16 votes

How can I better understand social media / LinkedIn marketing?

I'm posting this in ~misc, although it might be more related to tech in some ways. I don't feel it's techy enough to warrant being posted there though.

Disclaimer upfront: I am extremely jaded towards social media (i.e., I hate it to my guts and am not on most platforms), and what Google has turned into (not being able to generate any relevant results whatsoever).

Nevertheless, I want to understand better on how to do social media marketing, as the world has largely shifted to online, and lots of businesses rely on finding customers through social media. I have just had somewhat of a heated debate (fight?) with my SO which left us both angry and without any useful results. That made me realize that I have no clue how social media really works, and how I'd be able to advertise, say, a consulting business to source industrial parts from overseas. Specifically, we discussed how to used LinkedIn to advertise to people inside and outside of our network(s).

I had brought up the point that when I open my linkedin (which I pretty much never do), I'm prompted by all sorts of irrelevant garbage. I then actually opened linkedin and was greeted by posts about:

  • Some guy at an anti/pro Nazi protest, or something like that with 700 likes
  • An Israeli or Hamas Soldier, with 500 likes
  • A friend whose employer raised 80m USD with 300 likes
  • A connection who got "that email" saying she was let go with about 600 likes
  • About 5 other posts I don't remember
  • Finally, a post I'd consider "relevant" with only 7 likes. It was about the future of hydrogen powered vehicles. It's not really relevant to me in the sense that I professionally need to know about this, but it's at least a post where I learned something new.

This got me thinking that if I were the one to post about stuff like saving costs by sourcing cheaper parts abroad, it would probably be conceived as irrelevant by most people, it would be drowned in all the polarizing BS with tons of likes, and it would probably receive a meager amount of likes. This statement pissed off my SO, because it assumed a lot of things and is quite negative. (I agree.)

It prompted my SO to talk about an example of a friend who runs an AI startup who posted about some sort of application photo enhancement program they developed, and the post apparently took off well. I asked what the posted specifically did to make the post go viral, but my SO didn't know either. My response was a disheartened "then I still don't know why I should attempt to post stuff randomly, because banking on something to just go "viral" without having the slightest clue why that is seems like a surefire way of a waste of time and efforts that lead nowhere.

This angered my SO so much that we stopped discussing. I do think I was being an ass in this occasion because I didn't suppress my hate of social media and jaded view on it. That steered the conversation in the wrong direction and was not constructive whatsoever.

After a bit of reflecting, I'm now wondering what I could actually do (as opposed to thinking about what does not work) in terms of getting traction on a platform like LinkedIn.

I do think helping companies source cheaper but qualitatively excellent parts from overseas is something highly relevant to a lot of companies. Especially in light of the economy not going to well and high inflation rates. My reasoning being that companies would be wise to do anything possible to keep costs low in order to continue offering competitive sales prices.

But I struggle to understand how one would stand out among all the post that I'd personally call "irrelevant BS" on LinkedIn. I definitely do not want to become one of the "LinkedIn Lunatics" I get pushed in my feed almost exclusively. So I'm confused as to how to achieve anything on a platform like linkedin.

Maybe I'm also just not the right person for this. My view on it is so negative that I find it hard to put any meaningful effort into it. But let's say there is a somewhat clear strategy/tactic to success: if I saw that path, I'm sure I'd try it out. I know myself well enough that I know that would prompt me to give it an honest try. But I simply cannot see any such path.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? I don't know where is up and where is down. I've lost track of how LinkedIn works, and I need to find the right direction. But I have no idea where to start.

Any meaningful help would be greatly appreciated. I am not looking for validation on why linkedin is indeed crap. I'm looking for inputs that can help me find the path I mentioned just now.

Oh, and one more mention: I'm rather looking for organic growth rather than paid ads. However, if paid ads is the way to go, I'd love to hear about it nevertheless!

Edit: Sorry for all the grammar mistakes. I'm typing this out on my phone and lots of words got auto-corrected or deleted in a weird way. I usually clean up my posts a bit better, but this one is a bit too long to process on my phone.

