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How To Build Your LinkedIn Brand, Featuring Brandon Smithwrick

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Many think of LinkedIn as primarily a platform for finding a new job, scouting new employees, or sharing career milestones.

But in the last few years, LinkedIn has emerged as a powerful tool for personal branding. Creators are using it to share their hard-earned knowledge, position themselves as industry thought leaders, and grow their audience.

“LinkedIn is pretty much the go-to if you’re all about building your personal brand,” says Brandon Smithwrick, Head of Content at Kickstarter. Since November 2022, Smithwrick has built a dedicated following and become a trusted resource on digital media and content marketing. “Thanks to LinkedIn, I’ve had the chance to speak at colleges, rock the stage at conferences, and even team up with some brands to boost my rep in the marketing world,” he explains.

Whether you’re a Creator or a Marketer, this is exactly how to leverage LinkedIn to grow your brand.

1. Treat LinkedIn like a social media platform.

Like we’ve said—LinkedIn isn’t just a job board. “A lot of folks seem to forget that LinkedIn is, at its core, social media. It’s just got a sharper focus on career stuff, kind of like how YouTube is social media even if people use it for specific things,” Smithwrick explains.

Thus, like Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube, finding success on the platform means understanding the best ways to use it. “Mastering the algorithms…is crucial. Knowing how to navigate and utilize these algorithms to your advantage can significantly contribute to your success,” says Smithwrick.

Take some time to study the platform itself and the type of content that seems to perform, like short-form video or long-form writing. Once you have a clear understanding, you should build a LinkedIn content plan, just as you might build one for your blog, Instagram, or TikTok, with unique content optimized for the specifications of LinkedIn and your target audience.

2. Engage consistently, not just when You’re Job Hunting.

Like other social platforms, LinkedIn rewards consistency. And creating a holistic, always-on content strategy for LinkedIn can help your professional development in the long run. “If you only pop into LinkedIn when you’re desperate for a job, you’re missing out on what makes it really useful,” says Smithwrick. 

So, how often do you need to post? According to Smithwrick, “if you’re all about growing your personal brand, you’ve got to show LinkedIn some love on the regular. I’m talking at least every couple of weeks to a month, at the bare minimum.”

By applying narrative techniques from fashion…to the tech industry…I’ve developed a distinctive style. This editorial approach to tech content, leveraging the art of storytelling, has been my ‘secret sauce.’
Brandon Smithwrick
Head of Content at Kickstarter

3. Make personal connections.

Countless brands and companies use LinkedIn to post about open positions, career opportunities, and big company updates. But ultimately, this is a platform that thrives on personal connection.

“Personal accounts on LinkedIn always outperform brand accounts—it’s not even close,” explains Smithwrick. 

So whether you’re posting about your own career journey, or on behalf of a brand, consider how to add a personal or human element to your posts:

  • As a Creator: If you’re a Creator, don’t just tell your audience about your newest job or partnership—talk about your own journey, and the lessons that have helped shape your career. Don’t be afraid to get vulnerable and honest, and give your connections a behind-the-scenes look into running a business as a Creator. 
  • As a Marketer or Brand: If you’re a Marketer, consider how you can add a personal element to your brand’s posts. Identify your brand’s spokespeople and thought leaders, and help them to tell their stories. Showcase friendly faces and talk about the team contributions to the company’s success.

4. Get creative and tell a story.

Who said long form-writing is dead? Anyone who spends time on LinkedIn knows that, unlike TikTok and Instagram’s popularization of short-form videos, this platform thrives on longer-form storytelling.

But successful LinkedIn Creators aren’t just throwing a bunch of words onto a page. They’re carefully crafting engaging stories. And those stories should be unique and personal to your own experiences.

In fact, Smithwrick insists that “innovation should be at the heart of your strategy.” He’s pulled from his personal experiences in the fashion industry to inform his approach to content marketing in the tech world. “By applying narrative techniques from fashion, where storytelling is paramount, to the tech industry, where the focus is typically on functionality, I’ve developed a distinctive style. This editorial approach to tech content, leveraging the art of storytelling, has been my ‘secret sauce,’ allowing my work to stand out in a competitive landscape,” he explains.

5. Ensure your posts have a “hook.”

In this age of short attention spans and infinite content, hooking your audience from the get-go is an absolute must. “My advice for Creators? Nail your opening hook and keep your info sharp and to the point,” says Smithwrick. 

Here are some tips for creating an engaging hook:

  • Consider the central idea of your post and the ultimate takeaway you want your audience to have.
  • Frame your post in a way that resonates deeply with your audience. Will this advice solve a problem for them? Will it change their perspective or conflict with popular opinion? 
  • Start off with a short and compelling line using snappy, catchy copy.

But don’t forget, a “hook” only works as a complement to great content. “All the supposed social media shortcuts and tricks take a back seat to quality content,” agrees Smithwrick. “Sure, the timing of posts can matter, but for me, dropping content in the morning between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. ET has been my go-to. LinkedIn does nudge you to tweak your writing style, but it’s not about becoming preachy. I’ve kept my authenticity, steering clear of becoming one of those cringey LinkedIn posters,” he says.

6. Include LinkedIn in your monetization strategy. 

If you’re a Creator earning a living from your blog and social media content, then LinkedIn is another smart addition to your monetization strategy. “Why?  Well, you can whip up a LinkedIn post in under 30 minutes and potentially rake in as much, if not more, cash than a TikTok video that took hours to perfect,” Smithwrick says.

It’s important, though, to approach earning on LinkedIn with an eye toward the platform’s unique strengths. Is it ideal for sharing affiliate links? Maybe not. But it could be ideal for telling a story in partnership with a brand, especially one that functions in a real, behind-the-scenes role in your career. 

Showcasing the caliber of brands you’re working with in this professional setting will also help lend you credibility with other potential brand partners, helping to build your professional network and reputation. 

7. Partner with other LinkedIn Creators and prominent industry voices. 

Whether you’re a Creator looking to collaborate with other Creators or a Marketer interested in expanding your Creator partnerships, don’t overlook partnerships with LinkedIn Creators. Not only can they help bring eyeballs and awareness to your brand, but they can help tell those personal and professional stories that resonate with LinkedIn audiences. 

“Look for LinkedIn creators who really get your target audience and bring them on board as your content creators. Identify the Creators who are already talking your talk and get them on your team to launch products, boost your campaigns, and share evergreen content that ups your visibility,” suggests Smithwrick.

And like other Creator collaborations, encouraging Creators’ authenticity and creativity will help produce the best results. “Let them connect with their community in their own way. When you collaborate with Creators, give them space to breathe and avoid micromanaging. It’s all about trusting them to know their audience best,” Smithwrick recommends.

About Brandon Smithwrick

Brandon Smithwrick is an award-winning Forbes 30 Under 30 marketer who was recently appointed Head of Content at Kickstarter, the world’s premier crowdfunding platform for creative projects. His work has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, AdAge, Complex, Highsnobiety, and other publications, a testament to the caliber of his work and his recognition within the industry. 

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