Did you know there are two new sign-ups to LinkedIn every second, and that as of August 2016, there are 450 million registered users on the business networking platform? That's a lot of virtual handshakes. And listen to this: LinkedIn's currently chasing a total of 3 billion user profiles (that's for individuals and companies, in case you're wondering).
Lately, it seems like every press release and headline, every new influencer marketing platform that launches focuses on the 'cool' social channels - sure, there are tons of Millennials for the influencing on Snapchat - but only a few brands actually want to play in that target market.
LinkedIn might not have the cool factor of the other platforms, but it's growing fast, and adding value to people's lives. It's a social network that'll stand the test of time.
So why aren't influencers using LinkedIn as a channel?
When I write something credible, the first place I share it is on LinkedIn, and if I mention a brand, I tag them, and my followers notice it. That's influencer marketing in action right there.
There's no reason why influencers can't use LinkedIn as one of their channels of influence and a platform to host branded content produced in collaboration with a brand they endorse. There are no specific laws or best practice guidelines that discourage it (I checked) - it's more of a mindset.
Perhaps the majority of LinkedIn users - and this applies to influencers as well - see the social networking site for business more as a platform to host their CV than a place to share their work as an influencer. This needs to change.
The language of LinkedIn
Compounding the mysterious underuse of LinkedIn by influencers is the fact that the platform wholeheartedly embraces the terminology we're now so used to seeing when discussing influencer marketing.
You can 'endorse' your connections for their skills, and ask for 'recommendations' from colleagues you've previously worked with. You can 'sponsor' updates, and - most valuable of all - you can cement your influence by earning the LinkedIn Influencer badge.
LinkedIn is literally geared for influencers. So why aren't they using it?
I had a look at how some of the most prominent influencers in the world of entrepreneurship, business and technology are using their LinkedIn profiles.
Gary Vaynerchuk a.k.a. Gary Vee uses his LinkedIn profile to publish the occasional thought leadership article to LinkedIn Pulse, share links to some of his YouTube videos and posts about specials at his side-gig Wine Library. But if he's using his influence to collaborate with other brands, or is being paid to endorse any products or services, there's not a whisper of it on LinkedIn. It's much the same for others in his category.
I also looked at the profile of influencers who are more well known for being, well, social media influencers. YouTuber Tyler Oakley's profile showcases his work as a content creator and influencer in detail:
But others, like Casey Neistat, barely exist on the platform at all.
So why is the adoption of LinkedIn as a formal channel for influencers to incorporate into their offering so erratic? I think it's because there's still a stigma around peddling influence, which is crazy - especially on a platform that is so geared towards embracing and building it.
Unlocking the possibilities of LinkedIn for influencers
Influencers are hard-working professionals who deserve to be recognized for their creative work. Collaborating with brands is a sign that your work is of a certain calibre and value, and this should be seen as an endorsement of your talent - not a sell-out of your influence.
It'll come as no surprise to you if you've read this far, that Webfluential is one of the few influencer technology players that allows brands to connect with LinkedIn influencers. You can see on my media kit below that I've recently added both Snapchat and LinkedIn as channels to my own profile.
Image: Webfluential influencer media kit
But, as much as I'd like to see more brands collaborate with LinkedIn influencers to create and amplify credible content, I'd also like to see more influencers using LinkedIn as a tool to mature their own profiles.
Here's how I see LinkedIn being used effectively by influencers:
- Own your expertise. Add the word 'influencer' or 'creator' or 'YouTuber' to your job title to make yourself easy to spot
- Add 'influencer marketing' as a skill to your LinkedIn profile
- Include a link to your Webfluential profile in your LinkedIn bio, to showcase the collaborative work you've done for brands
- Write articles about your experience as an influencer, your strategies, your creative methods, your successes and your failures and publish them to LinkedIn Pulse
- When you write a sponsored post, or upload a sponsored video, link out to it on LinkedIn if it makes sense to share it with that audience (remember to add the #sponsored hashtag)
If you can be endorsed on LinkedIn for 'bacon', then influencers should be able to be endorsed for the art of creation, dissemination, and ultimately... influence.