Sally A Illingworth
LinkedIn Basics | Sally A Illingworth
Updated: Jul 19, 2020
Do you know what the frustration feels like when you just can't seem to master something? You try and try but to no avail. For many of you, this is probably much like what your experience trying to leverage LinkedIn has been like. Rest assured, it doesn't have to be that way! Success on LinkedIn isn't exclusive to a few, it is available for everyone.
I'm sure you've heard the LinkedIn blurb before... "LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with over 550 Million users across the globe!". Despite how many times I've heard and regurgitated the basic facts about the LinkedIn community, it remains important that we have a contextual understanding about the platform prior to being confident that we actually know How To LinkedIn.
This article is going to give you the basic principles you need to follow to effectively know How To LinkedIn. Keep in mind that the application of these principles won't ensure you become an overnight success in terms of top-line metrics such as profile views and follower count or even substance metrics such as content engagement rates. Instead, this article will provide you with the exact information you need to start using LinkedIn in ways that will drive results for your profile. Always remember that application and subsequent execution are key, so I'll do my part and provide you with the principles and I trust that you will do your part by applying these principles so as to demonstrate the value that exists herein this article. Growth on LinkedIn largely revolves around the fundamentals of momentum, which raises the really important question "What does momentum mean in the digital arena on the LinkedIn platform?".
Answer: Momentum on the LinkedIn platform is achieved through consistent application of the rules relating to How To LinkedIn. Simply put, if you do the same thing over and over again (irrespective of what it is), you will build momentum in doing so. Consider it this way, if you have a momentous LinkedIn profile, it means it is strong.
"Why is it important to build momentum and achieve growth on LinkedIn?"
Answer: Growth is vital for sustainability and longevity. If your LinkedIn profile is not growing, it is ageing and will eventually die. Particularly considering data reveals that on average 2 users join LinkedIn per second; your profile presence in its static form alone is less and less prolific before you blink both eyelids.
And before cynicism caresses your ego, don't let yourself believe for a second "I don't want to grow my profile" or "I don't need to grow my profile". We live in a technologically advanced world and the intensity of the ramifications of technology are only going to compound as time passes. Further, we live in a digital world and are subsequently competing in a global arena, whether we want to or not. As individuals, our personal brands have become more important than ever before as we are tasked with the challenge of broadcasting our personality as our unique point of difference to ensure we remain relevant. It's a noisy world so be sure to nurture your noise and give it presence.
Also, remember that the type of growth we need and want will always be contextual - it is not a blanket reality. In a general sense, the growth necessary for a job seeker VS that of a start up founder is going to be different and it is our individual (or enterprise) objective that will set the tone for the growth necessary to remain relevant contextually.
"So how do I figure out my objective?"
Answer: Ask yourself questions relating to what you are trying to achieve within any term of time. For example, if you're interested in finding a new job your objective will include things such as "showing up in more search results on LinkedIn" and "being recognised as an expert in my area of interest (for a job)". Conversely, if you're interested in raising capital for a new business your objective will include things such as "being discovered by VC's who are looking to invest in my geographical region" and "raising brand awareness for the start up mission".
There is no "right or wrong" when it comes to your objective. It will always be contextual and highly personalised. Prior to applying any of the following principles relating to How To LinkedIn it is vitally important that you recognise your current objective because it is your objective that will steer the direction of how you apply the How To LinkedIn rules and will ultimately be at the helm of your LinkedIn ecosystem of participation.
"How do I measure my growth on LinkedIn?"
Answer: There are ample ways to measure your growth on LinkedIn and the appropriate way to measure growth will always be relative to your objective. For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on the measurable metrics that live natively on the LinkedIn platform. Off-platform measurable metrics include touchpoints such as mailing lists, event registrations, website enquiries, and emails.
Key native LinkedIn metrics to measure growth:
Profile Views: LinkedIn tells us how many people have viewed our profile across a 90 day period. This 90 day period is a moving average. Note that there are TWO KEY WAYS your profile will be discovered: (1) Search Results and (2) Engagement Notifications via Newsfeed. Of course, your profile may be specifically sought out albeit this is very rare.
