Struggling to persuade your work colleagues to become more active on social media as part of your employee advocacy program? Perhaps what they need is a perception shift on how social platforms could be used!
Let’s take LinkedIn as an example. It could be seen as a marketing machine, sales tool, digital networking platform and/or a job search tool. For those individuals who are not interested in any of those opportunities, it might be difficult to see the benefit and therefore find motivation for joining the program.
However, there is an even bigger aspect in the way this platform serves us all – when managed in a specific way, it could help us accelerate learning.
But don’t take my word for it. Here is what the experts have to say.
Since 2007, Jane Hart from The Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies publishes an annual list of tools and services used for learning.
Learning and development (L&D) professionals from all over the world are invited to nominate their top digital tools for learning. Their contributions are then used to generate the list.
If you study the findings, you will notice that a very interesting trend has been observed for the past four years - LinkedIn has been featured in top ten tools for personal and professional learning. Let me stress this again as I think this is a truly fascinating development - a social media platform has been named amongst the top tools used for learning!
As an avid user of the platform as well as a marketing professional turned L&D practitioner, last year I joined Tribal Impact. The company is dedicated to helping global organisations showcase their employees’ expertise and build relationships through social media.
I have since gone on an outstanding journey leading me (thanks to the guidance of my colleagues) to discover numerous ways how to accelerate employees’ learning process using LinkedIn. Today, I would like to share some of this knowledge with you.
Why? Because I think this platform offers an unprecedented opportunity for professional growth for all of the members willing to achieve it!
Moreover, if the effort to learn more about the effective usage of this platform is combined with a well-designed employee advocacy program and managerial support, the benefits for both employees and the organisation can be enormous!
How Does The LinkedIn Feed Work?
Before I cover specific, immediately applicable tips, I would like to explain what LinkedIn feed is and why it’s important to manage it. LinkedIn feed is the long list of updates that you will see after logging into your LinkedIn account.
Its AI algorithm decides what to display and in which order by constantly observing, analysing and A/B testing large sets of data that help it understand what’s most relevant to you.
What this means in practice is that the feed is as good as your connections, the people and organisations that you follow, the groups that you belong to, the filtering and advertising matching options that you use and your activity in the platform.
What’s more, the algorithm learns by observing your behaviour - if it sees that you find the content from a specific person or source interesting, it will serve you the content from that source more often and higher in the post rankings.
How does LinkedIn know what you are interested in?
Because it constantly collects data on your actions amongst which are:
- Reactions (likes and comments on a post)
- Clicks on any element of the post (e.g. external link, ‘See more’ button, or to check who liked or commented on it)
- Post re-shares
- Time spent reading a post or the content that it leads to (as per the latest update from 12th May 2020 where these metrics are called “dwell time on the feed” and “dwell time after the click”)
If managed correctly, LinkedIn feed could become your personal, AI-empowered learning engine that will display content relevant to your interests and, as a result, help you accelerate your learning to the level that is currently achievable only by a limited number of professionals from your field.
‘Okay, I’m hooked, show me how!’ - I seem to be hearing your thoughts :)
With pleasure! Let’s dig into the details!
To kickstart the process of feed management, ask yourself the following two questions:
- Which three professionals you would like to start learning from?
- Which three companies/organisations you would like to start learning from?
Got it? Great! Now let’s start building your own social learning engine!
Learning From LinkedIn Members
Undoubtedly, the biggest learning opportunity that the platform brings for each individual is the ability to learn from all its members, not just the ones that you know personally.
Notice that I didn’t mention ‘your connections’ but ‘all active members’. This is a crucial point to understand as it relates to the difference between connecting with someone vs. following someone.
In order to connect with a LinkedIn member, you would need to send them a connection invitation request that would have to be approved by them. Alternatively, you could accept the invitation from them to connect.
Becoming someone’s connection would give you the ability to start seeing their activity updates directly in your feed. You would also be able to send them a private message that would land in their LinkedIn inbox.
Another option that LinkedIn offers and, to my knowledge, so far not many people are using it, is to start following someone. The platform gives you the option to follow almost anyone that has a profile on this platform without asking them for a permission to do so! When you do, your feed will start displaying the content that they share but you won’t be able to send them a direct message.
What this means is that, immediately after following someone you can start learning from them. Regardless whether you know them personally or not!
So, how can I start following someone? Simply search for their name, go to their profile, click ‘More’ option and then ‘Follow’.
My suggestion right now would be to pause reading this article and immediately apply this knowledge into practice by following 3 new people. This could be industry specialists, people who have similar job role to yours or are in your dream job roles, business leaders, book writers, famous bloggers, influential individuals or in fact, anyone who has something interesting to share on the subject of your interest!
Why should you do it?
Because success leaves clues and LinkedIn is full of them! If want to follow a similar path to those people that you learn from or admire, you don’t need to try reinventing the wheel - start by simply observing what these people do and learn from it!
Found those 3 people? Awesome! You clearly love to take immediate action and that’s top skill for fast learning!
