There are so many ways to use social media for branding and business development but not all of them are effective.

It’s never been more important to use social media – specifically LinkedIn – than it is today with social distancing rules in place. It’s also never been easier to build your brand and business online than it is today.

Here are some tips to help you be more targeted with your LinkedIn efforts.

Tip #1 – Your posts should always be about your audience and provide value and helpful tips.

Tip #2 – Make sure your profile is optimized and includes a headshot where you look professional and friendly. Also take the time to customize your LinkedIn cover image as well.

Tip #3 – Create a compelling, SEO-friendly summary (think lots of keywords and written in words that resonate with your clients) that speaks to your target audience.

Tip #4 – Create an optimized experience section that accurately describes your role and how your product/services help people.

Tip #5 – Use the media sections in your summary and experience sections. Include media, photos and video if you have it.

Tip #6 – When posting updates, instead of promoting your products or services, focus on providing insights, helpful information and entertainment. This will boost engagement and be more effective at guiding prospective customers along the buyer’s journey. After all, social media is meant to be social.

Tip #7 – When creating posts, think about the topics that you want to read and the questions your clients are asking you.

Tip #8 – Find your competitors and examine their social media marketing strategies. If you are still unsure what your best option for social media, blog or content marketing strategy is, check out what your competitors do. Their strategy is probably a good starting point for providing you with ideas.

Tip #9 – LinkedIn is an easy way to publish original content, so start writing.

Tip #10 – Stay top of mind with your connections and boost your personal brand by commenting and liking on others’ posts. Share articles that will benefit your network.

Tip #11 – Customize your LinkedIn headline (or else LinkedIn will use your current job title as the default). You have 220 characters to effectively explain who you are, what you do and what differentiates you from your competitors – use them wisely.

Tip #12 – Add your personality to your social media marketing efforts will increase your chance of success. Don’t be shy about injecting bits of yourself into your posts – whether it’s a funny story, an anecdote, a lesson learned or a unique experience – this is what makes you memorable, relatable, likable and helps you differentiate yourself.

I promise if you take the time to do at least half of the steps on this list, you will have much more success on LinkedIn then you have before.

Creating a strategic plan for how you use LinkedIn is a smart way to maximize the platform. Remember it is a free tool to promote your brand and your business, and to expand your professional connections!