4 comments

  1. timo
    Link
    LinkedIn is weird. It’s a place where people do a lot of self congratulating, promotion, self pity and worshipping of others (companies and people). Some do better than others. Anyways… What makes...

    LinkedIn is weird. It’s a place where people do a lot of self congratulating, promotion, self pity and worshipping of others (companies and people). Some do better than others. Anyways…

    What makes people successful on LinkedIn is very different. For example, if you are Bill Gates, people are interested in your opinion because of your resume and status. I guess this is not you.

    Another case, more related to yours, is that of the topic expert. That person that talks about only one thing. The person that pops into your mind when you even think about the topic. These people become a brand themselves.

    This works, because they create their own audience. Most people in your network might not care. You need to find the right groups and connections to get your message to the people that are interested. In essence, you are doing networking!

    This strategy works elsewhere too. Look at YouTube. How many niche topics have channels with consistently 100K-1M views? Be that niche topic expert.

    12 votes
  2. chocobean
    Link
    Tiny comment: in marketing, engagement is not the same thing as conversion. All those clicks and likes don't necessarily turn into $. Unless you're already an internationally famous brand, viral...

    Tiny comment: in marketing, engagement is not the same thing as conversion.

    All those clicks and likes don't necessarily turn into $. Unless you're already an internationally famous brand, viral memes probably won't help a small, local, new entrant business.

    And also, marketing, like real life, is less about "the Right Way" and more about relationships. People prefer brands/people that they trust and make them feel good rather than objectively the "best" by cold hard numbers. It's possible to be right and not well liked.

    7 votes
  3. krellor
    Link
    I have a couple of thoughts. I've been an industry expert on certain subjects, including research computing and cloud. I've been interviewed on major industry podcasts including AWS, spoken on...

    I have a couple of thoughts.

    I've been an industry expert on certain subjects, including research computing and cloud. I've been interviewed on major industry podcasts including AWS, spoken on regulatory panels at the capital, testified as an expert in trials, and participated in monthly speaking engagements and panels.

    During each one of those things I met people, connected with them on LinkedIn, had discussions of varying lengths, and effectively built my network. If I was to post on LinkedIn, it would be to those people of similar interests and talents, who have expressed a mutual interest in each other's thoughts. That is one way to build a network.

    Another, and I'm my opinion, harder way of building a relevant network is marketing your ideas through these general posts you describe in the hopes of engaging people and building an interested following. Putting my marketing hat on, you need to build a message that is engaging to your intended audience. You need to find a way to target people who will be receptive to your message, and then give them a way to learn more about what you have to offer.

    Use cases, success stories, and eye grabbing outcomes can help, but fundamentally you need to figure out your mission statement, value proposition, and messaging. And you can target online while also attending trade shows and conferences.

    Fundamentally though, I think you need to practice taking outside perspectives to really get good at understanding how to communicate to your potential customers. Social networks aren't really my thing. Outside of Tildes and LinkedIn, I don't use any, I don't post on LinkedIn hardly ever, and generally do my own thing in my day to day. Buuuuut... I understand the value of social networks to other people. My wife uses Facebook to keep in touch with family. People use LinkedIn to find jobs, have free hosted and searchable resumes, find talent or customers. People use tiktok to find funny or engaging entertainment, share their story, or chase their 15 minutes.

    You won't be successful on a platform you don't understand, or hate, or look down on. Successful marketers can have success on platforms they don't personally use because they can take the perspective of the people who do like it, understand their context and what they value, and craft their message accordingly.

    Personally, books are a great perspective taking technology, but anything you can do to exercise the muscle of thinking through someone else's eyes will help you.

    Best of luck!

    5 votes
  4. Moogles
    Link
    I think maybe your focus should be on your relationship and not on LinkedIn at the moment. LinkedIn is fake, your SO is not.

    I think maybe your focus should be on your relationship and not on LinkedIn at the moment. LinkedIn is fake, your SO is not.

    17 votes