For many sales teams today, social selling is an important tactic. It’s a technique that involves interacting with potential clients and building relationships via social media. Selling in this manner has become so popular that LinkedIn has even created a dedicated metric: the Social Selling Index (SSI).
Most salespeople have heard about this feature — but what does it actually measure? You may also be wondering why it matters to your business.
In this post, we’re going to find out what the LinkedIn Social Selling Index is all about, and explore all the methods you can utilize in order to improve your score.
In terms of social selling within the business community, LinkedIn leads the way. The platform hosts the profiles of 830 million professionals in 200 countries around the world — so your chances of finding some good leads is pretty high.
To help sales professionals to make the most of this opportunity, the folks at LinkedIn created the Social Selling Index, or SSI.
This metric provides a real-time evaluation of your profile and activity on LinkedIn, in reference to your social selling efforts. The score you receive is based on four key points:
- Professional branding — LinkedIn awards kudos for keeping your profile up to date. You also earn points for attracting views and followers.
- People — When calculating your SSI, LinkedIn assesses whether you are making enough of the right connections. The algorithm also takes into account your activity in Sales Navigator.
- Engagement — Social selling only works well if you’re engaging with other users, so SSI takes notice of how you are interacting with people on LinkedIn. There is a lot of detail here, from the amount of people who Like your posts to the open rate of your InMail messages.
- Network — When you send out connection requests, how many people respond positively? LinkedIn takes note of your stats and includes them within your Social Selling Index score.
While your Social Selling Index score does not directly affect your sales figures, it can quite accurately predict your chances of success. If you see your SSI improving, it’s because you are taking actions that will drive sales.
For example, optimizing your LinkedIn profile will nudge your score upwards. This is because a profile with pretty pictures and a strong pitch is more likely to capture the attention of any user who drops in.
In other words: you don’t need to worry about pumping up your SSI. But by paying attention to this metric, you can figure out how to improve your social selling efforts. LinkedIn will even guide you, step by step.
So, what steps lead to a higher Social Selling Index score? Let’s dive into that question now.
While the metric is influenced by a long list of factors, there are certain areas that are more important than others. Here are seven key tips for more successful campaigns on LinkedIn — and a higher SSI score to match:
Making new connections on LinkedIn is really important. After all, you can’t easily engage with other users unless they are within your wider network.
However, there is no point in making connections for the sake of it. In fact, having an oversized network might make it more difficult to find the most important people: high-qualified prospects.
Rather than sending out endless requests at random, focus on making high-quality connections. By this, we mean users who you are likely to interact with, and people who are decision-makers within their organization. If you can connect with multiple people from the same target company, even better.
LinkedIn will reward this kind of behavior with an improved SSI score, because it generally leads to strong professional relationships. And that is always better for business.
One underrated feature within Sales Navigator is the ability to save profiles. This means you can search through hundreds of potential leads and bookmark any profiles that catch your eye.
LinkedIn rewards this behavior with an improved SSI score. Why? Because the more prospects you save, the better populated your social sales pipeline will be.
It also happens to be a massive time saver. Instead of searching, researching, and contacting at the same time, you can simply concentrate on finding likely customers, and handle the rest later.
Let’s not forget that LinkedIn is a social network. To get the most out of the platform, you need to be consistently engaging with other users.
In particular, LinkedIn rewards you for commenting on and Liking posts from other users. If you want your profile to be promoted on the platform, you need to spend a few minutes each day scrolling through your news feed and interacting with the content you find.
Putting aside this small amount of time will have a major positive influence on your Social Selling Index score. Just as importantly, you’re likely to get a major boost across the network — from more views to more followers.
As you begin to Like and comment more, other LinkedIn users are likely to start visiting your profile and engaging with your own content. LinkedIn keeps track of all this activity. You can view it within the Insights dashboard.
Paying attention to Insights is important for your SSI, because it can tell you something about your network. For instance, you can see what kind of users are visiting your profile and which posts are receiving the most attention.
This information allows you to shape the content you share with your audience. In turn, you should see growing views from decision-makers, which will pump up your SSI score and improve your social selling results.
According to official figures from LinkedIn, only around 1% of users actually share content on a regular basis. That means nine billion impressions are split between just three million people.
By sharing relevant content more regularly, you can grab a slice of this pie and send your SSI score shooting upward.
LinkedIn values this kind of activity quite highly, because it allows you to establish a personal brand. If you regularly publish meaningful posts, you can even turn yourself into a thought leader on the platform.
Remember that sharing content via your own profile isn’t the only way to reach new people. LinkedIn groups give you access to thousands of professionals within a specific industry or niche. Reposting your content can help you reach a good SSI score and secure more interest from prospects.
In the greater scheme of things, the cover photo on your LinkedIn profile doesn’t seem that significant. But these details matter when you’re trying to be a top social seller. And that’s why people who fill out their entire profile on LinkedIn are awarded a high score for SSI.
If you would like your own SSI to follow suit, make sure that you upload a professional profile picture and a cover photo. Ensure that your headline, your summary, and your profile description are all completed. If possible, add more endorsements to your profile, and share links to your work.
Each of these steps makes a small difference; put together, they can push your SSI score significantly higher and help you capture more leads.
Ever heard of the Lead Builder? If you haven’t, it’s definitely time to get acquainted.
Part of the Sales Navigator suite, this tool is designed to help you discover and track potential leads. It’s essentially a supercharged advanced search, with the option to set up alerts.
Using the Lead Builder, you can hunt for potential customers using a variety of filters:
- Job position
When you find some good prospects, you can set up alerts. LinkedIn will then send you a notification whenever one of these individuals changes jobs or posts relevant news.
If your sales strategy is more account based, you can use a different set of filters to track down companies that seem like a good fit:
- Company size
- Annual revenue and turnover
- Technology stack
How does all of this affect your social selling index? Well, the Lead Builder is a powerful tool for lead generation — so LinkedIn will reward you for using it. And there’s a good chance that the Lead Builder will improve your sales results, as well.
Of course, chasing a good SSI score will only get you so far. If you want to become a social selling leader, there are other steps you will need to take.
Here are some quick LinkedIn tips that should power you to sales success:
- Think about SEO — When you fill out your profile, think about what leads might be searching for. The more keywords you can include (particularly in your headline), the better.
- Create a schedule for sharing — To drive more engagement on social platforms, you need to be posting regularly. Creating a content calendar will help you stay on top of this small task and build a sharing strategy. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite can even automate the entire process for you.
- Connect your CRM to Sales Navigator — Just because you’re selling on social media doesn’t mean you should abandon your usual sales process. By connecting your CRM, your reps can easily collect data and handle sales tasks without jumping between apps.
- Do your research — While LinkedIn holds a lot of information about users, it can’t tell you everything. If you want to learn more about prospects, make sure to do some extra research. Look up individuals on their company page, and search for them on other platforms. Any information you glean could help you win the deal.
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