The Beginner's Guide to LinkedIn Influencer Marketing
LinkedIn has come a long way since making its debut in 2003. The most professional of social media platforms, LinkedIn has become an extraordinary force in the world of business. Today, many jobseekers and employers maintain a consistent presence on LinkedIn – which now boasts over 875 million members in more than 200 countries.
LinkedIn's substantial membership is there for a reason: Its users are focused on advancing their professional lives through new contacts, industry news, actionable insights, and social selling. So, if you’re looking to establish your bona fides and convince others of your professional prowess, LinkedIn is the place to be…
LinkedIn also offers statistics to back this up:
- 92% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn over other platforms.
- 80% of B2B marketing leads from social media come from LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn's membership boasts 61 million senior-level influencers and 40 million decision-makers.
Despite its focus on business, LinkedIn isn’t a dry, boring place – far from it. The platform’s videos are surprisingly entertaining and its blogs offer insightful commentary on top industry trends.
Successful influencers on LinkedIn stand out with sharp thoughts and great content. Done well, establishing oneself as a thought leader or expert on the platform can also be an effective means of marketing — because it doesn't feel like marketing. But how do you break through, when there are so many CEOs, CMOs, coaches, and consultants competing for attention?
It may not be easy, but it's not unachievable either…
We know because we’ve done it ourselves.
Below is our handy beginner's guide to LinkedIn influencer marketing that will give you all the basics (and some advanced tips) on how to make LinkedIn influencer marketing work for you.
What Is LinkedIn Influencer Marketing? Definition
Influencer marketing is a kind of social media marketing in which influencers — thought leaders, experts, or celebrities — seek to inspire their followers to pay attention to particular brands, companies, or services. By partnering with known personalities on social platforms, brands gain direct access to audiences who trust the person they're following.
Every social media platform has its stars — comedians, athletes, fashionistas, musicians, etc. On a platform like LinkedIn, influencers tend to have expertise in a particular industry or market, or knowledge around specific hard or soft skills. And like consumer brands on other social platforms, companies can work with these LinkedIn influencers to amplify their message – getting their brand more views and associating it with a trusted voice. In this way, LinkedIn influencer marketing can give companies a shortcut to the kind of reach and authority that might take years to accrue through other means.
The Rise Of The LinkedIn Influencers
The increasing battle to reach an audience in a meaningful way has coincided with the rise of the LinkedIn influencer.
Business audiences are looking for voices that offer helpful solutions and bold ideas. This has fueled the rise of founders, investors, and academics who energetically engage about business and workplace issues via podcasts, blogs, and LinkedIn posts.
But as with many other social platforms – the influencer space has gotten crowded. So, the question then becomes: How does one become an influencer on LinkedIn?
Personality-Driven Thought Leadership Driving Products & Services
One misconception about LinkedIn influencers is that they might be stuffy or only cover boring, technical topics. On the contrary, many LinkedIn influencers communicate their ideas with approachable, casual – often fun – tones.
LinkedIn influencers like Scott Galloway (a professor at NYU's Stern School of Business), Tim Ferris (author of the 4 Hour Workweek and other books), and Gary Vaynerchuk (an enthusiastic marketer, entrepreneur, and investor) may all be familiar to you. They take part in an ecosystem — with varying degrees of authority and credentials — using LinkedIn to promote their work and wares.
Other prominent LinkedIn influencers include Bill Gates (36,084,195 followers), where the tech guru and philanthropist “talks about #books, #healthcare, #innovation, #climatechange, and #sustainability.” As his bio implies, Gates muses on topics close to his heart. Still, many of his posts subtly include Microsoft as the sponsor of various development centers devoted to solar energy and other worthy causes. The net effect is a burnishing of the Microsoft brand.
Ryan Reynolds (1,379,556 followers) profile describes himself as “part time actor, business owner.” Poking fun at his presence on the world’s largest professional social network, his bio goes on to quip, “I've been acting for three decades now, which might be described as "a proven track record" or "delivering consistent results" on LinkedIn.” As a smart entrepreneur, Reynolds uses his celebrity and humor to promote his business pursuits.
