Could LinkedIn be a Powerful Social Networking Tool for Photographers?Business Opinion
LinkedIn is a robust B2B social media platform with an abundance of business networking features that can often cause confusion on how to get the most out of it. I like to look at it as an in-person networking event, where you selected everyone in the room to be there. You get to fill the room with successful people that share an interest in what you do, help others while showing you are knowledgeable in your field, and give them a taste of your work and personality.
One of the greatest benefits of LinkedIn at this time is that there aren’t as many photographers using it to their full advantage. We tend to gravitate towards Instagram as the place to be but, unless you are trying to become an influencer or dealing with a B2C market, you’re probably wasting a lot of your valuable time. Unfortunately, many companies on other social platforms are not even managing their profile therefore rarely, if ever, do they see the content you produce or know you exist.
LinkedIn content development is similar to other platforms but, people aren’t just looking for pretty pictures and videos. While the content quality you deliver does carry importance, you are often hired over a “competitor” because of who you are, what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and because that’s what they need at this moment. We have the advantage to stand out on LinkedIn because we are regularly creating visually captivating content for others. We should have a lot to share and fortunately, it doesn’t require the same posting frequency as other platforms demand.
While I have been using LinkedIn for several years, I’ve only recently dedicated more time to using it as a part of my overall marketing strategy. I am no expert so I reached out to a friend and digital marketer, Tim-Campbell Smith to chat about what photographers can do to get the most out of their time spent on LinkedIn. Now, LinkedIn is a huge platform with a growing list of features, so we will not be able to cover everything in this article. That being said, here are some tips we came up with to help get you started on your journey as an architectural photographer on LinkedIn:
I’d like to start here because if you are new to LinkedIn or have neglected your profile, there will likely be some maintenance you can do to create a successful path. LinkedIn is incredible at teaching you how to optimize your profile. Viewing your profile page, LinkedIn prompts you regularly on how you can improve your presence. It is best practice to maintain an “ALL STAR” profile ranking and is known to increase your visibility on the platform as outlined by LinkedIn. You can easily work your way up the ranks from Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and all the way up to an All-Star profile by following the platform recommendations on optimization.
One profile secret that I learned about when chatting with Tim is that you can have a secondary profile photo that is actually a video. It can give your profile more of a personal touch with an introduction directly from you. In order to set this up, you will need to follow the steps below:
• Turn on “Creator Mode”
• Use your mobile device, go to your profile, and click on the + symbol on your profile photo
• You can now shoot a 30-second video to introduce yourself, do an elevator pitch, or you can use a prerecorded intro if you like things a little more polished.
Types of LinkedIn Posts
Short form text
As you’d expect, this is strictly a text post. Often used for one-liners, quotes, or brief pieces of information.
You can use this to show before & afters, a series of images from a project, or graphics that tell a story.
It is recommended to upload directly to LinkedIn instead of linking from another platform. This will help with the overall performance and reach of the content.
Can be used to share a multiple-page document. I’d recommend saving these valuable documents to use as a lead magnet for your primary email list. But, I’m sure there are other creative ways to use this tool.
One of the most engaging types of posts on LinkedIn and it is also heavily abused by users. Polls are always a great research tool but, use them wisely. Try and collect valuable marketing data or see how others would deal with a business situation.
Linkedin Articles are long-form usually a bit more manicured than your standard post containing some sort of educational content. Let’s look at this like blogging, only your blog is on LinkedIn. A lot of resources online will recommend 1900-2000 words for your articles. However, Tim has found through his research working with clients, that shorter articles tend to perform better because most people will turn to social media for quick content to consume. Test it out for yourself to see what your audience likes. You can easily take old blog articles and repurpose them into shorter content or repost them as is. Throughout the article, link keywords back to relevant pages throughout your website to allow the reader the opportunity to learn more about you, generate some web traffic, and hopefully develop a warm lead. Don’t stress as much about frequency but, try to remain consistent and always provide something of value.
Back in 2019, LinkedIn launched “Newsletters” as a beta feature. It is now available to all users who have turned on “Creator Mode” in their profile. This feature is an extension of “Articles” only it is like a mailing list that automatically invites your network to join. When you send out a newsletter article LinkedIn notifies everyone who subscribed via email and platform notification. The multiple notifications make this an impactful strategy and no other social platform offers this kind of push of your content. Even with my lack of activity over the years, I launched the newsletter and immediately had about 100 subscribers. This took a lot more time to get on my primary email list. Use this feature to educate and bring value to your subscribers in a series of content. I am unable to confirm if this is still a beta feature so I’d recommend taking action and using it before it could disappear. If there is one thing we know about social media algorithms, users who jump on new trends and features first are typically rewarded with greater results if the trend and/or feature sticks around.
LinkedIn Search Features
LinkedIn search features are the holy grail of the platform. It is my first stop when researching a potential client I’m interested in working with. Of course, you won’t find everyone on the platform but, as of writing this, LinkedIn currently has about “830 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.” That’s approximately 830 million people who have provided valuable information about themselves, what they do for a living, their income, etc. Here are some best practices to consider when connecting with a new audience on the platform:
- LinkedIn Search Features are best used on desktops. Every social platform is optimized for a specific device and while LinkedIn does have a fully functioning mobile app, the platform offers different features on both devices. You’ll find all advanced search features and filters within the desktop version.
