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The image that most professionals have about posting on social media is not too favorable. In fact, it is usually downright horrible. When you picture posting on social media what image pops into your mind:
- Teenagers posting Instagram selfies on their phone?
- The hipster taking a picture of their food at a restaurant for Facebook?
- Your friends who can’t seem to stop posting their every thought to Twitter?
If that is how you view social media engagement, it is easy to blow it off. It does not seem connected to the goal of winning more business.
But what if I told you that there was actual science behind why you should be online? There are particular professional outcomes that you can support through regular and consistent engagement on social media. Moreover, for your professional goals, there’s still no better place to spend that time than on LinkedIn.
Unconsciously (and Powerfully) Influence Your Prospects
If you want to build your credibility, influence, and reach, there’s no tool as efficient, scalable, and accessible than social media platforms. Social selling advocates tend to focus on using digital platforms for research, pipeline-building, and information-gathering, and rightly so.
But there are compelling ways that salespeople (and everyone else) can use it for building a stronger brand among your network. You can use it to make your presence known and actively influence your connections.
And your connections might not even know that its happening because much of what influences us is processed at a subconscious level.
We can see this by looking at the ideas and writing of researchers like Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman, and Sheena Iyenga. Central to their research are the cognitive biases and unconscious heuristics that influence our decision-making processes. Heuristics are the mental shortcuts that our brains use without us even being aware.
So instead of being entirely rational, humans are influenced a lot by our unconscious mind. So if we can understand how that works, we can use it to build stronger relationships with our prospects and network.
This goal is not to manipulate people. The goal is to present ourselves in the best possible light and build the best connections that we can with those that we want to influence.
3 Scientific Reasons to Post On LinkedIn
- The Recency Heuristic
- Post consistently on LinkedIn. One post a day is a good idea to aim for. If you are not there yet, try to get to at least 3-4 every week. Posting once every other week is not going to get you where you need to be. Use scheduling platforms like Hootsuite or Buffer so you can set it and forget it.
- Engage with the content of prospects and others you want to influence. When you like, comment on, or share the content that someone else has posted, the LinkedIn algorithm thinks, Oh, these two people are close enough to engage with each other. That means that you are more likely to see posts from them and more importantly, that they will more likely see posts from you.
- Halo Effect
- Post pictures from in-person events: conferences, networking events and client meetings. Let your connections see you with other smiling people. The events do not have to be super-ritzy of fancy. It is more important to have other people with you: you are showing the online connections that you have offline relationships.
- Share testimonials and stories of client wins. People want to be associated with successes and you showing other peoples positive experiences paints you in a powerful light. If you say something good about yourself, it is bragging. If someone else says something good, its marketing!
- Curate articles on your industry, services, and prospects. Collect and share them with a 2-3 sentence observation (this helps with the consistent posting mentioned above). It could be a question that the article suggests to you, an action it should inspire, or a connection to another industry trend. This is how you start positioning yourself.
- Create focused content. Not every salesperson should create content (here are some ways to create content if you don’t like to write). However, if you do, make sure its focused on a specific area. Make it easy for your network to draw a straight line from you to the areas you can help with.
The recency heuristic (also called the availability heuristic) is a cognitive bias in which the mind perceives the credibility of something to be proportional to the ease of remembering it. In other words, the more available it is to the mind, the more weight is given. In other-other words: If it is easy to remember, it must be good.
So were biased towards things that are easier to remember. This internal bias is one of the drivers for the top of mind advertising, which is why companies like McDonalds and Coca-Cola spend millions of dollars every year on advertising a product everyone knows about. They want to come up first in your mind when you think; I am hungry and thirsty.
Every time you post on LinkedIn, the people who see your post get a little ping, a little reminder of you. They might not engage with the post. In fact, they may not even consciously remember seeing it. However, you have made it a little easier to remember you. The likelihood that you are at the top of their list when it comes to your product or service increases dramatically.
The Halo Effect is a cognitive bias where we take the appearance of one attribute in an individual and extend the positive or negative bias to their other attributes. For example, it has been shown that we unconsciously consider people who are more attractive also to be smarter. It does not matter that those two attributes are not related at all.
So when we see someone being successful in one area, we unconsciously extend that success to the other areas of his or her life. Its why we think that people who keep posting pictures of their happy vacations on Facebook are always happy (even though there’s no evidence that they are).
When your network sees your posts talking about your areas of expertise, they unconsciously extend your knowledge beyond just the topic of the post. You become more competent all-around. Likewise, when you share a client success story or a picture of you with your clients or even colleagues at a conference, that credibility extends beyond you into the offline world.
Anchoring describes a bias in which we give an outsized amount of value to the first piece of information obtained when making a decision. People anchor around that first piece of data. Its why first impressions are so powerful: whether we like it or not, all further impressions are influenced by the first
This is the same reason that salespeople are coached to offer a higher initial price when presenting to prospects. Prospects will anchor their expectations around that initial number, and you will probably end up at a higher number by the end of your negotiation.
The question to ask is: What is your brand anchored to? If they do not think about you at all, then it is not anchored to anything. However, if they see regular updates on social from you, you are anchoring them around the brand message that you want. You are pinning it to competence and expertise.
Start Posting on LinkedIn Today
When you start looking at the science behind how humans make decisions, it becomes apparent that posting on social isn’t a waste of time. The trick is to be intentional with how you use it. Create a plan that will allow you to engage with the people you want to engage with. Then, work that plan.
It all starts with the first post. Don’t wait, do it today!
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