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What your brand boss should and should not do on LinkedIn

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By Hannah Bowler | Senior Reporter

January 19, 2024 | 8 min read

A great platform for sharing insights and knowledge, LinkedIn can help brands become trusted voices. Unfortunately, it is also full of nonsense and egos, so how can a brand boss build a profile without adding to the noise?

Do's and don'ts of brand leaders on LinkedIn

Brand building on LinkedIn / Pexels

The latest changes to the LinkedIn algorithm prioritize detail and knowledge over virality, making it a stronger place for leaders to build brands. While company-run LinkedIn pages can be fruitful, due to the nature of LinkedIn, personal views break through better.

When employees promote their insights, it can massively help brands influence purchasing, hiring, reputation and trust. According to LinkedIn’s research, 61% of decision-makers globally say that an organization’s thought leadership is effective at demonstrating the potential of its products and services.

The other part of this is that, increasingly, brand leaders are expected to take a view on everything from climate change to D&I and international conflicts, and LinkedIn, along with PR, is one of the easiest places to share these views.

Posting regularly is key to keeping audiences engaged, but Tom Pepper, senior director of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions for EMEA & Latin America, has previously advised users to “be sure to vary” content. He says that “great insights can come from anywhere, such as an industry event or a customer conversation.” He also says to play around with formats. “Learnings can easily be crafted into long or short-form text, or you can experiment with visuals such as video and infographics. Use hashtags to make your content discoverable.” Another route can be to start a newsletter around topics they are passionate about.

Other major don’ts, according to Pepper, include don’t forget to credit your sources. “Give credit where credit is due and be sure to cite companies, creators and colleagues who have supported your content,” he says. And don’t share data and insights without breaking them down. “When sharing research and insights, it’s good practice to explain what the findings mean and to ground posts in valuable learnings and takeaways that are easily digestible.”

During the pandemic, as work and life blurred, LinkedIn posts became much more personal. The site, some thought, started to resemble Facebook, but many users were still just after content that helped them get better at their jobs.

With these recent changes, the algorithm is now designed to feed users the most interesting and high-quality content. It sorts the content into three categories: spam, low-quality or high-quality. High-quality posts are easy to read, use keywords and have fewer hashtags.

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We asked B2B marketer Charlotte Lander, director of social media at Standard Chartered, for her top tips on nailing LinkedIn thought leadership. Here’s what she said:

Do...

...have direction and purpose

“Having a clear strategy and roadmap from day one will guide the executive’s approach, the audience focus, the type of thought leadership content, the time investment, which peers or conversations they interact with and how marketing or comms teams could track and compare their success.

“It will also set the pace. Most people need to see some value before committing more time to anything, so usually start small and build. Also, if they’re still getting to grips with LinkedIn, executives are unlikely to be comfortable sharing articles, joining live events or creating self-style video content early on.”

...empower and support executives

“By supporting executives with guidance and training (turning on creator mode is a must), insights such as the quick identification of industry trends and articles, performance and peer comparison reporting to understand what to do more of, and help to create strong social-first thought leadership assets, marketing and comms teams have an opportunity to build trust, improve brand recall, and engage a wider audience.

“That’s not to say executive profiles should be used as a marketing channel; far from it. To remain impactful, thought leaders’ content and profiles need to stay authentic, personal and relevant. Teams providing support need to share value-add expertise but not overstep and dilute the personality, experiences or vibrancy of the individual.”

...focus on authenticity, audience, and relevance

“There’s a fair amount of buzz around thought leadership ads since they rolled out in July last year, and rightly so. I’ve seen 3.5x on comparable ads and ongoing benefits of the follower gains. The ad format allows us to get our leaders’ content in front of the audiences they want to engage with, and because it is boosted, they’re still in control of what they say and how they say it.

“A strong organic profile with a frequent content drumbeat and two-way engagement is essential to making thought leadership ads a worthwhile investment. We’ve seen a strong correlation between the strength of the executive’s overall approach and their ad performance, as well as the positive impact the organic performance (on a post) has before the paid spend kicks in on the overall result.”

Don’t...

...just use branded thought leadership content

“To be valuable to their audience, they must bring in industry insights, offer a bold or fresh perspective and consider the geopolitical, social and economic context that this is being shared in.

“Increasingly, executives, especially CEOs, are being expected to be the face of change. The Edelman Trust Barometer highlights that, as the most trusted institution, people want more societal engagement from businesses, especially around climate change, economic inequality, healthcare access and energy shortages, with CEOs most expected to take action on the treatment of employees, climate change, and discrimination.”

...broadcast or take people’s time without first sharing value

“Don’t post and run. Executives excelling on LinkedIn actively ask for opinions and feedback, respond to and encourage comments, showcase the kind of leader they are, support and celebrate their peers and colleagues and actively join conversations on other posts.

“Don’t link to long thought leadership reports without providing the highlights or bite-sized takeaways within the social post. It might be a great report, but people need the hook or the value before they’re enticed to exit LinkedIn, download and then read a lengthy report.”

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