Careful research is at the heart of persona development. From mining CRM contacts to scouring surveys, marketers leverage tools to construct data-driven personas every single day. LinkedIn is an especially popular research tool for persona development because of its breadth of company and employee information. But LinkedIn also offers some fascinating, qualitative insights into audiences beyond the basic details like job titles and work history. Here, we’ll take a closer look at some of the hidden areas you can explore on LinkedIn to create a well-rounded persona.
LinkedIn has amassed 433 million users since launching in 2003. Casually referred to as a “digital resume” by some users, 89% of recruiters have hired someone through LinkedIn according to a Herd Wisdom study published on SocialMeep. LinkedIn is a goldmine of professionals who describe their skills and expertise on their profiles in their own words. These profiles are invaluable resources for marketers to humanize prospects and craft their B2B or B2C persona narrative.
When researching on LinkedIn, our goal as marketers is to identify common characteristics, as well as gather demographic and psychographic information to curate well-rounded buyer personas. Remember to dig deeper; LinkedIn is also a great reservoir of individual needs, goals, challenges, aspirations, frustrations, social media habits, background, company profile and “day in the life” information. You can download our free B2B or B2C sample persona as a reference for when you plan your LinkedIn research.
In the list that follows, we will highlight a few areas that are often underexplored when researching personas on LinkedIn.
1. LinkedIn Answers
Search keywords related to your persona in LinkedIn Answers to see what users have asked about, or how they have answered, a specific topic. This exercise will help you to learn more about a persona’s typical day and the specific challenges they might face.
2. Advanced Search
Advanced search settings allow you to dive into job titles, location, school and industry for your persona research. Just click “Advanced” next to the LinkedIn search bar and search for keywords that may appear in your target customer’s title, bio or experience.
3. Advanced Google Search
Sick of searching in the LinkedIn dashboard? Cut through the clutter with an advanced Google Search trick. Type: site:linkedin.com “keyword” into your Google Search bar. The results will yield all topics, profiles, groups and pages on LinkedIn related to the keyword you searched for within the quotation marks. Download our free guide to getting focused results for persona research through Google Advanced Search. When the guide loads, you will be prompted to subscribe for free to IterativeMarketing.net, where you will gain complete access to our premium content.
4. LinkedIn Job Postings
Job postings are great for outlining the professional attributes required of a candidate. Browse LinkedIn for jobs that would appeal to your persona, and use the job description to identify your persona’s professional role.
5. Endorsements & Recommendations
LinkedIn members who add “skills” to their profile can be “endorsed” by other members for that skill. Reviewing this list can show us how candidates view their strengths, as well as where they need or want to improve. Recommendations, given to users by other members, serve a similar function. Isolate these skill sets and gaps when creating new content or advertising messages so that you can speak to your persona’s core competency or areas for improvement.
6. Company Pages
Use company pages to research company history, size and career information. These pages sometimes also include employee quotes. On the right hand sidebar you’ll also be able to check out the company’s competitors under the “People Also Viewed” section.
7. LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn has recently changed its features so that all groups are now private. But we can still request to join LinkedIn groups to pose questions and gain insights into our persona’s goals, objectives and pain points, as well as trending industry news.
8. Profile Bios
Reading profile bios ( listed under “Summary”) helps us find commonalities between individuals in similar industries and positions. Pay attention to job responsibilities rather than job titles, as the latter vary by organization. Bios provide excellent data for understanding career trajectory, education, work life and objectives.