You’ve probably heard of LinkedIn. You may even have set up your own account. But if you’re one of those people who remain baffled by it and how it can help you as a blogger, you’re in good company.
So here’s a beginner’s guide to one of the world’s biggest social networks – but also one of its least well understood.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. Think of it as Facebook for business users and you’re not far off. Over 400 million people have a LinkedIn account worldwide, including 20 million in the UK.
It’s a site most commonly associated with recruiters and salespeople but in reality it’s applicable to anyone working in a professional capacity – from the corporate world to the charity sector and from the construction trade to bloggers and social media professionals.
LinkedIn has a different feel to other social networks. It lacks the simplicity of Twitter – there is a lot of different content and functionality that can be overwhelming to new users. But it is also a rich source of both content and contacts and, as you would expect from a community of professional users, it is a more civil place to engage with people than other networks.
The key components of LinkedIn are:
- Profile: Like an online CV, a place for you to outline your history, achievements and skills. Useful for promoting yourself to potential employers but also to people you want to make connections with.
- Network: Where you make ‘connections’. Like friends on Facebook, if you want to follow their updates both parties have to agree to the connection – you can’t follow someone without their approval.
- Updates: Your timeline or news feed, where you can add your content and view updates from your network connections. As with other social networks, you can comment, like or share other people’s content.
- Groups: Similar to Facebook Groups. Community forums for people with common interests to share and discuss content.
- Jobs: For job-hunting, obviously.
- Search: The search bar in the header of the site is LinkedIn’s most powerful tool. You can use it to search for keywords, people, companies, jobs and groups to join. Many companies also have their own pages which can be followed without the need to request a connection and provide a great source of news and sharable content.
Why should bloggers use LinkedIn?
LinkedIn provides bloggers with several potential benefits:
- Building your personal brand.
- Connecting with recruiters to find jobs.
- Researching and connecting with companies/brands you want to work with.
- As a source of professional content to improve your knowledge and inspire your own writing.
For parent bloggers who are interested in driving their Tots100 ranking, in addition to being a source of page views LinkedIn is one of the networks that counts towards your Klout score, which in turn contributes to Tots. Exactly what measures are used are secret but it’s likely that, like other networks, it is based on a combination of how many likes, shares and comments your updates receive.
LinkedIn even has its own version of the Klout score, which it calls Social Selling Index (SSI). Like Klout, it is scored between 0 and 100 and provides a measure of how effectively you are using LinkedIn.
You can check your own SSI score via this link. As with Klout, anything above 50 can be considered good, while a score above 70 is excellent.
SSI is constructed based on four scales, each of which is scored out of 25:
- Establish your professional brand.
- Find the right people.
- Engage with insights.
- Build relationships.
If that sounds a little vague, it is. But the keys to success on LinkedIn are essentially as follows:
- Build your network by making new connections.
- Complete all the elements in your profile with an SEO mentality, including relevant keywords you would want others to find you with.
- Share your own content but don’t overdo it. Social media experts typically agree the optimum posting frequency is once per day and repeated link-dumping of the same content is frowned upon. LinkedIn is not Twitter.
- Engage with other people’s content via comments, likes and shares. Like other social media platforms, paying it forward builds your own credibility and results in reciprocal engagement. Share content that is similar to your own and relevant to your audience.
- ‘Endorse’ others. There is a section on your profile where you can list your own skills, which others can endorse you for with a simple click. When you are endorsed for skills, it boosts your standing in searches, making you easier to find.
- Finally, you can also write longer text recommendations for others – although these are rarer because it’s quicker to endorse and a recommendation requires more personalisation and thought. Providing endorsements and recommendations increases your standing in the community and encourages others to return the compliment.
And that’s your crash course in LinkedIn completed. Although it does have its individual foibles – more than perhaps any other platform, it rewards people who do more than promote their own content – it has obvious similarities with other social networks and the principles for success remain the same. Connect with like-minded people, share good content (whether your own or other people’s) and engage with the wider community.
So if you haven’t tried LinkedIn yet, why not give it a go? You will find many of your fellow bloggers there already, and if you haven’t connected with me yet you can send a request here.