The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

LinkedIn

Easy Social Media

What’s the secret to coming up with a social media strategy that really works?

A few months back we shared our Tweety Pie Formula for developing an effective Twitter strategy.

The three step Tweety Pie Formula is:

  1. Test Your Strategy
  2. Tweak Your Strategy (Based on the feedback from your test)
  3. Go back to step 1.

You can read more about the Tweety Pie formula here. Although we called it a Tweety Pie strategy (as a pun on Twitter), the process can be applied to all social networks: Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, and so on.

It’s a great process for discovering what works on social media at engaging your audience and getting your brand out there. Having an agile strategy that’s always in development is the only way to keep up with the constant changes in technology when it comes to social media.

That said, the Tweety Pie Formula has two key flaws:

  • Strategy creation. How do you come up with a social media strategy in the first place? Where do you get ideas from? How do you know if your idea is a good one?
  • Strategy tweaking. Where do you get ideas from to tweak your strategy? This is especially the case if your strategy requires more of a “back to the drawing board” rethink than a few subtle tweaks.

So how can you come up with an effective and unique strategy? There are a few different ways. Here are two that are relatively common. They’re good, but not the best.

You can sit at your desk and think. There’s a lot to be said for this, and many people in today’s world don’t spend enough time reflecting. Time to think is vital for creativity to blossom. However, sitting and thinking is time consuming, and aside from your own best guess there’s no way of knowing whether your ideas are any good. Of course you can test your ideas, but wouldn’t it be better to start with ideas that you know have a good chance of succeeding?

You can read social media blogs. Just like you’re doing now! As with sitting down to think, this is a great way of coming with social media strategies. By reading about what works, you’ll have a good idea of where to start with your social media campaigns. But if you only take your ideas from what other people have written, your social media strategy will look just like everyone else’s. You’re only doing the tried and tested. You have no way of standing out from the crowd.

Thinking and reading blogs are both good ways of coming up with social media strategies. But what you come up with might not work, and it’s unlikely to be unique. There is another way.

What is this way?

We’ll take our first clue from an astronomer, Carl Sagan, whose pithy advice extended to baking. Sagan said:

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

In other words, it’s impossible to make an apple pie “from scratch”. To bake an apple pie, you need apples, flour, butter, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and so on. To get these ingredients, you need a store. A store gets them from suppliers, who get them from farmers, who create their produce from the land. The land itself is part of the earth, which is part of the solar system, which is part of the universe.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning to invent the universe from scratch anytime soon.

As with apple pies, you can’t create a social media strategy “from scratch”. However you come up with your strategy, you’ve got to use certain ingredients. You can’t tweet without a computer, an internet connection, and a Twitter account.

For more advanced and successful tweeting, you might add strategies such as content curation, hashtags and monitoring stats.

Already, you’re starting to mix up ingredients to make a tasty social media pie. Chances are, if you’re using a good set of ingredients, you’re already doing enough to be successful. But you’re pretty much like all other brands out there. You’re doing the same things everyone else does. Your pie tastes just like theirs.

What ingredients can you add to make your pie extra special?

Occasionally, if you’re very lucky, you’ll come up with an original idea for your social media strategy that will smash your engagement out of the park.

But even if your idea looks original to you, you didn’t create it from scratch. You need a ton of already-existing ingredients to make it happen. And coming up with unique ideas using your mind-power alone is always going to be time consuming.

So, what can you do to really get ahead, the lazy way?

Let’s take another quote, this time from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.’”

That’s right. Our advice for creating an unique social media strategy is to be a copycat.

Let’s say you sell sports shoes. We’re not saying you should head over to Nike’s Twitter feed and share the exact same tweets they do.

What we are saying is you should be keeping a close eye on the Twitter feeds of all your competitors, and of successful brands outside your niche. When you see them do something that’s getting them attention, or that’s not quite working but that you think has potential with just a few tweaks, incorporate that approach into your social media strategy.