Marsha Collier (11,513 followers) is an author of 40 "For Dummies" books and covers topics like “social Media, customer service & eBay.” Interestingly, Collier is an example of someone whose celebrity might be greater on LinkedIn than elsewhere – a result of her engaging style and interactive content, which help her consistently cultivate and maintain a loyal following across a range of topics.
Why LinkedIn Influencer Marketing Is Becoming Increasingly Important
The internet can seem like a wilderness of served ads and impersonal promotions. It's easy for us to overlook “spray and pray” attempts, which can result in a lot of wasted time and money for companies focusing their marketing efforts there.
Still, people constantly crave recommendations and guidance. These days, a lot of that guidance comes from trusted authorities. After recognizing someone in this light, their voice often rings louder than others and we might start to seek out their take on other issues of the day. This premise – in a business setting – is where LinkedIn influencers have found success. Audiences listen to their views and trust their insights, often making an influencer’s promotion of products and services more effective than other marketing means.
As web audiences continue to fragment, trusted influencers will likely continue to become more and more relevant as guides through a plethora of data and information. Influencers’ chosen mediums of communication also support this hypothesis.
LinkedIn influencers tend to favor microblogging posts and video content to communicate with their audiences. They also leverage polls and offer live broadcasts, such as interviews and AMAs (ask me anything) sessions.
People Want To Buy From People (They Trust, Resonate And Have Built A Rapport With)
The internet can sometimes seem like a dehumanized space. In contrast, interactions on LinkedIn can be quite thoughtful and constructive. As opposed to other social networks where emojis and misspelled one-liners dominate the comments, dialogue following an influencer’s LinkedIn post can include compelling discourse, links to other resources, and in-depth conversations that exceed the 24 hours news cycle.
It’s this break from an endless spool of headlines and negative chatter that makes LinkedIn influencers so appealing. Engaging with them can bring about curiosity and inspiration, as well as deliver new knowledge. This kind of rapport-building and sense of community can motivate people to check out a particular brand or even make a purchase that an influencer has promoted.
How Many Followers Do You Need To Be An Influencer?
While some celebrities have follower counts in the millions, you only need fans in the thousands to be a successful influencer. So, it's critical to distinguish between people who come to a platform LinkedIn already famous (like Bill Gates) and those who build their following through connections and producing inspiring content.
A microinfluencer (generally 1,000-40,000 followers) or nanoinfluencer (fewer than 1,00 followers) in a specific niche can be successful. These influencers tend to be "normal" people who have a strong set of skills or knowledge in a particular area, and have built a loyal following through great content and trusted insights. Though they have a smaller numerical count than celebrities, microinfluencers and nanoinfluencers often see higher engagement by being “closer” with their core audience.
LinkedIn Influencer Marketing Examples
Arielle Nissenblatt (3K followers) has a popular newsletter dedicated to podcasters' concerns. Now the head of Community & Content at SquadCast.fm, Nissenblatt keeps her LinkedIn followers engaged by posting topical conversations and short pieces on trends in podcasting. When she has a show she wants to promote, Nissenblatt can seamlessly add this to her content pipeline. Her audience trust her in the space and are eager for her insights, so her promotions feel very on-brand.
Adam Grant (almost 5M followers), an author and organizational psychologist at Wharton uses his LinkedIn to spread inspiring ideas about behavior and management — and also remind his followers that his books are available for purchase.
Horace Dediu (168,972 followers), Co-Founder of Micromobilty Industries, is at the forefront of short-distance, single-person rides. Using LinkedIn to post about alternative forms of transportation, he also promotes Micromobility Industries’ newsletter and events.
Conclusion — How To Be A Top LinkedIn Influencer
If you like the sound of using LinkedIn to start building your authority and brand, check out our post, How To Become A LinkedIn Influencer for inspiration, strategies, and tools. Cleverly also offers a LinkedIn Content Service that will turn your original thoughts into engaging posts to woo your network and attract new followers.
If you’d like to make your voice heard on the platform, get in touch and let’s start boosting your presence (and prowess) on LinkedIn!