2014-27-August-LinkedIn-Head.jpgI’m not sure how to use LinkedIn anymore. I’m on LinkedIn all the time as a social marketer, and over the last year or so I’ve noticed some big changes to two basic aspects of how I think about LinkedIn … and they've left me scratching my head about my own approach.

The first is who to connect with.

When I first started using LinkedIn it was all about connecting with business professionals who I actually knew. And I felt kind of important when someone sent me an invitation to connect. Not anymore. These days, I get LinkedIn invites daily from people I’ve never heard of, let alone met. Should I connect with them?

The second is how often to share content.

I used to believe that posting more than four or five LinkedIn updates a week seemed kind of self-important and obnoxious (at least to me). Now I wonder if I should be posting that many updates -- or more -- every day. This is in addition to my comments on other people’s posts, and in LinkedIn groups.

About Audience, Not Just Network

So what’s causing the shift in my thinking?

Core to LinkedIn’s strategy is to drive more engagement by becoming a content publishing platform for marketers and want-to-be influencers. It also means this “everyone’s a publisher” mindset is starting to make it about audience and reach, not just networking and relationships. For example, LinkedIn recently added a “how you rank for profile views” feature. That’s definitely a “publisher” metric!

So should I focus on growing my network of personal relationships or building an audience for my content? Or can I (somehow) do both?

What Social Marketing Experts Say

With these questions in mind, I asked some really smart social marketers how they approach LinkedIn. Here’s what they said:

Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, @TedRubin

Having a personal profile with a zillion LinkedIn connections means the same thing as having a desk full of business cards. Unless you actually build relationships with the people in your network, you just have a collection of names …. Do you have a strategy for reaching out to build relationships with strangers and acquaintances?"

Margaret Molloy, Global CMO of Siegel+Gale, the strategic branding firm, @MargaretMolloy

LinkedIn is my go-to destination for business insights and opinion. It is my "home page". I particularly like the fact that you get notifications when connections publish posts… Unless you are attentive to lists you can easily miss updates on Twitter. I'm a huge fan of the new LinkedIn publishing capability. We cross publish all blogs from our siegel+gale blog property as LinkedIn posts to increase reach."