The uniqueness of your strategy won’t come from having an original idea. Instead, it will come from the way you combine the ingredients you’ve picked from all over the place into your own tasty pie.

Remember – it’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to. And it’s how you mix them together to create something unique.

Here’s an overview of the copycat’s social media strategy:

  • Pay attention to what others in your niche are doing on social media.
  • Also keep in the loop about what brands outside your niche are doing on social media.
  • When you see a big success, or an idea that grabs your attention, note it down.
  • Think about how you can incorporate that idea into your social media strategy.
  • Ask yourself: how can I do this better? Take the ideas you’ve found, and add your own unique twist.

No more backing apple pies from scratch, which is an impossible task in any case.

A final word of warning. While it’s totally okay to model your social media strategy on what others are doing, it’s not okay to do anything that breaks copyright laws. Don’t steal content or images from others. It’s not clever or cool.

Now, go find some taste ingredients, and get baking!

career

LinkedIn is the grandpa of the social networking world. It’s seen the rise and fall of empires including Bebo, MySpace and Digg, and it’s survived to tell the tale.

It’s always going to be a niche network, with its focus on helping professionals create connections. At the same time, because we all need to work to earn a living, it’s always going to be popular.

You can use LinkedIn to:

  • Find work. Whether you’re looking for your dream job, or just something to pay the bills, LinkedIn has what you need.
  • Connect with people. Including your current colleagues, and people you’ve worked with in the past.
  • Sell yourself. With your LinkedIn profile, you put your best foot forward.
  • Get noticed. Having an active LinkedIn profile drastically increases your changes of being headhunted and approached with job opportunities.
  • Grow your network. LinkedIn groups are perfect for meeting like-minded professionals.
  • Promote your business. LinkedIn is increasingly popular with brands, and has recently added features targeted at business users.

In this article, I’ll show you, step-by-step, what it takes to built a successful LinkedIn profile.

1. Show Your Face

Before you do anything else on LinkedIn, add your photo to your profile. According to LinkedIn expert Nicole Williams:

“You’re seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have one. Like a house that’s on sale, the assumption is that if there’s no photo, something’s wrong.”

Your picture is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. It’s what people see when you’re interacting with them in groups or sharing status updates. It’s also the first thing they’ll see when they check out your profile. Their eyes will be drawn to your picture before they read anything about you. Make sure they’re drawing the right conclusions from your picture.

That’s why its vital to get your picture right. Choose a headshot and make sure you smile. Show those teeth! Business is all about people, and faces are the essence of people. By show your smiling face, you’re revealing that you’re somebody people can trust. You’ll be fun to work with. Before you’ve said a word, you’ve created a genuine connection.

Make your picture as professional as you can by going for an industry appropriate look. We live in informal times, and smart-casual is the best for most, unless you’re in an industry with conservative dress codes (e.g. law), or it’s important that you convey a rebellious, free-thinking image, in which case you choose what you wear.

If you want to kill two birds with one stone, you can show what you do in your picture, and convey the essence of your personal brand.

  • Work in construction? Why not show an image of you wearing a hard-hat?
  • Outdoor adventure instructor? how about a picture of you rock climbing?
  • If you’re a farmer, let’s see you out in the fields!

2. Add an Attention Grabbing Headline

After your profile picture, the next most important part of your LinkedIn profile is your headline.

Most people make the mistake of writing only their job title in their headline.

Why is that a mistake? Because aside from your picture, your headline is all most people will see of you on LinkedIn.

Your headline shows up whenever you write a comment in a group, or share a status update, or when you appear in search results. Unless it’s attention grabbing, people won’t click through to see your profile.

Our favorite formula for writing a compelling headline is:

Job title – How you help people.

For example:

  • Software programmer. I code software to help fresh produce wholesalers manage stock levels.
  • Women’s personal trainer. I teach busy professional women how to keep fit.
  • Construction worker. Reliable, motivated and always on time.

Want to know more about writing a compelling headline? Check out our article here.

