As consumer concern around privacy issues, sustainability, and worker rights grows, trust becomes more important to business success every day. While there are steps you can take as a brand to build trust in the company as a whole, people have an easier time trusting other humans than branded entities.
Thought leadership is a strategy for inspiring confidence in your company by building trust in the people behind it. It’s a form of influencer marketing that turns the marketing tactic inward. Instead of reaching out to an influencer in your industry to partner with, you work to build the influence of your internal employees.
4 Reasons to Use LinkedIn for Thought Leadership
As far as social media channels go, LinkedIn is probably the least buzzy of the bunch. We see a lot of trend stories on the big guys like Facebook, and newer players like Snapchat and TikTok. While LinkedIn might not be flashy, it is influential. The platform has quietly built a reputation for being indispensable in career development and the perfect place to build thought leadership.
1. Your content will reach a large audience.
LinkedIn currently has 660 million users, and the average LinkedIn member spends over 10 minutes a day on the site. Even though the platform gets less attention than many other social media sites, a lot of people are using it. And you can use it to get your content in front of them.
2. There’s less competition than on other platforms.
Social media generally moves fast because a lot of people push new content and status updates out there on a continual basis. This happens on LinkedIn too, but at a slower pace. People don’t post updates on the platform nearly as often as they do on sites like Facebook and Twitter, which means your posts linger in the feed longer and have more time to get noticed.
3. Members trust content on LinkedIn.
The ubiquity of the other social media sites has become a double-edged sword. Sure, Facebook and Twitter have tons of users. But we’ve come to learn over the past couple of years that they also have their share of bad actors and bots using the sites to share fake news stories and rustle up manufactured outrage. Business Insider’s Digital Trust Report has found LinkedIn to be the most trusted social media site. When you share information there, your audience is more likely to be receptive.
4. On LinkedIn, the link between brand and individual is natural.
More than any other platform, LinkedIn comes with the expectation that individuals are representing their business each time they share something. On other sites, there’s more of a tension between the personal and professional—when are you representing yourself versus playing a business role? On LinkedIn, you don’t have to worry about any divide between the two.
5 Tips to Build Thought Leadership on LinkedIn
Building a strong reputation on LinkedIn requires the right approach.
1. Create a strategy.
Don’t try to build a reputation one post at a time. Make sure everything you do supports a strategy. Think through what you want to accomplish on LinkedIn. Who do you want to reach, what do you want to convince them of, and what results are you hoping this will lead to?
Then create a plan of action. Consider:
- How often you’ll post on the platform
- What the mix of original content versus curation will be
- The types of content formats to try
- Strategies for who to connect with and how
- How your strategy for LinkedIn will relate to your brand’s larger content strategy
Create a calendar to help you stick with your plan.
2. Make sure your profile is up to date.
If you share content someone loves, their next step will often be clicking through to your profile to learn more about you. The fastest way to lose credibility is to have a profile that looks unprofessional.
Start with the basics:
- A solid headshot
- A strong headline and description that’s in line with your thought leadership strategy
- Up-to-date job listing information
Your profile should further the image you want your thought leadership strategy to build for you.
3. Build out your community.
Growing your network means more people will see your content and updates. And if they like and comment, your content will spread to their connections as well. To gain the kind of reach required to build thought leadership, you need a wide network of connections. But that doesn’t mean you should send out hundreds of invites to strangers.
Instead, be strategic. Start by making sure you’re connected to all the people you actually know—brainstorm old professional colleagues, people you’ve met at networking events, and old friends. Then identify influencers in your industry, as well as people in your target audience that are active on the platform. For anyone you don’t already know, send a personalized message. Mention how you know of them and why you’d like to connect, and they’ll be much more likely to accept.
4. Post consistently—and not just your own content.
Now get active! Post articles you’ve read that you feel your audience will appreciate. Share insights that start conversations. Ask questions. And mix in content from your brand and your own articles.
Some best practices to get more traction for your updates:
- Use hashtags. Don’t go overboard and overload your updates with hashtags, but add a couple of relevant ones to each post to make it more discoverable for people looking for content on the topic.
- Tag people. If you’re sharing an article from another brand or one that features expert sources, tag the people involved! That ensures they’ll see it and increases the chance they’ll interact with it and expand its reach.
- Join conversations already happening. Participating in relevant conversations other people start will raise your visibility on the platform, gain new connections, and drive more attention to your own updates.
- Respond to comments. Any time people comment on something you share, respond! It shows them you’re listening and increases engagement on your posts.
- Create brief videos. Recording video introductions for content you share can capture more attention in the LinkedIn feed. Marketing consultant Dennis Shiao shared in a Content Marketing Institute piece that a simple one- or two-minute video that takes 10 minutes to record leads to 10 to 20 times more engagement with his articles.
5. Publish content on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has its own publishing platform anyone can use. Articles you publish on LinkedIn can potentially reach a lot of people in your industry, and will add to the strength of your profile. And if one of your articles takes off on the platform, you could gain an influx of new followers.
When you publish content on LinkedIn, make sure to promote it on other channels. Share it on social media sites you’re active on, and consider sending it to your email list as well. LinkedIn’s algorithm increases the reach of posts that get a lot of engagement. If you can boost the initial engagement of an article via promotion, it will reach more people on the site as a result.
Build Your Personal Brand to Strengthen Your Business Brand
LinkedIn can grow your individual reputation, which helps you build more trust in the business you represent. By showing the expertise and insights of the humans behind the brand, you’ll show your audience the business is worth caring about and connecting with.