When you talk to people in our industry about LinkedIn, predictably you get a wide range of responses.
“It’s not for me.”
“I don’t have time for LinkedIn.”
“I’m not looking for a job right now–why would I use LinkedIn?”
“I don’t have anything to share–what would I do there?”
“There’s too much spam in my feed. Too many sales people.”
Pretty typical responses when I’ve talked the value of LinkedIn with clients and colleagues over the last few years. But, my experience has been completely different.
I started actively spending more time on LinkedIn a number of years ago–for a few different reasons.
1) My professional network was starting to spend more time there
2) LinkedIn was making it easier to share opinions and thoughts there (i.e., publishing power)
3) Other social networks were drying up in terms of effectiveness (i.e., Twitter being the primary culprit)
And that extra time on LinkedIn has been extremely well spent.
I probably spend 15-20 minutes on LinkedIn (not for client purposes). Every day. Every week. Every month. And, that consistency of “showing up” on LinkedIn day after day has led to some exceptional results:
- Numerous coffee dates. I’ve set up countless coffee dates with colleagues and prospects, using LinkedIn, in many instances, as a way to research and introduce myself to these folks. And for a solo consultant, the coffee date is like a “first date.” It’s the first step in what I usually hope will be a long relationship. But, it’s a very important step. And, LinkedIn is an absolutely key tool for me in making this happen.
- Name recognition and awareness. One strategy I take as a solo consultant is simply trying to stay in front of clients and prospects. One way I do that is via LinkedIn. I publish my blog posts on LinkedIn. I share client wins on LinkedIn. I recognize friends and colleagues and their accomplishments on LinkedIn. And, I like and comment on interesting material shared by friends, clients and colleagues on LinkedIn. All that activity keeps me in people’s feeds plenty (I’m careful not to over-expose myself). And, keep in mind, I’m showing up in front of, essentially, a 100% prospect list since I’m connected to almost entirely a comms/PR/marketing crowd. Side note: I’m even being recognized by CEOs! Two Fortune 500-level CEOs have commented on my posts in the last few weeks! Crazy!
- Actual leads. It’s what we all want, right? For some, “leads” may mean jobs. For me, on LinkedIn, it means opportunities. And, I got one just this past week via LinkedIn. Now, technically, it came from a friend whom I’ve known for a while and whom I’ve worked with before. But, he messaged me on LinkedIn. And, I have a feeling he did that because he saw me in his feed and I sparked his interest. And, it’s definitely something that’s happened more than once.
So, I’ve had great luck and results with LinkedIn. And I’m here today to advocate for ALL PR/comms/marketing types to spend 10 minutes a day on LinkedIn. Here’s why:
- It’s the easiest way to start to build a network. Notice I said “start”. Spending 10 minutes a day on LinkedIn won’t build your network. It’s just a START. LinkedIn is the ultimate door-opener. But, you’d be wise to use that door-opener to start building relationships and trust with people in our industry. A few easy ways to do that? Introduce yourself to new folks and ask for connections WITHOUT asking for anything in return. Review the “People you May have Worked With” and “School Alumni You May Know” tabs regularly to find new folks to connect with. Use the door-opener for what it’s good for: OPENING DOORS!
- Get your name in the feed constantly. 10 minutes a day is more than enough to make this happen. Here’s how you do it. In those 10 minutes, be sure to, at a minimum, like and/or comment on 3-5 posts. That’s 3-5 posts that will then show up in your connections’ feeds. Want bonus points? Attempt to create 1-2 posts of your own each week. Those will also show up in your feed–and your connections’ feeds–for 4-5 days (or more). Super Brownie Points: Publish an article on LinkedIn (shoot for one a month to start) which, again, will show up in the feed for multiple days. You do that, I can almost guarantee you that your name will get noticed consistently.
- Build trust now, before you need it. One of the absolute cardinal sins I see so many people making day-in and day-out is sending out that email asking to keep your eyes and ears open for any positions that might be a fit–because I’m looking! I get this note seemingly all the time. Sometimes, it’s from people who have invested in our relationship. They call. We have coffee. We see each other at events. We have a relationship! Then, I get notes from others who I seemingly only hear from when they need something (i.e., A JOB!). These people rarely invest in our relationship. They don’t call. They don’t text. They don’t comment on my stuff. Essentially, the only “relationship” we have is that we’re LinkedIn connections. Folks, that’s not enough. To build a credible, trusting network that is willing to help you when you need it most, you need to INVEST. You need to call. You need to write. You need to text. YOU NEED TO SHOW UP. A LOT. I know, it sounds like a lot of work. And, it is! But, no one said this was going to be easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it well!
10 minutes a day folks. That’s all it takes. It’s a round of thumbing through your Insta feed. Isn’t that worth it?
Employee social advocacy programs are having a moment. Come to think of it, they’ve been having a moment for a while now. Fact is, more companies are globbing on to this trend–and, for good reason. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, the most trusted relationship people have right now is with their employer!