Search Results Discoverability: consider keywords you are using on your profile, linked company pages, number of connections and registered locality.
Engagement Notifications via Newsfeed: consider your activity engaging in other user's content, publishing of content and activity engaging on your own content.
You can look even further into the profile views data and note the top companies of which users work, the top job titles viewing your profile and so forth. Your objective will determine whether or not it is appropriate for you to afford the time doing this.
SALLY'S TOP TIP: I routinely monitor this metric and divide the "Total Profile Views" by 90 to track my average daily profile views. For example with the above data extract, the result would be c.721 profile views per day. I don't focus on the "% growth/decline week on week" on the basis that I prefer to track my performance daily. Over the course of time, relative to the momentum I've built for my profile by applying the rules of How To LinkedIn, my goal is at least 700 profile views on average per day in which respect the above data suggests I am performing c.21 views above my goal.
Search Appearances: LinkedIn provides us with a weekly overview of how many search results our profile appeared in. Akin to the notes relating to Search Results Discoverability above, it is important to be mindful of keywords used on your profile, linked company profiles (in the experiences section), number of connections (primarily 1st and 2nd) and registered locality on your LinkedIn profile.
SALLY'S TOP TIP: Akin to profile views, I routinely monitor this metric and divide the "Total Search Appearances" by 8 to track my average daily search appearances. For example with the above data extract, the result would be c.1335 search appearances per day.
You can dig deeper and look at the data relating to "Keywords your searchers used" (see below extract) to determine if you should amend any of the keywords used on your profile so as to ensure you are being discovered for the words you desire.
For example, I have zero interest in being discovered in the field of IT specialists in which respect I should further review the language used on my profile to remove any language that infers I am an IT specialist. To be honest I think it is subsequent to my test whereby I was trying to leverage on the Google search engine's most frequently searched question "What is my IP" (address). Can't blame a girl for trying! ;)
Connection Invitations: LinkedIn inspires professionals to connect with one another on the platform as this reflects their professional connectedness in the offline world. In recent years, the use of LinkedIn has begun to change as many users are resorting to the platform to establish themselves as media personalities and (I cringe using this word..) "influencers". As a result, your connection list isn't always reflective of your actual connectedness in the offline world.
The below screenshot asset showcases where you can view connection requests - they are referred to as "Invitations". Within the 'My Network' section of the LinkedIn platform, you can also view your sent connection requests (outgoing Invitations). This is an important native metric to monitor on the basis that it is reflective of things including your rate of discovery, your capture rate (in terms of enticement to be connected to) and [if you produce content] the quality of your content.
Content Engagement Rate: firstly, if you're not yet creating original content for the LinkedIn platform - it is highly suggested that you begin! FYI the LinkedIn provides the greatest organic reach for content in comparison to platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. As I always preach in my LinkedIn mastery sessions, CONTENT IS THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE, CHEAPEST AND QUICKEST GROWTH STRATEGY. Content as a growth strategy addresses many important needs including discoverability, algorithm favourability, expert positioning and ultimately raises your brand (individual and/or enterprise) awareness. Your content has to be quality though, so always ask yourself the questions "Why would the viewer watch/read/view this?" and "What does the viewer achieve by consuming this piece of content?".
Measuring content engagement rate is very simple and involves the assessment of 3 key metrics combined: Likes, Comments and Shares as a percentage of total views. Consider the following example.
Total Likes = 2689 | Total Comments = 349 | Total Shares = 84
Total Engagements = 3122 divided by 285,454 views equals a content engagement rate of 1.09%.
At first glance, this piece of content looks to have performed really well HOWEVER, based on my own key performance indicators (of which I've established over the course of time) this piece of content actually performed below average for me and here's why.
My average piece of video content maintains a content engagement rate between 2 and 3 percent which means that the piece of content showcased above performed between 0.91 and 1.91 percent lower than I'd have liked it too. Notably, in the marketing world a content engagement rate (akin to a Click Through Rate) of 1% is actually great! But I'm not The Marketing World, I am Sally A Illingworth with highly personalised objectives and it is therefore crucial that my points of comparison and benchmarking metrics are relative.
