Bobby Darnell, business development consultant said: “Active participation on LinkedIn is the best way to say, ‘Look at me!’ without saying ‘Look at me!” During the LinkedIn Indaba, held earlier this year, we learned just how much of an impact LinkedIn has on the on our South African setting.
From 6 000 sign ups in 2003 to an estimated 575 million active users today, LinkedIn has surely come a long way, although, in some circles, it is still considered the black sheep of social networks.
LinkedIn is a social network with a very specific audience: it has the aim of connecting the world’s professionals to make them more productive, more successful and ultimately more in touch with content and people that can enable the growth they seek.
On a normal day, LinkedIn boasts 15 million jobs, 50 000 skills listed, and 109 billion updates viewed. This is no small impact, considering that LinkedIn is only one of several social media networks currently available.
The LinkedIn Indaba was held in Johannesburg in October, and apart from sharing some insights on the platform, our dot on the map was the main focus: how does LinkedIn fair in the South African environment?
As proudly South African as braaivleis, the Cape Wine Lands and the word “eish”, so are Sangomas, known as traditional healers in African cultures. Sangomas are also found on LinkedIn; 85 of them to be exact. Also, 644 Sommelier’s can be found on LinkedIn, in South Africa. A Sommelier is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional: and thus, amongst the magwenja’s, also truly South African.
In South Africa, LinkedIn boasts seven million users, 75 000 jobs and 30 000 companies. There is a world of possibilities, in a country where the unemployment rate has increased from a staggering 37.3% earlier in 2018 to a worse still 37.7%.
Most LinkedIn users in South Africa are based in Johannesburg, followed by Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and then Polokwane. This means that the major business centres in South Africa are all covered with LinkedIn users, which indicates that the platform is being used in all corners of the country.
In South Africa, the majority of LinkedIn users use the site for networking. It is indicated that 56% of South African users use LinkedIn to network with other professionals. While 60% use the platform to stay up to date on what their colleagues are doing. 61% of South African LinkedIn users use the platform to keep up to date on industry discussions, meaning that LinkedIn as a social media networking site for professionals, gives individuals the opportunity to not only connect with others but learn and update their skills and knowledge, staying on top of what the trends are in a specific industry. While 28% of users in South Africa use the platform to actively seek employment opportunities.
In South Africa access to social media is quite literally in the palm of our hands. Just over half of LinkedIn users (55%) access the platform from a desktop computer, with 15% accessing LinkedIn from a mobile phone. While the remaining 30% access the platform through a combination of devices. This points to the type of LinkedIn users in South Africa: most likely professionals, people for whom popping onto LinkedIn isn’t about a quick catching-the-latest-memes-on-the-move, they are active participants in their professional community with an engaging commitment to their job and profession, with the aim of bettering themselves and staying on top of movements happening in their industry.
The top job titles listed on LinkedIn in South Africa are as diverse as our country. These include teachers, sales representatives, IT consultants and software developers. Top skills listed on LinkedIn by South African users are Microsoft abilities, customer service, management, leadership, project management and strategic planning.
The leading industries in South Africa, according to LinkedIn are financial services ranking first, followed by information technology, mining and metals, retail, construction and higher education. This shows a clear indication of where most LinkedIn users are employed. Walking hand in hand with these industries, three of the five top employers in South Africa, based on South African LinkedIn users, are in the financial industry, with Sasol and Eskom Holdings completing the Top five.
Company sizes in South Africa differ quite extensively, according to LinkedIn with the majority of companies employing over 10 000 people, and the second largest range between 1001 and 5000 employees. The third largest company size comes from companies employing between 11 – 200 people. Although this shows big institutions as the majority employer, it also points to the small businesses that employ people, a welcomed sight and a sign of innovation and entrepreneurial skills in South Africa.
In the South African market, Operations and Business development are the largest job functions on the platform, followed by Sales, Information Technology, Engineering and Finance. This means that the largest amount of South African LinkedIn users identified their primary job functions as Operations, Business development and Sales.
LinkedIn offers a portal, an opportunity, a hope for businesses and individuals to connect, learn, enable themselves and ultimately find like-minded individuals to build futures with, more so in our sunny South Africa.