Companies like Starbucks, Reebok and Humana (just to name a few) have implemented employee social advocacy programs over the last few years. And, I’m sure we’ll see many more in the year ahead.
As you probably know, these programs are usually built using some form of tool (Post Beyond, Bambu and LinkedIn Elevate are common). And, these tools then serve up content employees can post on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. The idea is usually to encourage employees to personalize the content, but as many of us know that have worked in this sphere, that rarely happens.
So, employees end up copy-and-pasting content from these tools to their feeds. Easy-peasy, right? Everyone wins, right? The brand wins because the employee is “advocating” for them (even selling, in some cases). The employee wins because….wait, how does this benefit the employee again?
And, there’s the rub: It doesn’t.
In fact, in many ways, I would argue employee social advocacy programs are at direct odds with the concept of building your personal brand.
I’ve seen it too many times to think this is an anomaly.
Think about it. You see your friend who just took a job with Home Depot. Suddenly, they’re sharing a dearth of Home Depot content in their LinkedIn feed. Some posts feature the brand and its financial performance. Others highlight rock stars across the Home Depot company. Yet others showcase the new Home Depot advertising campaign. You know exactly what I’m talking about, because you have a friend like this, too. We all do. Many friends, in fact.
And, in some ways, all of that is great. You should be proud of the company you work for. You should want to shout it from the mountaintops. You should want to brag a little.
Except, that last word is the key point. If you’re thinking about your personal brand (and I would argue you should ALWAYS be thinking about your personal brand), then sharing company updates non-stop in your LinkedIn feed is a de facto way to annoy the heck out of friends, colleagues, former colleagues, and, the worst part: prospective employers.
After all, don’t we coach brands that way on social media? Be helpful. Be a resource. Provide informative content! This is the advice we give our brand partners. Yet, when it comes to showing up on social media ourselves, some of us share only information from our employers (and most of that is fairly self-promotional).
Does that jive with the personal brand you want to build?
It wouldn’t for me.
For an example of what I’m talking about, take a peek at a post by local recruiter and long-time community builder, Lars Leafblad:
Lars is hitting on exactly what I’m talking about. You build “brand” (i.e., trust, affinity and goodwill) by providing value online. You do it by being likeable. And you do it by helping and showcasing others. NOT by promoting your company or service every time you get a chance. That’s how you get labeled as a corporate mouthpiece.
Here’s the big danger: In a world where there is no loyalty in business (sad, but true), you absolutely cannot afford to sell yourself out and promote your company 24/7 on social media channels. You can’t do it. Well, let me rephrase: I wouldn’t do it. And, that is exactly what employee social advocacy programs are set up to do. They want you to share everything. Their success hinges on volume. It doesn’t hinge on your building your personal brand.
Those two things are at odds. And, as long as that’s the case, I think employee social advocacy programs will struggle.
Of course, just my two cents. What do you think?
Back when I was working for other people, I always got a ton of push-back when I mentioned I had always adopted an “always be looking mindset.”
I think a lot of people took it the wrong way. Like “this guy is going to be looking for a new job the moment he comes in the door.” While technically, I guess, that’s true. It’s not exactly what I mean when I say “always be looking.”
To me, it simply means adopting a mindset of always networking. Always learning. And always seeing what’s out there.
Not necessarily always applying and interviewing.
There is a difference.
Over the course of my career, I’ve noticed there are two distinct kinds of people: those who are happy with their jobs, keep their heads down, go home at 5 and don’t look for a new job unless they absolutely need to; and, those who adopt an “always be looking” mentality.
And, funny, the people who adopt that mindset are rarely in need of a job. I almost never get calls or emails from these folks asking for help finding a new job. Why? BECAUSE THEY’RE ALWAYS LOOKING!
This means they are:
Every week. A coffee here. An event there. And, they get networking, too. They don’t always have their hand out. In fact, they rarely have their hand out. Instead, they’re looking for ways to help me. My friend Susan Beatty personifies this mentality better than anyone I know. She’s always pinging me. Always looking for ways to help me. Always saying yes to my last-minute requests. In fact, go meet Susan Beatty right now and be more like her!
Just because you have a killer job doesn’t mean you stop learning! Attend industry events. Sit in on workshops. Learn a new skill on your own! Be a life-long learner. Never stay still. Greg Swan of Fallon fame is easily one of the people I think of first when I think of someone who adopts this mindset. If you subscribe to Greg’s weekly e-newsletter, you know what I’m talking about! He’s almost always on the early adopter curve of any new tech. He always has the latest and greatest (he was one of the first in my circle to get the new Apple card). Go meet Greg and be more like him!
