Optimise your LinkedIn profile to inform, teach and support existing and prospective customers. Write for customers; not recruiters.
Next Wednesday (June 7th) LinkedIn's user and privacy agreement changes go live bringing increased SEO to profiles and enabling users to meet each other more easily.
The professional networking platform, now owned by Microsoft, will see LinkedIn profiles gain more visability in search. Whilst a new policy update covers an “upcoming feature” that will help LinkedIn members meet up IRL, at conferences, events and meetings where they’re already in relative proximity to one another
Rise of social selling
The web has fundamentally changed the way we buy things. Pre web business was marked by the mantra: we make it, you take it.
The social web has transferred power from the seller to the buyer. Google pioneered Search, Find, Obtain (SFO) for content and products. We search Google for solutions. We read Amazon & Trip Advisor reviews. We share our thoughts about products and companies with extended friends and family on Facebook.
Social selling is a response to this shift in the buyers' power Not the cause of it. Social selling is the process of developing then leveraging social networks to:
- Find the most relevant prospective customers
- Forge and nurture trusted relationships
- Achieve sales goals
Once considered a repository for online CVs LinkedIn is now the place to build professional communities.
Don't limit the business social media platform by thinking of it as an online Roladex. Think of it, instead, as a lead nurturing tool (and a tool to keep existing customers happy). Use the platform to inform, teach and support your prospective customers.
Use this article as a checklist to ensure you are optimising your LinkedIn profile for social selling.
Optimise your LinkedIn profile with the right photo
Your LinkedIn profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed simply by having a profile picture according to this study.
That's not a license to raid last year's holiday snaps, though. It's best not to be shown sipping a pina colada or wearing sunglasses - unless you're head barman at Floyd's Pelican Bar in Jamaica . Dress appropriately for your industry. A polo shirt might be the right look for a golf pro. Something more formal will be appropriate for the financial industry. If in doubt check out a few profiles of your peers within the industry.
Make sure the photo looks like you now. Not the way you once were. We use LinkedIn as a form of digital due diligence ahead of meeting someone for the first time.
The ideal pixel size for your photo is 400 x 400. If either width or height exceeds 20,000 pixels, your photo will not upload. Use a neutral background. Think Photo-Me booth; avoid busy backgrounds.
Fill the frame with your face. This is a head shot not a fully-body photo. No one is interested in whether or not you’re wearing a belt - let alone what make of shoe you’re sporting.
To read more about how to optimise your LinkedIn profile with the right photograph read these instructions on how to add or change your profile photo.
Make your profile headline work harder
By default LinkedIn pulls the information from your current job title to re-use as your headline. But, come on, you can do better than that. You have 120 characters to play around with. Use those characters to optimise your LinkedIn profile with a headline that is both customer centric and keyword rich.
It's called the headline because, just as in newspapers, this space on your profile is designed to grab attention. Think about what your clients would search for in Google.
So, “John Smith Insurance Broker, Aardvark Insurance” could be improved by changing the default text and writing: “John Smith, Insurance broker specialising in church, charity and heritage insurance”.
Better yet, use your headline to answer two questions:
- Who do you help?
- How do you help them?
Try using active verbs to fill in the blanks in this headline template:
“I help [insert target buyer] to [insert target buyer’s goal or problem they’re need solving] by [insert your speciality]”
Build a vanity URL to optimise your LinkedIn profile
Personalise your LinkedIn web address and create a vanity URL. LinkedIn provides each user with a random URL comprised of the user’s name plus random numbers.
Custom public profile URLs are available on a first come, first served basis. Follow these steps to create your own LinkedIn vanity URL.
Consider adding your customised LinkedIn URL to your email signatures and business cards. Including your name within your LinkedIn URL also has the added benefit of making you more easily found online via search engines.
Choose an on-brand background image
Customise your digital profile by changing the background. Use a background image to stay on-brand by using your brand's guideline colourways and messaging. The background photo appears above the top section of your profile. It’s an opportunity to show more about you, your personality and how you can help a prospective customer.
Background image sizing
- Pixel dimensions between 1000 X 425 and 4000 X 4000
- File type JPG, GIF or PNG
- Image file size no larger than 4MB
Write a customer-centric summary
While a potential connection will read this section to learn more about you – what they really want to know more about is how you can help them. David Meerman Scott, author of the international best selling book 'The New Rules of Marketing & PR' puts it well: "Nobody cares about your product and services (except you). What people care about are themselves and solving their problems."
David Meerman Scott - The New Rules of Marketing & PR
"Nobody cares about your products and services (except you). What people care about are themselves and solving their problems."
The summary section of your LinkedIn profile is your display advertisement. LinkedIn allows a 2,000-character limit for this section. Only your opening two lines of summary are displayed however before the visitor has to click ‘See more’ to see the full version.
Two lines is around 300 characters with spaces - about 35 words. Use your opening line to entice the visitor to click through and learn more about you.
Tips to optimise your LinkedIn profile summary
- Write with your prospective customer in mind - not a headhunter / recruiter
- Use the space to show prospective customers what you can do for them
- Use the first 300 characters of your summary wisely to 'hook' the visitor into wanting to read the full summary
Articles and Activity
Demonstrate your point-of-view and subject matter expertise. The articles you have interacted with recently along with articles you have written on LinkedIn are displayed prominently within your profile. Their positioning is a reminder that LinkedIn is a social media platform designed for engagement not an online repository for your CV.
To really optimise your LinkedIn profile you need to be active on the platform. Answering questions within LinkedIn groups, answering customers' and prospective customers' questions by writing articles.
Writing articles on LinkedIn helps increase your authority on your specialist topic. It also benefits your profile visually. To ensure your posts display optimally on your profile, include a custom cover image (700 X 400 pixels).
Showcase your work
Showcase your work. “You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.” declared renowned Swiss psychiatrist C.G.Jung. So, as a prospective customer show me how you have helped similar customers. Add or link to external documents, photos, sites, videos, and presentations. Share examples of:
- Case studies
- Whitepapers and eBooks
Make it visually appealing. If you have one or two samples in the same section of your profile, the display window for each sample will be 296 x 222 pixels. You can upload images that maintain this 4:3 ratio to minimise cropping.
Any additional samples added to the same profile section will display in a smaller, 194 x 145 pixel window. You can upload images with this same ratio for these additional items to minimize cropping
Gather social proof
People buy from people. 83% of us will buy a product recommended by friends or family. Two thirds of us trust the opinions of people like us, too according to Nielson's 2015 Global Trust in Advertising report.
Build your network of trusted contacts. Give honest recommendations and endorsements and look to receive the same in kind. Recommendations and skill-set endorsements provide social proof they are you are to be trusted. They act as micro testimonials.
Share your contact information
Your LinkedIn profile is your calling card, your display advertisement and your work portfolio all in one. Your call to action is for people to make contact with you. So, make sure you have included your contact details. And make sure they are up-to-date, Share your email address, Twitter handle, postal address, company website and personal website if you have one and it’s relevant.
Customise your website links
Pro tip: Customize your website links to take advantage of the 'websites section' under the ‘Contacts and Personal Info’ component of your profile.
- Click on the pen in the top right of the section.
- Click on 'Add Website'.
- Fill in the URL for web page you want to link to.
- In the text box to the right of the URL box scroll down and click on 'Other'.
- Type your Call to Action: i.e. 'Download our White Paper'.
- Make sure you're linking to a landing page which exchanges your valuable whitepaper for the contact information of the website visitor.