Using LinkedIn for personal and professional branding is easy, so why do so many brands and individuals get it so wrong?
At ClickZ Live Jakarta, Chris J Reed, global chief executive officer and founder, Black Marketing, shared his 10 tips for success on LinkedIn.
“You all have terrible profiles – I know, I’ve seen them,” Reed told delegates.
How to improve that? The first step is understanding LinkedIn’s role as a business-to-business (B2B) and a pier-to-pier (P2P) network, in a business context. “It’s not Facebook, it’s not Twitter and it’s definitely not Tinder,” says Reed.
Who uses LinkedIn?
The platform is establishing a significant presence in Asia. India and China now make up LinkedIn’s two biggest markets after the United States.
It has a growing presence in many APAC markets including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
China’s adoption of the site in particular is a surprise to some, says Reed. It’s one of the few global players to make inroads in this market – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google for example, are all blocked in China and can only be accessed with a VPN.
The preferred social commerce app is local player WeChat, which has been adopted by 700 million users. Reed says professional Chinese are increasingly setting themselves up on LinkedIn, then using WeChat to do the chatting, so it is not uncommon to see a WeChat QR code in the contact information window of a China-based professional on LinkedIn.
“In Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, you get a lot of people realizing that if they want to go outside of China, you can’t use WeChat, and you can’t use the data on WeChat to find the decision makers like you can on LinkedIn,” adds Reed.
Reed’s 10 tips for success on LinkedIn
There are four steps to success on LinkedIn, says Reed. These are:
- Personal branding
- Company branding
- Content marketing
- Social selling
He notes that social selling can only start once the other three are in place first.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Your Profile Photograph
It’s all about being genuine, says Reed. “People don’t trust people they can’t see.”
In your photo, be:
- Have a silvery or red background
- Be genuine (i.e. don’t post an image of yourself as George Clooney)
- Chop off your head
- Use Shutterstock images (and at the very least remove the watermark!)
- Post photographs with animals (save that for Facebook)
- Use party / drinking images
- Show group pictures (“How do you create a relationship with someone if you don’t who they are?)
- Be anonymous
- Be overly creative, such as covering your head, or changing your physical appearance
- Post images of a kinky or sexual nature – what Reed calls the “What on earth were you thinking?” images. These belong on Tinder, and only Tinder.
- Call yourself Darth Vader
If you get the photograph right, it increases your views 14 times, says Reed.
2. Your background picture
The background image should be something bright and shiny that communicates visually what your personal brand is, says Reed.
For example, a city scene reflecting your country of abode, like the Sydney harbor bridge or the Hong Kong harbor. Sunset and sunrises project warmth. Accepting an award shows recent accomplishments.
- Do nothing at all
- Use the blue default option provided by LinkedIn. Given there are 30 default backgrounds to choose from, choosing the plain blue one is just lazy, says Reed.
- Use bushfires, natural disaster scenes or images that project chaos.
3. Profile headline
LinkedIn is like Google and YouTube, and can be used as a key search engine to be found, says Reed.
To do this, fill the header and career windows with as many keywords as possible.
Here is Chris Reed’s profile, which emphasizes keywords: Black Marketing, LinkedIn power profile, speaker and entrepreneur.
“You are communicating your personal brand by the words you use here,” says Reed.
- Lonely and young girl / I am a hot girl
- Wife of… husband of… (it’s a professional site)
- Generic / ambiguous slogans such as: problem solver, strategy officer etc.
“Your headline appears everywhere. Every time you share, comment or like, it comes up. And all these things are marketing your brand,” says Reed.
He adds that people are more likely to click on someone when they know what their brand is about.
4. Combine both for maximum employer branding
LinkedIn is all about employer branding, says Reed.
In cities like Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai people have a choice about who they work for. “They want to work for leaders they respect and companies they want to work for,” he says. So use your employees as ambassadors for your brand.
A great example of blending both the personal and the employer brand is the profile page of Ali Bullock, the sponsorship and social media manager, Infiniti Formula One.
Bullock does a good job here of combining his personal brand with a job he seems to love.
