You’ve probably noticed that LinkedIn has a “Follow” button on every profile you view. Following is a great way to stay updated and learn from those who don’t quite qualify for a LinkedIn Connection. You’ll want to think like a follower to earn more followers: What can I offer people who don’t know me well enough for a Connection?
Followers vs. Connections on LinkedIn
Let’s first clarify this important distinction.
LinkedIn intends for “Connections” to be only between two people who know each other. (This isn’t always how people choose to use Connections, though, especially considering LinkedIn’s networking algorithm.) A Connection can view your full profile, contact you for free, and is generally seen as a two-way, trust-based business relationship. Connections are also automatically Followers.
Followers are a little bit different. Someone can click “Follow” on your profile, and then their homepage feed will display all of the content you share, including links, media and long-form articles on the Pulse publishing platform. Neither one of you will have access to each other’s full profiles, and it can be a one-way relationship, i.e., he or she follows you but you may not follow back. People can also choose to follow you regardless of how many Connections you have in common.
In this way, Followers lend a different kind of credibility to your profile. It means that even people who don’t know you are interested in you and/or the content you produce.
How Many Followers Do I Have on LinkedIn?
If you visit your LinkedIn page, you should see an arrow next to “View Profile As.” Click the arrow and select “View Recent Activity.” From here, you’ll find a tab labeled “Followers” and in parentheses, the number of Followers you have.
Here’s the catch: you need subtract the number of your Connections (found on your main profile page) to find out how many sole Followers you have. For most people who haven’t put in the extra effort, the numbers will be very close to each other. You may not even have any Followers who are not also Connections.
Now How Do I Increase My Followers?
1) Know Your Audience
It’s better to pick a focused area to demonstrate your expertise than to try to appeal to too many people at once. Ask yourself what kind of followers you want, or better yet, what do you have to offer them?
If you’re trying to build up followers to impress recruiters, keep in mind that “amplification” is usually a better indicator of your quality as a candidate. Amplification, or engagement, is a measure of how many shares, likes and comments your content receives from followers. It shows your content is valuable in a way that having thousands of disinterested followers does not.
2) Know Your Brand
You don’t have to be an expert to have useful ideas and information to share. Be realistic about who you are and what you have to offer, even if it’s just a student who collects and distributes information on breaking into your dream industry.
3) Create an Editorial Calendar
Plan out a regular posting schedule. Aim for at least two to three times per week. If you know that every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are “LinkedIn Update Days,” it becomes a little bit easier to stay on track.
Start keeping a story idea memo on your phone, too. Any time an idea pops into your head, write it down and save it for later. You’ll also want to keep up-to-date on news and current events that can segue into an industry relevant article.
4) Start a Series
Consider breaking up your thoughts across a series of posts. This makes people more likely to click the follow button to stay tuned. Make sure to include a “1 out of X” indicator and let them know when the next post will be released. It’s best to write all of this content at once then slowly release it; that way you’re not rushed to produce subpar work just to meet your own deadline.
5) Use a Share PlugIn
This tip is best for when you write something on an external platform. If you have a personal-professional blog, you can add a Share button that will allow readers to share your article on their own LinkedIn timeline. You can find this plug-in here.
Set up a series of personal-professional social media. Start with a Twitter account and a blog. Keep these updated regularly, too, and research the top hashtags in your industry. Once you have independent followers on all three platforms, you can begin cross-promoting to bring them from your blog and Twitter to your LinkedIn.
7) Use a Listicle Format
Collect a list of your thoughts or tips and write them in a “listicle” format, an article that features a numbered list. These “Top 10” articles are much more likely to be clicked because the headline makes them sound easier and faster to digest.
8) Share Video Content
According to LinkedIn’s analytics, you can expect to receive twice as much engagement when you share video content.
It’s even better if you star in the video yourself. It’s pretty easy to make a short 2-minute video for YouTube. Just double check your lighting, clean up your background and avoid grainy cameras if possible. Stick to bullet points instead of a script to come off more natural and confident.
9) Ask a Question
Make a post that encourages feedback. People like to feel their opinion matters, so ask what they think of an industry issue or run an informal poll. You can expect up to 50% more engagement with direct question posts.
10) Engage in the Comments Section
When someone comments on your article, try to respond, even if it’s just to thank them for their thoughts.
You can also get yourself noticed by commenting on more popular accounts. Make sure your commentary is insightful enough that other readers will click your name to find out more about you and your expertise.
11) Participate in LinkedIn Groups
Groups are a great place to get noticed. If you provide thoughtful commentary and start interesting discussions, more people will click your name and begin to follow you. Pick 3-4 relevant groups (possibly including your college alumni) and maintain your presence regularly.
12) Use LinkedIn Analytics
When you publish on Pulse, LinkedIn’s blogging platform, you can use the Analytics tab to get a better understanding of what’s working and what isn’t.
You’ll be able to see when your views come in and how your audience demographic breaks down by industry, job title, location and traffic sources. The last one is particularly interesting, because you’ll find out if you’re getting readers from groups, from Google, etc. This can show you where to focus your energy marketing yourself.
LinkedIn Analytics will also show how well your posts engaged your readers. Look for trends in content that provided more shares so you can reproduce your results.
13) Keep Promotion in Check
Balance is key. Your followers are not usually following you to hear how fantastic you are. They typically want connections for their own benefit, or they are genuinely interested in your industry insight. You need to set yourself apart as an experienced professional with something worthy to say, but you don’t want to make it all about you and your accomplishments all the time.
That being said, a personal anecdote can add a lot of value. Recount an experience you had today and ask for feedback on how your followers would have handled it, or explain a lesson learned.
14) Share Job Postings
Check with your employer to see if you can share the company’s job listings. This helps promote their need as well as making yourself a source of information for job seekers who may decide to follow you for updates.
15) Employ Targeted Content
You can pick and choose who your content is targeted toward. Let’s say your follower breakdown indicates a large chunk of entry level users and another subset is upper management you want to impress. Perhaps you also have an overlap of industries.
You can split your content and keep the audiences separated. This way you can avoid over-promoting things a person may not be interested in, which may cause them to un-follow.
16) Optimize Your Description
Before you can be followed, you must be found. One of the easiest ways to do this is to update the first few hundred characters in your profile description. This is the text that both Google and LinkedIn pull and display in the search function. Use keywords that will help others in your industry find you, but make sure your introduction is still readable.
Remember there is truth to the told adage “Quality over Quantity.” You have to focus on providing quality content rather than spamming and over-commenting without contemplation. You also want quality followers over quantity—attract those who will engage with and share your posts.
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