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Podcast Pit Stop: Richard van der Blom on Unleashing the LinkedIn Algorithm Secrets for Explosive Growth

Unleashing the LinkedIn Algorithm Secrets for Explosive Growth

In episode 85 of Pit Stops to Podium, we sit down with Richard van der Blom, the Founder & Managing Director at Just Connecting, a leading expert in Social Selling, Digital Transformation, and LinkedIn. As a member of an independent European LinkedIn Think Tank and the author of the Annual LinkedIn Algorithm Research, Richard unravels the secrets of the LinkedIn algorithm for explosive growth.

He shares practical insights on using tools to start on LinkedIn, crafting engaging content, understanding target audience motives, and embracing the Triple A's of LinkedIn (Authenticity, Being Active, and Being Approachable). Tune in to uncover the hidden potential of LinkedIn and take your growth to new heights.

If you’re ready to learn from one of the best, then buckle up and hold on!


Pitstop Highlights

Unveiling LinkedIn as the Ultimate B2B Platform

While Meta (originally Facebook) suffers from a lack of trust in the content dispersed, LinkedIn currently benefits from the fact that people believe 92% of the content on LinkedIn is true (which is about 3x that of Meta).

LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), and Meta were all founded in 2003, but LinkedIn is the only platform that never ceased to grow.

There is a growing number of (especially younger) B2B buyers that are using LinkedIn as their primary source of information in the buying journey.  76% of buyers use LinkedIn to get information about industry-related trends.

A Framework for Authentic, Active, and Approachable Engagement

If companies want to increase brand awareness and get more leads out of their LinkedIn content, they need to invest in positioning their salespeople as thought leaders.  The reason is because people engage 8x more with individual updates than with company updates.

It's ideal to have a team of people who are comfortable on LinkedIn and want to build their brand and their content strategy as a thought leader.

Active= Proactively expand your network; be active in putting out content and engaging.

Authentic= People need to brand themselves as authentic; an account should belong to an individual, not "marketing".  It's good to post about personal/family life, not just boring white papers (show more of yourself).

Approachable= Make sure people know how to connect with you; one idea is to have a scheduling link in your featured section.  Be sure to provide multiple channels (your phone number,  your email) and let the client decide what works best for them.

Building a Routine for Consistent LinkedIn Content

Publishing content alone is not enough, it's about consistency.  As far as frequency is concerned, you need to be honest about how often you can put posts out without compromising quality.

Start putting out posts a few times a week, and then slowly add more until you hit the point that you realize it would be too much to continue to add on.

It's better to have 8 weeks where you publish twice a week, than to have one week where you publish everyday and then go silent for a few weeks.  Consistency is king as it is what drives people to your profile based on the algorithm.

Connect with Richard


Full Transcript

Brendan:  Hey everyone, welcome to Pit Stops to Podium, the RevPartners podcast, where we talk to execs who have competed and won in taking their companies from high growth to high scale.  My name is Brendan Tolleson and I serve as the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners. And I'm delighted to have with me today, Richard van der Blom for this episode of Pit Stops to Podium. Welcome, Richard.

Richard:  Thank you, Brendan. Thank you for having me.

Brendan:  You're welcome and Richard how bad did I just butcher your first or your whole name? Hopefully it was 90% accurate

Richard:  No, I work globally with a Dutch name, so I'm getting used to being butchered name-wise, so don't worry.

Brendan:  I appreciate it. Well, Richard, I am really excited about this topic. We're going to get into some of the power of social selling a little bit later on. But for those who don't know who you are, you serve as a founder and managing director of Just Connecting. And Richard, one of the things I like to do is just give our guests the opportunity to share a little bit more about what your firm does and ultimately kind of that origin story of how did you come up with the idea based on your past experience to really invest in this area. I will hand it over to you to talk about just connecting and your background.