3. Write a Keyword-Rich Summary

These days, LinkedIn profiles are pretty flexible, and you can shuffle them about as you want to. However, the default setting is to display your summary at the top of your headline.

Your summary is where you get to really sell yourself, so we recommend keeping it first.

In your summary, expand upon your headline and explain how you help people. In addition:

  • Think about how people might search for you on LinkedIn. What search terms would they use if they’re looking for your skills, experience, or services? Make a list of these search terms – also called keywords, and be sure to include them in your summary.
  • Don’t be shy of name-dropping. If you’ve worked with big name companies, say so, even if they’re only big names in your niche.
  • Proofread it! Spelling mistakes look unprofessional and will make you stand out from the crowd for the wrong reasons.

4. Ask for Recommendations

Your reputation is only as solid as what others think of you. That’s why your profile is only as solid as your recommendations.

Recommendations do your selling for you. There’s nothing you can say about yourself that can’t be said more powerfully by someone else. Why? Because when prospective employers are looking at your profile, they know you’re putting a positive spin on things. Whereas recommendations are from a neutral party.

When you’re starting out on LinkedIn, don’t be afraid of asking for recommendations. Reaching out and requesting a recommendation is a great way of making contact with old workmates. There’s no harm in asking, and most people will be happy to help.

What’s more, if you need particular skills highlighted, then say so in your request.

Still struggling to get recommendations even though you’ve asked for them? Then reach out by making recommendations for people in your network. Then they’ll want to return the favor.

5. List Your Skills (& Collect Endorsements)

For the past year or so, LinkedIn has allowed you to list your skills and be endorsed for them.

You can list almost anything from speaking Mandarin to Salsa to using an iPod.

Once you’ve listed a skills, your LinkedIn connections can endorse you for that skill. All your endorsements are displayed on your profile.

Currently, there’s a debate over whether it’s best to list as many skills as you can think of, or to hone down your skills to a minimalist list.

On the minimalist side, the argument is that the fewer skills you list, the more endorsements you’ll collect on them. That’s why minimalists advocate grouping skills together. For example, instead of listing Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. as separate skills, why not combine them into a single skill: Social Media Marketing.

On the other hand, the more skills you list, the more keywords you have in your profile, and the more likely you are to be found in search.

Top tip: Endorsing others will increase the number of people who endorse you.

6. Showcase Your Best Work

LinkedIn’s profiles are media rich. You can add videos, a graphic design portfolio, samples of projects you’ve managed, or a list of your publications.

These features are around a year old, and many LinkedIn users have yet to catch up, so by taking advantage of them, you’ll put yourself ahead of the crowd.

It’s always better to show what you’re capable of than to merely make claims about what you can do.

7. Complete Your Career History

LinkedIn profiles have always been a way of showing your resume online. Yet in today’s fast-paced, multi-media world, this is arguably the least important factor in your LinkedIn profile. That’s not to say you shouldn’t include it. Not showing your career history is an easy way to raise questions about your profile. But it’s probably the last thing people will look at when they check out your profile.

When you’re listing your past jobs, write about what you did in a way that shows off the skills you need for your ideal job. Write like you’re explaining what you did to a recruiter at a job interview.

You don’t need to go into too much depth. Just make sure what you write about your jobs reinforces everything else in your profile.

Over to You

What are your top tips for putting together a stunning LinkedIn profile?

Dinosaur

Despite being one of the oldest surviving social networks, LinkedIn is no dinosaur. In fact, LinkedIn’s longevity is a good sign that in a constantly changing eco-system, LinkedIn is here for the long haul.

Recent updates to LinkedIn’s features mean it’s no longer all about professionals looking to build their network and advance their careers. Now companies can use LinkedIn to promote their products and services and engage prospects.

As it’s a network for professionals, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B companies looking to reach out to potential customers. But with the new features, even those targeting mainstream consumers can benefit.