We have noted some welcomed updates to LinkedIn over the past 8 months, proving this professional platform to be innovative and striving forward in providing value to its users.
Social Media 101 can assist B2B businesses with winning strategies on LinkedIn as well as offer personal branding workshops to assist professionals with their LinkedIn profiles. Contact us to learn more. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
LinkedIn: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
LinkedIn is a social network specifically tailored for business professionals. It is a brilliant platform to use for networking within your industry, enabling you to connect directly with decision-makers and allowing you to bolster your professional brand. In the last few months, LinkedIn has included some exciting updates like the ability to upload video directly onto the platform.
As a business owner and professional, the platform is, however, saturated with recruiters looking to head hunt professionals as well as sales people hoping to sell you their products which makes the landscape difficult to navigate and convince your ideal prospects to speak to you.
And now for the ugly… and this does exist on LinkedIn. There are a number of fake profiles who harvest people’s personal information, like your email address, and use this to send out spam and phishing emails. So be aware, any email that lands in your inbox which seems out of sorts or suspicious, especially when being asked to download or click on something, rather ignore.
There are two ways to present yourself on LinkedIn. The first is through your personal profile and the second is through your business profile. These are both important to have properly set up and serve different purposes. Think of your LinkedIn profiles as your shop window. People are bustling down the street or in this case through the platform where you want to attract them into your store, or onto your profile. With this in mind, it is vital to have a clear, strong brand shown on your profile, whether your own brand or that of your business.
The difference between business and personal LinkedIn profiles
Followers vs. Connections
Business Profiles allow your business to gain followers of people who want to see latest updates, information and insights from your business. Personal profiles allow you to connect with other individuals where you are able to view their latest updates and them yours. You can also comment, share and like their posts which will then be shared in your network’s timeline when they are next online.
Paid Advertising vs. Free
Business profiles allow you to promote your content through paid advertising where you can target specific companies or job titles you want to reach. LinkedIn is one of the more expensive social media paid promotion options, however they do offer specific targeting as mentioned above which can be used should speaking to specific decision-makers be your objective. Personal profiles can be used for free where you can upgrade your profile by subscribing to LinkedIn for more access options depending if you want to InMail people outside of your network or post job vacancies.
Business profiles allow you to update images, videos and text posts up to 1000 characters where Personal profiles allow you to update images, videos and articles which can be shared to your Business profile.
Commenting vs. Sharing
Business profiles allow you to post updates and include links from other pages or websites however you cannot post or comment on other people’s posts via your business page. You are able to respond as your business to comments on the content posted on your business page. Personal profiles allow you to comment, like and share both Business and Personal page’s content as well as respond in your personal capacity to comments on your own posts.
Business profiles allow you to view reach, impressions and engagement for both paid and organic posts as well as track likes, comments, share and followers. On your Personal profile you are able to see data on profile views, article views and search appearances.
Optimising your LinkedIn Business Profile
Ensure to set up your business profile to include the following things:
- Profile picture of your company logo. Clean and simple so that it is easily displayed. The profile picture on a business page is much like the profile picture on a personal page. It is the main identifier of the page and so you want to ensure your company brand is well distinguished.
- Background image… this is your online billboard and should represent a strong call-to-action of your business. Whether that be your website address or contact number, it must be clear what the user needs to do when they come across your business page.
- Populate the company about section, giving people more information about what you do, how you can benefit them and where to contact you.
Optimising your LinkedIn Personal Profile
Ensure to include these when setting up your personal profile:
- Keep in mind that this is where you want to put your best foot forward. In a lot of cases loads of time and other investments are put into fine tuning your company logo, tone of voice, brand identity, look and feel, product range, etc. All these elements also need to be considered when populating your personal profile.
- Firstly, have your actual name populated so people can find you. Or at least the name that is included on your business cards, on your website, etc. The name people know you by. This is to make sure that people can find you and know who you are.
- Then you would need to include your title. Now there is a lot of talk around including here what you can do for people, like in my case “I help people use LinkedIn effectively.” Personally, I’m not a fan of this because when I get a connection request from someone who uses this strategy in their title, I usually check these via my smart phone. What happens is, the title is shortened to fit on mobile so all I see is “I help people….” Which means you are pretty much doing the same thing as every other person using this tactic. Personally, I prefer that you include your actual title. What do you do so that I know immediately why you are contacting me or whether I should connect with you.