Richard:  Cool. Yeah. So my background is sales and marketing. I studied economics, sales, commercial economics, started to work in the staffing industry and sales related roles. And I came to the point where I thought like, hey, actually nobody likes selling. But everybody loves to talk about their business and talks about their products and solutions once they get to the meeting table with new clients. So I founded my company back in 2009. I founded Just Connecting. And it was just on the rise of LinkedIn. I founded it in 2003, but it got more knowledgeable and more and more people signed up somewhere around 2008, 2009. So we were actually back then in 2009, we were the first Dutch company that provided LinkedIn training in Holland at the moment. And over the past 14 years, we have grown to a 100% dedicated LinkedIn training and consultancy agency. So we started as a social media agency and training agency B2B. But back in 2015, I decided to focus 100% on LinkedIn because we want to be specialists instead of generalists on social media. And this is basically what we do. So we have a team of 15 people. We work globally. We have served over 900 clients and from all different industries. So we work with companies like IBM, Capgemini, Siemens, InterSystems, really big one, corporate, but we also work with smaller medium enterprises and we help our clients, we support our clients in how to leverage LinkedIn for sales and marketing success. Whether it's brand awareness, whether it's the launch of new product services, whether it's lead generation, that's what we do.

Brendan:  Well, good for you for getting in early. I think everyone understands, or at least sees the value in social selling and LinkedIn. And we'll get into that in just a bit, but it's really those early adopters that are able to create differentiation and expertise. And so, it's fun to see what you've been able to build over those 14 years as you described. Well, Richard, we do have a tradition here at Pit Stops to Podium, and that's to get to know our guests outside of work, to just understand a little bit of the passions and hobbies that make you who you are. What should we know about you as we, before we dive into our big topic?

Richard:  I'm a really big fan of everything that's international. You know, Holland is a very small country. So I have, I speak seven languages. I'm Dutch. I work in Spain. My partner is from Argentina. My dog is from Germany. So, and I really, I like to travel. I like to meet new people. I like international cuisine. I like to like... either South American, asado in Argentina, or I like to have Thai food or whatever comes to mind. So I'm really fond of the international culture. Hobbies, I used to be a fairly good football player, I guess in the States you say soccer player. And now I'm nothing more than a veteran trying to chase a ball and not to get injured. So times change, but I still cope.

Brendan:  Well, your Dutch squad did beat the US in the last World Cup, so you got that.

Richard:  Yeah. we did. And then, and then we lost to Argentina, which you like my family in law, that was like the biggest fun for them because they're Argentinian. So yeah.

Brendan:  Yeah, Messi finally got his trophy. So that was a fun one. All right, well, let's dive into favorite food. What is, you mentioned international cuisine. What's your favorite type of food?

Richard:  My favorite food is Thai food. I'm really like going nuts from everything that is with Thai food. If it's Thai curry, if it's like Thai dishes, even the starters in Thailand, I really like them. Yeah, if I need to choose one kitchen, it's the Thai kitchen.

Brendan:  Love it. Okay. All right. Well, Richard, I appreciate you sharing a little bit about yourself. And I think, as you mentioned earlier in the prep, you'll be in Atlanta in August. So hopefully we'll get a chance to to meet and maybe I'll take you to my favorite Thai restaurant in the city, unless you want to experience some southern barbecue, then then maybe we can facilitate that if that's of interest to you. But well, Richard, I you mentioned a little bit about what disconnecting is all about. And I think that's a great topic for our. for our audience because we look at, hey, what are ways in which we can scale? And a lot of the trends are around social selling in terms of, hey, email is getting more and more crowded. Think of your marketing almost more of like a media company and a place to really start to invest and engage in has become social, specifically LinkedIn. And so before we get into some of those tactics or ways in which you can amplify your message. We'd love to get your perspective on just market trends and why LinkedIn, your case for why LinkedIn is that medium or platform for that B2B environment.

Richard:  Yeah, well, there are actually many reasons. First of all, if you look into specific social, then you probably know that, for example, Facebook had a rough time. I recently read a study that showed that... Only 32% of all messages on Facebook is what people trust. So people don't trust Facebook anymore for its messages. So even if you publish something from your company, like it has a very low trust factor at the moment. And LinkedIn is still on 92%. So 92% of all the content that's there, people believe it's true. Second of all, LinkedIn was founded in 2003, same time as Twitter and Facebook. It's the only platform that never ceased to grow. They haven't had a setback in growth. They're still growing. Activity is going up. And then you have the growing number of especially the younger B2B buyers that use LinkedIn as their primary source of information in the buying journey. So we see that 76% of B2B buyers are currently using LinkedIn to get more information about. industry related trends development, but also information about suppliers. So I think for the modern B2B seller, this is where you need to meet your buyer because you know they are there. They're looking for your content. They're looking for information on your company, your services. You need to meet them where they are active. And, and, and since for buyers being on LinkedIn offers them an opportunity to stay in contact with their network, with their peers. but also get like a lot of information about new developments and trends. This is actually the place where they spend time instead of like, like compared to the email, no, which is a one-on-one and you probably will be like, go to the spam folder directly after they received your message.

