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Inbound social selling on LinkedIn

Updated: May 26

Inbound social selling strategies on LinkedIn are based on the idea of attracting your ideal prospective clients by posting what they are attracted to instead of reaching out to them directly. In other words, if you build it — the ideal LinkedIn profile — they will come.



LinkedIn logo on glass building

LinkedIn has arisen as one of the most important B2B platforms. In all, it has a total of 1 billion members, and it is a major platform for B2B selling. LinkedIn has pioneered in what is called social selling — a lead generation approach where salespeople directly interact with prospective buyers via social media platforms.


Outbound outreach involves ads on the social media platform and reaching out directly to potential buyers through DMs. It is a popular social selling method on LinkedIn. However, inbound selling revolves around designing a profile and creating content that can bring your ideal customer to you.


It involves understanding the basic principles of social selling, as well as understanding the various types of content to post on the platform. In this article, we discuss the best strategies to adopt for inbound social selling. 


Table of Contents


What is an ICP or ideal customer profile?

Creating buyer personas

1. Get your name right

2. Complete your profile

3. Write a professional headline

4. Include a professional headshot

5. Write an about section

1. Establish your professional brand

2. Find the right people

3. Engage with insights

4. Build relationships


What is social selling the inbound way?


Inbound social selling refers to a marketing method that relies on growing your customer base on social media by establishing meaningful and deep relationships with customers. This is done by attracting, engaging, and delighting them with well-thought out content, as opposed to advertising.  


There are three components to inbound social selling:


Attracting the customer. This means using appropriate content to bring in your ideal customers and starting conversations with them. This will help build a bond of trust.


Engaging the customer. This refers to how well you talk to the customer in a way that targets their pain points and problems with practical solutions. 


Delighting the customer.  This describes the way in which you support the customer after they have purchased your service or product. This type of content would give detailed instructions, for example, on how to make the most of the product or services purchased. 


The advantages of inbound social selling


There are advantages to inbound marketing both generally speaking and within the context of LinkedIn. Inbound marketing has a much higher ROI compared to paid advertising. Moreover, it establishes a much closer bond with the customer compared to outbound approaches, such as cold outreach and paid ads. 


1. Inbound social selling is cost-effective. Driving customers to your website or profile with organic content is much cheaper than paying for expensive ads, especially on social media platform such as LinkedIn.


2. Inbound social selling helps build trust. Ads can drive sales. However, organic content associated with social selling comes across as more authentic. Therefore, it will be more long-lasting and deep. This is especially true if you provide content that helps customers find solutions to problems or content that addresses their pain points.


3. Inbound social selling is more sustainable. There is no expiration dates with inbound social selling. The effects of ad campaigns often do not last long after the campaign event is over. Despite the huge amount of money that may have been invested in that campaign. With inbound social selling, content will always be available to people who are interested, and this content will continue to develop closer bonds between your customer and your company brand.


4. Inbound social selling increases visibility. High visibility for products, services, and brands is typically the main priority when it comes to marketing. Constantly putting out content to engage with folowers, customers, and potential customers on LinkedIn and other social media means that your brand and the services and products that it offers are constantly being seen on the timeline.



The principles behind social selling


Social selling describes selling your products and services through social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and FaceBook. It has become quite popular recently and is frequently tied to the concept of a personal brand. Sam Rathing in her book – Linked Inbound — explains that three principles underlie social selling:


1. The VCO process


2. Understanding the concept of Social Selling Index


3. Understanding the concept of Givers Gain


The book contains a wealth of rich and actionable information, and I have included an affiliate link below, through which you can purchase it. This means I may get a small commission if you purchase the book.


VCO is an acronym that stands for Visibility, Credibility, and Opportunity. Actually, it’s more than just an acronym. It’s a mathematical formula that goes like this:


V + C = O

This means making yourself visible on social media and doing so in a way that makes you credible in terms of what you offer. This results in the creation of opportunities for your business. It’s a principle based on the real-world concept of referral marketing.


In referral marketing, networking is done on a face-to-face basis. It centers around the power of close, dynamic, and mutually beneficial relationships with your followers and connections on LinkedIn.

On LinkedIn, visibility refers to having a profile that stands out. Your name, what you do, who you’re out to help, and what’s so special about your offer should be stated clearly.


