When you hear of “influencers” on social media, the first thing you think of would likely be the Kardashian-esque influencers who are all semi-famous on Instagram with up to hundreds of thousands of followers.
Or maybe of YouTube celebrities, where makeup artists and children unboxing toys can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on views.
Influencers on Linkedin are a different breed, however. It’s not about being #instafamous or needing to take expensive luxury trips to gain followers. Here, you can leverage your professional knowledge to become someone well-known and well-respected in the industry.
For all of our students at Social Media College, take a close look at LinkedIn. You can learn a lot. You can also start to carve out your niche as an influencer to help get you get more of the work you want, whether it’s a full-time job with an agency or freelance work for your own business.
In this post, we’re going to look at how you can become an influencer on LinkedIn and how you can leverage that for career opportunities as a social media marketer.
What is a “LinkedIn Influencer” & Why Influence-Level Status Matters
On most other platforms, people want to be influencers because there may be opportunities for direct earnings through views, promoted posts, or some sort of sponsorship.
On LinkedIn, however, it’s a little different. People who have large, engaged followings that are significant enough to be considered influencers are gaining credibility in their fields. They’re sharing value with their audience in many cases by providing rich, engaging, and informative content that people love learning from or engaging with.
This typically won’t result in sponsored posts like you see on Instagram or YouTube for influencers, but it can benefit your career in a number of ways including the following:
- You can attract the attention of potential employers if you’re looking for agency work
- You can attract attention of potential partners, including to start an agency of your own
- It gives you the chance to demonstrate your knowledge and can connect you with freelance clients
- It may position you well for speaking or other career opportunities, including for events like online webinars or at massive conferences
Since social media marketers are B2B businesses by trade, standing out on LinkedIn is the perfect way to advance your career regardless of the specific direction that you’re taking.
How to Become a LinkedIn Influencer
Want to become an influencer in your industry on LinkedIn? There are a few important steps that you’ll need to take first.
1. Start With a Complete Profile
You must have a strong, well-developed and totally complete profile if you want to be an influencer on LinkedIn. People need to be able to glance at your profile and know who you are, what experience you have, and what you’re doing now.
The most important parts of your profile will be:
- Your profile picture
- Your LinkedIn tagline
- Your summary
- Your featured content
All other areas are important, too, so make sure you fill them out, but let’s take a quick look at the crucial parts of your profile.
Your Profile Picture
Your profile picture matters a great deal on LinkedIn. Choose a clean, high-quality and well-lit headshot of only you in clothing that you’d wear to meet a client.
You should not have other people in the picture, and you shouldn’t choose “personal” pictures like you would on social media, such as a wedding picture or a picture of you in a tropical location with sunglasses on your head and coconut-drink in hand.
Clean, simple, professional headshot. Done.
Some people will simply use their job title as their tagline, which is found immediately below your name. If you want to attract attention to your profile and work to establish yourself as an influencer, however, it’s better to get a little more creative.
My tagline, for example, is “Experienced, High-Converting Content Marketer & PPC Copywriter.” It’s more descriptive than “Marketing writer,” and it stresses that quality and results are important.
Instead of “Social media marketer,” therefore, you might opt for something like the following:
- Data-driven Social Media Specialist Offering Organic Marketing & Community Management Services
- Social Media Manager Experienced in Creating Thrriving Digital Communites
- Social Marketing Account Manager for Fortune 500 Brands
Think about traits or experience that makes you unique, and tie that into your heading here if you can.
You should also remember to keep search friendliness in mind. If people are looking for “social media marketers,” a tagline like “Social Engineer Extraordinaire” can grab attention when seen but could cost you potential search visibility. Take that into account.
Your LinkedIn Summary (now called your "About section) should take your tagline to the next step, detailing what makes you unique, what you have to offer, and what you’re looking for right now in terms of career opportunities.
You’ve got 2000 characters (though you don’t have to use them all), so make them count!
Your Featured Content
Since becoming an influencer on LinkedIn is such a content-heavy task, it’s a great idea to feature some of your best content on your profile, too. This allows you to link to off-site content like YouTube videos or blog posts, driving people from your content to your site. You can also feature high-performing LinkedIn posts on your profile, too.
Featured content should represent your top content only; we recommend picking at least three, but capping it at five. This can help you prove credibility and showcase your expertise when people come to your site.
2. Be Proactive About Building Your Network
You can’t be an influencer if no one sees your content, no matter how great it is.
It order to get eyes on your content, you need to extend your reach. Then, your followers can automatically see your content in their feed, and when they engage, their followers can see the content, too.
I'm not following the company in the post below, for example, but I still see the content because someone I'm connected with simply liked it.
