How to Build Thought Leadership on LinkedIn 4 - linkedin thought leadership strategy

How to Build Thought Leadership on LinkedIn

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LinkedIn has long been seen as the stiff navy blazer of social media platforms — useful when you’re looking for a job, but otherwise you hide it in the back of the closet, next to the pants that don’t fit and that weird dress you wore to your second cousin’s wedding.

But lately LinkedIn has become … well, cool. Thanks to changes in its algorithm, it’s now a place where you can easily access content posted by people in your network.

These changes have an added benefit: They make it easier to attract an audience of your own. LinkedIn is thought leadership’s newest pair of blue jeans.

Read on for a few things you need to know to develop a LinkedIn thought leadership strategy of your own.

What the LinkedIn Algorithm Rewards

It used to be rare to see content from people you actually knew on LinkedIn. Often you saw content from big names such as Bill Gates or Richard Branson. But LinkedIn owes its new golden era to changes in its algorithm that encourage sharing your thoughts with your personal network.

And connection is the big secret to LinkedIn. Leaders on LinkedIn know that the algorithm rewards conversations. That means that if you want to be a thought leader on LinkedIn, it’s incredibly important to engage in the comments section on your own pieces, as well as those of other leaders in your industry.

In fact, more passive behavior on LinkedIn, such as liking something or resharing it, isn’t heavily weighted by the algorithm. So don’t ask people to reshare your comments or posts — ask them to join the conversation. Not only will you create a bigger level of impact, but you’ll also get them to participate in what are often lively, spirited conversations with decision makers in your industry.

Posting Thought Leadership Content on LinkedIn

Figuring out the types of content you should post on LinkedIn is actually fairly simple — it’s the social network related to work. It’s not the place to brag about your fantasy football team or the meal you cooked last night.

Your content can be uplifting, career-related or simply sensible advice. What matters is that it’s related to your professional identity.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be boring. It’s OK to tug at heartstrings or crack a few jokes. Entertainment is good! Emotions are great!

The true test is whether what you’re posting is authentic. Does it reflect your voice and personal brand? Or does it sound like awkward corporate content marketing?

If you want to optimize your LinkedIn presence, show off your personality. It will go a long way.

Brand Page or Personal Profile?

Where should you post in order to reach the widest possible audience for your thought leadership? Should you post on your personal profile or your brand page?

Here’s my answer for B2B marketers: Both. I promise this isn’t a cop-out. Your brand page and your personal LinkedIn profile have fundamentally different audiences and tie into different marketing strategies.

If you’re posting a piece that you believe has potential to “trend” (Linked’s version of viral) then it’s best that you post it on your own personal page, so that it can be seen and read by the people in your network.

In contrast, posting an article on your organization’s brand page will result in only 3-6% of your target audience seeing it.

One option is to have your marketing team use your brand page to amplify your personal thought leadership.

However, be judicious when doing this. Your brand page is serving the people who want to learn more about your organization. Its reach will only go so far when it comes to thought leadership.

What About LinkedIn Groups for Thought Leadership?

LinkedIn groups can be a fabulous way to strengthen your reputation as a thought leader.

Just be mindful that self-promotion is generally frowned upon in most groups. Don’t join a group thinking you’ll just drop in, post links and run. That’s a good way to get banned.

Instead, focus on being helpful and building trust. Engage in other people’s conversations and answer questions where you can. Ask questions of your own. The more you learn, the closer you’ll be to becoming a thought leader on LinkedIn.

Mary Ellen Slayter is CEO of Rep Cap. Before creating her own content marketing firm, she served as director of content development and a senior general business and finance editor at SmartBrief, a leading publisher of e-mail newsletters. Before joining SmartBrief, she spent 8 years at The Washington Post, where she authored the Career Track column and worked as an editor in the business news department. You can find Mary Ellen on Twitter @MESlayter.

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