Episode 89: To Follow or Not to Follow (On LinkedIn)
Our beloved hosts Brynne and Bob return to answer a question on the minds of sales professionals looking to leverage LinkedIn for their social selling goals — to follow or not to follow on LinkedIn?
Tune in and see them discuss the difference between a follower and a connection, and what perks and benefits come with each. They will also help you navigate through the process of setting up your profile to be in Follow or Creator Mode.
Bob Woods 00:00
Hey there, how you doing? Welcome to Making Sales Social LIVE! I’m Bob Woods and with me today is, she’s either my sidekick, I’m her sidekick, I think it’s probably a coin toss at this point — Brynne Tillman. How’re you doing today, Brynne?
Brynne Tillman 00:16
I’m good, Bob, how are you?
Bob Woods 00:18
I am doing great. Thank you very much.
Welcome to Making Sales Social LIVE! As we share LinkedIn and social selling training strategies and tips that will have an immediate impact on your business. Join Brynne Tillman, and me, Bob Woods, every week. Making Sales Social LIVE!
Bob Woods 00:41
We’re calling today’s show, “To Follow or Not to Follow on LinkedIn.” (Brynne: That is the question.) That is the question, exactly. A choice you also have though is to follow or to connect. There’s a lot of stuff baked into these two very simple choices. So first, let’s talk a little bit about the difference between a follower and a connection. Brynne?
Brynne Tillman 01:03
A connection is two ways, right? A connection means that they asked you to connect and you said yes or you asked them to connect and they said yes. Once you’re connected with someone, there are some perks and benefits that are not the same with following. You can search their connections, you can message them directly without an InMail, which is a paid way to message someone.
A follow is one way typically someone could follow you back but a follow means I want to see your content, I’m interested in you but we’re not actually connecting. There are a lot of reasons people follow, I’ll follow people like Brené Brown or Gary Vee. They’re not necessarily going to connect with me but I want to be following them, their follow numbers will go up, mine will not.
When you have a connection, you automatically follow someone so you connect and you automatically follow although you can unfollow them on purpose if you wanted to. But generally, your connection is also a follow but you can have a follow without a connection. Bob, you had a great little kind of perspective on how to look at followers versus connections, tell that story.
Bob Woods 02:19
Yeah. So imagine, like you’re walking into a keynote somewhere and there’s someone speaking, at that point, you’re following them, or it’s like, you know, if you follow around, back in the day, the Grateful Dead or you follow around a band or something like that, you are following them. They’re not following you back, they probably don’t even know that you exist at that point. But let’s just say in terms of the keynote speech scenario, you go up afterwards, talk to the person who was speaking personally and exchange cards and you know, you get a good rapport going, and you agree to talk at some further time. That’s equivalent to a connection because at that point, that person knows you, you are now connected with them. So following is just watching someone on stage. Connecting is actually making that connection. So again, it’s two-way versus the one-way of you absorbing their content from them speaking up at the keynote.
Brynne Tillman 03:17
I love that! That’s such a good visual. So what happens when you follow someone?
Bob Woods 03:22
So a couple things happen. The biggest one is probably that they, meaning the person you’re following, are notified when you start following them and that can be important depending on how far you want to take the relationship with them but just in terms of LinkedIn mechanics, at that point, you have a better chance of seeing their content in your feed. Now, it’s not guaranteed because it depends on, it basically depends on the algorithm. But when you do follow someone, you do have a better chance of seeing their content in your LinkedIn feed.
Brynne Tillman 03:59
Yeah, so I just want to reiterate what you said. I think it’s really important. When you follow someone, chances are they get notified, this is a ping on their radar. We talk a lot about warming things up before you actually connect with someone. A follow, engaging on their content, viewing their profile — these are all touchpoints but a follow is a big one, because not a lot of people are following a lot of people, they’re usually connecting.
So if you follow and they get a, “Hey, Georgia’s following” like who’s George? Now they check you out. If your profile is positioned well, it will help you turn some of these folks into connections and on their terms, which is always better, right? You follow, they check you out, like “Oh, this is someone I might want to connect with or engage with.” It’s a great touchpoint. Yeah, that’s awesome. I love that. What’s next on our list? Following verses ringing.
Bob Woods 04:58
So following versus ringing the bell. So if you haven’t heard of ringing the bell, it’s okay, because it’s a pretty new thing. Don’t necessarily worry about that. Also, I think that more and more people are starting to see that bell now but you may not have access to it yet because it’s so new that LinkedIn is doing a slow rollout of it. We don’t know exactly how far that rollout has gone yet but one thing you can do is when you go to someone’s profile, or sometimes now, even when they appear in search results, you’re going to see a little icon that looks like a bell.
What happens when you click that is that it does the showing up in someone’s feed one better in that when you ring someone’s bell, whenever they post new content, it’s actually going to show up in your notification feed. So that’s a much better way of being alerted when someone actually does it. Whereas with follow, you know, you may have to be on when they post or you know, there’s just all kinds of other factors there.
When you ring someone’s bell, a lot of that is actually taken out of the equation because you are notified when someone posts that content and just to be clear, you don’t have to follow someone to ring their bell either. The only disadvantage about that is that the person whose bell you’re ringing (God, that just sounds weird) (Brynne: (singing) Ring my bell, ring my bell) Yeah, exactly. Oh my god stop, we’re gonna have to pay for it. But when you ring someone’s bell, they’re not notified at that point that you have rung their bell. When you follow them, they are notified. This, so, just to kind of cover your bases, you may want to follow them as well as ring their bell.
Brynne Tillman 06:46
Love that. So ringing the bell, I think is phenomenal. (Bob: Yes.) Couple of things, don’t ring too many bells because you’re going to be overwhelmed with notifications. What bells should you ring? People that have content that you love that you’re engaging on, that brings you value, definitely. Your prospects — ring the bell of your prospects even if they’re not sharing a ton of content, these are triggers to start engagement.