When building your network, you should always consider following these tips:
- Choose people who will derive value from your content. Unlike other types of marketing, the goal isn’t exclusively to reach new clients. Sharing posts about social media marketing won’t just attract potential clients, but also other industry experts who are excited to discuss. Don’t focus exclusively on trying to connect with potential clients.
- Look for people in your feed to connect with. You may notice that some people are more active than others on LinkedIn; these are excellent users to connect with, as they’re more likely to interact with your content, too. And remember, the more interactions on your post, the more social proof, and the more people see it.
- Send messages with connection requests. Many people are flooded with requests from people they’ve never met. Most users are open to networking with new people on LinkedIn, but they want to feel like they won’t just be sold something. Sending a message that you’re excited to connect with other industry professionals is a great move and it increases the likelihood of an accepted request.
Regularly Post Useful, High-Quality Content
This is a crucial part of becoming a LinkedIn Influencer: It’s all about the content. Share what you know, and opt for relatively long-form content as far as social media goes. Between 250-500 words is golden on the platform, as it’s still easy to read but it’s long enough to add value.
Share tips about how your clients can take a social media theory and put it into action. Share case studies. Talk about misconceptions in your industry, or explain what breaking news like the iOS changes or updated algorithms mean. You can even share predictions and ask everyone in to weigh on on what they think, or how they’ve been impacted.
This is your chance to show that you really do know your stuff, and that you’re excited to share it with other people. Make sure that you’re encouraging people to engage any way you can, even including a CTA for comments at the end of the post with a question. And if you’re ever short on ideas, here are a few good sources of inspiration:
- Think about questions that your clients ask, and then write a post about answers to those questions
- Share information that people inside the industry might not know, like why community management typically costs more from social media marketers than only creating a content calendar
- Look at other content on LinkedIn, and see if you disagree, have additional information that was missed, or you want to offer another perspective
- Repurpose content from blogs or videos into content for LinkedIn
Engage with Other Content, Too
Your own content is a vital part of establishing yourself as one of the influencers on LinkedIn worth following in your field. That should never be ignored.
It’s also crucial, however, to engage with other content, too. This is for several reasons:
- People like people who seem to like them; if you’re engaging with their content, they’re more likely to comment on, like, or share yours in the future
- When you engage with someone else’s post, that entire network can see the comment you left; if you’re sharing high-value content in the form of a response in any way, people may take notice of you and request to connect or follow you as a result
It’s never ideal to stomp around trashing other people’s posts and arguing outright, but agreeing and sharing your opinion or even gently offering another perspective can be a great way to have real conversation. This can build your relationships, your network, and your visibility all at once.
4 Best Practices for Becoming an Influencer on LinkedIn
As you’re carving out a name for yourself as one of the influencers on LinkedIn to follow, keep these four best practices in mind.
1. Have a Distinct Voice
If you can say something in a new and interesting way, people notice.
Chima Mmeje is an outstanding example. She’s a copywriter based in Nigeria who has gotten significant international attention and speaking opportunities, and her high-performing LinkedIn content can only have contributed to that. Her content is witty, sharp, funny, and smart. And it’s actionable. That’s a hard combination to beat.
2. Leverage Your Unique Experience
We stress this a lot in this post, but you’re unique. Your work history and life experience is unique. Leverage that.
Are you a social media manager who has worked with small businesses struggling to get started? Someone who has helped enormous corporations troubleshoot issues?
What are your specialties, and why would someone hire you?
Turn your USP as a social media marketer into content. Your specific perspective is what will help you create content that’s different from everything else already out there.
3. Make Your Content Actionable
You can write a post today that says “Instagram’s algorithm is changing, make sure you’re getting more engagement to keep up!”
You might get a few likes. You’ll garner a lot more attention, however, if you opt for a post explaining that the algorithm is changing, specific strategies for how to get more engagement, and even an example from your own account.
Lots of people like to write theoretically. The action part is key.
4. Don’t Rely on Grandiose Statements or Shock Value
Remember when “Facebook zero” first roled out and industry experts were popping up all over social media declaring it was a “Facebook apocalypse?”
Several years later, Facebook is still around and thriving as a social and marketing platform.
Some people try to gain influencer status by sharing “shocking” opinions or grandiose statements. Hyperbole doesn’t have a place on LinkedIn, and clickbait-styled content won’t work. People will write you off as using cheap tricks (or worse, cheap content), and you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
Influencers on LinkedIn can enjoy the benefits of heightened credibility, more career opportunities, and exceptional reach on the platform. It’s a great way to try to make a name for yourself in your industry, regardless of the specific career opportunities you’re looking for, and it makes it worth the effort that you need to put in.
Remember that consistency in quality, frequency, and voice is all important here. Map out a gameplan, and get started!