LinkedIn can be vexing for CPA firm owners. It seems like social platforms receive updates every other day and with these updates come algorithm changes. Trying to define a strategy that serves your firm while appeasing the LinkedIn algorithm can seem like a hard game of chess. It doesn’t have to be.
Summit CPA Group has used a methodology called Inbound Marketing since our inception. Rather than using cold calls or advertising, we use thought leadership to find our way in front of our target audience. We create social media posts, write blog posts, attend speaking events, record podcasts, and host webinars to provide information our target audience needs. Ultimately, we serve first and are therefore top of mind when a business owner finally seeks out help.
Social media platforms like LinkedIn seek out quality content that serves, entertains, or educates users which aligns perfectly with the inbound methodology. If your content meets one or more of these attributes, your strategy will be algorithm proof. To learn more about how you can create your LinkedIn strategy in 2023 using a thought leadership strategy, continue reading.
Understand Why You’re on LinkedIn
The first step to drafting a LinkedIn strategy is understanding why you are on LinkedIn in the first place. You might be thinking, “Well, I’m on it for networking obviously.” However, are you networking as a firm owner trying to get industry advice from others in your sphere? Are you hoping to find potential applicants for a newly created position? Or perhaps you are trying to reach out to potential customers. Maybe all of the above. Identifying what your aim is will help you draft a strategy to meet your goals. It’s okay to have multiple goals, but each of those goals may have different tactics associated with them.
Once your goals have been established, you can begin working backwards to how you might reach your target audience and how you might provide them value. If your target is potential applicants, you can utilize LinkedIn’s job posting feature and share the opening to your own feed where it can be amplified by your own connections. As your connections share the posting, their connections may share the posting also. By using keywords in your posting, you can further amplify your job opening and reach potential job searchers directly. (Keywords are the terms your target audience would be searching to find a professional in your space.)
Be sure to approach every LinkedIn interaction from a value-add point of view. For the job posting mentioned above, you might list the benefits and environment your company brings to a potential job applicant.
Regardless of your goals on LinkedIn, you will need to be sure that you know your audience thoroughly, the LinkedIn messages they are looking for, and the right keywords that will amplify your message through improved relevancy and search ability.
Making Strategic Connections
First and foremost, it’s important to be strategic about connections and follows. Adding random people hoping to reach the right person is a thing of the past. Add people in your target audience. Your target audience might be dentists, manufacturers, gen z professionals, etc. Make sure you identify the titles or demographics first and add connections accordingly.
Once you’ve identified key profiles you’d like to target and made a few connections, you can engage with your connection’s posts by commenting. Be sure to comment and share thought provoking or educational content to strike up conversation. Don’t just be a lurker. Be a collaborator. Once you’ve had a few interactions with them, you might consider reaching out to them in a message. Eventually, you may be able to get them on the phone and have a chat.
Creating Valuable Content
Beyond interacting with other’s content, you can create content of your own. You can do this by sharing articles or information you found helpful. If you do this, just be sure to share your own point-of-view or expound on the topic so you encourage engagement. Tag the original poster or author if possible to leverage their audience, as well.
After you’ve mastered sharing other’s content, you can create original content showcasing thought leadership in your space. Be sure to either entertain or provide educational content so the ideas you are sharing are truly useful to your audience. You don’t have to post every day unless you are hoping to be the next mega influencer of our times. By just posting once a week, you are far ahead of what many other in your space are doing.
Reaching Your Target Audience Through Partnerships
Another way to reach your target audience is to engage with others that have a platform where they get in front of your target audience. If you are a CPA firm owner who specializes in the manufacturing industry, partnering with a bank who also specializes in manufacturing is a great way to reach your target audience. You might create a series of videos with a representative from the bank on how manufacturers can recession-proof their businesses. A note of caution: don’t just take, give back. Always make sure that these partnerships are mutually beneficial and that you provide value to the bank, as well.
Regardless of the method you use (sharing other’s content, posting original content, or seeking partnerships), it’s important to create valuable and engaging content. The LinkedIn algorithm loves posts that get attention. The algorithm will accelerate posts with a high rate of engagement. A lot of the posts you see on your newsfeed are showing up because your first- or second-degree connections have interacted with it; so, the posts you interact with or create have a way of exploding into other people’s newsfeeds.
The easy way to create this kind of content is through answering the questions your customers are always asking through content curation (this provides value) and encouraging conversation through your posts. Two ways to encourage interaction are asking a question in your post or taking a stance on a trending topic.
Optimization of Your Profile
To fully leverage LinkedIn and boost your networking power, your profile should be fully optimized for search and discovery. How exactly do you optimize your profile?
Here are a few steps I recommend:
- Use keywords in your headline and about sections. By putting keywords in your headline and about section, the LinkedIn algorithm will pick up on your expertise and offerings and potentially show your profile to potential clients.
- Make your headline engaging. Don’t use the standard job title and company name headline everyone uses. Make your headline eye-catching and conversation provoking.
- Tell a story in your about section. Don’t make your about section a boring list of accomplishments. Tell your story. A little bit about why you do what you do, how you came to be where you are, and what motivates you can go a long way to intrigue a potential client. Save the qualifications and accomplishments for the experience, skills, volunteer, and education sections.
- Speaking of skills section…List keywords in your skills section. Make sure you list keywords related to the services you provide. This will improve search ability also.
- List certifications. It can be helpful to list your certifications in the section provided by LinkedIn. Certifications can showcase your knowledge to potential clients and others in your industry hoping to make a connection with other like-minded individuals.
- Utilize the featured section. This section showcases relevant information you’d like your target audience to see. However, just a warning, be strategic about the information you provide here. The more potential clients have to click on, the less likely they will be to take the one desired action you want them to take.
- Use keywords as hashtags in posts to increase searchability, but make sure they are relevant.
Being Authentic: The Right Kind of Networking
One final tip for your 2023 LinkedIn strategy: be authentic. Summit focuses on organic social media growth, and as it so happens, there is a particular reason for that. Besides aiming to be a thought leader, we aim to be authentic. We want to be available to business owners when they need us and give them advice until then. That isn’t just a strategy but also our philosophy. Anything but would be inauthentic to our brand.
In much the same way, you should approach your LinkedIn: by being authentic to your professional brand. Let your profile not only tell about your industry experience but also show a bit of vulnerability and honesty. People trust a bit of honesty and vulnerability over advertisement messages. Potential clients will look at your website to learn more about your products or services but will look to your LinkedIn to learn more about you and the person behind those products and services. Websites are scripted. LinkedIn is a peak behind the curtain.
From understanding why you’re on LinkedIn to finding strategic partnerships, you might feel overwhelmed by all of these tips I just gave you for drafting a 2023 LinkedIn strategy. There is no need for the overwhelm. Start small. Begin by defining your target audience and then progress to just sharing one article you think might be useful to your target audience. Breaking down each of the tactics listed above into small steps will make this far more manageable. Great strategies are not built in a day! Slow and steady wins the race.