So, we’ve put together another famous Social Caffeine list post showing you 19 of the best ways to engage on LinkedIn. Sprinkle a few of these into your social media strategy, stir vigorously, and you’ll be in for some tasty marketing results.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Now, here goes…

1. Complete Your Company Profile

Over 2.6 million businesses have a company page on LinkedIn. Have you claimed yours?

Completing your profile isn’t really a way to stand out. Rather, it’s a way to avoid standing out for the wrong reasons. An empty profile makes your company look amateur. If you can’t even take a few minutes to fill out a simple LinkedIn profile, how can your customers trust you to give your best to other tasks?

On top of filling out your main company page, you should also complete the careers and products/services sections. More on those later.

2. Grab Attention With Visuals

With networks such as Pinterest, Instagram, and even Facebook, social media is becoming increasingly visual. As a network for professionals, LinkedIn is always likely to be more wordy. For that reason, anytime you use an image on LinkedIn, it’s extra powerful. It stands out because it’s against the grain.

Make the banner image on your company page as engaging and attention grabbing as you can. It’s a free billboard for your brand, so make the most of it!

3. Post Regular Updates

Keeping your feed frequently updated should be at the heart of your LinkedIn strategy. That’s because a regularly updated feed engages your followers, attracts new followers, and keeps you top of mind for your customers. So when they need your products or services, you’ll be the company they think of.

With BufferApp now supporting LinkedIn updates, you can even schedule your LinkedIn feed ahead of time. So there are no excuses.

As with all updates across all social media channels, what your share on LinkedIn should matter to your customers. In other words, you must provide value in everything you share.

Target

4. Target Your Updates

LinkedIn now allows you to choose specific groups of followers to target your updates at. You can pinpoint followers based on location, industry, and seniority. This enables you to make sure everything you share is uber-relevant to the people you’re sharing it with. It’s also a good reason to put on your thinking cap and come up with creative ideas for updates to target your high-powered followers.

5. Curate Content

Ideally, you should keep your feed updated with more than just posts from your blog. The easiest way to do this is by curating content in your niche. Be a tour guide to the Internet, showing your followers the best places to go and the hidden gems you discover.

In addition to keeping your feed populated with content, curation establishes you as an expert in your field. You’re showing that you know what matters to your followers.

6. Go Head Hunting

Need to vitalize your company with new talent? LinkedIn is the place to go to find scores of candidates hungry for the job you have to offer. Find the person you need with job post listings, or dive in and search through profiles, contacting ideal candidates with an InMail.

LinkedIn is well-known as the network for job hunters, which is why this strategy is so effective.

7. Be Scouted Out

To give top talent the best opportunity to engage, make sure you’ve completed the careers tab of your LinkedIn company page.

If you’re really serious about this, you can upgrade to a Gold Career Page, which allows you to create up to five different versions of the careers page to show prospects based on their skills and experience.

8. Grow Your Network and Develop Your Expertise

LinkedIn groups are ideal for meeting new people and learning new things. They’re just like business conferences, but you can attend them from the comfort of your desk, and they run 24/7.

With over a million groups to choose from, it won’t take you long to find a group that matches your interests. Head over to the groups directory and see what you discover.

Don’t be shy to jump in and join the conversation! Every time you say something, you’re subtly promoting your brand.

Note: Groups aren’t the place to make a sales pitch. They’re where you add value and show your expertise by contributing to the discussion.

9. Show That You’re a Thought Leader

Can’t find a group that perfectly matches your interests? Or maybe all the groups in your niche are lacking in content and need a breath of life?

You’re the one who can solve this! You can either breathe life into stale groups by kicking off new discussions, or you can start your own group, and keep it active with questions and updates. Either way, you’re showing that you’re an influencer in your field.

10. Discover Who the Thought Leaders Are

As well as being ideal for meeting people, groups are the place to identify the thought leaders in your niche. Every group shows the top influencers for the week. These are the people whose opinion matters. Take note of who these people are, as you’ll likely want to make contact. Read on for one way you can do that.

