Are you working in an industry bound by regulations and compliance? Do you find it difficult to get beyond these boundaries when you are marketing yourself?
Does it affect what you post LinkedIn or any other social media platform? Is it something that, in all honesty, you dread?
You may occasionally post a congratulatory message or inform your audience of an event you attended, but that’s it.
If you work in a profession such as financial services, law, accountancy and such like and you are posting content, it probably feels easier to post industry news or share something that’s been posted by an influential name.
You may be someone who has never posted or even commented, but you use LinkedIn to read and be informed.
In fact, of the 750 million plus account holders on LinkedIn, only about 1% is creating content. The rest are either commenting or consuming content (known as lurking). Then, of course, there’s the high proportion of people who have a LinkedIn account but have never used it.
If you are one of those users who would you like to be part of that tiny proportion creating high quality content that actually gets your LinkedIn profile seen then, let me tell you, you can achieve this.
You’ll need to overcome the obstacles that are prevent you from revealing something of your thoughts and views and stop you from showing the person beyond the profession.
What are your obstacles?
There are all kinds of reasons why you may feel cautious about writing content which shares your thoughts and opinions about your industry or gives an insight into your personality.
- You’re worried about what others will think.
- You’re worried about how you will appear to your colleagues or peers.
- You’re worried about appearing unprofessional.
- You’re worried that no-one else is doing it.
- You’re worried about not sticking to a script or saying the wrong thing.
- You’re worried that you haven’t got anything to say that’s ground-breaking or even remotely interesting.
As I’ve mentioned before in one of my LinkedIn posts, I appreciate the challenge in keeping within professional boundaries. It can be difficult to find your brand voice if that isn’t what you are used to.
However, let’s see if we can break the mould.
Put your audience first
Why should you post your own content which shows authenticity and shines a light on you as a person, rather than as just another professional?
Think about your customers and clients, both current and potential ones. They are people and it’s these people whom you are trying to connect with on LinkedIn, not brands, not corporations but people.
What’s In It For Me?
When people read your content, they are thinking WIIFM? What’s in it for me? They aren’t initially thinking of the quality of your product or service (that comes later) They want to know if you have the solution to their problem or if you can give them the transformation they are looking for.
If you are too salesy in your content, they will scroll on by because they will see you as just another salesperson. No disrespect to people in sales!
If you are too bland in your content, they will scroll on by because you haven’t captured their attention and they’ll continue to search for something more interesting to read or watch.
By creating more personable, human-centric content, you are much more likely to gain attention on LinkedIn. Once your target audience has got to know and like you, and you have won their trust, that’s when you start talking about your products and services.
What is personable, human-centric content?
It can be anything. Anything that you think your target client will be interested in. You will constantly hear those dissenting voices saying LinkedIn isn’t Facebook and that it’s a business platform.
Yes, we know it’s a place where people do business, but it’s also a place to network and have conversations. When we’re networking, we talk to each other, and we don’t just dive in talking about what we sell. We start conversations about all sorts of things.
Here are some starting points to help you think about conversation starters:
- What are pain points of your customers/clients?
- How did you start in your business/career? What inspired you?
- What have been your greatest wins/greatest learnings?
- What are your ‘tools of the trade’?
- Show your office – is it at home or do you work in an office space?
- Show your locality – highlights of the area where you live or work.
- What books have you read, or podcasts have you listened to (not necessarily business ones)?
- What do you do to unwind from the pressures of work?
- What are your favourite meals/drinks?
- Are there any places you have visited on weekends away or holidays?
- Are there any causes or volunteering roles you are passionate about?
This list isn’t exhaustive. Hopefully it’s a start for you.
Getting over the obstacles
Regarding what others think and how you appear to your peers:
If you’re posting original content which reflects your personality and your values, then you’ll be a beacon for attracting your ideal client. That’s a positive thing.
Regarding appearing unprofessional:
You will have considered carefully what you are going to post, so give it a go. There is nothing unprofessional about creating content for LinkedIn. It’s positively encouraged, and you’ll be rewarded for it.
Regarding being the only one who is doing it:
Think of this positively. You’ll be standing out from your competitors and in the golden 1% of content creators.
Regarding not sticking to a script or saying the wrong thing:
There is no script for writing your own content. It’s uniquely you. Find your own tone of voice and get into a regular habit of writing posts. It will become easier. Make sure that you are staying within the guidance of your industry, if you are posting about anything where you need to fact check. It also goes without saying to not post anything controversial.
Regarding you not having anything to say that’s ground-breaking or interesting:
You have a personality, and you have something to offer – we all do. Remember people buy from people. If you are talking about topics which are helpful, informative, interesting and even entertaining, then something will catch your audience’s attention. Give them a reason to have a conversation with you. You can talk about your work, but equally be open to talking about your interests, hobbies or stories which have caught your attention.
Think about why you are posting. You are looking to build ‘know, like and trust’ so allow the audience to get to know you. Also help them in liking and trusting you too, not just by posting with informative and entertaining content, but by also commenting on their posts.
Don’t forget LinkedIn is a social media platform as well as a business platform, so commenting is key. The LinkedIn algorithm will reward you for engaging on other people’s content as well as posting.
You are likely to feel rather uncomfortable about talking about some of these topics. It will feel unnatural at first.
You don’t have to do all this in one go. Building your audience on LinkedIn requires patience and is certainly a long term game.
Start small. Try posting one ‘human-centric’ post and see what the response is. I suggest doing this regularly, maybe once a week, as well as posting your usual content.
Keep an eye on the kind of response you get to you more personal post. Whilst you are posting, also go and engage on 5 -10 other posts with comments. This will help you to set a mindset for engaging and making connections that count on the platform.
Do this for a few weeks and see how you feel about the process. Stick with it. The more you get into the habit of posting this kind of content, the more comfortable it will feel.
Why your personal brand matters?
Jeff Bezos, former Amazon boss, said,
‘Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.’
If you want to control this and it matters to you that your brand is built on a good reputation, then why not write your own script?
Who’s showing their personality?
Ariel Lee – Financial Advisor
‘I write content pretty much every day because I feel like showing up consistently is vital. I don’t have content pillars or any strategy, really…I just post what’s on my mind that day with the goal of starting as many meaningful conversations as possible.’
Kevin Dunn – Senior Manager/ Mortgage and Protection Advisor
‘I always thought I had a face for radio, but I was persuaded at my networking meetings to give video a try. Over lockdown I started posting weekly 60 second videos to put out some good vibes and I’ve kept making these ever since to promote our company.’
Laurence Fishman – Partner/ Chartered Accountant
‘Now more than ever, it’s about not only working with people who give you the right advice and support your business needs, but also you like. To achieve this, you have to know more about the person in order to understand them on a deeper level. If the connection is there, a professional relationship is more likely to be a fruitful one. ‘
Rory Brazil – Financial Broker
You may well have read this and still not be convinced. I understand.
Having said all that, if you have read this far, there is likely to be a part of you that recognises the value of ‘know, like and trust’ but you are just not sure how to start building relationships with your audience through your content.
As I mentioned earlier, just start with a simple post, maybe at the weekend. It’s easier to start posting more personable content when you are feeling relaxed.
Keep an eye on how well these posts perform compared to your usual content, and check if you gain more profile views as a result too. If you see success in your new approach to posting, then hopefully you will do more.
This is a positive step on the road to building your personal brand. This will help you to become known as the ‘go -to’ person in your industry because people will know you, as well as what you offer. They are much more likely to do business with you.
In the end, people do buy from people.