Brendan:  Yeah, three things that I heard you say is, I mean, the first one's really, that's a, I never heard that one. I mean, I've heard it, but just to hear the stats around trust in terms of that is still the trusted social platform. I think you said 92% is what buyers view as legitimate, which is a huge number in comparison to other social platforms. Two, the fact that it has continued to grow and it hasn't seen any decline as opposed to some other social channels. And then three, is it relates to just... the demographics of the buyers like that is becoming the go-to, not only trusted place, but ultimately a place of information people use to understand what they should be investing in from a tools perspective. So that's a great starting point. And so for those that may be saying, hey, either I need to get invested in there or I need to double down, I really like frameworks. And I think a lot of our audience does too. And so. You talk a little bit about this, the triple A's of LinkedIn, the authenticity, active and approachable. Let's start there because I think that's a helpful starting point for our audience to understand what's the best way for me to even think about my engagement, and then we'll get into tactics for engaging. So can you speak a little bit about that framework and overarching strategy?

Richard:  Yeah. So basically, one of the main questions that companies come to our company for is that they want to increase brand awareness and get more leads out of their current activities on LinkedIn. And then most of the time, they look at their company page and say, like, hey, we need to have like... more knowledge on advertising or we need to know more about our corporate content strategy and our like almost like default answers. No, you need to invest in branding, positioning some of your people, often the salespeople as thought leaders, you know, they need to be seen as the person to go to in the network because for people that love stats. Organic company content is almost dead on LinkedIn. It's very difficult from your company, from your company page, to get relevant views amongst your target audience. While individual updates, they get much more visibility and people tend to convert or engage eight times more with individual updates compared to company updates. So for all the companies who want to start seeing more results with LinkedIn with regards to the goal of lead generation, we always say, like, okay, have a team. of people who feel comfortable being on LinkedIn, who want to build their brand and their content strategy as a thought leader. And if we talk about thought leadership on LinkedIn, that's where the AAA come in. So that's where we say like, okay, first of all, be active, active in the way how you, for example, build your network. A lot of salespeople, they just wait until they get invited by your potential client. And this might accidentally happen. But We like KPIs, you know, just make sure that every month you like increase your network with let's say 30, 40 potential prospects of people working at your potential clients. So proactively expand your network, but also actively in putting out content and engaging. And then we have the authenticity, you know, this is sometimes when we have a chat with marketing, we always want marketing to be involved and present in the sessions we have with sales, because for example, people need to brand themselves as authentic, we cannot do all with the same banner, we cannot do all with the same text. I need to know if I'm on your profile that I'm talking to Brendan, and not that I'm talking to like marketing, hijacking your profile. Okay. And also, authenticity also is very important in your content strategy, like The era where LinkedIn was this boring black and white business network, where only there was a place for like white papers, in-depth articles. It's definitely gone, you know, accelerated by the pandemic, where everybody started to share like the home struggles and how to like juggle all the plates, you know. And for me, it's a great, it has been a great transition because now LinkedIn offers so much more hooks to all salespeople because you get an insight. in the lives and more like personal posts also from your potential clients. So I also challenge all the salespeople to like show more yourself. Do not only show like or share the company content but also like where have you been? What are you reading? What are your insights? And then approachable if people get drawn to your profile or if people get inspired by your content you should make sure that they know how to convert and how to connect with you. So just offering them or saying like, no, there's a connect button on my, on my profile. It's not enough. So for example, have a, have a scheduling link in your featured section, you know, let people schedule a 15 minute free call or providing with your phone number and email so they can choose their preferred channel of contact. Because I think in this era, your clients need to choose your channel. It's not about you that you wanting them, for example, to go to the website, to leave the data or the data. And then you know, That's like old school thinking. We need to provide them like, here's my phone number, here's my email, here you can schedule a call and you choose whatever suits you the best. So that's about AAA.

