Marketers have a bad habit of breaking things. We take a new idea, technology or process and use and abuse it until it’s overdone and everyone hates it. Then we find something new to ruin. So the important question is, as with everything else, are marketers breaking another perfectly good channel?
LinkedIn has been a pillar of growth throughout the ups and downs of 2020. Those with something to say have found it relatively easy to find their community and amplify their messages.
We’ve all seen it. The streams of thought leadership and ‘look at me now’ content that populates LinkedIn. And most of us are guilty of it.
But when everyone is scrambling for their share of ‘personal brand’ where does that leave the landscape? What happens to a channel when everyone is doing the same thing?
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Is it getting harder to grow on LinkedIn with everyone doing it?
The simple answer is yes. With more and more business professionals recognising the benefits of an established personal brand, there’s starting to become a constant stream of the same content. Even if you’re putting out high-quality, valuable content that people want to engage with, there’s a greater risk of it getting lost in the sea of endless text.
Creating and nurturing a personal brand is proving to be one of the most significant methods of growth across LinkedIn. But when every marketer and salesperson with a laptop or mobile phone has the same idea, how does a channel like LinkedIn continue to provide value?
On the whole, sharing thoughts and ideas with a network of like-minded industry enthusiasts is a positive thing. It’s a great way to engage with your audience and demonstrate how you’re navigating the changes and impacts around you.
But the problem lies in all the content out there that doesn’t provide value. A prime example: trends. Every so often a new fad pops up onto the LinkedIn scene. We all remember the hundreds of ‘this is what my day looks like’ posts and the week that everyone created polls to document their favourite flavour of crisps.
But when the next hype reveals itself, before you fall into the trap of following what everyone else is doing, ask yourself: what is the value add of this for my audience?
And if discovering that Cheese & Onion is the most popular crisp flavour isn’t actually relevant to them, maybe leave it off your LinkedIn profile.
The same goes for best practices. We often hear the many best practices we should adhere to on LinkedIn such as posting the link in the comments and writing enough to have a ‘see more’ button included, but a best practice is no longer a best practice if everyone’s doing it.
Whilst the LinkedIn algorithm might favour your post, from a user experience point of view your content becomes the same as everyone else's and you blend in as another wanna-be-thought-leader.
Consistency is key, right?
Everyone knows the first rule of content marketing is consistency is key. We’re told to post regularly to increase the engagement of our audience and build our following. This is great if you have good content. But there’s a fine line between good content and just shouting at people.
Whilst it’s always going to be important to create consistency with what you’re putting out to the world, posting for the sake of it because you’re strictly following the ‘consistency is key’ rule or posting a half-hearted idea with no real context is not going to add value for your audience.
There’s a lot of noise out there. And the quality is often lacking. It’s something we’re probably all guilty of because we don’t want to miss out on the opportunity that everyone else is lapping up. But the truth is, consistency is only a benefit if you’ve got the content and context to go with it.
How to do it well
Of course, there are a ton of success stories from personal branding and thought leadership on LinkedIn. So how do you do it well?
- Focus on trial and error - experiment with different formats, types of content and topics and see what gives you the most traction, engagement and results for your business.
- Don’t make it all work and no play - whilst we wouldn’t recommend posting what you had for your tea (or dinner depending on where you’re from), putting a human, personal element into your posts is a great way to distinguish yourself as different from just another marketer or salesperson.
- Be mindful of what content you’re putting out - some say variety is the spice of life and we agree! Posting the same thing every day isn’t impressing anyone.
- Don’t overthink it - as in many aspects of life, your gut feeling or first thought is normally the right one. So whilst we still suggest a proofread or punctuation check, don’t get lost in the logistics of your idea before you’ve floated it to the world.
- Understand what you want - what are you looking to get out of the platform? From vanity metrics to webinar sign-ups there’s a variety of outcomes that people hope to achieve when they take to LinkedIn.
- Give, give, give and then ask - In other words, provide value all the way through whilst you build your audience before asking for what you want. People will be much more willing to comply because you’ve built a relationship with them and offered countless value adds.
For more on thought leadership, personal branding and LinkedIn, listen to the Humans Come First Podcast.