Where Is The Value In Following On LinkedIn?

I thought I would talk today about Following on LinkedIn. We all do it – we see someone who says something interesting somewhere on LinkedIn and we hit the “Follow” button. But what is the real value in following someone? 

So let’s have a look at what the benefits are to the Follower and the person being Followed (the Followee?) 

What benefits does a Follower receive? 

From my standpoint, there are two benefits in following someone. Both are marginal, but take a bit of explaining. 

1) The person you are following can see that you are following them

The question here is not so much that they can see you are following them, but if they will see that you are following them. Then what? I ask this because I know there is a whole weird little subset of people on LinkedIn who think, “If I follow them, they will see that and maybe ask me to connect.” Well, I am here to tell you that that is highly unlikely. First of all, not everybody looks through their followers on a regular basis. And even if – like me – they are someone who does, they are unlikely to ask you to connect. The way I see it, in following me you have shown a slight level of interest in me, but not enough to ask me to connect, so I am not going to ask you. 

So the connection angle is a long shot. What other benefits do you get from following someone on LinkedIn? 

2) All of their content will be shown in your feed. 

This is the big one of course. I follow you because I don’t want to miss out on your content and LinkedIn tells me that your content will be in my feed. But a little common sense applied to this statement shows that having that content in your feed is pretty meaningless. Say you follow a handful of people or a hundred people. The posts these people publish are somewhere in your feed every week, mixed in with posts from your connections, companies, promoted stuff and other advertising, and whatever else the LinkedIn algorithms feel like tossing your way. 

It might be more accurate to say that posts from the people you follow will be buried somewhere in your homepage feed. Think of your feed and the content within it as if this was a Google search result. There may be a hundred pages of search results, but you are only rarely ever going to scroll to page five. 

Oddly, LinkedIn’s promise to put more and more stuff in your feed just makes it worse. 

So, in following someone, it is unlikely they will ask you to connect and it is unlikely that you will see much of their content. Well, heck, this following thing has to be advantageous to someone, doesn’t it? 

What benefits do those being followed get? 

Again, there are two benefits that I can see. The first is an extension of one mentioned above, and that is that you can see who your followers are. And yes, you can choose to message them (if you have a premium plan or know one of the work around hacks to send free messages on LinkedIn) or ask them to connect. As I mentioned above, why would I decide to ask someone to connect when they have already indicated that they would rather just follow?

The second benefit – and don’t underestimate this one – is the ego boost from having a lot of followers. And LinkedIn knows this as they have now put your number of followers in a prominent place on your profile. 

But those are both pretty thin benefits too. So what should you do? There are two options: Click the notification bell on the person’s profile you want to follow, or subscribe to their LinkedIn newsletter if they have one. LinkedIn will notify you when they publish something. Your bell-ringers / subscribers actually see the content they wanted to see, and you also know that they had the opportunity to see it.

To summarize: 

1) I have a lot of followers on LinkedIn. When I publish a post or article, it will be somewhere in my followers homepage feed. They may see it. 

2) If they also click the notification bell on my profile, they will be notified when I publish something.

3) I have a lot of newsletter subscribers on LinkedIn. They will be notified and they can decide if they want to click on my content and read it. 

In the first case, LinkedIn decides who sees my content. In the second and third cases, my followers and subscribers decide. 

Want more like this? I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two articles like the one above, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

Obligatory boilerplate: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.