Let's look at another example (excuse the facial expression caught in the screenshot!).
Total Likes = 212 | Total Comments = 47 | Total Shares = 5
Total Engagements = 264 divided by 3980 views equals a content engagement rate of 6.6%.
In comparison to the first example we looked at, this second piece of content has performed better from a success rate based on the content engagement rate being c.5.51% higher despite the video receiving 281,474 less views.
Does this make sense?
Over the course of time, you will establish your own key performance indicators for a content engagement rate, hence the importance of always appreciating the relative nature of measuring performance within the context of your objective.
"Why is content engagement rate more important than total views?"
Both of these metrics are important. For example, total views is reflective of your reach and there is no denying that being viewed on up to 281,474 screens is fantastic particularly in terms of brand awareness. But, importantly, the content engagement rate is directly reflective of the effectiveness of the piece of content. You want users to take an action in response to your content and they are only going to do this if it is effective enough to entice them to do so.
"So how do I know what actions to take when looking at the native metrics for my profile and being aware of my growth?"
Answer: Akin to business management, it is vitally important that these metrics are appreciated as being indicative of your performance on the LinkedIn platform. When learning How To LinkedIn it is paramount that you familiarise yourself with the story these metrics tell so as to allow yourself to effectively adjust your efforts consistently, providing you with a better chance of succeeding with your objective.
Some examples include:
* My content engagement rate is dropping consistently: review the quality of your content, review the timing of when you publish content and review your engagement response immediately after publishing.
* My profile views going up and down (like Sally's in the above data extract): consider the consistency of your time spent on the platform, consider your level of activity on your own content and other peoples and consider how often you are updating your profile.
The LinkedIn algorithm constantly monitors your profile behaviour and performance, including but not limited to the following things:
1. Activity through content engagement (on your own and on others)
2. Activity through content publishing
3. Connection count growth/decline
4. Follower count growth/decline
5. Time spent on the platform
"So should I just like and comment on heaps of content?"
No. Contribute quality through your engagements. Ensure your newsfeed is tailored to your interests. Recently LinkedIn reconfigured the newsfeed and your newsfeed is now heavily reliant upon the Hashtags you follow. By default, LinkedIn will have your profile following hashtags it believes to be of interest based on your content engagement behaviours. You can manually modify the hashtags you follow.
"What if I don't have content to share?"
That is not true. Find content or create it. From a personal branding perspective, documenting your journey with the outcome being content is the most effective way to leverage content as a growth strategy. Play to your strengths (initially). For example, if you prefer writing - start writing articles. If you prefer to talk, start recording videos.
"Should I just connect with anyone?"
This is not recommended. What we've seen in recent times is individuals using the approach of "I'll connect with anyone" as a cheap growth strategy. Even if your objective is to amass millions of followers on LinkedIn, it's recommended to only 'connect' directly with persons of genuine interest. Remember, you can only connect to 30,000 people directly!
"What if I don't want people to follow me?"
By default, users can follow your profile. LinkedIn wasn't established with the idea that individuals would amass followers akin to the nature of Instagram. However, in recent years a minority of users have started to leverage the organic reach for content as a way to raise brand awareness, capture followers and build a momentous profile that holds much value and influence. Remember, you don't have to be connected to followers. Your follower count is very reflective of interest - how many people are interested in who you are and what you're doing (so consider the act of following you as a tribute to your efforts!).
We're almost done! But first, ask yourself:
"What would my life look like if I was globally recognised as an expert in my industry?"
We're not quite finished, but we'll save the rest for the next article so be sure to follow my profile to get notified when it's live! In the next article, you'll find out exactly how you can leverage on the fact that there are more than 9 billion content impressions weekly but only 3 million users sharing content. You are now equipped with the most fundamental principles of How To LinkedIn. The first step is to review your profile and ensure it represents you at your best - if you'd like some guidance on this, feel welcome to use my FREE LinkedIn Profile Mastery Course to make sure you're on the right track.
Feedback is always appreciated in the comments below. Happy LinkedIn-ing!
Best, Sally A Illingworth