- Ensure to have a profile picture which clearly shows your face. I know most people opt for a more professional looking photo on LinkedIn of them in a suit, however I am not opposed to using a photo which represents you and your personality. Do keep in mind this should still be a clear and professional headshot, not a photo of you jet skiing or lying in bed, nor your company logo – I want to see who you are.
- Your background image is still your online billboard. If you are well linked to your business in other words, the MD or a Director, this can be used to showcase what you want people to do regarding your professional link to your business. That could be your company website address, your contact number, that you offer a complimentary assessment, are hosting a summit, etc. Use this advertising space as effectively as possible. If you are more focused on building your personal brand, ensure to include information about you that you want people to know. Your social media handles on other platforms, your blog site address, that you are a world-renowned athlete or top business mentor in your field.
- When populating your about section, you have roughly two lines before someone has to click “read more” so make sure you get to the point on what you want people to know about you within those first two lines.
- I would then recommend to populate your work history as best as possible, but also be discerning as to whether you would rather only update this from a certain point showing a timeline to bring you to the position you are in currently. What this means is doing a little bit of window dressing. Now I am not saying lie on your profile, but unless you are actively searching for a new job, it is best to put your best foot forward so that you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. In other words, if you flipped burger patties in college to pay for your tuition, it is not necessary to include this work experience. Rather just populate the degree you earned while at college. Your CV will cover all your work experience in detail which you will send out upon request and when you are in the job market.
How to Win on LinkedIn
So now the meat and the juice of how to use LinkedIn effectively. Your business and personal profiles will work symbiotically to drive positioning and thought leadership. The worst thing you can do is constantly talk about what you have to offer, in other words sell. Sending unsolicited and generic or blanket inMails telling people what you do quickly become redundant. Effectively, you want people to inMail you asking for your services. Here are my top tips to drive and populate your LinkedIn sales funnel.
Firstly, provide value. Update interesting articles on your personal page sharing industry insight, interesting tips or how-to’s. Now I know everyone is going to come at me saying that they don’t want to share their IP publicly because their competitors will scoop up this information and have an advantage. In response to this, don’t post your secret sauce, but there must be things that are pretty common knowledge in your industry amongst you and your competitors that your clients and potential clients may not know but would find of value or interesting. These are the insights I am referring to, like in this case I am willing to share with you how to win on LinkedIn with a few tips to improve your client experience when engaging with you and your company on social media, however I won’t share our secret sauce on paid advertising and targeting.
Also, you can share a link from your article posted on your personal page on your business page. Unfortunately for now, LinkedIn doesn’t offer the option to post articles on business pages but this is a nice work around.
With that in mind, keep your business page populated with interesting posts, ideas and offers of value to drive traffic to your website or to get in touch with you. You can then also share these posts onto your personal profile as it is more likely that you will have more connections on your personal profile than followers on your business page.
Secondly, make sure you engage with others on LinkedIn. From your personal capacity, like and comment on other people’s posts in your timeline. Share your views and opinions, politely – don’t get into heated discussions and please avoid posting or commenting on anything religious, political or sexual in nature. Use these comments to position yourself as a thought leader, the go-to in your industry.
On that note, if you get a seemingly negative comment on your post, don’t engage! Don’t feed the trolls. They are there and giving commentary in the hopes to illicit a response so don’t give it to them. They will quickly realise they get no kicks from you and move on to other unsuspecting prey.
Be discerning on who you connect with. This is not about not connecting with someone you don’t know, but if you get a connection request, have a look through their profile to get an idea of who they are and what they do to see whether there is value in you connecting, be that a client, supplier, referral, etc. The same goes when connecting with people. Rather choose to connect with people who are relevant to you and your industry as they are likely to post content that speaks to you, providing you with more opportunities to comment on their posts and show you to be a thought leader.
If you found this interesting and of value, I urge you to implement these changes to see what impact these tips could make to your personal and business pages on LinkedIn. We also offer more in-depth workshops regarding personal branding to really bolster your online persona as well as assist businesses with full-scope branding strategies for LinkedIn.
Please feel free to be in touch, should you want to talk more on this.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.