And of course, there's the content that you post. You're not supposed to post willy-nilly. There’s a science to it. Before posting, you need to ask questions like:


  • Who is your target audience?

  • What are their pain points?

  • How can you help them?


All your posts ideally should somehow try to address these questions. And you have to post regularly. Some people argue that you should even preferably post every day. LinkedIn provides social creators with a wide variety of content forms.


This includes text-based posts, carousels, pictures, and videos. Some do it better than others. However, Daniel warns not to overdo it. Post more than twice a day, and you might end up finding yourself stuck in the sand, with LinkedIn deliberately stunting your reach.


Givers Gain means simply offering solutions for free in your content and being rewarded for that. When you offer such solutions you build trust and credibility.


This leads to the creation of a network of grateful followers or supporters who will have you as the first person in mind when they have a problem that needs solving. Also, they will be the first to refer their friends with similar problems.


Understanding your target customer: ICPs and Buyer Personas


Now to attract clients to you, you first need to determine who your ideal client is. To determine this you need to look work on and determine two things: 


  1. Determine your ideal customer profile (or ICP)

  2. Draw up your buyer persona/s


What is an ICP or ideal customer profile? 


An ICP refers to the ideal qualities and demographic profile of your ideal customer. It begins with asking the following questions: Who do I want to sell my services to? Or Who am I trying to help? 


This is a fictitious company or person who is perfect for the problems you are trying to find a solution for. Here are factors that you should take into account when determining your ICP. 


1. Company Size/Budget.  What price or value do you put on the services that you offer? Determine that threshold and find customers who are willing to bear it. 


2. Industry. Is there a specific industry or vertical that you limit yourself to? This should be properly defined. Generally speaking, the narrower your specialty is, the better.  You can’t be everything to everybody. 


3. Geographic location. What geographic market are you going for? Perhaps, you wish to target a US or Western market because they typically are wealthy enough to afford your relatively higher pricing.  

Knowing your ICP means that you know who you’re going to target and those whose attention you don’t care for. This makes social selling more focused and efficient and charges you with a greater sense of direction. 


Creating buyer personas 


Buyer personas are related to ICPs. However, the focus here is on the psychological profile of your ideal customer. So what exactly is a buyer persona?


A buyer persona can be described as a kind of semi-fake representation of your customers in terms of their demographic profile, goals, motivations, and pain points.  


With a buyer persona, you get the chance to step into the shoes of your ICP to understand their pain points and challenges. This would help in several ways:


  • You better understand what your customer desires

  • You better understand how to appeal to this customer with content

  • You come across as more authentic 


Creating a buyer persona means you position yourself to deeply understand and connect with their pain points, problems, and challenges. This means your content will now be created with one goal in mind: Addressing the needs of your ICP.


Here is a list of questions to ask when creating content for your buyer personas: 


  • What problems can you solve for them?  

  • What challenges and frustrations keep them up at night?  

  • What improvements do they want to see in their business or lives?  


In short, you should focus on questions and issues that you see your ICPs complaining about on the timeline. Perhaps, on calls with them, this is what they always bring up. Being able to get through to customers in this way means achieving the type of  emotional connection that doesn’t exist with paid ads and that is teh ultimate advantage of social selling. 


CTA with Smiling Business Woman: See how EminentEdit Can Increase Traffic To Your Site

Steps to building an effective LinkedIn profile


1. Get your name right


A good LinkedIn profile begins with a name. The name on your LinkedIn profile should be the same as the name on official documents and your business card. 


This is for various reasons. First, having deviations between your LinkedIn name and the name that you are known by in the non-virtual world means that it will be difficult for people to find you on LinkedIn using the native search function. 


Also, LinkedIn has a new verification method that uses your passport. So, it would be best that the name on your profile is the same as the name on your passport. 


2. Complete your profile


Your LinkedIn profile should be completed. The more components of your LinkedIn profile you build up, the more credibility you have both in the eyes of the LinkedIn algorithm and potential clients on LinkedIn.


So what does completing your profile entail? This means filling out each section: 


  • Education

  • Work history

  • Skills

  • Summary

  • Headline


This is useful, as the LinkedIn algorithm uses it to suggest “People You May Know.” For example, if you attended a certain university, then your friend or connection suggestions will be full of people who attended that university. 


