For B2B social sellers, a healthy LinkedIn presence is the "golden goose." It's the most direct and useful tool that you have for generating interest in your products or services and building relationships for mutual benefit.
80% of all social media B2B leads come from LinkedIn. As a B2B social seller, the most crucial task you have on your calendar every single day is to build relationships with the people that make buying decisions within your target organizations. That's where the power of LinkedIn truly lies. 75% of B2B buyers use social media to research their buying decisions. 50% rely on LinkedIn as a part of that process.
LinkedIn provides you with direct access to decision-makers at organizations that need, want, and are actively searching for the exact solution that you provide. That's why the platform performs 277% better than Facebook and Twitter when it comes to generating visitor-to-lead conversions.
Building an audience on LinkedIn allows you to get on your buyers' radar and find opportunities for genuine engagement with them. A presence on LinkedIn is something that you can rely on for years to come, as your career grows and you move to new positions.
But — building an audience on LinkedIn is easier said than done. People understand the power that the platform holds. There is a lot of competition there these days. But that doesn't mean that standing out in the right way on this fantastic platform can't be done.
Building an audience on LinkedIn requires that you be willing to put in the time and effort to make your followership organically. You are unlikely to generate the type of relationships that lead to sales in a few short days, so don't get discouraged. Success on LinkedIn comes from daily engagement and smart strategies that allow you to take on a less-is-more approach. And keep in mind that you have to follow this approach for 10-12 weeks before you have fully built your runway.
Here are some tips that will help social sellers to grow their LinkedIn audience:
Tip #1) Optimize Your Profile
Optimizing your profile should be the first step that any social sellers take before starting to build their presence on the platform. Your LinkedIn profile doubles as a virtual resume. 42% of users update their profiles regularly. It tells your prospects about your experience and expertise while helping them to understand better how you came to be where you are today. It's vital that you are sending the right message to prospects and ensuring that your profile is optimized, so LinkedIn's search features find you.
We recently published an article that covers the steps that you can take to optimize your headline. Here is a short teaser of the different steps included in the article:
- Add a value proposition in your headline.
- Use a professional headshot.
- Create a concise and compelling summary.
- Flesh out your experience section.
- Exchange endorsements and testimonials.
- Join and participate in active LinkedIn groups.
Following these tips is a good first step on your way toward your larger goal of building an audience.
Tip #2) Choose a Headline That Clarifies Your Value
Your headline shows up throughout the LinkedIn platform. It is, other than maybe your headshot picture, the most visible part of your entire profile. It's located directly below your name on your profile page and also shows up anytime that you leave a comment on someone else's status. For this reason, you must get the headline right.
In our LinkedIn profile optimization article, we gave some particular recommendations for choosing a headline that displays your value proposition and makes it clear to your prospects. You want them to have an unmistakable idea of what they will get from working with you.
- It should be specific.
- It should be easy to understand.
- It should elicit a reaction.
- It should convey your value.
- It should convey a problem that you solve.
Follow the above steps as you plan your headline. You want it to be short and easily digestible without sacrificing a majority of the tips above. For someone at SocialSellinator, our headline might read something like:
We Help B2B Companies Leverage Social Selling to Grow Sales
Simple. Effective. Clear. The length of your headline depends on your offering and personal preferences.
Tip #3) Publish Engaging Content
Do you want people to follow your account and engage with what you share through the platform? Yes, of course, you do. That's what having an audience is all about. Well — you can follow all of the tips and tricks that you want, but if you aren't providing valuable content to your audience, you're going to have a hard time developing those connections.
You must create content to be successful in social selling. You have to put your expertise on display and show your prospects how your solution will help them solve a particular problem. As a result, you should be publishing high-quality content that covers that problem or tangentially related subjects regularly.
Now, keep in mind that "content" can refer to all types of content. Off-site articles, posts published through the LinkedIn platform, videos, infographics, surveys, social media updates - the medium that you deliver your content through are less critical than the information you are providing. Just focus on delivering it as effectively as you possibly can.
Tip #4) Comment on Content That People Share
People (your prospects) like validation. They like to know that the content that they have shared with others was enjoyed and found useful. On most social media platforms, the clearest sign that a person's audience has found something that they shared interesting is actual engagement in the comments section.
Think about how you react when someone comments positively on something that you've shared. You probably remember that person, right? Or at least you would if they commented consistently on the things that you posted. You might go to their profile, check out their website, and read other content that they have shared — all steps that we want prospects to take when we comment on their articles. See what this means for you…?
Tip #5) Maintain a Steady Posting Cadence
Slow and steady wins the race. You don't have to be out there posting new content five times a day. If you update your profiles too much, some of the content that you share will get overlooked and not make the impact that you were hoping for.
A study from Social Report states that when looking to build an audience on LinkedIn, you should post one post per day. This posting schedule is backed up by a report from LinkedIn, which showed that posting 20 times per month (or about once per workday) will enable you to reach about 60% of your unique audience.
Yes, posting more often does mean that you will be able to reach a larger portion of your audience eventually. However, you want to make sure that you only share high-quality content. Less is more, and quality needs to be the focus.
Tip #6) Share Content From Others (And Let Them Know!)
If you are going to be sharing one piece of new content per day, you are going to have to share content from other brands. While it would be great only to share content that you (or your brand/company) produced, it's most likely not realistic for you to create a new piece of content for this purpose every day.
A healthy LinkedIn content sharing strategy mixes in resources from several different sources. Remember, your ultimate goal is to share content that is valuable to your audience. You want to be a source of information, but that doesn't mean that everything that you share has to come from you. There are a lot of people creating high-level content that your audience would find interesting. Don't keep that content from them because you feel you need to stay 100% on-brand. Doing so might mean you miss out on some great opportunities.