Brendan:  Yeah, I love the framework and I love the stat that you mentioned that really resonates with me. Is a company is eight times more likely to engage with an individual than a company. I think it's what you said, right? And when you look at, you know, oftentimes for companies, they can view that almost as social as a distraction away from their core business activity. But what that data suggests is actually. where they should be investing their time is ultimately in these social platforms, because that leads to the outcome that you ultimately want, which is revenue. And so just seeing how it really validates that we're moving more into a who economy in the sense of individuals and personalities versus the company. And so that's a really great data point just to validate that transition that we're seeing in the market. And that framework is a really good way for our audience to engage, or for individuals rather. And so let's talk through that a little bit further. So let's say that the company says, okay, we need to be engaging more and our audience is saying, I want to do that. When you think about like a routine, and maybe this gets into some of the hacks around LinkedIn from an algorithm perspective, but what are ways they can, should they be thinking about consistent and engaging content on LinkedIn?

Richard:  Yeah, I think routine is key. I think consistency is key. So You know, sales reps, they have some challenges and of course, creating content can be one of them. Still many salespeople don't see creating content as part of their job. They look at marketing and say, Hey, marketing needs to create a content, which is again, old school thinking because it's your profile and you need to have this mix of personal related content combined with thought leadership content. But publishing content alone is not enough. It's about the consistency. So one of the like. most frequent asked questions from our clients is like, how often should I publish on LinkedIn a week? You know, and it's, I understand the question, but I cannot give you like a frequency like no twice a week or three times a week. It's depending on, you need, you need to look for the frequency that you can maintain without harming the quality of your post. So it can be that you start with twice a week, but if you see some results coming in from twice a week, I'm sure you're going to step it up into three times a week or four times a week until you reach a point where you go like, okay, I can manage four times a week, but that's enough. And then you're like, four is your preferred frequency. I publish five or six times a week. But you know, I also get some help. And I started two, three times a week, like several years ago. So it's about the consistency. It's better to have like, for example, eight weeks where you publish twice a week. then to have one week where you publish every day and then you go silence for three weeks. Because consistency is what drives people based on the algorithm to your profile. It's a consistency, it's not a frequency. And then, very underestimated by a lot of sales reps is your engagement strategy. Even though we try to enable, facilitate and empower salespeople and how to create, how easy it is to create content yourself. Every now and then we have people that they don't, they just don't feel comfortable. They, they, you know, they lack writing skills or they lack creativity or like, it's, it's, it's just not in the DNA. And then we go like, okay, instead of publishing, try to comment on relevant topics, relevant posts at least 10 times a day, which in the beginning sounds like a lot, but if you train yourself, it's something you do in like 15 minutes a day. And. Ten comments a day on relevant topics from your target audience, from peers, where you add insights, where you share experiences, where you guide people to know more about any possible solution will have a serious, serious boost when it comes to relevant profile views, relevant incoming connections, and relevant DMs, direct messages from people saying, hey, I see you commenting several times on relevant posts. I want to know more about what you do and how you can support us. So... Engagement strategy needs to be part of your content strategy as well.

Brendan:  Yeah, it's a good, I mean, the two things I heard there is consistency is greater than frequency. And so, and that's kind of how the algorithm works is to make sure that you keep that pace. And then the second thing gets into the engagement strategy because to your, I think one of the beauties of engagement is that's where the dark funnel comes in. I mean, yes, it's a one-to-one, but you're getting access and in conversations you otherwise would never have been a part of. And The beauty becomes they actually ask you for the meeting as opposed to you asking them for the meeting because you're creating value to the conversation and they want to learn more about your product or service.

Richard:  It's funny, Brendan, because one of our biggest clients from 2021 came via one of my comments on a post from Gary Vaynerchuk. In Gary Vaynerchuk, his average engagement is like 2,000 comments a post. And he addressed a topic about modern leadership and sales. And he spoke about three trends. And my comment was literally like, I agree with Gary on two. I disagree on the third based on my experience and then I had some of my own and my comment, my comment got about 300 likes and this brought to me like a digital marketing global manager who said like your comment like resonated with me. This is how we want to do it in our company. So just to give you an example that the right comments on the right content again, consistent can bring your business as well.

Brendan:  Yeah, in that example, that's probably somebody you had never talked to before. And that's the beauty of the platform.  So let's now get into the last topic, which is, OK, we talked a little bit about how you should approach it in terms of your, and then we talked about the cadence. And then let's talk about tools. In terms of if people are really intimidated, there are probably some tools out there that you've seen be successful to equip individuals to say, hey, here's how I can really attack platform. So what technology or tool stack do you look at that says, Hey, here's my recommendations to make you be consistent and to drive engagement on LinkedIn.