- Search a company you are interested in working with, find out who works there and look for those in positions with buying power. Ex. Creative Directors, Art Buyers, Marketing Directors, etc. You have to use a bit of common sense as the world is constantly redeveloping job titles that involve similar responsibilities. Use your best judgment and consider the titles of clients who have contracted you in the past. There are several ways you can use the filters in the search feature but, this is a simple starting point.
- If you find a profile you are interested in connecting with, quickly check to see what their activity is like. This will help you determine whether or not LinkedIn is for them.
BONUS TIP: If they are using a Premium version of LinkedIn it will show on their profile. If this is the case, they are paying a lot more than their monthly Netflix subscription to use the platform and this indicates that they are heavily invested to be there.
- Connect with only “2nd-degree connections” unless a “3rd-degree” is someone you are connected with elsewhere. Remember, marketing is just applied psychology. We want familiarity. A 2nd-degree means you at least have 1 person in common in both of your networks and you can utilize this as a conversation starter.
- Send a request to connect but, ALWAYS include a note. This creates another point of contact and provides the person with a bit of context as to why you are interested in connecting with them. While this does add time to the process, we highly recommend writing personal notes and not using a generic template for everyone. Be personal and human, no one likes spam-bots.
*Disclaimer: Sending a note with a connection request is a feature that does not seem to be available on mobile after testing on iOS/Android. When you send a request it doesn’t prompt the note which will reduce your chances of gaining their connection.
- When someone accepts your request, send them a quick thank you message. Another valuable point of contact that prompts an opportunity for an organic discussion. Just be kind and don’t pitch… yet.
While it seems to me that this is a feature fading out, it is another place to the network depending on the group activity. Similar to Facebook groups, there can be a lot of spam or not much activity at all. Since increasing my LinkedIn activity, I still have not found any groups that work for my company. However, Tim and his clients have found success when joining a group in their niche. Leave a comment below if you have found success here, would love the feedback on what groups are active for photographers to benefit from.
Engagement Is the Key to Growth on LinkedIn
On every platform engagement is a primary ingredient to success. They want their users to stay on the site as long as possible and if you play the game, they will reward you by pushing your content further. This is why sharing off-platform links doesn’t perform as well as other posts. If a user clicks a link, not only do they leave the platform but, they also had no other opportunity to engage with the content telling LinkedIn that this is important to them. According to a research experiment by Hootsuite “Linkless posts received 6x higher engagements than posts with links.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that links are bad but, the user doesn’t typically go back to your post to like, comment, or share.
One of the best forms of engagement is commenting regularly on others’ posts. Users will read comments on posts they are interested in and sometimes this will lead to a new connection request. Maybe they have aligning views and want to learn more about you. This type of engagement can be time-consuming but, you don’t have to write a novel to generate a valuable discussion. Block off small segments in your day to make a point of doing this. You can make a couple of comments in a few minutes which will help with network growth if you keep up the consistency.
Seek LinkedIn Recommendations From Your Network
One thing about LinkedIn is it seems like they have some repeating features in a few different places, which can make the experience a bit confusing. I have found 3 similar features that could easily be amalgamated. Until that happens, you’ll want to build on all of them with emphasis on “Recommendations”.
People can easily endorse a skill to help you build credibility. Popular among users because it doesn’t require much effort.
This is a client review of your services. Found under your “services” section on your personal profile. It is a little hidden so I wouldn’t stress much about getting service reviews.
This is basically a review of you rather than a specific service and somewhat renders “Reviews” useless. While these are harder to get, they are more meaningful and are more prominent on your page. “Recommendations” need to be added to your profile manually to start receiving them organically. Otherwise, you can request one from someone or give someone a “recommendation” and the section will populate on your profile. Instead of asking for reviews, ask for recommendations, they are more likely to be seen by your audience.
All of these lead to social proof that you are competent, and have the skills and abilities to provide the services you claim to. “Recommendations” are basically the “references” section of your CV and they will help with improving your profile ranking and overall credibility.
Personal Profiles vs Business Profiles
When I first joined LinkedIn it was mostly a place to apply for a new job. In the early stages of navigating a new platform, it can be hard to know how a feature was intended to be used. So I started up a business profile thinking it was similar to Facebook. Wanting to keep my personal life separate from business… but, on LinkedIn, everything is business so, do you really need a business page? The short answer, if you run a company with multiple staff members then there are a lot of additional features you may benefit from internally. Being able to see what your employees are posting and how it yields results is one of them. Otherwise, it is just another page to manage. For most of us, we are the brand, we are marketing ourselves and therefore you should put your attention on making your personal profile the main attraction.
Meaningful connections should always be the primary goal and it is how you build long-lasting relationships that promote loyal customer engagements. Your follower count here doesn’t matter, a connection that brings value to you is of greater importance. LinkedIn has a lot to offer those marketing in a B2B world, so what are you waiting for?
Let me know in the comments how LinkedIn is working for you as an architectural photographer, and if there is any feature or strategy you can’t live without. Oh, and come join me on LinkedIn!