Two weeks ago we looked at the “LinkedIn Short Game” all centered around finding new clients. The term ‘short game’ comes from the idea of fast results, using the search feature on LinkedIn to find new prospects and identify who in our network can help make introductions.
Today, we’re going to look at the “long game”- using LinkedIn as a platform to share content to attract, teach and engage with your prospective clients. Long refers to taking more time, instead of immediate results with the process, we’re looking for long-range results.
When we talk about engagement there are a few questions we need to ask:
- Who are we engaging with?
- What are we using to engage (content)?
- Why are we engaging with them?
Think of the chicken and egg conundrum: what comes first- the content we’re going to create or the audience for which we’re creating? I’ve landed on the audience, so let’s start by talking about them.
Whenever you create content and post it on LinkedIn, it’s seen by your network (1st-degree connections and followers). With that mind, you want to make sure that you’re building your network on LinkedIn in three strategic areas: your clients, your potential clients, and your networking partners.
Clients- Whenever you begin the process of adding a new client, you should be adding them to your LinkedIn network. This gives you another avenue of communication, the ability to receive endorsements and recommendations from them after you’ve done a stellar job, and finally, a way for them to see the content that you’re going to be sharing.
Potential clients- As you identify prospects, you should be looking for a reason to add them to your network. Don’t be salesy and tell them you want to add them to your network so they become a client- that won’t work! They’ll immediately think that once they connect with you, you’re going to spam them with sales messages. That’s trying to play the ‘short short’ game’ on LinkedIn- your sales message gets deleted and the game’s over! You want to have them as part of your network so they’ll be exposed to and hopefully engage with, your content.
Network partners- Network partners or strategic alliance partners are important to add to your network because as you share content that they find value in, they will like it and/or comment on it, and when they do that they will then be exposing your content to their network. Then as their network engages on your content and the cycle can go on and on, that’s how posts go viral.
Industry colleagues – Peers in your business share content worth engaging on and with – and they are likely to engage on your content. Although many are worried about competition, others believe that the high tide raises all boats.
Your audience is important, but so is the content you share, so let’s look at what content you should use to engage them.
What type of content are you going to create and/or use? Let’s first talk about the types of content you can share on LinkedIn posts and articles.
There are four types of posts and no matter which one you use, make sure you had a context to each of them: text alone, images, native video, links to content and uploading a document.
Posts can be up to 1300 characters and keep in mind that your readers will see up to 210 characters before a ‘see more’ link will appear. Those numbers also are accurate for the texts you use in a picture, video or document post.
An article, on the other hand, is more like a blog post and can be up to 40,000 characters. Articles are full blog posts that are Published in LinkedIn’s blogging platform.
It’s up to you to decide what medium within LinkedIn you’ll use to share your content. I always recommend a variety. There will be those who like to read shorter posts, others are drawn to pictures and others still want to watch a video. It’s important to use all of the tools you have at your disposal.
Remember, we’re talking about attracting, teaching and engaging, so we want to make sure that our content is attractive, that our content teaches (adds value) and that we engage our network with our content. Here are a few tips/pointers:
- Be creative with your text posts. If you’re using your phone, use colorful emoticons to grab attention, choose pictures that relate to the subject of your text.
- Share vendor agnostic value. In other words, don’t sell! Give your readers insights from neutral sources, not your company website or marketing materials.
- Video- JUST DO IT! Yes, you should be professional, but don’t sacrifice progress for perfection. You talk to people every day, just have that mindset as you create the video, you’re talking to your best friend.
- Infographics make great picture posts. They also tend to be vendor agnostic, use them to your advantage.
- Post regularly (at least weekly) and don’t just post and forget, engage with those who are liking and commenting on your content.
So often our activity on LinkedIn is random. We post sporadically, we don’t follow up on those we’ve connected with and we end up with virtually no influence with our network. Now, let me pause this blog to address that word- influence. I’m not talking about being an ‘influencer’ who has thousands of followers waiting with bated breath at their next pontification. I’m talking about you having an INFLUENCE on those who read and engage with your content.
Here are a few reasons you want to engage with your network on your content:
- Engagement drives more engagement- the LinkedIn algorithm pushes content to the top of the feed when it’s like and commented on. So, when someone comments, make sure you comment back.
- The more you’re engaged and interacting in your sphere of influence and knowledge, you’re showing the thought leadership you have in your business sector. Your network will stop seeing you as a salesperson and start seeing you as a knowledge leader in your field.
- And as you share content that is value driven and not sales driven, your network will see you as a giver, someone who’s willing to help.
- You remain top of mind. The more people see you and engage with you the more they are apt to reach out to you instead of your competition when the need arises.
There are a few key ways to drive traffic to your content once you post:
- Click on the share button and send in a private message to target people that can benefit from your content.
- Click on the … at the top right of the post and copy the URL. You can send that directly to prospects, clients, and colleagues to drive engagement
- Share the link in relevant groups
- Tweet out the link with context and hashtag
- @mention people in either the text of the post or in comments – make sure they are comfortable as this will be visible to the public.
BONUS: If you have identified a few people on LinkedIn that are sharing relevant content on a consistent basis, save their activity feeds in this CHROME HACK to help you share easier.
As you can imagine, this takes time, hence why I call it the long game. For more tips and tactics on consistency on LinkedIn, be sure to refer to two of our other blogs “How LinkedIn is Like a Gym Membership” and “The Four Acts of LinkedIn” .
There’s so much more that can be said about content and engagement. The important take away is that this is a process that can work for you, but you must be willing to work at it.
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