The same is true of your past jobs or related industries. This can help you locate colleagues or friends that you had thought were lost. Or it can help you connect with people that have similar backgrounds and interests as you. 




A LinkedIn profile of a user called Melchior Antoine
Mel's LInkedIn profile


3. Write a professional headline


Your LinkedIn professional profile must be short and to the point. This describes the short description (i.e., 220 characters) that shows beneath your name on your profile. In social selling, a profile is like a banner ad that’s on 24-7. 


Remember LinkedIn has a search function. That means your name and your job/services are searchable. This provides an opportunity for your name to rank high in the LinkedIn search results. 


You should pay attention to the keywords being used in your profile headline.  Make sure your headline say clearly who you are, what you do, and how you can help your ICP. 


For example, here is a headline for a grant writer.


“I’m Jackson, a professional grant writer who increases the chances of you winning that grant.”


It says your name, what you do, and how you can help your ideal ICP. 


4. Include a professional headshot


Everyone says you should have a professional profile pic for your LinkedIn. Preferably, you should be dressed in business attire, looking straight ahead and smiling, but not too big. However, this is not necessarily the case.


Inbound social selling is based on targeting and attracting your target customer. You should portray yourself in a way that this ICP finds appealing. 


Maybe you’re a tattoo artist on LinkedIn. Maybe you’re a social media manager for TikTok content creators. What image would your ideal prospects want you to project? Think about this question when deciding whether or not to be a little unconventional with your profile pic. 


5. Write an About Section


The About Section is where you go into details about what you offer. Think of it as an expanded version of your professional headline. In social selling, it’s both an ad and a vehicle for organic traffic through SEO. You should clearly state the following:


  1. What you do

  2. How what you do is differentiated from the hundreds of professionals doing something similar

  3. How your ICP could benefit specifically from the service you offer

  4. A method of contact such as telephone or email


Here’s an example of an About Section written by a fictional content writer:


Hi, I'm Andray. And I help business founders drive organic traffic, leads, and sales to their websites.  I have written several thousands words of content, and I have helped dozens  of website owners take their sites from a few hundred views to  several hundred thousand views. 


If you're not a native English speaker, not a writing pro, or just don't have enough time to write, this should not stand in the way of ranking in the Google SERPs. 


Let me take your website from the bottom of the Google SERPs to the top five - 10 search results. 


Also, feel free to drop a line in my LinkedIn DM or just email me: andray@contentwriting.com.”


When writing the About section, remember to make it easy for readers. This means creating a lot of white space between paragraphs. Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Ideally, a paragraph should not be more than three to five lines long. 


Broems in the past got a lot of hate. They refer to a style of posting where ordinary text are written in lines and stanzas like poems for esthetics. Think of employing this strategy. But don’t overdo it. You are not Walt Whitman. 


What is your Social Selling Index?


Are you interested in finding out your SSI score? LinkedIn makes it quite easy to do so.  Just head to LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator link: LinkedIn SSI Link.


 It first shows you what you score overall in terms of SSI. Then, it breaks down the various components of the index to show what you scored in each category.  The SSI is dynamic. That means it changes by the day based on your performance on LinkedIn. 


So what do these scores even mean? According to LinkedIn, below fifty percent means you need more work to do in terms of your personal branding. Seventy-five percent and higher means you’re leading in the pack of LinkedIn thought leaders.


Above is a pic of the SSI score of a professional in the writing and editing industry. OK. I will admit. It’s my own SSI score. It is below fifty percent, which means I need more work to do. However, despite the low score, I still manage to rank within the top 8% of LinkedIn professionals within my industry. How come? 


It means the competition on LinkedIn is not that high. It’s been reported that only 1% of LinkedIn's 260 million users post anything on the platform. This means that with some dedicated effort, you can end up outpacing your peers on the site. Anyone can increase their SSI score to something impressive and increase their performance by understanding how it works.


The components of your SSI score 


There are four components to your SSI score: Namely, 1. Establish your professional brand; 2. Find the right people; 3. Engage with insights; and 4. Build relationships. Let's look at each of them in turn.


1. Establish your professional brand


This refers to completing your profile with the customer at the forefront of your mind. This means publishing meaningful posts that are useful to the clientele in the industry you are serving.


