Personal LinkedIn posts have a place, but if your ratio of personal posts to professional posts gets out of whack, you will damage your professional brand.
Let’s talk about a problem I’m seeing with LinkedIn posts these days from professional services providers, including attorneys. The problem is many people are failing to properly balance professional posts with personal posts.
We used to see only personal posts on Facebook and Instagram, and professional posts on LinkedIn. Now, there’s a fair amount of personal posts on LinkedIn.
While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional personal post, it shouldn’t be the majority of the content that professional services providers are publishing on LinkedIn.
The push toward personal professional social media posts
I understand that many of us believe that people need to get to know us, like us, and trust us before they will hire us. One of the key ways to do that is by publishing content on social media, especially content that gives our target audiences — our current and prospective clients and referral sources— an idea of who we are as people.
We want to be able to show humility. We want to be able to show people that we’re likable and that we’re the kind of people clients and referral sources want to work with based on our personalities, our interests in life, our family lives, etc.
But more and more, I’m seeing posts on LinkedIn that are a bit too personal. They’re personal in a way that I think reflects poorly on the poster.
We’re talking about posts where people are being overly vulnerable, talking about all the times they failed.
Or, they’re looking into the camera and are clearly upset because they just cried about, or pondered, some issue they had in life.
Or, they had some problem that was particularly difficult for them to get through and they’re reflecting on it, but they took a selfie while doing so and posted on social media a picture in which they have a somber face.
How too many personal professional social media posts do more harm than good
The problem with posting personal content too often as part of your professional social media marketing strategy is that these posts can distract your target audience from seeing how knowledgeable and wise you are and why you are THE person they should hire to help them with the issue they would normally hire people like you for.
Let’s go back to the know-like-trust framework I mentioned above. Yes, your personal social media posts can get you far on the “know” and “like” factors in the eyes of your target audience.
But what about the “trust” factor?
While your target audience might develop a sense of trust in you based on your personal posts, as in “I would trust them to watch my bag while I run to the restroom,” I’m not so sure your target audience is going to develop a sense of trust that you can handle the issues, problems, obstacles, and challenges your clients hire you to handle if you’re not showing, through your social media posts, that you have the knowledge, wisdom, and skills to do so.
If you are only talking about yourself, your failures, aspects of your personal life, etc., you’re not showing what you do for clients and how you can help them.
I’d argue that when you do so, you are opening up the opportunity for other people, like your current and future competitors, to publish social media content that demonstrates thought leadership and knocks you off the pedestal of being top of mind for clients or referral sources regarding what you can help them with.
When these clients and referral sources predominantly see the personal side of you, you’re not reminding them about how smart you are, how wise you are, and how talented you are at the work they could hire you to do for them.
Solving the problem: Everything in moderation
So how do you solve the problem created by too many personal professional social posts?
It’s simple. Make sure your professional posts outweigh your personal posts by a ratio of about 3 to 1 or 4 to 1. In other words, about 75% or 80% of your content should be professional-based thought leadership content that reinforces to your target audience that you are knowledgeable and wise, and that you have the goods to help them with whatever you are hired to help people with.
In contrast, about 20% or 25% of the time, you could focus on personal content that helps people see who you are as a person, makes you seem likable to them, and positions you as the kind of person they would want to work with.
Obviously, there may be times when your social media posts straddle the line between personal and professional. For example, you could attend a conference or another work event, take a picture of yourself and/or your colleagues, and post about a personal topic that’s related to the event.
Likewise, you could be at a family function and see or hear something that gets you thinking about the work you do, the way we work, etc. Naturally, you might want to take a picture of what reminded you of this thought and then share the thought and the photo on social media.
There’s nothing wrong with posting social media content that straddles this line. And, there’s nothing inherently wrong with publishing personal content as part of your professional social media efforts.
But publishing too many personal social media posts could backfire by telling your audience too much about YOU and not enough about how you could help THEM.
When it comes to minding the balance between professional content and personal content as part of your professional social media efforts on LinkedIn, remember what you hear regarding eating healthy: “everything in moderation.”
Personal social media posts have a role to play in your professional social media marketing efforts; they just shouldn’t outnumber your professional posts.
Your professional posts need to instill confidence in your clients and referral sources that you are the person to help them with the issues and challenges you help clients with. They should be the majority of your posts on LinkedIn.
Your personal posts, which should stay in the minority, should strategically supplement your professional posts by making it clear that you are the kind of person that your clients and referral sources would love to work with.
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