We're back with the second half of our LinkedIn episode - in this part, Alex and Anders focus a bit more on LinkedIn company pages, and what your company needs to do in order to actually use LinkedIn to its full potential. As usual, relevance and value are key factors.
A lot of companies pour a lot of time and effort into their LinkedIn company pages without getting the results they want. In this episode, we focus on the idea that it's the company's employees, not the company itself, that are the biggest factor in being successful with LinkedIn. The company page has a very important role to play, but in terms of creating relevance, reach and trust, real people are much more effective.
For a company, this obviously means getting employees to be more active on LinkedIn. The solution here isn't a long list of policies or top-down control over what people post, but education and coaching in what LinkedIn is, what it's good for, and how it can help employees in their daily work. Only when this message has filtered through the company will people actually start to prioritise it.
This turned out to be a good episode, I think - LinkedIn is a challenging platform for a lot of B2B businesses, and I think we provided some good answers and next steps. As usual you can either watch the video version of the podcast, or listen to it normally on Spotify and Soundcloud using the links further down.
If you enjoyed this episode and you want to hear more, don't forget to subscribe! You can subscribe on Spotify, Soundcloud, or right here on the blog - that way, we'll send you an email whenever a new episode is released. Happy listening!
AE: [00:00:00] Hi, Anders.
AB: [00:00:01] Hi, Alexander.
AE: [00:00:02] What are you up to today?
AB: [00:00:04] The whole day I've been in the now world-famous back-to-back meetings and I'm enjoying it. So when we are recording this, it's like three o'clock in the afternoon and had fantastic meetings both with our dear friends and with colleagues.
AE: [00:00:23] Great. So have you been looking forward to recording?
AB: [00:00:25] Like nothing else Alexander, of course.
AE: [00:00:31] Me too. A couple of weeks ago, we published an episode where we talked about LinkedIn, and this is a continuation of that episode, and in that episode we talked a bit about how to use LinkedIn as a private person. And in today's episode, we want to know more about building a LinkedIn presence for your company, company page and so on.
AB: [00:00:59] Could I just do a remark because perhaps someone didn't listen to the last one? One of the most common questions about LinkedIn is, is it my private place or is it a company place? Is it a business place or is it a private place? I usually say there is no definition of that, but when you work for your employer, you put the company name. So you can't think of it as a 100 percent private place. And the company you work for can't think of it as something where they can tell you that you must publish things. That's perhaps a good bridge to what we're going to talk about today.
AE: [00:01:48] Yeah. Yeah. I see you have a lot of educations with companies about building a LinkedIn presence, and your description now of what LinkedIn is, do people think like that?
AB: [00:02:05] I think, generally speaking, an expression that I use a lot is that there's still a lot of people around that believe that LinkedIn is a CV database, which means that these people can either say, no, I'm not going to be very active on LinkedIn, I can be present, but I'm not looking for a job. So I'm not active. The other part of that category, who still believes that it's a CV database, perhaps would need some coaching in that the employer and the company you work for sometimes look there. That's one category. And then you have a lot of different categories. And again, if I'm general, I would say no, LinkedIn is not a CV database, whether you want it or not. Everyone that you want to make business with will verify who you are, what you have done, how similar you are to them, what you think about and what you do, that you can't take away, that it is a modern digital business card. The difference to the paper business cards people had, I don't know, twenty, twenty-five years ago, in my case, they're gone. So this is the digital card that anyone can reach inside and outside LinkedIn. And secondly, on that part, if you want to be active, it's a prerequisite in relation to know-how why you are there, how you want to be perceived, etc. If I remember right. That was what we were talking about the last time we spoke about LinkedIn.
AE: [00:03:55] Yes. And is that really, is that up to you as an employee to decide what to talk about, or do you think that companies should have policies and guidelines for what to talk about and what discussions to engage in?