Richard:  There are several, okay. And they all have a different goal. So for example, I think if you're working B2B sales, you need to have sales navigator. And again, I'm independent from LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not paying me. Unfortunately, they're not paying any commission on all the people I've literally like brought to the sales navigator seat, but it has some use advantages. Huge, no? You have like additional filters. You have smart links. You can see more in-depth insights in how the relation networks are built. And then you have the connection with your CRM, whether it's Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics or HubSpot. So those systems are communicating, which in terms of efficiency is also very important. If it comes to creating content, I'm using For the moment, it's a free tool. I think they're going to charge next month. But it's a tool that enables you to create drafts whenever you have the time to create posts. So you can create multiple drafts. It's a tool that provides you with analytics so you can see which post, which format, how do I road them work the best in order to like step up your content game. But it also now has AI implemented. So you can also get like based on AI, you can literally get help in creating like a post faster. So you have your keywords, you write like a draft, and then you turn into the tool and say like, Hey, optimize this tool for this kind of audience. Um, I'm also using a tool slide, tax Um, just for example, I get like about 10 potential clients visiting my profile a day visiting. So I'm talking about marketing directors, sales directors, sales managers. And, uh, the majority of them, they are not inviting me, but I want, I want them. to be in my network because then that's where they start to see my content. So I have this text expander, which is a template tool where I can like readily like click on the profile and then just by having three fields that I can personalize, I can, I can respond really quick to all the profile visits. So it's not automation. Okay. Because I'm, I'm usually against automation, but it's a template that, and I have like 30 or 40 in LinkedIn that Every engagement signal that happens, I can respond to very quickly and I can write a message in 10 seconds, which normally would take me like a minute.

Brendan:  I've been writing notes on some of these tools. So Navigator, I think, is one that, to your point, is you got to have it. And then authored up, I think, was one you mentioned in terms of content creation. And then the last one, I wasn't able to capture it, but it was really around how do you understand who is going to your profile that could be a prospect who's not necessarily connecting with you. Could you say that tool again?

Richard:  It's text and there are there are specific engagement signals like somebody's visiting from your target audience. A potential client is visiting your profile, a potential client starts to follow you. A potential client has liked your post but has done nothing furthermore. So just like your post. Those signals, well, you can leave them or you can follow them up and say, Hey, Brennan, I just saw you liking my pose about regeneration via LinkedIn. Let's connect because in this way we see more of each other's pose and we can like, you know, support each other. And then if you follow up with the right, right personalized message on these signals, you expand your network with your target audience. That's basically where I use TextExpander for.

Brendan:  Love it. Well, Richard, I've enjoyed the opportunity for us to connect on some of the LinkedIn hacks that you've seen be successful for your clients. And I think this is a good segue to just say, as a final lap, if our audience says, hey, I understand why I need to invest in LinkedIn, but I don't necessarily know, I'm overwhelmed with the how. How can they engage with you or your business to learn more about leveraging your expertise?

Richard:  Well, whenever they have questions, I would like to invite them to turn to LinkedIn, Richard van der Blom to visit my profile, send me a connection request, maybe mention this podcast and, or go to my profile on LinkedIn. In my featured section, as I told you, there is a calendar link. They can book a 15 minute call where they can ask their questions and I can explain to them how we normally work with companies that require some additional support. And what we do, like I told you, Brendan, is we help them to either build a strategy for LinkedIn and sales or to improve the sales strategy with regards to LinkedIn. And we do that with consultancy and training. And company size doesn't matter. Target audience doesn't matter because we have 14 years of experience in all kinds of domestic markets, industries. So we know what works and what doesn't work.

Brendan:  Well, I know for me, there'll be some next steps that I'll be taking. I mean, I think the link, putting in your meeting link into the profile header is a really good hack. And then looking at the authored up for me, to your point, when you talk about consistency over frequency is really important. You know, I've been trying to get three every week for the last few months, which can feel very overwhelming. And so having a tool that can help you is really exciting. So I appreciate those two tips. Jeremy, thanks for coming on the podcast. I really do appreciate it. I know our audience will find value in it. So thank you so much. And I know our audience will know where to find you. So go to LinkedIn and look up Richard and get more tips and tricks from him.

Richard:  Cool. Thank you for having me. Thank you.

Brendan:  Thank you, I'll stay in touch. 

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