Constantly being aware of opportunities
“Always looking” doesn’t mean you’re actively seeking out new opportunities. In my mind, it simply means being aware and open to new opportunities, should they come your way. Because, if you’re doing #1 and #2 above, new opportunities are going to come your way. Believe me. You just have to be ready to pounce on them. And, if you’re too busy with your head down every day, you’re going to miss them. My (relatively) new friend, Stacia Nelson of Pivot Strategies is a good example. In fact, our new friendship is a good example. I connected with Stacia initially about WeWork (she has a space there and I was considering joining). She invited me down to give me a tour. We wound up talking for an hour about all sorts of stuff. And, we wound up doing some business together. Stacia was open to new opportunities. She was listening. That’s everything when it comes to “always be looking.”
Just my two cents. Like I said, I’ve got a lot of push-back on it from leadership at companies I’ve worked for over the years. But, I stand by my position–100%. It’s worked out pretty well for me so far!
What about you? Are you employing an “always be looking” mentality? Why or why not?
A couple weeks ago, I made a post on LinkedIn lamenting that the media relations game has gotten a lot harder over the last few years. The stats I’ve seen lately appear to back it up.
- Most top-tier reporters receive 100, 250 or 500 pitches a week for an average of 5 story spots (Fractl).
- PR pros now outnumber journalists 6 to 1. And jobs for PR pros is expected to surge another 9% by 2026 (Dept of Labor).
- 68% of PR professionals actually said media relations was getting “harder” or “much harder” in 2019. Up 17% from 2018 when 51% said media relations was getting harder (2019 JOTW Comms Survey).
I got a mixed reaction from friends and colleagues. Many agreed with that sentiment, saying their PR jobs are much tougher than they were just a few years ago.
Others claimed doubling down on relationships and tailored pitching was the key to success (no argument here!).
But, a few of those folks had a different kind of comment. One I found very interesting.
Essentially: “This is why I got out of PR and into marketing.”
Case in point, this comment from Melanie Pikosky, marketing director of Columbus Vegetable Oils.
Or, both of these comments from Jen Keavy, director of marketing at the MN Orchestra and Michelle Peterson, content strategist at Br8kthru Consulting.
The sentiment seems to be, “the media relations game drove me out of PR.”
Can you blame them?
The stats above paint the picture. And, while many in the comments of my LinkedIn post tried to defend media relations, I definitely didn’t hear any “PR is way easier than it used to be” or “PR is so much fun–I love my job!”
PR has always been a stressful field. But, media relations, if done well and the right way, has always been one of the more enjoyable and rewarding parts of the job, too.
Now, that’s tougher than ever. And, PR people are feeling the pinch.
Some are turning to marketing.
Some are turning to content roles.
Others are turning to social and digital paths.
But, I’m starting to hear a common refrain: PR is burning me out. I want a job that’s less stressful and more planful.
Maybe it’s just me. What are you hearing from friends and colleagues? What about YOU? Are you burning out on PR?
TikTok is having a bit of a moment.
Allow me to share some stats that back up that statement:
- TikTok now has more than 500M active users worldwide, ahead of Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest.
- TikTok was the third most downloaded app in Q1 of 2019
- TikTok was the most downloadable app in the Apple App Store in Q1 2019–ahead of YouTube and Insta.
However, despite TikTok’s immense success the last year or so, we haven’t seen brands adopt TikTok anywhere close to “en masse” just yet. Instead, we’ve seen very few brand case studies so far.
This isn’t surprising considering the following factors:
- Brand social teams are already taxed. I mean, how much more can we lob on their plates? None of the existing work is going anywhere and now you’re asking them to add an entirely new platform that’s reliant on uber-creative ideas + video to make an impact? Good luck.
- TikTok isn’t quite as user-friendly as the Facebooks and Twitters of the world. I’m not saying it’s impossible to figure out, but it’s also not super easy either. I think this plays into what we’re seeing so far.
- Most still see TikTok as something 12-year-old girls are doing. Which, is true–to an extent. Yes, younger girls are power users. But, so are 21-30-year old girls. And, we’re starting to see people and groups we weren’t seeing a year ago on TikTok. Just take a peek at this example below–this @35Rocket account is a older, male welder with more than 18,000 followers and 146,000 likes on TikTok!
So, brands aren’t engaging quite yet. There is some fear. There are some resourcing challenges. But, I also think there are some easy ways to dip your toe in the TikTok pond–just to get a feel for what it’s all about.
I might recommend trying out one of the following four ideas to get your start on TikTok:
- Engage employees in one of TikTok’s monthly hash tag challenge. For example, could you engage employees in producing short videos using the #weready hash tag in Sept.–part of TikTok’s partnership with the NFL? According to the official description: “Show us how hyped you are for kickoff, whether you’re repping your favorite team’s jersey, living that tailgate life or putting the final touches on your fantasy team.” For reference, this hash tag already has 574,500 views.
- Have fun producing videos around national days related to your brand. In the case of Chipotle, they had fun with National Avacado Day and this short video playing off The Guacamole Song.
- Feature employee behind-the-scenes-type content to promote Employer Brands. Give prospective employees a glimpse into your culture by showcasing the ins and outs of what it’s like to work for your company–but, in a fun way! This won’t work for every brand, of course, but I would argue most brands could stand to have a little more fun on platforms like TikTok.