Reed says businesses also need to consider having consistent branding for employee pages whether that’s the use of company logos and mission templates.
Incorporate CSR into branding campaigns. Here’s an example from SchemeServe which is using its famous purple hat in a CSR campaign to #MakeMayPurple.
Employees have jumped on board the campaign with these quirky purple hats.
The company has also been able to incorporate the charity campaign into its LinkedIn content marketing strategy in the form of blogs and visuals.
5. Add your personal brand story
This begins by writing the summary in the first person (not the third person). “If someone walked into this room and started talking in the third person, you would move away from them because you would think that was very strange,” says Reed.
6. Add experience
When writing the summary, Reed suggests:
- Not over mentioning the current employer – “It’s not about your current role, it’s about your career.”
- Include information around: why you came to Asia, what awards have you won, what associations, chambers, organizations are you a member of.
A good example is this summary from Simon Kemp, regional managing partner, Asia, We Are Social.
- Do nothing at all (and leave a blank)
- Write things like: “A lifelong passion for problem solving. This is too generic. Think of ways to differentiate your personal brand, advises Reed.
- Post a hardcopy of your CV on LinkedIn – LinkedIn IS your CV.
7. Add visual content
Pictures do tell a thousand words on LinkedIn. Video, pictures, images and infographics should be included where applicable. See Simon Kemp’s profile page above as another example of this.
8. Create a content marketing strategy for LinkedIn
Marriott Hotel is a great example of a strong content marketing strategy. Not only does the brand itself have well-established pages, but it has great employee engagement across the site.
Arne Sorenson, president and CEO at Marriott International, has 350,000 connections. Sorenson uses LinkedIn to market himself, in order to market the brand. His followers include employees, customers for F&B, for MICE, event organizers, and people buying room rates. So how does he engage them all?
When Marriott recently announced the purchase of Starwood Hotels, Sorenson used a LinkedIn blog post to talk about the importance of people. The blog has had 90,000 views, 2000 likes and 200 comments.
“He could have sent out an EDM, or used Facebook, instead he used LinkedIn. And he used that in a positive way. He’s using it to talk about issues his employees are thinking about,” says Reed.
It’s the “Richard Branson” effect, adds Reed. Richard Branson has 9 million followers on LinkedIn, which is more than Google, Facebook and Apple combined.
“You want to work for Virgin because of Richard Branson. If Virgin didn’t have Richard Branson, you wouldn’t want to work for them,” he says.
9. Develop your company page
Brands which have developed great company pages include Chinese telecommunications brand Huawei, Hong Kong publisher South China Morning Post, beauty brand L’Oréal, Australian bank, ANZ and Marriott Hotels.
Huawei uses engaging content to explain what it does, to its almost 900,00 followers. The South China Morning Post uses its news content to position itself as the place to get the facts. L’Oréal doesn’t talk make-up, instead shares inspiring posts on how to be a female entrepreneur, or startups around beauty salons. ANZ talks about fintech, entrepreneurs and female leadership, rather than talking about bank rates or deposit accounts.
In its content marketing, Marriott is careful not to talk about room rates or what it’s like to book the hotel. Instead it talks about LinkedIn, leadership and meetings.
“They have realized that if they talk to people in a business context, people will think they are a business hotel and therefore engage with them,” says Reed.
10. Create new business
Now that you’ve got your personal branding, company branding and content marketing in place, it’s time to start social selling.
Use content marketing to:
- Sell your services
- To engage with customers / clients
- To find investors
- Build a network of active people
- Share content with them
- Become an influencer to do content marketing in groups
- Do nothing at all
- Put a blog up with a link that doesn’t work
- Post anything about people who are dying or sick. It’s not appropriate for LinkedIn.
- Bring religion into posts or pages
LinkedIn will market your blog for you, whether that’s through EDMs or giving you data about who actually sees your pages and posts. This data changes every day, including showing who is viewing your content.
“Connect with these people and say thanks for reading my blog. Start engaging and being active with people on LinkedIn,” Reed says.
His final advice is not to forget the gamification nature of LinkedIn. “The more you do, the more you succeed.”