Matt Alder

LinkedIn And The Importance of Sharing

14 March 2012, Matt Alder

LinkedIn sharingIn 2011 Mark Zuckerberg introduced his law of sharing at the Facebook developers conference, which he illustrated by showing a mathematical formula.

You can find the formula here but I’ll spare you the geeky details for now and just cut to his definition which was actually very simple. To paraphrase:  “Next year people will share twice as much stuff as they do this year”.

Whilst this may seem quite self serving coming from the founder of Facebook, there is a huge amount of truth in it, and as the social web expands it becomes clearer and clearer that we are addicted to sharing. The staggeringly fast growth of the “digital scrapbook” service Pinterest this year only seeks to empathize this even further.

Sharing is the new normal

The sharing of thoughts and content online is the new normal, and although not everyone might currently be comfortable sharing yet  anyone who is using a social networking platform is benefiting from sharing by consuming the shared content of others.

Despite constant privacy scaremongering, Facebook and Twitter continue to grow at an ever-increasing rate. Sharing is so important to us, it would seem that a growing number of people are actually prepared to sacrifice aspects of their privacy to do even more of it!

Business-to-business sharing is win win

So how might all this be relevant in a business-to-business marketing capacity? Well, it’s true to say that with any ever increasing amount of information out there, people are relying more and more on their professional networks as a filter to highlight things that are most relevant to them.

An increasing number of companies are exploiting this by producing content such as blogs, YouTube videos and infographics that are easily sharable. Business to business sharing is also very much win win. Not only does the content producer benefit from an increased reach, the person who shared the content also potentially strengthens their network and their personal brand by sharing it.

LinkedIn sharing

Over the last 18 months LinkedIn has reinforced itself as the world’s leading professional networking platform by creating some powerful sharing features. Status updates offer users the opportunity to share content with each other and also post it into relevant groups. This can be done manually via the LinkedIn home page or via LinkedIn sharing buttons more ubiquitous across the web.

By giving users the option to “like”, “comment” and ” share” other people’s status updates, LinkedIn has also created a huge marketing opportunity within the site. Every time users interact with a status update in this way, it appears in their own home stream and notifies their network. If the update contains a link to a blog post or other content then that link is also included. This means that any article or blog post can travel far beyond the original poster’s own network.

LinkedIn Today

The launch of the LinkedIn Today service shows just how seriously LinkedIn is taking this concept of sharing.

LinkedIn TodayThe functionality dynamically builds a magazine style news page based on the most popular content in a user’s individual network. Again this offers a fantastic opportunity for content to go viral and potentially reach a very large audience.

My personal view is that sharing on LinkedIn can be used to drive specific business objectives with genuine ROI and the emerging case studies certainly seem to prove this. There is a great example from Reconverse, a small business that has used the company status update feature to build an audience outside of their original network, and this is already converting into increased sales for their business.

Sharing is now a vitally important part of digital marketing and LinkedIn is positioning itself at the centre of this from the perspective of business to business marketing. If you’re not currently using the platform as part of your strategy, the fact it now has an audience of 160 million professionals that is growing at a rate of two users every second should be pretty compelling reason to start!

3 top tips for successfully sharing content on LinkedIn

1. Get maximum reach by ensuring you are fully utilizing both company page status updates and the personal status updates of your employees

2. Don’t just share your own content. Sharing content from third parties that is interesting to your network will raise your profile as a trusted news source and help to get your content more attention when you do share it

3. Fully optimize your LinkedIn Company Page and the personal profiles of your employees. These represent the corporate and personal brands you are attempting to enhance by sharing so making sure profiles are as compelling as possible is vitally important

Matt Alder has been in the online recruitment sector for 14 years, consulting many clients across both the private and public sectors on brand strategy, social media and recruitment. Matt is also a respected blogger and speaker and currently leads Emarketeers’ LinkedIn training course.