AB: [00:04:19] Everyone can interpret things like they want. But shame on you. If you try to put rules, regulations and policies around people's LinkedIn presence, then you will never, ever achieve that they are as proud as you hopefully want them to be about your company. I think in most companies you sign a contract and you sign that from a sort of NDA perspective, that you signed the policy, you sign everything else. There's no extra policy needed if you have the right people employed, if you have the wrong people employed, perhaps that can be positive with LinkedIn and other social media if they want to go there and break what they have signed. And I think from an employer perspective, it's your obligation to provide a possibility, for example, on LinkedIn, what the difference is between being present and being active. And it's your obligation to help and support your colleagues to get their own understanding and opinion, decide the ambition and so forth with everything. Then you can get the impact that they might even be proud of something that is concerning your company. What you shouldn't do is to provide a lot of content and indirectly or directly say, please publish, please, like please do this, please do that, because most people will see through that when they see content like that - OK, so now everyone at company A or company B has been to a LinkedIn training and now they do this and they do that en masse. And if you work with a company in B2B, usually, you know more than one person and if they all publish the same content, it's sort of OK, you've been to LinkedIn training or someone pushed you to do this. Could you please move forward and be a bit more relevant than I can actually stop and watch what you've been publishing.
AE: [00:06:39] When you have these LinkedIn training with companies, could you describe shortly what you do in those trainings?
AB: [00:06:50] Let's say like this, that it's two different approaches when it comes to if we're talking LinkedIn company page or we talk to individuals, the individuals are always way more important for the company than the company page. In most companies, when you look at number of employees multiplied with their contacts, you get a much higher figure than the company can ever achieve. So perhaps it's not that interesting if the company gets interactions, but it's really, really crucial and important that their colleagues or employees enjoy doing things on LinkedIn. It gives good impact if the content is relevant or the advice or tips or whatever it is. If that is relevant, it's going to give a very good impact on the company. Did I answer your question, or did I spin away?
AE: [00:07:53] Yeah, you're describing a bit about what your training is about, and it's two separate things.
AB: [00:07:59] I would say also that I had a training this Monday with some very, very dear friends of ours. It's very seldom that I look forward as much to do some things with our friends as with this, not company but organisation, the process this time was sending me five most important questions about LinkedIn, high and low, whatever you want to ask, that's a fantastic source of understanding where they are at knowledge-wise and where they are at in their own policy way in knowledge about LinkedIn and was very, very relevant questions. And it's easy to build an education based on that. All participants send five questions, then people usually get very surprised that I have reviewed their presence and their activity. And that I make a list of all my suggested or recommended changes that they need to do, I think too many things spin around where people say you should do this, they should that you should be blah, blah, blah. I know that the training that I provide not always focus on the same things as other LinkedIn trainings focus on. And I think sometimes it's very disappointing to see how many companies that put their sales reps or a sales organization to a social selling training. And that's not where it starts, it doesn't start with a sell. It starts with how you treat and handle your relations and contacts.
AE: [00:09:56] And what's the main purpose of building a LinkedIn presence for companies?
AB: [00:10:04] For companies, I think it's sort of mandatory from the perspective that it's one of the things that no matter who you are among the stakeholders, if you apply for a job, of course, you pass by the individuals that you're going to meet in the interview. You're going to have a first check on the company. And then from the company page, you perhaps go to the .com or .xx that they have a link to. That's one thing. And secondly, it's a good provider of a certain type of content that you want to make others interested in if you think it's relevant for them. Uh, I think many companies do the mistake that they hand over the responsibility for their LinkedIn company page to HR. I understand how they think from the inside, but not relevant at all to hand that over to HR, HR doesn't know anything. What's relevant for the decision-makers, influencers and practitioners that they want to reach through LinkedIn?
AE: [00:11:17] So who should manage it?
AB: [00:11:20] I think, one, an individual that has a very good overview of the whole company, the whole offering and all types of stakeholders and target groups, including people who look for a job, that doesn't matter what department that person works in, but that person must start with for the company, "why are we on LinkedIn?" And that is something individual. Then you must look through the whole sort of target groups and think through who you want to come there and who you want to find things there and what they look for and what they are challenged by. So, I can't say that it's sort of been in a global company, it's this and that position of that, as with everything that you think is important, put someone there that has a sort of full view of the company that is both strategic and very practical, because the main part, the main part of that role is to inspire others, to prioritize it and make it a natural part of the daily work. No matter what role you have, if you meet people digitally or even like, a long time ago, physically, then then you should tick the box of, show sort of the courtesy to always check someone in advance, and the other sort of basic things in how you should use LinkedIn.
AE: [00:12:58] You mentioned before that you're not for doing regulations and policies on how your employees should use LinkedIn. But how should companies really engage employees to engage with the content, do you have any smart tactics to share or?
AB: [00:13:23] As I said before, the first box you need to tick is to help them to understand.
AE: [00:13:31] And understand the impact, then, or?
