Opti – wait for it – mization! As social media has grown to become one of the top places to reach your audience, we've had to adapt our business strategies. The "build it and they will come" method is no longer enough.
One of the go-to strategies used by individuals and businesses alike, is social media optimization. Simply put, optimizing means fully updating and populating your profile in order to maximize visibility to your target audience.
Why does this matter?
Your profile is key on LinkedIn. Think of it as your digital calling card. Whenever you reach out to someone, whether it's on LinkedIn or not, they're most likely going to look you up before responding or meeting you.
Having a complete profile shows LinkedIn that you are an engaged, active participant on the platform. In turn, they reward you with higher visibility on people's feeds and a higher position in search rankings.
Basically, optimizing your profile will help you:
- Attract leads organically
- Stand out and leave an impression
- Build your credibility and authority
- Enhance your professional reputation
Become a top dog on LinkedIn
Sit. Stay. Now fill out your profile. We're going to walk you through the elements of your LinkedIn profile and how to take full advantage of each section.
1. Say cheese
Make sure your profile picture is current and recognizable. We know getting old is hard, but you know what else is hard? Meeting someone for coffee and trying to pick them out in a crowd. Your picture should also be good quality and well lit. This is the first impression of yourself as a business professional, so pick a photo that represents you.
2. Add a background image
A background image is the wide image that spans across the top of your profile. This is a chance to express your professional identity, show your interests, stand out and set the tone of your profile. Maybe its a photo of you speaking at an event, or it could be a photo of a blueprint if you're an architect. It's not the place for a cute picture of your kids or dog (we always welcome a good dog photo in our inbox though). If you are looking for a high quality image, check out free stock photography websites like pexels, pixabay or unsplash. Here's how to change your background image.
3. Leave your business card in your contact section
The more contact information you provide, the more visibility LinkedIn rewards you with. So, be sure to include it all. Here's how to edit your contact info. Pro tip: change the default contact labels to include keywords people may search to find you/your company. To do this, in the edit contact box, click "Add Website", select "Other" in the drop-down list and enter your own description. For example, to find StellaPop someone may search for creative agencies in the area, so specifying will allow LinkedIn to show them our page.
It will then appear on your profile like this:
In the same edit contact box, you can also customize your profile URL so that you can easily tell people where to find you. It shouldn't be cumbersome, so stick to your name and ditch the extra numbers at the end. If you have a common name, you may have to add a middle initial. Here's how to personalize your URL.
4. Say hi with your headline
Your headline is the sentence that appears directly under your name on your profile. By default, LinkedIn sets your headline to be your current position. But, you can and should customize it, because your headline is arguably the most important part of your profile. It's highly searchable and is displayed under your name and profile picture when you post, comment or share anything on LinkedIn.
Your headline should cover your occupation, industry, who you help and/or your speciality. Be sure to use keywords that your target audience searches often and take advantage of the allotted 120 characters. There are many ways that you could go about your headline, but the most common are:
- A list of keywords separated by lines or commas
- Ex: UX Designer I Story Wizard I Environment Enthusiast
- A tagline that states what you do and for who
- Ex: Master of Digital Pharmaceutical Marketing
5. Your profile summary
This section is a personal overview of your career, and should go beyond the typical resume objective. Tell your story - share your background, passions, goals, areas of expertise and what you do outside of work. At the end after telling your story be sure to leave the reader with a call to action and your contact information. What do you want them to do after reading your profile? It could be "check out my blog", "visit my website", "send me a message" or "let's grab a drink."
This doesn't have to be brief, you're allowed 2,000 characters. One again, include as many keywords as possible. For example, if you are an accountant, you might use the words book keeper, accountant, tax helper, quickbooks advisor, to cover all your search terms. You can also include #hashtags to associate yourself with certain topics, or create your own unique hashtag to use. Here's how to use hashtags on LinkedIn.
If you really want to show off, include rich media in your summary! You could attach a corporate brochure via Slideshare, a case study, link to a big project you worked on, etc. If you're feeling really fancy you can attach a video introducing yourself, explaining your business or a video testimonial if your client isn't on LinkedIn. I would keep the attachments to around 2-4 and always name the file something that tells the reader what it is they're about to click on. For example, "Click to Play: Business Explainer."
6. Work your past experience section
Don't just copy and paste your resume here! Talk about your achievements, projects you worked on, a testimonial you received while there, or anything else that shows how you excelled in that position. Be sure to include media here as well. Link to projects you worked on, attach examples of work you completed, etc. You can also include boards you've served on.
7. Round Yourself Out
Add skills, volunteer experience, certifications, awards, interests and anything else that makes you a unique professional. When adding skills, LinkedIn highlights the top three, so be sure to make those ones that differentiate you. Adding skills can also help boost your search ranking.
These are a great way to display your credibility and authenticity without bragging about yourself. People innately trust recommendations from peers, and they've proven to drive decisions. You can even click a button to ask someone for a recommendation. But, be sure to personalize the request.
When you follow groups, companies or influencers on LinkedIn, they are shown as an "Interest" on your profile. Following them allows you to be in the know on their updates, and shows viewers that you are engaged in your industry.
Stay with me now!
I know that was a lot, but if you optimize those profile sections you've won half the battle. The other half being then engaging with connections on LinkedIn and nurturing your network - but that's in the next blog post. This is enough for today. To be notified when the next blog post goes live, click here!
Want this list in a downloadable checklist? Download it here.