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Is all that time your agency's boss is spending on LinkedIn paying off?

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By Sedge Beswick, Founder

October 10, 2023 | 6 min read

Seen Connects, founder Sedge Beswick wonders if all that time agency leaders are using to scroll through LinkedIn is well used...

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Disclaimer: In the words of Taylor Swift: ‘It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem it’s me’.

If you’re reading The Drum, you read LinkedIn. So you know it is noisy – unsurprising with a 44% increase in posts YoY. It’s not always easy to find insightful posts in the spam. To separate the job ads from the BS. But whatever you go to it for, you’ll notice that founders, business owners and CEOs have – particularly in the past 12 months – co-opted it as the place they put their thought leadership. Sharing their highs, lows, challenges or anecdotes and increasingly, soundbites they hope will go viral. My question is, shouldn’t we focus on running our businesses rather than creating content about running our businesses? When did our priorities change?

When you run a business, marketing that business is vital. It’s a part of the job you don’t know much about beforehand but ends up being one of the tasks that dominates your time and head space. If it’s a retail business, you need to sell. If it’s a software service, you need to sell. If it’s an agency, you need to sell. And LinkedIn is our always-on, all-consuming networking event. Everyone – from past bosses to past interns – shouting for their opinions to be heard. Everyone wants your attention.

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To be clear, I am LinkedIn’s biggest hype woman. I attribute a lot; I’d guess 75%+ of the business’ growth to the platform. LinkedIn sales navigator enabled me to connect with people I didn’t know. To share views, opinions, insights. And it’s those connections that won our agency incredible clients like eBay. It has also allowed me to keep in touch with my ‘work’ network. That’s how we won clients like N Brown Group.

It was the place to share video clips of speaker slots – like when I was interviewed on Sky News or at marketing conferences. That’s how we won clients like Panasonic.

LinkedIn Recruiter also allowed me to recruit some of the best talent in the business at a fraction of the cost of a traditional recruiter model. So you get the gist. I am a LinkedIn ride or die. What’s changed, is how it has become a place – the place maybe – for my persona as a business owner to take flight.

And boy am I not alone. According to Ogilvy, ‘75% of B2B businesses utilize influencers’, highlighting the platform’s increasing role in shaping brand narratives. Purposefully or reluctantly, it feels like our business-focused LinkedIn content creators are in our ‘Bartlett era.’ The small, insignificant difference being that Bartlett has traded and sold his business, secured placement on Dragon’s Den and has the most downloaded podcast in the UK. He is perhaps one of the most capable and charismatic human beings on the planet whose output is endlessly high quality. But us – the founders and owners, my old bosses and my old interns – is our content Bartlett-worthy? Should a camera crew be part of our teams now? Or *whispers tentatively* should we focus on getting the actual work done?

With LinkedIn’s massive user base of 950 million actives, companies are now offering people like me specialized services to manage our profiles and amplify our content. Which only further contributes to this recent surge in content.

In my many years connecting brands and influencers, there has always been a steady stream of household brands that look for that talent internally. After all, the biggest brand advocates are often employees. But what happens when those personal brands overtake the brand’s share of voice? And worse than that, what happens when their opinions don’t align?

During my time at ASOS, we actively encouraged internal advocacy and had some great success doing so. That was until the lingerie team started posting some – more sexualized images – these didn’t align with our brand values. Which, predictably in hindsight, meant a new set of guidelines needed to be issued. Often weekly. I’m pretty grateful the @BestofLinkedIn account didn’t exist back then.

But I digress. What LinkedIn’s has been able to do, in terms of growth is undeniable. What it has been able to do for business owners like me – and Bartlett, sure – is unrivaled. It has leveled the playing field in many ways, making the professional networking landscape much more accessible. We’re no longer doing deals on the golf course (or ever, for that matter). We’re doing them in my DMs, and that’s been a game changer.

But it’s also created a space – and a place – where thought leadership is expected of us. Will we all do it in a podcast studio set for added gravitas? Hopefully not. Will I continue to feel inspired to post sometimes, then get all too caught up in that post’s engagement? Without a doubt. Here’s to a brave new world of content.

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