Sharing content from other brands also serves as a way to drum up conversations with people from that brand. It's a great networking tool to share content that others have produced. But the key here is to tag authors and brands in any social media posts where you share their content! That way, not only the original author gets notified, but also everyone who follows them on LinkedIn. As a result, you massively amplify the visibility of your post, and you increase the chance of engagement with the authors. Because after...if someone quotes your article, wouldn't you at least give that post a 'thumbs up' or even comment on it? Exactly!
Tip #7) Connect with New People Daily
Want to grow your audience on LinkedIn? Want to have more people that see and engage with the content that you share? The quickest path to increasing your audience is to use the platform's primary mechanism for audience growth — the ability to 'connect' with other people.
Every single day, you should be connecting with several new people. Later, after they've added you, you can drum up conversations with them. But, you can only message people that have connected with you on LinkedIn, so it is crucial that you continually add people that fit your prospect profile to keep a consistent flow of new conversations happening on LinkedIn.
Additionally — when someone adds you on LinkedIn, your posts will begin to show up on their feed. If they engage with the things that you share, your posts are prioritized and show up more often for them. For this reason, it is so essential to ensure that the content you post is valuable. After all, you may only get one chance to convince someone to engage with your content.
Important: You never want to add more than 100 people in a day and should add fewer than that. LinkedIn has a very finely-tuned machine when it comes to detecting people who may try to game or exploit their system. LinkedIn itself doesn't tell you clearly how many connections you can make per day and what number will have you go directly to LinkedIn jail. We recommend sending no more than 3–5% of your total LinkedIn connections per day. For example, if you have 1,500 LinkedIn connections, send 75 connection requests per day.
Tip #8) Visit a Healthy Number of Profiles Daily
Since you can (or should) only add ~100 new people per day on your account. But, you can visit up to 500 profiles per day, if you use LinkedIn Sales Navigator This is useful because, by default, LinkedIn profiles will tell people who have viewed their profile in their dashboard.
Showing up here will get you on people's radar. You'll start seeing your views begin to go up as these people land on your profile. Not only that, but you'll find a fair amount of the people that hit your profile, adding you. Someone that reaches out to establish a connection with you is typically higher on your value scale that someone that you reach out to cold. An excellent tool to automate profile visits is Dux-Soup - a Chrome browser plugin.
Tip #9) Engage in Conversations with Influencers
Like any social network, the best way to grow your audience is to start getting mentioned by people with their audiences. Identifying influencers that you would like to target and engage with on LinkedIn is critical for growing your audience quickly.
Of course, you want to be selective about how you engage with them. To follow influencers like a puppy, commenting on everything that they do would seem needy. Be selective in picking their posts for your engagement. When you do engage, do so thoughtfully. Bring real value to the table for their audience. Having the real insight to share is what will separate you from the hordes of people engaging with them half-heartedly. For a great way to quickly identify influencers on specific topics, use Right Relevance
Tip #10) Personalize Connection Requests When Appropriate
The trends of LinkedIn have changed in recent years. There once was a time when it was inappropriate to friend-request anyone you didn't know or have experience working with on the platform. However, today, it is allowed and encouraged to connect with a wide range of people within your industry.
When you do come across someone that you have a connection to — maybe you worked at the same place, or have a mutual colleague that bridges the gap between you — include that in a personalized note that you send them when you connect. Giving the connection request this personal touch will help you to stick in their mind and give you a natural opening for starting a conversation as soon as you connect.
Tip #11) Share Images with Your Content
Including images with your social posts will significantly increase engagement. According to research by BlueStone 360, using visual content will increase views by up to 11x. Using an image will not only help your audience to notice your posts as they are scrolling down the page. It will allow you to visualize your content by choosing a relevant image. Your audience will have a better idea of what they can expect when they click-through to the post. Or maybe you pick a fantastic visual that is so unexpected or tongue-in-cheek that it piques people's curiosity and makes them want to click and read more.
Take this example from Melonie Dodaro, where she uses pictures of the people included in the content. That's a whole lot of social proof!
Tip #12) Tag People in Content You Share
It seems like common sense, but so few people do it. Maybe they feel like it comes across as desperate or attention-seeking, but there is no better way to establish a connection with someone than to tag them in your post. Maybe you reference them in a blog post or mentioned their brand in some way. Perhaps they authored the content that you are sharing with your audience. Or maybe you just tag them to make them aware of something you're sharing because you think it might be relevant or exciting for them. Either way — you have a surefire way to get on someone's radar with very little time investment. Just make sure that anything that you are tagging them in is either a piece of content they had a hand in or is very valuable to them.
Bonus Tip: Extend Your Headline on Mobile
If you would like to extend your headline, we've got a nice little tip for you. The desktop version of the LinkedIn websites limits you to 120 characters for your headline. However (and we are unsure if this is an intended feature or only a bug), if you edit your headline on your phone's LinkedIn app, you are given approximately 200 characters for your headline. If you can find a smart way to pack more information that your customers find relevant into a longer headline, this is a cool way to stand out from the crowd. Just keep in mind that this may not look great on all devices. For this trick and seven more, check out Andy Foote's excellent post on "8 Stunningly Clever LinkedIn Hacks" via LinkedInsights.com.
Continuity is Key
The key to social selling on LinkedIn is persistence. There are so many facets to becoming an excellent social seller on the platform that you can excel in a few specific areas and still generate more business than you can realistically handle through LinkedIn. But if you aren't posting new content, engaging with people, adding new connections, and working to build relationships daily — you'll have a hard time growing your LinkedIn audience.