic product ads and hoping for the best). 

4. Employee advocacy: why your teams are your best champions

When it comes to advocating for your brand, your employees, rather than social media influencers, could be your best bet. And LinkedIn is the perfect platform for them to do just that.  

“Employees know your brand inside out and are perfectly placed to act as experts”

Employees are the ones who know your brand inside out and are perfectly placed to act as experts on your products and services and give a positive inside view of the company. And consumers often see the “employee voice” as more trustworthy and authentic than that of a paid influencer.

There are benefits for the employee too, helping them establish themselves as thought leaders and giving their networking opportunities a push. 

According to our own research, one of the hurdles is that staff aren’t always aware that there is something to post or repost, and they’re not always confident about what to write or how to write it.

This is where a formal employee advocacy strategy helps. At elespacio, we’ve set up a special channel on Slack where we present posts and offer two or three copy options, written by ChatGPT, that the team can then customise and post on their own LinkedIn account and help get the message out.

5. LinkedIn Newsletters: spreading your word

The Newsletter feature on LinkedIn has been getting much attention – and with good reason. Writing a regular newsletter is a good way to share your professional expertise with a potentially wide audience – and it’s a relatively easy way, too.

“Like Google, LinkedIn rewards content that is read and shared the most by showing it onto more people’s feeds”

Anyone on LinkedIn can find, read and share your newsletter and if they like it, they can subscribe. Just like Google, LinkedIn rewards you for higher rates of engagement so the more people who engage with your beautifully crafted missive, the more people will see it.

Share your newsletter on other social platforms or via email, publish it regularly, make it attractive and easy to read and, before you know it, you will have boosted brand awareness, created engagement, built your authority and generated some lovely new leads. 

Being an active member of a group will help you establish yourself as someone worth meeting. If you’re talking directly to your target audience, then there’s a good chance you will build the right reputation and win over interest for your business.

Illustration: Phuwadon Thongnoum