Here is what you can do next:
a) Check their profile - research the profiles of the people that you have just followed. See which keywords they use to describe their expertise, how do they describe themselves and their jobs, what language they use, which certificates they have, which organisations have issued those certificates, which online courses they completed, which professional bodies do they belong to, which skills do they list as their top ones? Do they have a Twitter profile? All of this information will help you shape your personal learning plan!
b) Check their LinkedIn activity - whilst checking the profiles of the people that you follow, navigate to the ‘Activity’ part. Check what recent conversations they have engaged in and what have they shared. What is the language that they use in their communication? What type of content they usually publish? Which types of conversations are they active in? What subjects they discuss? Who engages with this content? Have they ever written an article/published a blog or a video that you could study in more detail?
c) Which hashtags do they use to categorise and describe the subjects that they are experts in - you will find them in the posts that they share on engage with after a hash sign #. Once you click on a specific hashtag your whole feed will transfer to display only the content categorised with that hashtag. Start following those hashtags and they will appear on your hashtags list giving you a quick and efficient way to transform your feed in seconds!
d) Check who/what do they follow - find out which influencers, companies and groups they follow by navigating to ‘Interest’ art of their profile and clicking on ‘See more’. Request to join the groups that are relevant to you! Once accepted, read the content that is published there. Once again, observe the language, terminology and style in which those professionals communicate. Study the members list of the groups and see if there is anyone else you could start following.
e) Are there any online magazines/industry publications that they often read? - visit the LinkedIn pages of those publications and start following them! They often publish free articles/videos/reports on LinkedIn as a way of promoting themselves and their content will start regularly appearing in your feed!
f) Have a question to the person that you follow? - would like to receive more clarification on what they posted? Make a comment underneath their post! You would be shocked how often they will reply, despite often thousands of people that follow them. I have had some brilliant conversations with book authors, industry experts and influencers by simply engaging with their content.
Learning from Organisations that have LinkedIn presence
The second biggest learning opportunity that the platform offers is the option to follow and read content published by any organisation that created a LinkedIn page.
The content published on LinkedIn Pages tends to be more promotional rather than educational (as opposed to the one published by the individuals), however you can still learn a great tone of lessons by following them.
Here are some ideas on which organisations you could start following:
a) Your own company - see what words are used in communication with your potential and existing clients. What news and company updates are being shared? What drives engagement? The more you know about your own company and its target audience, the higher the chance that in your next meeting or performance review you will impress your manager or peers with your knowledge!
b) Your competitors - check what is it that they are sharing and discussing with their audience. Who engages with their content? Should you follow those people?
c) Your dream company - want to work for a specific company one day? Start learning about them now! LinkedIn Pages display the list of people that are employed by the company. This list an also help you identify who else to follow.
d) Professional bodies or organisations from your industry or your dream industry - see what trends are being mentioned and discussed by their members. What industry-relevant news, ideas, and discussions they are driving? Who engages with their content?
e) Online magazines/online publications - see the tips for this in point e) of ‘Learning from LinkedIn members’
f) Your university/college - go to your schools’ LinkedIn page and check their alumni network to see the list of its students. Each alumni is packed with information on where do these people work now and what job function they hold. You can use it to find more people to follow or connect with. Moreover, are there any projects driven by your university to which you could contribute to as a professional? Do they offer any free online or offline lectures?
g) LinkedIn - follow their official page! LinkedIn offers many free tips and online courses from LinkedIn Learning (especially right now during the pandemic) that will help you gain further knowledge on the subjects that you are interested in.
h) Successful companies from other industries – if you look beyond your own industry to see what others are doing you might learn about innovative ideas that others have already successfully implemented and, in that way come up with creative/original ideas for your field
Additional Tips On How To Manage Your Feed
Have you started following more companies? Brilliant! Your feed should start changing shortly!
Finally, I have a couple more generic settings tips that will help you manage the view of your feed further:
a) Muting content - did you know that you can mute the content that is not relevant to you? Let’s say you have connected with someone a while ago and they are now spamming your feed with irrelevant content. In order not to upset them, you don’t want to disconnect with them but you can simply unfollow their content.
b) Changing the filter from ‘top’ to ‘recent’ - seeing content from the same people all the time? It might be that your feed filtering option is set up to ‘top’ rather than ‘recent’. Change it and immediately you will start seeing content from all sorts of people, not just those that LinkedIn identified as the most relevant ones to you.
c) Managing ads - seeing too many annoying/irrelevant ads from a specific organisation? Update your ad preferences by going into your profile settings! You can switch off all the ads or simply select the subject that interest you more to once again see more relevant content in your feed.
If managed correctly, LinkedIn offers an outstanding place for professional learning that will accelerate your employees and organisational knowledge. Deciding to spend time on this platform to learn could be the first step to what usually comes next.
What does come next is the increased enthusiasm and willingness to help others in their own learning process by starting to share the gained knowledge. Increased cooperation, communication and connection are the byproducts of that.
And isn’t that the essence of what the truly social businesses should be all about?