AB: [00:13:34] No, understand one, what is LinkedIn? Two, what does it mean to be present? And three, what does it mean to be active? And on all these things with activity, you need to show a best practice of how and what. You need to think in your culture that it's prioritized and that it's OK if I look at you, Alexander, you are a tremendous example for a company and for an employer that you have started to test and do things there. You think about it and obviously, for some reason, you prioritize it. Hopefully, that's a very egoistic, way, position yourself or whatever, we can have a separate episode of why you prioritize LinkedIn, but I am certain without that I ever asked you, that you know why you do it. And that that is something then, for you to take the next step, I need to know two things - I need to know why you are there and how you want to be perceived because now I can start giving you feedback. It's impossible if I don't know the why and if I don't know how you want to be perceived. I think you do an excellent job as a starter on being active. Only thing that I can say, whatever your purpose or your objectives or how you want to be perceived without having an answer, that you're an excellent starter on being active on LinkedIn. And in my world, that is providing value for your contacts. And obviously, some of your contacts get proud that you do stuff. On LinkedIn, um, and that I don't judge from if you get 14 or 400 likes, that I judge when I check who it is that is interacting with the content on your profile.
AE: [00:15:39] Yeah, that's an excellent next episode. A LinkedIn guide from Anders to Alex. So the question was really how to get your employees to engage with the content, and you said that. First, you need to understand. What and how it means to be active on LinkedIn.
AB: [00:16:12] And then you need to sort of help them and coach them, but as you heard as well, it's much easier if it's driven from the inside of you why you want to be there, how you want to be perceived. How are you going to master it? How often you're going to do it and everything else. And that's also why I answered that the person that is the DRI or owns LinkedIn in a company must understand that the role is to sort of educate, enlighten and guide all other colleagues. And hopefully, it was clear that I mentioned you need people that become sort of the leaders of doing this that can say, hey, what's really fun, I got contacted by so-and-so at the company so-and-so. And in the conversation I had yesterday in a customer meeting, someone said, referring to something that I posted, "oj, hey-ho, we get going." And I mean, if the people that I interact with, for example, LinkedIn company page content in our case, likes something, it's on their contact card in our database. Well, for example, if you, Alexander, are the contact owner of a decision-maker at the big global company, if he or she interacts with our content on our LinkedIn company page, you as the contact onwers of Mr. and Mrs. Decision Maker. You will have an alert in your email box that, hey, hey, someone clicked here, someone did something. So, I mean, in other episodes, we talk about customer data. We talk about having sort of all the business intelligence, all interactions on one contact card. You can link your LinkedIn company page data to the contact cards as well if you have chosen right backend or system, so to speak. And if you have decided that the company should have one contact card with all the interactions with that company on one contact card.
AE: [00:18:30] So what do you hope that the participants at your LinkedIn trainings, what their main takeaways are from trainings?
AB: [00:18:45] I can exemplify by the one yesterday, in all the feedback that came afterwards, one, I think everyone yesterday had a different view on what LinkedIn is and what it isn't. Two, I think they all found a very square and good way, if they want, if they are ambitious, to take the next step, no matter if one of them was what I would refer to as, "hey, hey, you got to shape up your existing presence. You don't even have a hero image and you haven't even described what education you have." That was one feedback. On the other side, with sort of the most advanced person in the feedback that he sent yesterday, he had the same reflection. "Whoa, this isn't exactly what I thought it was. Whoa. I need to do a bit more quiet approach." And as an example, in his case, he has always used the principle that whoever asks him to be in contact on LinkedIn, he answers yes. He will not do that from today. He understands what it for some people means when you have a lot of contacts that later on can show that you actually don't know them, make that decision he made based on some coaching. And I think everyone who participated yesterday will now never, ever just click connect with someone without writing a personal note. And I think none of them will ever answer yes on someone unknown that asked to get connected without any motivation, they might send something back and ask a question or something. LinkedIn trainers and especially social selling people might say different, but I'm business-driven and I'm relation-driven. I'm not driven by social selling on LinkedIn. I'm driven about a holistic approach and how you handle a relationship over time, no matter if it's a job applicant or if it's your biggest customer or if it's the owner of the company.
AE: [00:21:14] Well, thank you very much for this session about LinkedIn, we will definitely have a third episode.
AB: [00:21:24] You're welcome. Thank you very much.
AE: [00:21:28] That's what I was waiting for. Thank you.