Charlie Whyman, an independent marketing strategist and LinkedIn trainer, writes exclusively for Splash today on shipping’s failure to properly use the world’s top business social media platform.
For an industry that’s all about connecting people, countries and commodities it really blows my mind that LinkedIn is not used more in the shipping industry. An industry that really is a global marketplace and community and is making such a significant impact in the world and on so many businesses back on land.
You can use LinkedIn for sales, marketing, recruitment, PR, attracting investors and partners, expanding and developing your own professional network and much more. You can also target your content to specific groups of people and especially customers and prospective buyers.
The trouble is, no one really knows what’s going on, who’s responsible for these great things or rather not enough of the right people are.
When I first started to work in the shipping industry I was told that it’s more of a community than an industry and it’s very much about who you know if you want to move forwards. Soon after, I set about trying to identify who these ‘right people’ were and having used LinkedIn for many years I naturally started connecting with everyone I met and tried to continue making more connections online. What if the right buyer isn’t aware of you if you have what they need. What if the right crewmember or employee doesn’t know about the amazing things you are doing and all the reasons they might want to work for you?
It has never been easier to keep in touch with the people you really want to speak to in your industry because of platforms like LinkedIn. It’s also never been a better time to become more visible and to really stand out and become more known. Time zones, distance and location are no longer an issue and you can communicate with ease with the people that can make a big difference to you and your business.
There is a vast number of people working in the shipping industry that have a LinkedIn account – you only need to run a quick search to confirm this – the trouble is that most of these people are what I call passive or disengaged users of the network. From what I could see too was that the majority of more active users didn’t receive a huge amount of engagement on the platform mainly due to the fact that all they did was share external links (LinkedIn doesn’t like this) to articles, case studies and information that was aimed at too broad an audience, wasn’t interesting or worth commenting on by those that were browsing the newsfeed and seeing these posts.
To be honest this isn’t really just LinkedIn either – most businesses in most markets aim their marketing and communications at too broad an audience. When I ask companies who their ideal customer is the common response is ‘anyone in my industry’. If you really ask yourself who your ideal customer is, is it really everyone in your industry? If you try and speak to everyone what usually happens is that you end up speaking to no one. Why? Because what you’re trying to say is too generic, too broad and more likely not relevant enough for the people that matter the most to take notice.
LinkedIn is absolutely full of generic content and this is why I believe most people are more passive users rather than active users – they don’t have a good enough reason to engage or use the platform more.
There is a huge opportunity for businesses and individuals working in the shipping industry to access more relevant information and updates, develop stronger relationships with the people in their extended network and also to stand out and be more visible in the industry to the people that matter the most to them.
Earlier this week I caught sight of a post from Tatiana Liperti (pictured), a marine claims director from Cyprus. The post was her very first LinkedIn video, which at the time of writing has nearly 20,000 views, 366 likes and 158 comments. If these statistics don’t confirm that there is huge opportunity for engagement with your market on LinkedIn then I don’t know what will! I really hope that more people will be inspired by Tatiana’s activity and start to do more themselves.
The more you can directly communicate with the people you really want to hear you the more engagement you will get and the more people will start to know, like and trust you. People buy from people – stop communicating and hiding behind a company name and start communicating as you would in person, at an event or at a meeting. Don’t try and be someone you’re not just because you’re in front of a computer and not directly in front of the person you want to communicate with.
It doesn’t matter if you have your own business or work for someone else, you need to be bold, be yourself and get yourself out there. Otherwise you might find yourself being left behind.
All companies out there today should have a social media policy somewhere and allow employees to communicate via their personal LinkedIn profiles – using a LinkedIn Company Page is not enough today. If you want to build your brand and become visible you need to communicate through your people, because it’s your people that others will want to do business with and your people that others will want to work with.