Ever tried to make an impact on LinkedIn for a certain topic? Well, now it’s a whole lot easier!
Issues, topics, comments and posts travelled only by to the network of who they knew, as opposed to by the quality of what was being said.
The world’s leading professional networking platform is now about a year into a love affair with hashtags.
A recent article from Strong Content, a Canadian blogging agency, highlighted that LinkedIn has well and truly overcome long-lasting distaste for hashtags. The professional social platform now encourages you to highlight topics with the distinctive # symbol. But it certainly took a while.
Now, before you start saturating your LinkedIn updates and columns with hash, there are a few things you should know.
LinkedIn doing its own thing
LinkedIn has always been the odd one out as far as social media channels go. Perhaps not surprising considering the most social aspects of someone’s life are often at odds with their business life.
Still, LinkedIn now has some 106 million monthly active users. More than just being a place to post your digital resume and keep a rolodex of business contacts you don’t quite know, LinkedIn is increasingly seeking to be an actively engaging place.
A place where information and value are created, shared and curated. A place you spend time when you are not looking for a job or a client. If Twitter is where the influencers hang out now, LinkedIn wants to be where they hang out in the future.
And this strategic shift is why LinkedIn embraced the hashtag. Another part of the reasons LinkedIn now loves hashtags is because the platform itself has solid but never spectacular popularity. Unlike say, something like Snapchat.
Time to grow up
Believe it or not, but LinkedIn is actually older than Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s even older than MySpace. And all through that time, it’s continued to grow but never to that epic Facebook like level.
Today though, that userbase, which has grown solidly for 15 years, is now so large and, via mobile connectedness, so active, that there’s too much content being created for most users to sift through. For newsfeed management alone, hashtags became a necessity.
They also mean that now, instead of tracking what your contacts are saying, hashtags allow you to track an issue or topic being spoken about among strangers. For a site that was all about networking rather than news, this heralds a huge shift in philosophy.
It’s about professional trust
Another reason for LinkedIn’s increased role as a news platform is that where Facebook and Google are increasingly copping flak (deserved or not) for unsettlingly intrusive advertising and paid content, LinkedIn seems to have little interest in promoting things based on personal insights you’d rather keep private.
LinkedIn understands your profile isn’t “you” but is, rather, your professional persona. The advertising might be spammy, but the offers are plainly stated. Everyone on LinkedIn is selling something: there’s no need to be crafty about it.
So, as Facebook and Google ads leave a bad taste in user’s mouths, LinkedIn still feels like a “safe” social place that doesn’t dredge up old ex-partners or insist the bully from high-school send you with a friend request.
Further, Google Search likes LinkedIn’s design from an SEO perspective. This gives content creators on LinkedIn – either as an individual or a business – a strong claim to a good search ranking. And they haven’t been slow to respond.
“A hashtag, is quite simply, a way to tag and filter posts on specific topics. On supported platforms, you can use the hashtags that are of interest to your ideal customer, and increase the chances of your post being found.”
Rebecca Caldwell, Mash Media SEO Strategist
How to use LinkedIn hashtags
Hashtags, as a signal of a piece of content’s overall relevance, either arise naturally in response to an event or are intentionally created around a brand or campaign. Usually, they are used in unmoderated discussions that play out over an extended period of time.
For these reasons, it pays to use the most relevant hashtag for the issue. If you are putting forward an opinion on social media marketing strategies, the hashtag you might use would be #socialmediamarketing or similar.
Many new users, however, tend to hashtag such comments with something like #myopinion. Sure, it is your opinion, but that’s not what the comment actually pertains to.
Stick to the relevance for others, not the interest to yourself.
A louder voice
Use hashtags in the right way, however, and you will be adding your voice to a wider discussion and have your content or comment viewable and searchable beyond your network.
You will reach people who have self-selected to pay attention to your content on the matter in question (unlike your professional network which has self-selected to pay attention to you in general more than any one thing you may say). And so, they have a higher likelihood to engage with you.
These people may like your comment, they may criticise your comment or they might even simply share it – passing it on to others and extending your impact and repute.
Of course, just having a relevant hashtag on a useful bit of content is no guarantee that users will do any of these things. But still the hashtag is your ticket to enter the wider debate.
Give hashtags a go
Try it now. Go to your LinkedIn and type a # and then your sector. See what pops. Scroll through the top few comments until you find something notable.
Comment on it, drop the a relevant hashtag into your comment, hit send. Don’t be surprised if you get a few new connection requests the next day.
The more you add value to the conversations pinned with popular hashtags, the more your reputation for that topic will grow. You can even add hashtags to your LinkedIn summary, and your profile will start appearing in the on-site search results for that keyword. Nice.
So, now that you know a little more about why LinkedIn in increasingly a place to talk about stuff – not just connect with people and sell yourself – you can see why hashtags can help you speak louder.