January 2, 2024

Balancing Personal with Professional: Using the 5 E's of Social Media on LinkedIn

Remember when LinkedIn was just a professional networking site? When your grandma wasn’t commenting on all of your (and your colleagues’) updates, aspiring CEOs weren’t prophesying the holy word of the latest Harvard Business Review article they read, and brands weren’t crossposting from Facebook or Instagram?

If you’ve spent any time on LinkedIn over the past half-decade, you’ve noticed this shift. LinkedIn has settled into a gray area of not quite being a social media platform while also not being the professional networking site it started as.

Like so many aspects of modern life, the COVID-19 pandemic completely upended the work-life balance norms, which extended to LinkedIn. We’ve heard this repeatedly, but mass remote work blurred the lines between professional and personal life, and that disparity made its way to LinkedIn.

Posting about the colors of the leaves on your mid-afternoon walk and how these walks help ease your clinical anxiety may have seemed out of place in 2018 (because leaving your desk in the mid-afternoon was a fireable offense). In 2023? That’s entirely normal on LinkedIn. It’s no wonder why establishing an effective and beneficial LinkedIn presence has become a challenge.

Some users love this new level of vulnerability, especially when those posts or comments come from professionals in leadership roles who might typically frown upon personal-life intrusions in the workplace. Although it’s important to remember, no matter how much emotion or personal detail you pour into your posts, they still need two things: authenticity and a tangible takeaway for your audience.

Additionally, posting emotionally char-ged posts with little thought of context can have negative repercussions. Be extra aware of what types of responses you may get from your posts, professionally or personally. People will snuff out posts made just for the sake of sympathy. Do you remember the crying CEO selfie?

This post has a lot to unpack: the self-imposed martyrdom, the strange sentence/paragraph format that has taken over so many posts, and the over-dramatic self-importance. It reeks of the disconnectedness that has plagued C-Suite LinkedIn posts lately. But Brandon’s biggest and most glaring mistake is that his post is so obviously driven only by his ego.

Any genuine empathy is buried under “me” and “I” statements to remind you that he is the real victim. His post also lacks any clear lesson or takeaway. Is Brandon trying to warn other CEOs about the dangers of getting emotionally attached to employees? Or is he reminding CEOs that their actions have tangible consequences? I guess Brandon was hoping for the latter, but instead, I felt like the takeaway from his post was, “When you get laid off, your CEO might be sad.”

He should have thoroughly considered how his post would affect people on the other end. Instead, he gives the impression of poor leadership awareness and disconnection. Don’t be like Brandon–post with authenticity and empathy.

Empathy and education are two key pillars of effective messaging on LinkedIn (or any social platform). As you may already know, KSMS is all about the Five E’s of Keeping Social Media Social – empathy, encouragement, engagement, education, and entertainment. Here are five excellent examples of LinkedIn posts and profiles that best illustrate our five E’s:

Empathy – Kerri Jacobs

You will see many EVPs and C-Suite executives talk about leading with empathy. So many long-winded posts profess how much they cherish empathy and how important it is to imagine what your teams are experiencing as people. Unfortunately, not all of these people practice that empathy and fall short of putting any sort of empathy into practice. Kerri Jacobs is not one of those people.

Kerri constantly posts anecdotes about being more empathetic alongside examples of other brands or individuals who make those around them feel seen. In particular, the post above does a fantastic job of showing empathy, not merely talking about it. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more seen by a LinkedIn post as when I read this:

Encouragement – Scott Bemis

If you need a little pick me up, some juice to get you to fire off one last cold pitch, look no further than Scott Bemis’s “Exceptional Leaders Making an Impact on Others” series. While Scott’s posts aren’t outright motivational or particularly rah-rah, they nonetheless inspire readers by detailing the stories of business leaders making significant impacts within their lives, communities, and organizations.

What makes Scott’s posts so endearing and successful is how genuine they are. These posts feature no self-promotion whatsoever. They rarely even boast any sort of call to action. No, these posts simply and excitedly highlight inspirational stories of leaders doing great things. That’s not to say there aren’t tangible takeaways for aspiring business leaders in Scott’s posts. Each post is rife with little lessons ready to be applied to various businesses. Simply put, Scott showcases how effective authenticity is on LinkedIn.

Each post is successful because of how undeniably genuine Scott is in his admiration for the people he is praising. If you can be only one thing on LinkedIn, be authentic like Scott.

Engagement – Chase Dimond

If you’re a marketer on LinkedIn, you have likely come across a Chase Dimond post on your timeline. Chase creates easily shareable, comment-inducing posts that attract engagement better than even the most overt calls to action. Sure, sometimes Chase will close out one of his typically informative and short-winded posts with a simple invitation for “thoughts?” But that’s the closest you’ll get to Chase directly requesting engagement. He gets likes, comments, and reposts because his content is just that good.

Whereas Scott’s posts ooze authenticity, Chase’s posts are dripping with confidence, almost inducing a sense of FOMO if you don’t read what he says. You immediately recognize how easily digestible and applicable his insights are, so you’ll feel inclined to share his posts. If Scott’s content is a lesson in authenticity, Chase’s are a shining example of contagious confidence that triggers engagement.

Education – Eddie Shleyner

There may not be a better resource for copywriting lessons than Eddie Shleyner, and his LinkedIn shows precisely why he’s earned that distinction. Eddie’s posts are somewhat lengthy anecdotes that detail major or minor events in his life, often cleverly disguised as simple stories. Each post, however, includes absolute gems of insight into the craft of copywriting, the challenges of any creative profession, and the general trials and tribulations of modern existence.

A true creative copywriter in the best possible way, Eddie’s most valuable lessons come through as micro-stories that are impossible to click away from. Every time you read one of his stories, you leave with a clear lesson you can take into your work, whatever it may be.

Like Chase’s posts, Eddie’s insights beg to be shared, even if the lessons’ lengths may deter some readers. There is no one better at distilling key lessons around the business of creativity into memorable stories than Eddie. His authentic commitment to storytelling and education should be the standard any serious LinkedIn user strives to replicate.

Entertainment – Ryan Reynolds (yes, that Ryan Reynolds).

Nobody desiring entertainment visits LinkedIn, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an entertaining presence on LinkedIn. Entertainment shouldn’t be your main focus when posting, but LinkedIn is still a socially connecting platform. Creating content that people are excited to see certainly doesn’t hurt. Why do you think more than two million people follow Canadian treasure Ryan Reynolds on a professional networking platform?

It’d be easy to attribute Ryan’s popularity on the site to his stardom, but he rarely uses LinkedIn as a platform to promote his latest film project. He knows what LinkedIn can (and should be) used for. He has dedicated his LinkedIn profile to his many (very successful) business ventures – particularly his marketing agency, Maximum Effort.

Each of Ryan’s posts boasts some sort of business update in a way that deftly balances information and humor. You may never be able to squeeze into a red spandex suit the way Ryan does, but you can undoubtedly replicate his approach to LinkedIn effectively.

As LinkedIn continues to toe the line between social and professional interactions, successfully managing a positive and genuine LinkedIn presence will be challenging. However, if you remember the Five E’s of Keeping Social Media Social when creating your LinkedIn content, you’ll quickly get the hang of the platform. Utilizing the Five E’s will increase your ability to have meaningful and positive engagements, especially on LinkedIn.