Anyone that you’re trying to start conversations with, or you’re looking to engage with, ring their bells, even if there’s not, again, a ton of engagement because when they do share something, this is an opportunity to engage. And even now, take it offline, right, or take it from the engagement to a conversation, it’s a great opportunity. I’m just going to share a quick side note on this because I think this is a big deal.
I rang the bell of a lot of prospects. Most were not sharing content but one did change jobs. It was alerted it came in now I look at change jobs but this was very clear from the person that I was prospecting change jobs came in, I was able to engage right away, I did not miss it, I engaged on the content and then in the inbox, and now have a proposal out, there was a proposal to his old company and a proposal to the new company, I may have missed that had I not rung his bell.
Lots of reasons, make sure that you are following and or ringing the bell. I would say bell first, follow to get on their radar for sure. Bell to make sure you’re seeing their content. I really love this new feature. It’s one of my favorites.
Bob Woods 08:31
Yeah, definitely. And then also remember that most of the time, you’re going to be following them from their profile. So that’s good because that’s actually another radar paying. Now, there are certain cases when you follow people from other areas of LinkedIn and they won’t have that. If you do see that, you may want to click through to their profile, and then just follow from their profile as well. (crosstalk)
So you have this list of followers now. So what do you do with that list? You can actually check that list and then use the list of your followers to engage with them, as well. So you can actually open up that two-way street yourself as opposed to the person who’s standing up at the podium. They’re not going to want to do that with everyone. It’s actually kind of a way to filter who you want to engage with to because you don’t obviously you don’t want to engage with all your followers but there may be some of them, who you do want to engage with because you may want to have a sales conversation with them or just a networking conversation or whatever, down the line. Brynne?
Brynne Tillman 09:37
Yeah, so you can look at your followers by literally clicking on your followers under Activity and you can see them. If it says that you’re following them back, chances are they are a first-degree connection. One of the mistakes I think LinkedIn makes is they do not have, if they’re first, second or third, in that follow view but if it has the follow button, meaning you’re not following them, yet, there’s a good chance that, in most likelihood, you are not connected to them.
So do your due diligence and if there are people that you’d want to add to your network that are following you, just click through, send a connection request with a personal note, “Thanks so much for the follow, I had a chance to look at your profile and if you’re open, I’d love to connect.” Right? They followed you. So that’s really important. And I’m gonna like, just insert here probably something we should have said at the beginning.
There are two ways that you can be in follow versus connect mode. In your settings, you can go down to visible on followers and that will, you can turn it on so that your Connect button becomes a Follow button. That does not mean people can’t connect with you, it’s just harder, they have to go to the More button and hit connect. So chances are, if you are in Follow mode, you’ll get followers and less connections.
The other way is to be in Creator mode. When you turn on Creator mode, that automatically puts you in Follow mode. You can follow people without connecting. When you see their connect button, you click on the More button and there’s a Follow button. So if their Follow button isn’t clear on their profile, click on the More button and you can get there.
Bob Woods 11:26
Yeah, so then the one thing that you will notice is, if you have either one of those options, the number of connections that you’re going to, connection requests, rather, that you’re going to have, are going to go down. So depending on your situation, that may be good, that may be bad, especially because most people out there don’t know about clicking on More and that you can connect at that point.
The flip side of that, though, is that filtering that we talked about earlier, in that you actually have more control over who you want to connect with because now you have people who are like kind of raising their hands because they’re following you, but it’s not the full, raise your hands for connections things. So you see all these people who are like, interested and you now get to go through and see who you want to connect with based on the followers that you have coming in.
Brynne Tillman 12:18
So one last thing to kind of tie this all together, if you have a company page, and you have followers, you should go through those and see who’s following that I should be connected to. If they’re following your page, there’s real interest in what you do. So make sure that you’re engaging with your company page followers personally.
Bob Woods 12:41
Right, yeah, and then if you’re like a salesperson at a larger company, and because you’re not an admin, you won’t be able to see that. Ask whoever is the admin of that to kind of slide you some names. So that you can reach out proactively and say, you know, “Hey, I noticed that you’re following my company’s page…” and just kind of start the conversation from there as well. So you’re definitely depending on someone else but even if you don’t have direct access to that, just ask and you know, hopefully, you can get some names from the admin as well for that.
Brynne Tillman 13:17
If you have Sales Navigator, you do have access, which is amazing. (Bob: That’s true.) In Sales Navigator, there is a filter that says “following our company page,” so you can put it in all kinds of filters and do that but it is not available in the free. So if you only have the free LinkedIn, you’ve got to what Bob says, but if you have Sales Navigator, you can filter by people that are following your page. So that’s some magic right there.
Bob Woods 13:39
That’s a very cool feature. And yet another reason why we recommend Sales Navigator to everyone who has the ability to actually do that.
Brynne Tillman 13:47
All right, so let’s wrap this up.
Bob Woods 13:49
We’re going to take it home as they say. So, thanks again for joining us on Making Sales Social Live! If you’re with us live on LinkedIn right now, we do this every week, so keep an eye out for the sessions. Now if you’re listening to the recorded version of this on our podcast and you haven’t subscribed already, why not? Just click that subscribe or follow button. We do two shows weekly, this one and our Making Sales Social interview series where we talk with leaders in sales, marketing, business, and all that type of thing. If you want more information about any of this, go to socialsaleslink.com/podcast again, that’s socialsaleslink.com/podcast and always remember and never forget, when you’re out and about, make sure that you’re making your sales (Brynne: Social!) There we go. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day. Bye-bye.
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