Want your company to be seen as an industry leader? Wondering how LinkedIn can help?
In this article, you'll discover how to begin building thought leadership on LinkedIn, three types of content that will help, and how to choose the face of your company.
Why Businesses Should Consider LinkedIn for Thought Leadership
When most of us think of thought leadership, we tend to think about the more personal social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and even Facebook. LinkedIn is still very much a business- and recruiting-oriented platform in our minds. Most of the time, people only really pay attention to their profiles when they're seeking (or think they may start seeking) a new opportunity or job.
But, as it turns out, one of LinkedIn's superpowers is that it's the only business-first social platform. It's the only social connection platform that thrives on your personal profile being more about your business and your brand than about you on a personal level.
Of course, the personal level is still important because we do business with human beings and smiling faces rather than with logos. And while every other social marketing platform available also works better when you humanize and present the face behind the brand, LinkedIn is the only one that allows you to build an entire social page out of your business.
#1: Choose Who You Want to Be the Face of Your Brand on LinkedIn
One of the interesting questions that comes up involving leveraging personal profiles on LinkedIn and thought leadership is, “Who should a company or brand choose to create that thought leadership profile?”
Obviously, whoever begins to optimize their personal LinkedIn profile to establish themselves as a thought leader in your industry is going to become a face for your brand. These are people who'll be creating regular content that establishes their name and personal brand under the umbrella of the company's brand, and while doing so, will be the front line of engagement with your audience.
So it's pretty obvious why you should take your time in choosing the best person to carry this out. And this role doesn't have to be restricted to one person—larger brands might want to choose multiple people to build up as thought leaders within their industry.
Here are some other considerations for choosing someone to take on a thought leadership role:
- Are they an expert in their field and within your company? They don't have to be an expert in content creation or marketing but they do need to understand the industry and the brand's place within it before they can be established as a thought leader.
- Are they willing to put themselves out there as a face of the brand? Nearly every brand has experts who could fill this role, but they may feel uncomfortable stepping into the spotlight or creating public content and establishing themselves as thought leaders. So make sure that this person is comfortable doing it.
- Are they comfortable on-camera? They should be confident enough that they can speak clearly on-camera to help establish the connection with the audience that builds their authority. Some people are amazing and charismatic in person and then freeze up on-camera, and others whose charisma and presence are always underestimated in person but really shine through on video.
Again, you don't have to restrict yourself to one person for this role. Businesses that invest in building their employees' personal brands as thought leaders in their industry tend to do very well and attract new talent.
Additionally, if no one at your business seems to fit the criteria or you're a small business just starting in the thought leadership space, you may want to consider hiring staff specifically for this purpose.
#2: Optimize a LinkedIn Profile to Build Thought Leadership
The great thing about LinkedIn is that your presence as a thought leader starts with your personal profile. You want to set up and optimize your profile so it demonstrates your authority as part of your brand within the industry and helps establish you as a thought leader.
When someone visits your personal profile on LinkedIn, they should immediately be able to see what you do, who you help, and the value you provide. This starts with a strong headline on down through your description, featured links, published articles, activity, and content.
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The LinkedIn mobile app also has a few features you'll want to take advantage of to optimize your profile.
There's a name pronunciation tool that lets you share how you pronounce your name but you can also use it to record a 10-second introduction to people.
And if you flip on LinkedIn creator mode on your mobile device, you can create a 20-second cover story video. When people hover over your profile picture, it displays a video of you introducing yourself.
Both are still fairly hidden features that many marketers aren't taking advantage of so using them can help you stand out.
The LinkedIn mobile app also lets you use more characters in your headline than the desktop site so you can build out your headline even more.
Above all, if you want to establish yourself or help establish your staff and employees as thought leaders within your industry on LinkedIn, those personal profiles should be built out with the audience in mind. Make clear who you serve and how you serve them, as well as provide resources that establish your authority and thought leadership.
Whether you have one person or multiple people working to become thought leaders on LinkedIn, make sure you have a LinkedIn company page set up. The personal profiles of the people posting will be connected to this page and some of their content (as applicable) can then be repurposed on your page.
#3: 3 Algorithm-Friendly Content Ideas to Establish Thought Leadership
As with any social channel, understanding what the channel is working toward as well as what your audience responds to are important parts of developing your content strategy. Even though LinkedIn is a business-first social platform, it's all about humanizing brands. And part of being a thought leader means you're adding your personal thoughts and perspectives along with value to everything you post.
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LinkedIn recently increased the character limit on posts from 2,000 characters to 3,000 characters so you have plenty of room to share that perspective.
It goes without saying that if you want to establish yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn, you need to post compelling, thought-provoking content consistently. This means developing a content strategy that aligns with your values and the brand's goals, and posting that content on a schedule that works for you.
While you'll want to diversify your content and try all sorts of different types, here are three kinds of content that right now are favored by both the algorithm and audiences.
Polls on LinkedIn are short multiple-choice quizzes that invite people to vote on a particular topic. You can post a LinkedIn poll that curates information from your audience, creates an engagement or networking opportunity, or even works as an audience filter or lead generation tool.
The polls that tend to work best are those in which you discuss a personal insight or perspective about that particular topic and how it relates to your business, then introduce the poll, and then ask for some sort of engagement in the form of commentary. For example, you can ask the audience to explain their choice in the comments.
This doesn't mean that every time you want to post a story about yourself, it has to be a poll. Nor should you start creating all polls to game the algorithm. While they're favored right now and get the highest amount of engagement of any type of content, gaming the algorithm by abusing one of these features ends up hurting your brand more than helping it.
Most of the time, when we think of carousel posts, we think of a series of images or graphics such as a carousel post on Instagram. On LinkedIn, carousel posts act more like a document-sharing feature than an image post. LinkedIn carousel posts allow you to upload and share a PDF file, which can be created very easily using tools like Canva. Each page of the PDF becomes a slide on the carousel that the audience can swipe through.
And the really interesting thing about these carousel posts is that they don't look like images—they look more like eBooks or guides. There can be images embedded in the PDF just as you would in an eBook, but the majority of the page contains text.
An important thing to note here is that the content of the PDF doesn't include live links. So rather than posting your full PDF to LinkedIn as a carousel post, what you could do is send out your eBook, create a high-level lead magnet out of that eBook, and post that as the carousel. Make sure that the final slide of your carousel post includes a strong call to action such as to like and save the post or visit a website to opt in for more information by downloading the full book.
As with any other social media platform, video is a powerful medium for creating content. Video on LinkedIn allows you to connect with your audience, which helps immediately build trust and authority. Additionally, people still find it easier to consume information from a video because it takes less time from our busy lives.
Keeping this in mind, short videos from 30 seconds to 3 minutes tend to perform better on LinkedIn than longer videos. So one technique is to create short video clips out of some other content such as a live broadcast you did, and then be sure to include subtitles and captions to help summarize the video and bring in that engagement.
Don't underestimate the power of an authentic, imperfect video. You may consider some light editing if your video has a lot of filler words like uh, um, or ah or long pauses of dead air. But in general, audiences on LinkedIn are forgiving of mistakes and respond well to an authentic, unedited video that comes from the heart rather than an overproduced one that feels scripted and fake.
Mandy McEwen is a LinkedIn expert and founder of Mod Girl Marketing, a consultancy that helps marketing teams increase their exposure on LinkedIn. Her LinkedIn live show is called Ambitious Outcomes, and she's the top B2B marketer according to LinkedIn. Follow Mandy on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/mandymcewen/.
Other Notes From This Episode
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- Download the profile optimization checklist Mandy mentioned at linkedin.ModGirl.Social.
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