Like every social platform, LinkedIn has seen an influx in user activity over the past two weeks.
With people around the world staying home to limit the spread of COVID-19, professionals have been logging on to LinkedIn to stay informed, and to keep updated as to how other businesses are handling the situation, in order to inform their own approach.
LinkedIn engagement has been increasing for some time, so it's not surprising to see more people turning to the platform for professional advice. And this week, LinkedIn has provided some tips on how people can make best use of its platform to better connect and engage with their networks.
First off, LinkedIn has provided some more general posting tips, beyond the COVID-19 situation alone, which could help you improve your posting strategies for the platform.
Here are LinkedIn's four key tips:
1. "Post about your experiences"
LinkedIn says that providing your personal stories and insights is key to maximizing engagement on the platform, and building a presence within your respective communities.
"Share a post on your feed about what your new work day looks like. Just got done with a video interview? Share a couple of learnings and tips in an article in case it helps others who might be going through the same thing. Simply posting a question, like - “how do I boost team morale?” - is also a great way to get the insights you need, surface other points of view you hadn’t considered, help others and forge new connections."
Many people hesitate in sharing their personal experience, as they don't want to reveal some perceived flaw or weakness, but in these times, there's a good chance that other business people are feeling what you're feeling, and asking the same questions you are about how to forge a path ahead.
In this respect, sharing your thoughts could be a great way to build new connections, and establish a stronger presence within your professional network.
2. "Discover and comment on conversations that are most relevant to you"
In addition to posting your own thoughts, LinkedIn also recommends branching out by searching for discussions relevant to your interests and experiences.
"Searching hashtags is a fast way to do this. If you recently discovered a video conferencing hack that helped your team have more efficient meetings, search #videoconference and comment on posts with your advice. Found an effective way to keep your kids occupied while you take a work call? Share your story and tag co-workers or close connections who may need similar advice."
Since re-introducing hashtags to its platform a few years back, LinkedIn has been working on ways to make them a bigger focus, and a better way to sort and discover relevant discussions. Now, hashtags may actually be more relevant on LinkedIn than they are on Twitter, where the hashtag concept started, as they enable you to seek out relevant discussions and engage with other professionals in your field/s of interest.
A simple comment can go a long way, and may lead to more opportunities in future.
3. "Be yourself and offer your unique perspective"
This one's a little more contentious - though the recommendation is coming from LinkedIn itself, so it would have the data to back it up.
LinkedIn notes that not everything you share on the platform has to be about work, specifically.
"Some of the most successful posts come from professionals who discuss lessons they've learned from their personal lives, show appreciation for their team, or share words of encouragement, like this positivity thread and post about ways to spread kindness."
Now, in this context, LinkedIn has kept its definitions confined to professional-related content, but some people do post overly personal, non-work related updates to LinkedIn. And those don't always go over so well with users.
How you feel about this will come down to personal interpretation, but I would note that not all of your life experiences need to relate to business culture, not everything should be used as a metaphor for climbing the corporate ladder or maximizing your "hustle", day-to-day.
LinkedIn says that the key here is to be genuine, "which makes you more approachable and better reflects who you really are".
The specifics in this case do matter, and it is worth considering the value or utility of what you're posting within the context of the people who'll see it on the platform. But there is value in highlighting the need for more empathetic connection - especially in times like this.
4. "Stay informed with trusted news and share your thoughts"
Right now, people are looking for information. Unfortunately, the answers generally being sought are not available, as no one knows the full impacts of the current crisis, but people are looking to get the latest news, and discuss what it means for them and their industries.
On this front, LinkedIn recently added a new Trending News element which specifically focuses on COVID-19, and features key updates from experts, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
LinkedIn notes that following the latest news, and sharing articles to your feed, can be another way to engage in the broader conversation, "and engage and inform your LinkedIn community".
In addition to these tips, LinkedIn has also provided three specific notes on communications in the time of COVID-19, and how brands should look to approach their messaging during the pandemic.
As noted by LinkedIn:
"On LinkedIn the number of articles about coronavirus increased by 17X between February 1 and March 17. The biggest topics of discussion we’ve seen on LinkedIn are perspectives and advice on remote working, social distancing, crisis management, business continuity, online learning, collaboration and more. For example, “remote working” searches on LinkedIn Learning tripled in March."
With higher sensitivity around the topics of discussion, particularly in a marketing and branding sense, LinkedIn advises that businesses should also consider focusing on:
- Managing employees through change
- Leading with trust
- Adapting to drive business continuity
LinkedIn says that companies should consider how they can reinforce company culture though their posts, and keep employees connected virtually via relevant updates, while they should also consider how they can assist in the current situation and demonstrate corporate responsibility.
That doesn't necessarily mean providing updates on every aspect of your internal operations and processes, however. In this example, 3M is announcing its move to increase production of medical supplies to assist in COVID-19 response efforts. That's both relevant to the current effort, and valuable for potential customers and partners to know, underlining what the brand stands for and how it's looking to help.
No doubt you've received a heap of emails in the past week from brands outlining their efforts to respond to COVID-19, but much of this information is not overly helpful to customers who are dealing with their own situations. Many of these emails are also too long to be relevant - what people need to know right now is how your business is looking to help, and what it can offer to address key concerns and problems. That's the messaging that you need to consider.
These are some good tips, and if you're looking for ways to improve your LinkedIn approach, it's worth incorporating them into your approach.
And it is worth considering how you get back to communicating with your audience. The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be significant, but they'll only be made worse by businesses waiting it out and seeing what comes next. Many, of course, have been forced into this situation, due to the shutdown of events and venues, but many other companies can still operate, and can adjust their focus to adapt to the current situation.
It's not ideal, and no one wants to be operating in this environment. But it also looks set to be like this for some time. The more you can look to get back to a level of "normal", the more you can lessen the broader economic impacts moving forward.