2. Find the right people


This refers to your ability to identify and hone in  on better prospects in an efficient manner using the right tools. Of course by tools LinkedIn is referring to its proprietary software — Sales Navigator — a premium product that you have to pay for that helps in finding B2B clients successfully.


3. Engage with insights


 This component measures engagement in terms of shares. And it’s not a one-way street. You should engage as much with people you follow by doing things like responding to their comments under your post. Of course, to do so, you first have to post. This means LinkedIn text posts, articles, newsletters, carousels, and so on.


4. Build relationships


 This refers to building relationships with Decision Makers, as well as engaging and starting chats with followers who like and share your content. Also, to score well in this component, regularly message new followers and respond to their messages in your DMs and inbox.


How to attract clients with content


LinkedIn provides a variety of ways to attract content. The thing about social selling is that it can be tricky. It’s hard to tell apart keeping up with vanity metrics from creating content that attracts potential customers/buyers.


The point of social selling is to drive leads and sales. Social selling is not for attracting likes and meaningless engagement. Likes and comments cannot go into bank and cannot pay offf debts. 

So always remember the end goal with content is too attract, nurture, and convert customers.


LinkedIn provides a wide variety of content forms to attract potential clients. They include among others: 


  • Text-only posts

  • Image post

  • Carousels

  • Video posts

  • LinkedIn polls

  •  LinkedIn Article

  • LinkedIn Newsletter

  • Celebrate an occasion/milestone


Your content can come in a wide variety of ranges and styles. The LinkedIn algorithm will quickly let you know what’s working and what’s not. The platform keeps a daily/weekly record of how many impressions you make and breaks it down per post you make. 


One thing about the LinkedIn algorithm is that it’s somewhat unpredictable. Changes are always being made. One type of post that might go viral today may not do so well the next day. 


Unlike Google SEO, which has its own mysteries, but which nevertheless has a relatively stable algorithm, LinkedIn is relatively new territory. Only 1% of LinkedIn users are “creators” who post on a regular basis. However, the platform can seem quite busier than this. And the content-competition can seem quite tough. So how do you stand out?


Well, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions or formulas. However, here are a few things to consider when posting:


1. Post to speak to your ideal clients. Always choose to post information that your ICP will find useful or attractive. What is the demographic profile of your client? What type of post would they like? How does thos post educate them or address their pain points.


2. LinkedIn is a selfish and jealous algorithm. LinkedIn would prefer that everything remains within the platform. They do not like links that tak people off the platform to other websites, including your own website.


So try to ensure that your content and posts don’t include external links. Focus on engaging text, images, emojis, carousels, and so on. 


3. Take advantage of LinkedIn SEO. LinkedIn Articles and LinkedIn Newsletters are perfect solutions to the problem of LinkedIn not allowing external links. 


From anecdotal evidence, it seems that LinkedIn has a bias in favor of post that have internal links to the platform's newsletter and articles. Both LinkedIn Articles and Newsletters are a blogging format, where you can post blogs that can be optimized for SEO.


Using these two posting formats means that you might be benefitting from the bias that LinkedIn shows to this type of evergreen content on its TL. Note, that every article and newsletter is automatically published as a post when you hit send. 


4. Make use of storytelling techniques. This includes captivating hooks, personal anecdotes, and stating controversial opinions. Feel free to experiment with as many techniques as possible. 

The point is always to keep the ICP in mind. Do not post for teh dopamine rush of vanity metrics. Every post should be made with teh aim of how do I attract, serve, nurture, or convert this customer? 


Final thoughts on inbound social selling


Social selling is a low-cost method or strategy to gain customers, and LinkedIn is an ideal B2B platform for practicing social selling. The LinkedIn algorithm remains relatively mysterious and a new frontier. 

This necessitates a willingness to carry out experimentation and try new things. Also, don’t be distracted by vanity metrics, as the whole point of posting on LinkedIn or social selling in general is to attract potential clients.


Lastly, inbound social selling means allowing customers to come to you. It’s relatively true. If you build it they will come. However, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to customers when it makes sense or when it feels right to do so.


Customers who comment on your post or who like your post are ideal for reaching out to. Reaching out through the DMs may very well be the last step in cementing that sale from posts that were successful in attracting potential clients. 


Written by Melchior Antoine


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