Building An Audience On LinkedIn

The pros and cons of making it your main source of consulting leads.

Writing and building an audience on social media strengthen your digital presence - and this is definitely something you should not neglect. We don’t hire services like we used to. And neither do your prospects.

In the past, clients relied on things like gut feel, word of mouth, and price to make a buying decision. They would ask friends and colleagues for referrals and trust their recommendations. And most of the time, they would schedule a meeting just to understand whether you had the capabilities to help them.

The internet has forever changed how we decide what and when to buy. A lot of information can be found online. And other firms and consulting professionals - who are also investing in networking and content marketing - are only 1 click away.

Just like every initiative, there are pros and cons of investing heavily in social media. The key is understanding that you are effectively renting an audience.

There's a great analogy I first heard from Corey Haines. When you rent a home, you have the right to live there and you can call it yours. But you can’t make major exterior or interior changes, you have to live by the rules of the landlord, and everything is subject to change. Next year, rent could go up.

The same applies to social media - and LinkedIn, in specific.

The main downsides/risks of making it your main source of leads are:

  • Reduced reach: From 2012 to 2016, Facebook's organic reach dropped from 16% to 2% (some brand pages report rates closer to 1%). While LinkedIn's current numbers seem to be closer to the 5% mark, it has been following the same path as platforms rely more on ad revenues.
  • Ambiguous algorithms: Platforms change and tweak what gets shown in a feed all the time. When LinkedIn launched support for videos, video content got favored in the feed algorithm. These distribution mechanisms make it difficult to generate steady results.
  • Ephemeral content: Social media posts carry far less weight than a newsletter, webinar, or public talk. A blog post can have a half-life of over a month, whereas a LinkedIn post might have a half-life of 90 minutes.

The positives include:

  • Discoverability: YouTube is the second largest global search engine and is known for its recommendation sidebar. While LinkedIn visibility is much more driven by current connections, it also curates new content based on what you like. This means if your content is specific enough, you can also be found there.
  • Shareability: Virality is in the nature of many social networks. A comment or share by an account with a large following gets you in front of a sizable portion of their audience.
  • Natural consumption ground: People spend an enormous amount of time on social platforms, and in the corporate/B2B space that platform is LinkedIn. If your targets use social media, you can meet them where they already are.

Just like any other initiative to increase your visibility, building a social media audience requires time, consistency, and careful planning. If you plan to make it your main source of leads, it's better to be aware of the trade-offs involved.

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