Reach Out

11. Reach Out to Thought Leaders

Once you’ve discovered who the thought leaders are, you’re ready to start building a relationship with them. To start out, you should never suggest that they become your customer or promote your product. Imagine how you’d feel if you received a request like that out of the blue. Before you can do any of that, you must build trust.

The best way to reach out is by asking questions. Drop them an email letting them know you’d like to pick their brains. We all like to be helpful, and even better if we can do it in a way that’s quick and easy.

Ask one or two questions. And ask questions that you’re genuinely interested in finding the answer to.

People love to help, and asking questions gets the relationship started on a good footing.

12. Share What Influencers Think

LinkedIn is a place where status matters. As such, your followers would love to know insider tips from influencers in your niche.

From all the questions you’ve been reaching out to ask, you’ve created a ton of potential content. Share the tips you’ve collected on your blog. You can then use these blog posts to create a series of LinkedIn updates. That way, you’re keeping your followers happy, and you’re subtly developing the relationships you started when you reached out and asked questions.

13. Make The Most of Your Products/Services Tab

If people checking out your company on LinkedIn have made it to your products page, then they’re seriously interested in what you have to offer.

Don’t screw this one up.

All you must do is make them an offer they can’t refuse. Instead of selling, use this as an opportunity to foster a relationship. By all means, feature your products on your products page. But also offer a product, ebook or report for free in exchange for their email address. That provides a low risk way for them to find out more. And it generates a lead for you.

14. Use Video to Highlight Your Products

LinkedIn allows you to share YouTube videos to your products tab. This is the perfect opportunity to show how your product or service works, and give your customers a better understanding of your offer. As the Internet is becoming increasingly video centric, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

15. Collect Recommendations

Just like individual profiles on LinkedIn, Companies can receive recommendations on products and services. These are a great form of social proof. When prospects see you’ve done a great job helping others, they’ll conclude you’ll do a great job of helping them too.

This isn’t just some crazy idea I had. Research shows that consumers are 63% more likely to buy from a site with product ratings and reviews.

Whenever you’ve delivered on your promises with a customer (or even better, over-delivered), and you know they’re delighted with how you’ve helped them, ask them to leave a recommendation on your LinkedIn page. These recommendations are multi-purpose, as there’s nothing to stop you taking screenshots of the recommendations and using them as testimonials on your website.

You can also reach out to existing customers on LinkedIn, asking them for a recommendations.

16. Find Out What Matters to Your Customers

It can be tempting to treat LinkedIn as a broadcasting platform. You share stuff that’s important to your company, and your customers and followers listen.

As we’ve said so many times before on Social Caffeine, social media is a two way street. LinkedIn is no exception to this rule. If you really want to succeed, you’ve got to give and take. That means listening to what your customers are saying, and interacting with them.

Make sure you follow as many of your customers as possible. When you see what they’re sharing on LinkedIn, you’ll discover what’s important to them. With that information, you can make sure your company is connecting to what matters.

Trumpet

17. Trumpet Your Achievements

One of the main differences between LinkedIn and other networks is that on LinkedIn you can be a little more self-centered and business focused. LinkedIn is the place to be blatant about your successes and blow your own trumpet.

18. Promote Facebook, Twitter and Other Networks

LinkedIn is ideal for meeting prospects and influencers, and for occasionally connecting with your customers. But for staying in touch day to day, Facebook or Twitter are better options. That’s because the average LinkedIn user spends just over 15 minutes a month logged into the network. By contrast, the average Facebook user spends over 6 hours a month connecting with friends on the network.

That’s why it makes sense to regularly promote your Facebook page to your LinkedIn followers. LinkedIn is the place to meet people. Facebook’s where you get to know them.

Your Turn

Do you use LinkedIn to promote your brand? If so, what have you found are the best ways to engage with prospects? On the other hand, if you’re skeptical of LinkedIn, what holds you back?